Alice & Zouroku is a story about a god becoming human. Initially appearing as a fairly standard “super powered children being manipulated by an obligatory shadowy organisation” series, it manages to avoid most of the trappings of this kind of show and instead dives deep into what it means to be human, and if that fundamental humanity even really matters.
Protagonist Sana begins the series essentially clueless, she’s vaguely aware of the world but has no real understanding of social interactions or how society functions, relying on her magical powers, known as “Dreams of Alice” to get by and evade the pursuing shadowy organisation.
Things take a turn for the better when she encounter’s Zoroku, a grouchy old florist with zero patience for her magical shenanigans. He takes her in and begins essentially acting as a grandfather to her, with help from his actual granddaughter Sanae. In time they bond and form a somewhat awkward family of their own.
Naturally this peace doesn’t last long, as the shadowy organisation manage to exploit the abilities of other magical children to recapture Sana. At this point the show begins hinting at her backstory, revealing that Sana may not even be human, having simply appeared one day below the shadowy organisation’s base, in the vicinity of the mysterious tree like object the facility was created to study.
Sana’s initial state was essentially a shell, unable to perceive or communicate with the people around her. Until she was given a name. This simple act of definition led to her achieving consciousness for the first time, and things spiraled from there.
As Sana’s consciousness grew, so too did the space below the facility, quickly exceeding the limits of conventional reality and generating a warped space known as Wonderland, with Sana’s imagination conjuring up bizarre landscapes and creatures seemingly from nothing. This seemingly limited power led the organisation to brand Sana a threat and try to keep her confined within Wonderland, until her eventual escape at the beginning of the series.
With Sana recaptured with the assistance of a rare adult Dream user named Minnie C. Minnie C is a jerk. Having fully bought into the idea of Sana as a threat to humanity, she repeatedly calls her a monster, unworthy of living in the outside world. Because from her perspective that’s what Sana is, a demon in the guise of a child.
Zoroku is able to rescue her (with the assistance of another, less shadowy organisation) both physically, and more importantly mentally. Taking Minnie C’s words to heart ,Sana finds herself struggling to retain her humanity, only for Zoroku to bring her back to earth by stating his own perspective. Sana is a child, nothing more and nothing less, and he’s not going to let his granddaughter come to harm.
After this the series settles into a period of calm, with Zoroku officially adopting Sana and the next few episodes focusing entirely on the family’s everyday life, with Sana slowly finding her own niche in the household, and coming to rely less and less on her powers.
Naturally, this blissful mundanity can’t last forever, as Sana eventually crosses paths with the seeming antagonist of the last few episodes, an elementary schooler named Hatori whos own Dream power has left her disconnected from her own everyday life, wandering and lashing out at the world. When Sana’s friends get caught up in one Hatori’s outbursts, Sana does exactly what a young child would, she throws a tantrum.
Abducting Hatori’s friend Ayumu and dropping her into Wonderland, Sana swiftly realises she has no actual plan, when Ayumu attempts to apologise for her friend’s actions, Sana has no idea how to react, because she’s operating on a childlike sense of morality, Hatori and Ayumu are bad guys, and need to be punished. The idea that either of them could show remorse for their actions simply never occurred to her.
At this point, with her increasing humanity straining her connection with Wonderland at the same time as her rampaging emotions cause her to go wild with her powers, Sana finds herself cut off. Trapped alongside Hatori inside a Wonderland she can no longer exert control over, Sana begins to ponder the reality of her situation, concluding that she was never really human after all, merely an interface between Wonderland and the human world, who came to resemble humans through imitation.
Ultimately Hatori is able to help convince Sana of her own validity, it doesn’t matter if she’s not a “real” human, she’s still Sana and that’s what matters. Just like Zoroku told her once before. Sana’s origins may have influenced her, but it’s who she is now that counts, and the past can’t change that.
After being rescued by Zoroku and Sanae, Sana returns to her everyday life, with her powers returned but greatly diminished, she no longer has absolute control over Wonderland, embracing her identity as a human instead. But the progress of the world cannot be halted, Wonderland’s continued existence causes new Dreams of Alice to pop up at an increasing rate, Sana’s powers become less and less unique, she’s no longer special because of her magic, she’s special because she’s Sana.