It’s the last Waifu Wednesday before Halloween, so who better to explore this week than an honest to goodness witch?
Alice Kamishiro is one of the central characters of minori’s Supipara, a proposed five-part series of visual novels of which we’ve seen the first in the West so far, thanks to MangaGamer. Although the first chapter isn’t Alice’s “route”, instead focusing on the protagonist’s second cousin Sakura, she still plays an important part in the story as a whole — and is a mysterious, intriguing character in her own right.
As the series continues to unfold, we’ll have the opportunity to learn more about this rather odd girl and her remarkable powers.
Supipara’s handling of magic is interesting in that, in contrast to a lot of other magical-themed anime and visual novels, it eschews pyrotechnic spectacle in favour of a rather more subtle approach that leaves the audience questioning whether any real “magic” has in fact been used.
The core premise of the game involves the protagonist Yukinari returning to his hometown with his mother after both of them survived a terrible accident. His mother had been comatose for several years and consequently has no knowledge of how the intervening years have unfolded, and Yukinari himself finds he has a number of black spots in his memory regarding the incident and his past life.
We’re introduced to Alice very early in the narrative, even before we have any real feeling of context, so it’s clear that we should expect the unexpected. The rather “dream-like” nature of the game’s presentation — all soft edges and bright, overexposed lighting — treads a fine line between putting us at ease and making us wary of what is about to happen, and these feelings only grow with Alice’s mysterious utterances to the protagonist, and her subsequent appearance at his school as a seemingly normal young girl; what is real?
Alice is an interesting character because she is the closest Supipara really has to an “antagonist” of sorts, though it is clear that she is not “evil” in the conventional sense, nor is she trying to harm the protagonist. Rather, she is simply looking out for her own interests as a witch, and consequently is rather keen to form a contract with a seemingly easy mark like Yukinari — particularly as it transpires the pair have a prior connection with one another.
She becomes something of a catalyst for Yukinari’s growth over the course of the game’s complete narrative, as his desire to resist falling under her spell or being bound by a contract to her motivates him to do things on his own terms, even if those things prove to be difficult. He only finally comes to Alice for help during the latter hours of the story when he has exhausted all possibilities for what he wants to achieve, and has reached acceptance of the fact that relying on other people is not, in itself, anything to be ashamed of.
As a witch who is a lot older than her appearance suggests, Alice has also found herself desiring genuine connections with people rather than the simple business arrangements she has tended to make with her magical “clients” in the past. It’s this desire — the inherent loneliness of her existence — that drives her to deceive everyone through her appearance as a young girl, and to quietly, subtly insert herself into the culture of the local school.
There are a few people who know the truth of who she is — Yukinari being one of them, and another secondary character in the main narrative named Hotaru — but one of the most interesting arcs in the first episode of Supipara explores the friction Alice feels between people relying on her purely for her magical powers, and people coming to her as an actual person, as a friend.
Yukinari ends up being the one who helps Alice in this regard by putting her in a situation where her magic will not help her, and which involves cooperating with another person. In doing so, Alice discovers the joy of having someone rely on her personally, rather than on her powers.
Alice is a joy to spend time with over the course of Supipara, not only because her overall story arc is interesting, but because she’s immensely appealing as a character, too. She has an attractive and distinctive appearance with her big, red eyes and messy grey hair, and her gentle, feminine voice is relaxing to listen to. She has a dry wit, however, and often has a suitably scathing putdown for anyone who does something she feels could have been handled better — or when attempting to coerce Yukinari into forming a contract with her. She’s far from a one-note character, by turns amusing and intriguingly mysterious, and forms a core part of Supipara’s overall appeal.
“Today, you could find all sorts of titles when you visit a video game store,” writes developer minori, describing its creative philosophy. “And when you pick a game up, what uniqueness does it hold from others? Have you ever thought that you’ve seen the game before, using the same formula and storyline? That is why we wanted to create something original, that we can enjoy ourselves. We believe that a ‘minority’ that is a bit different from those games can also co-exist.”
In many ways, Alice is the manifestation of this approach to creativity. She’s absolutely unique in the world of Supipara and stands by herself as a “minority”, but at the same time has enough relatable elements about her to make her appealing and attractive. She draws people in with her distinctiveness, and ultimately leaves a lasting impression on everyone whose life she touches.
And with any luck, we’ll have more opportunities to explore this fascinating character further in the future. Chapter 2 of Supipara in English has already been funded, with proceeds from the first chapter and minori’s other titles eden* and the two-part ef: a fairy tale of the two contributing towards the series’ ongoing development through a collaborative effort with MangaGamer. You can find out more here.
More about Supipara
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