Alice 6

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Alice 6 is a 1995 live-action Japanese TV drama written by Chiaki Konaka and directed by his younger brother, Kazuya. It has a lot in common with Serial Experiments Lain.

History

In Japan in the mid 90's, a special breed of low-budget TV drama was born (and died). To those who even know of them, these shows are known as area code dramas, because for a certain time slot, several regions of Japan got their own unique drama that the other regions did not get to see, and each of these dramas was named after the telephone area code of its broadcasting station. The area code drama was the brainchild of Kenji Kasai (笠井一二, that's probably the wrong reading) of Antinos Records. (Antinos is the prefix 'anti' plus 'sony' spelled backwards, purportedly.[1])

Alice 6 is Area Code Drama 054. It was broadcast in Shizuoka by TV Shizuoka. It is also set in Shizuoka, and was shot at famous locations such as Miho Beach, Sumpu Park, Tokiwa Park, and Niji no Sato. At least one episode makes references to Shizuoka lore. [2]

Characters and Cast

The drama is about six models, all of whom were played by real-life models then employed through the Tokyo talent agency, Spacecraft.[3]

  • Goto Miki (後藤 美姫)

Miki is the unspoken leader of the group, and if you're looking for a main character, she might be it. She's played by Yukiko Morikawa (森川友紀子), who had a fairly pronounced lisp.

  • Masatsugu Shoko (真次 祥子)

Shoko is the youngest member of the group, and the most Alice-like. She has a bad sense of humor. This is one of the first roles of Rina Komine (小嶺麗奈), who went on to become a pretty successful actress and model. In fact, she starred in a movie called August in the Water that very same year.[4] This is the character after whom Shou's mother was named in the anime.

  • Oh Reika (王 麗華)

Reika carries a capacious bag with a seemingly endless supply of snacks, compared by her fellows to the magical pocket of Doraemon. Played by Tomoko Okada (岡田智子). This character shares a name with Reika of the anime.

  • Kato Juri (加藤 樹莉)

Juri is envious of Miki, who has previously won auditions over her. Played by Yumiko Shimizu (清水由美子), who appears to be the only model out of the six who remains employed by Spacecraft nearly twenty years later.[5] Shares a name with Juri of the anime.

  • Koga Michiru (空閑 ミチル)

She's feisty and kind of loud. Played by Aiko Fujimoto (藤本愛子), who is perhaps most famous for her stint as an exclusive model for MC Sister.[6] According to a 2ch thread, Fujimoto quit modeling in the late 90's to become an office lady.[7]

  • Yomoda Chisa (四方田 千紗)

A quiet girl who doesn't get much screen time. Played by Sachiko Miyahara(宮原祥子), who was also an MC Sister model.[8] Same name as Chisa of the anime.

  • Kano Hikozaemon (狩野 彦佐衛門)

The bad guy. He represents several characters from the Wonderland pantheon all rolled up into one, including Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, and even Carroll himself. Played by Shigeru Saiki (斉木しげる).

Episode Synopses

Chapter 1: Alices in Woods

Six girls are invited to a mysterious audition by Kano. All six of them get called back, and are brought to a forested area of Shizuoka for a photoshoot. There the staff ditches them, and Chisa disappears.

Chapter 2: Towards the Wonderland

Five models search for Chisa and become distracted by the appearance of a white rabbit. They become thoroughly lost while chasing it, but eventually Chisa appears as a giant. They follow her to some kind of abandoned city, or possibly just a factory. There they are magically whisked into a photoshoot performed by Kano. Kano disappears a la Cheshire, which frightens Juri and Michiru to such an extent that they feel compelled to flee. The remaining three models are magically whisked back to the clearing in which the bus is parked, where they change clothes and begin to relax but presently hear gunshots echo from the woods around them.

Chapter 3: The Black Magic

Of course, the three models decide to run towards the gunshot sounds, and are soon captured in a net trap laid by a band of feral children reminiscent of Peter Pan's lost boys. They are bound and led to the children's citadel or perhaps their pole structure, where they are tried and sentenced to death. Miki appeals the sentence, offering a display of black magic. The locals are impressed by her sorcery, but then Juri and Michiru run into the citadel/pole structure to rescue the other three, reverting the locals to their previous pissed off and death-dispensing attitude. Once they are good and rescued, the five models promptly fall down a hole.

