Twisted Wonderland Manga Builds on the Game
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Twisted Wonderland Manga Builds on the Game

It isn’t uncommon for Disney or Disney-adjacent series to get manga adaptations. For example, there was one for Cruella, not to mention the Kingdom Hearts adaptations. Twisted Wonderland felt a perfect fit for a manga version, and fortunately for us it does work quite well. While it doesn’t mean immediate introductions to all of the houses and characters, Twisted Wonderland builds on the game’s story with a natural progression that feels like it will eventually give everyone equal attention.

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While the identity of the main character can seem a bit vague in the Twisted Wonderland game, to assist with self-insertion, the manga is much more clear. Things begin with Japanese high school student Yuken “Yu” Enma. He’s great at kendo, poised to lead his team to victory, but he’s also a genuinely good person who appears to want to root for and assist people with dreams and just starting on their own journeys. However, after a practice, he’s suddenly essentially hit by a black carriage pulled by black horses. He awakes in a coffin at the entrance ceremony for Night Raven College. It’s a school with “houses” tied to iconic Disney villains. Only those with incredibly magical potential are admitted, but Yu has none. After a weird encounter with a cat monster determined to attend the school, headmaster Dire Crowley allows him to stay at an abandoned, haunted dorm.

This part, as well as the introduction to the various members of Heartslabyul, all is handled incredibly well. While we get teasers of the Twisted Wonderland characters who head up the other dorms in the introduction, the manga doesn’t throw too much at us by allowing us to just focus on one group of characters. It offers familiar segues for those who started with the game, as well as those for whom this adaptation is their first exposure to the story. It hits all the major story beats of introducing Grim, as well as setting up Ace Trappola and Deuce Spade as Yu’s first friends. Especially as the quartet ends up needing to get magestone to avoid expulsion.

At the same time, I feel like it handles Twisted Wonderland’s story a bit better. With the game, we needed to rely on battle segments to help flesh out the story, and the visual novel style meant we’d sometimes only see 20-40 lines with occasional choices that didn’t affect anything. There’s a lot more context here, as well as opportunities to see interactions through the art.

Not to mention it feels like the Twisted Wonderland manga’s first volume shows the characters’ relationships better. We see exactly why Yu connects so quickly with Riddle Rosehearts. It offers more support for the events we know will soon come in the next volume, especially if you played the game. There’s better support to build rapport.

I suppose the best way to put it is that I didn’t expect the Twisted Wonderland manga to be as good as it is, but the first volume starts strong. It offers a solid origin story for the protagonist. It doesn’t try to do too much. Also, it builds on the game’s events, ensuring that it offers extra context and character insight to make things feel fuller and worth experiencing either for the first time or again.

Twisted Wonderland is available on Android and Apple iOS devices. The anime adaptation will appear on Disney+. Volume 1 of the Twisted Wonderland manga is available now, and volume 2 will appear on November 14, 2023.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.