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July 14, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: Alice the 101st vol. 1

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Alice the 101st
Author: Chigusa Kawai
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their Doki Doki imprint
Volume: Volume 1 (ongoing), $12.95
Vintage: 2007 by Shinshokan in Japan, June 2010 from DMP
Genre: Comedy, romance, shojo, music

Aristide Lang (or Alistair, Aristo, but mainly Alice) has been accepted to the prestigious Mondonville Academy’s music department as a violinist.  The school only accepts 100 students each year, but Alice is the 101st, a special recommended case.  Immediately there is suspicion and disdain targeted toward him, specifically from second chair violinist Richard.  It doesn’t help that when Alice is asked by his new roommate, Theo, to play a duet on the first night in the dorm, Alice is completely unable to play anything and only makes horrible sounds that are heard throughout the dorm.  It gets worse when he’s kicked out of his first lesson for being unable to read or play the music set before him.  At his current level, there’s no way he can compete with Richard, never mind the genius first chair violinist, Maximilien.  Richard out to insult him around every turn, he embarrasses himself in front of the entire school at the entrance ceremony, the professor who recommended him to the school and who was supposed to teach him is out with an injury, his violin teacher finds his lack of basic skills impossible to deal with, and an upperclassman named Victor is constantly harassing him.  Despite his lack of technique however, Alice wasn’t recommended for no reason.  There is one song he can play perfectly, a song that impressed the mysterious professor enough to make Alice the 101st student.  Alice’s grandfather’s dying wish was that Alice attend the school and become a violin player…just like his father.  Alice’s father died young, but was a brilliant musician, and it is a song he composed that Alice has mastered.  He can’t coast by on just that, unfortunately.  If Alice wants to be one of the top students who get to play one of the treasured instruments from the school’s museum, he’s going to have to learn to play from scratch.  Fortunately, he has Theo to help him.

It’s not all about Alice, of course.  Theo struggles with believing in himself and his musical abilities, thinking that he doesn’t belong at such a prestigious school.  Victor, who was once a star violinist, attempts to find happiness in a supporting role as a viola player.  Maximilien has excellent technique, but there’s no feeling in his music.  There’s also a cello player named Claire with a sharp tongue, whom Theo seems to be falling for.

It definitely seems like there will be a strong focus on finding oneself through music, and using music to express yourself.  Alice has a strong desire to discover his father, whom he never got to know, and Mondonville is the place to do it, if he can manage to pass his classes.  His excited nature should be a helpful influence on Theo, who seems to be content to stay in the shadows.  Victor, who has asked Alice to give Maximilien a run for his money, has some motivations that aren’t exactly clear.  It’s not currently clear whether he wants Maximilien to become a better violinist, or if he wants to topple him, but he doesn’t appear to have a sinister personality; in fact, at first glance, he’s quite the opposite, friendly to everyone, and supportive of those who are struggling.  As far as a sort of fantastical shojo music comedy romance manga goes (sorry for the mouthful)…I prefer La Corda d’Oro.  And as far as classical music stories in general go…I definitely prefer Nodame Cantabile.  But Alice has it’s charm; it’s cute, well researched, and well drawn.  It’s rated for young adults (16+), but I didn’t notice anything dirty or otherwise overly mature (except for when Victor briefly gropes Alice).

You can buy Alice the 101st from Akadot Retail.


Review copy provided by Digital Manga Publishing.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga. Digital Manga said: RT @girlg33k_Kris: New Bento Bako Lite Review: Alice the 101st (@digitalmanga) https://comicattack.net/2010/07/bblalice101st1/ #manga […]

  2. […] on vol. 1 of Afterschool Charisma (Tangognat) Kristin on vol. 1 of Alice the 101st (Comic Attack) Lori Henderson on vols. 1-4 of Antique Bakery (Manga Xanadu) Ken Haley on vols. 1 […]

  3. […] on vol. 1 of Afterschool Charisma (Tangognat) Kristin on vol. 1 of Alice the 101st (Comic Attack) Lori Henderson on vols. 1-4 of Antique Bakery (Manga Xanadu) Ken Haley on vols. 1 […]

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