Chapter 4: Ama No Hagoromo

The hole is some kind of magical wormhole which whisks them out to the ocean and changes their clothes at the same time. There they decide to take off their sashes and prance around on the beach for a while. After a good prance, they go to retrieve their sashes, but find them missing. Following the scent of roasting fish brings them to a fisherman who has stolen their sashes. The fisherman says he will not return the sashes unless they perform a variety show for his entertainment. They do, so he does. The five Alices then walk, a la Doraemon, through an Anywhere Door which presently appears. (This episode is a corruption of the Hagoromo Densetsu.)

Chapter 5: The Dark Labyrinth

The Alices find themselves in a long subterranean tunnel. The door disappears. They wander through the tunnel to a large cavern that contains a large Buddha statue. Each of the five models disappears one by one. Shoko, who has been having flashbacks to her childhood and generally doubting herself, is the last to disappear. /!\CONJECTURE/!\ This episode might be loosely based on Lawrence Durrell's book of the same title. (end conjecture zone)

Chapter 6: Another Me, Another World

Reika has been whisked to a rural fishing town in the 1960's, where she finds a doppelganger of herself living a life she's never lived. She confronts the doppelganger and convinces her she is fake, and is then magically whisked back to the bus and joyously reunited with the waiting Shoko.

Chapter 7: The Dome

Miki, Juri, and Michiru come to in a terraformation dome on planet Reticle 19 in the Saggitarius star system. There they meet the dome's last inhabitant, Hecorne Kai, who awaits the return of his daughter Lunica. Miki does some sleuthing, mostly by directing questions at the dome's computer system, and finds out that WOAH HUGE SPOILERS wouldn't want to spoil that for you!

Chapter 8: The Jabberwocky

Shoko is magically whisked back in time to just before she took the audition, and then caught in a time loop a la Groundhog Day, except she either doesn't remember her past loops or is in a state of severe denial about them (she professes a sense of deja vu in her internal monologues). The corruption of space-time eventually reaches such an extent that each door she tries in the audition building opens to a different time in her experience. Finally she opens a door to find Tweedledee and Tweedledum in a video editing room, but apparently one of them is under the impression they are supposed to be editing time. Shoko begins slapping random buttons on their editing rig and eventually gets the magical whisking treatment. (It's basically a thinly veiled review episode, very sly.)

Chapter 9: Beauties and the Beast

Five Alices wander through a fog to find a seemingly uninhabited mansion, where they make themselves at home and begin a Daihinmim tournament, except for Michiru who absolutely will not be put at ease until she has explored the dwelling. In her wanderings she finds the corpse of a woman and is captured by a badly disabled beast-man, who induces her to say random dictionary words until she says the magic words which lift the curses laid upon him. When she does, the corpse woman comes back to life and his beast visage transforms into that of Kano. The mansion then sublimates into fog around the Alices.

Chapter 10: Girls In City

The five models are separated in Shizuoka City, having been whisked magically yet again, and furthermore their memories have been taken away and replaced with new ones. They wander around and have various adventures and the Queen of Hearts makes an appearance and it's all very nice until they meet each other and suddenly regain their true memories and are whisked back to the forest, magically. Juri expresses discontent at the course of recent occurrences and runs off in a huff, getting magically whisked away in the process.

Chapter 11: Rap Your Heels

I haven't watched this episode yet. Presumably, it brings about some kind of satisfactory climax and denouement to the series, because it's the last proper episode. I watched this episode a long time ago. It's very nice, in my opinion.

Epilogue: The Last Interview

The Alice 6 cast answers interview questions and various behind-the-scenes film clips are played along with plenty of clips from the series proper as buffer.

Songs

The opening theme is Jumpin' Flash by B☆KOOL.[9] The ending theme is Yoru no Kaerimichi (the night road home) by Coney Island Jellyfish.[10] There are also many insert songs in the episodes, such as BABY, BODY, BEAT, another single of B☆KOOL.[11] These songs were reused in various combinations as OP and ED themes to the other area code dramas.

Similarities with Lain

The drama shares a lot of minutiae with Lain, but overall the works are very different in their storylines and in their general mood, as Alice 6 tends not to take itself as seriously as Lain.

  • Chisa disappears in the first episode and reappears, ghost-like, later on.
  • Alice 6's villain, Kano Hikozaemon, is similar to Eiri in that he is a godlike character who controls the world around the Alices and messes with their minds.
  • Identity crises, even more than in Lain
  • In one episode, the Alices lose their memories and have them replaced with new ones, which is not entirely unlike the Reset.
  • Sudden alien appearance and a reference to Roswell, and passing references to many other paranormal occurrences
  • As stated already, both shows contain characters named Chisa, Juri, Reika, and Shouko, though their personalities are not the same.


Fun Coincidence