Welcome Back, Alice Volume 4 Review
In Volume 3 of Welcome Back, Alice the relationship between Yohei and Yui began to break down as he pushed her to move their relationship forward too quickly. But it wasn’t all bad news as even if he soured things with Yui, he did mend things with Kei. Now, what does Volume 4 have in store for the trio?
Having saved Kei from a group of thugs, Yohei finds himself staying over at his apartment. Naturally, one thing leads to another and Kei is quick to make a move on Yohei while he’s in the shower. At the time our protagonist enjoys this intimate moment, but in the days that follow, he grows even more confused about his feelings.
Luckily for Yohei, he meets Ren Ano a second-year student whose a member of the art club and wants permission to draw Kei. Ren is hoping that Yohei will convince Kei to model for her, but more than that, she sees Yohei as someone who can tell her everything she wants to know about Kei – including why he presents as a girl.
Talking to Ren finally gives Yohei an outlet for his feelings and he’s able to muddle through them slowly. Ren asks if Yohei likes Kei romantically, to which he counters “I want to go back. Back to the time when we weren’t guys or girls. Before all that got put into our heads”, which I think sums up their relationship so far rather well. Yohei feels safe with Kei in a way he can’t with Yui because of how the relationship has changed since childhood.
The situation between our three characters is messy, particularly when it comes to the romantic side of things. It’s no surprise that Yohei dreams of the past when the three were firm friends without worrying about their sexuality or desires. Our lead isn’t ready yet to confront the fact he might not actually love Yui and instead harbour those feelings for Kei, but sooner or later he’s going to have to stop hiding in the past and deal with the reality in front of him.
Elsewhere in this volume, Yui continues to be jealous of how close Yohei and Kei are to one another and it doesn’t take long for that jealousy to drive her into taking action. Much like in Volume 3, Yui is being very manipulative toward Yohei and pushes him into a situation that he deeply regrets afterwards. This is the kind of character drama author Shuzo Oshimi excels at, so I’m looking forward to seeing the fallout of it in the books to come.
Most of all I appreciate that Oshimi took the opportunity to introduce a new character, one who didn’t know the trio from their elementary school days. Seeing as how we’ve spent so long with these characters inside their heads, it’s easy to lose track of how their relationships look to the people around them and that perspective is important. I’m hoping Ren will have their own story arc in here somewhere (hinted at by her saying she could relate to Kei not seeing themselves as male or female), but for now, it’s enough just to have a new character in the mix.
While Volume 3 of the series felt like a departure from what we’d seen before I think this one gets us back on track. And slowly we’re starting to move into the kind of dark, unhinged storylines that Oshimi has made his signature and that I’m sure many of us have been waiting for. Just when you think you might be losing interest, Oshimi pulls you back in with another twist.
Welcome Back, Alice Volume 4 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and continues to be translated by Daniel Komen. As usual, the translation reads well with no issues to note. Unfortunately, we are now more or less caught up with the Japanese releases, so Volume 5 isn’t scheduled for a release until September so it’ll be a while until we get to see what’s in store for our cast next.
Overall Welcome Back, Alice continues to be a series fans of the author will want to keep up with. With some notable twists and turns as well as the introduction of a new character, there’s plenty to keep you invested and wondering what could possibly happen next.