A New Friend? Old Lovers? Welcome Back, Alice Vol. 4
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Forget rollercoasters, Welcome Back, Alice is turning into the whole damn amusement park, but not necessarily in a bad way. Every other page is a new layer of drama and internal debate that is seemingly driving these characters insane…ok, maybe it is not that hyperbolic, but it is definitely getting interesting.
Volume four sees the continued aftermath of Yohei’s…intimate outing with Mitani having gone wrong from the last volume. Kei, rather than being upset, not only emotionally supports him but makes him feel better in other ways. The two go back to having a normal relationship, at which point a new potential friend comes into the fray. Mitani must now deal with her own insecurities once again.
Mitani and Yohei’s Complications
Speaking of Mitani’s insecurities, it makes sense for this volume to start at the end, where Mitani, after feeling bad about not getting intimate with Yohei the first time due to his seeming lack of attraction to her, decides to whisk him away after school and try again. The two “do the do,” and Yohei leaves feeling… disappointed.
At this point in the story, it is clear that his emotional investment is with Kei, and sex with Mitani feels like a betrayal of their newly restored relationship, especially after their own episode at the beginning of the novel. However, despite Mitani coercing our awkward protagonist into sex, there is a lot more going on here.
In this situation, she feels bad about not being able to get him hard, because attraction and being erect are automatically linked, which is not necessarily the case a hundred percent of the time. As a result, she feels a need to rectify the situation by trying again, even to Yohei’s and her own discomfort. It creates yet another situation where no one has any absolute moral authority.
One of the critiques about Kei that stuck with me from initial impressions of the series is about how the character ultimately does embody a lot of hypersexual stereotypes about queer people. Though that is still true to an extent, it is a problem that could be addressed later down the line, either with a serious transformation in Kei’s character or another queer character.
It is unclear whether Ren is actually going to be that, though their mentioning of “understanding Kei’s feelings” on gender issues certainly points in that direction. Still, even if it ends up not being the case, adding a fourth does create new possibilities for potential dynamics, some romantic, some platonic, and even some purely plot-related.
As of right now, though, it is still mostly speculation outside of her one conversation with Yohei, and also the fact that she saw Yohei and Mitani leave school together. You know, small stuff.
Also, a small addendum: I talked in the last post about how Yohei and Mitani refer to Kei with he/him pronouns, but Ren’s character still uses she/her. This leads me to believe that, rather than Oshimi not understanding non-binary identity, it is more the other characters who are purposely written to do so. It sounds stupidly obvious in hindsight, but given that no other character had previously done this, I had little reason to believe otherwise.
The big contrasting element of the story so far is just how much Kei cares for Yohei, but also how much Yohei’s actions seem to waver despite similar feelings for Kei. People who have also read the series or those who have been following my posts on this series might be asking “but isn’t that the entire point?” to which I would answer, “well, yeah.”
I point it out only to further emphasize just how interesting the series writing really is. Despite the two internally wanting to be together, there is a lot of obvious tension in how Yohei is being pressured away from Kei, both in an abstract societal sense but also in a more tangible, immediate social sense by himself and others.
I also point this out because volume four is the last volume currently available in English, and based on when the others were released it seems like there will be at least another few months before the next one comes out.
Whatever interaction the cliffhanger was leading on is probably going to be important. Wild guess, I know, but at this point, it is hard to say anything concrete. Ren feels like they are going to be pretty important as well, but in what sense I do not have a clue.
How do you all feel about Welcome Back, Alice? Let me know in the comments.
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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!