A Japanese student named Arisu gets on the wrong bus and winds up in some sort of homoerotic version of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. The last thing you want to do in a land where people change shapes at the drop of a hat is to drop the soap and introduce yourself as Arisu (identical in Japanese to Alice), lest you start looking like one! And Arisu does, slowly but surely...
If you don't like non-linear, disjointed storytelling without a consistent, literal narrative, don't read this. It's confusing even if you can sort of follow what's happening. The art's nice though. Second, even if you do like stories like that, it's still a weird fucking story.
I enjoyed it for its absurdity but I have very weird standards so most people probably won't like it very much. It's low score seems to support that.
You can read this before or after you've read the manga, hopefully it'll help you make sense of this story.
TL;DR at the bottom.
The story starts off with our very normal Japanese high school boy
MC accidentally ending up in Wonderland. Somehow. It's never explained, but it's not important. He comes across a man with bunny ears, named White Rabbit, and is taken to a castle to meet the Prince of Hearts. He finds out he is going to marry the Prince in the place of his first fiancee, Alice (yes, that one), who ran away. Why is a black haired, Japanese boy a suitable replacement for Alice, a white, blond haired girl as a Prince's fiancee with two e's? Well, his name is Arisu, you see. So he's good enough. It's all good. Don't question it.
Anyway, he goes along with this, and ends up trying on the dress he's supposed to get married in and making himself pretty, enjoying "his" reflection and how feminine "he" is (this is important), and then inexplicably decides to run away after all. "He" encounters the first Alice, who can travel through dimensions, and stays there as a guide for novice dimension hoppers. Like Arisu. Alice shows off some powers before they both get captured by the Prince and crew and then explains that because they're from another dimension, by coming to Wonderland *what they think becomes reality for them.* Alice has control over this. Arisu doesn't.
Alice takes Arisu back to "his" home and they stay there for a couple months before Alice decides to return to Wonderland for her dimension hopping license, as it's apparently illegal to hop dimensions without one. She takes Arisu with her in case she needs to use "him" as bait to distract the Prince and his servants. Turns out the Prince is over her. He's smitten with Arisu, who is most definitely not into him nope. Oh wait, except "he" is. And is also a woman now.
Still with me?
Ok, so at this point, the linear narrative kind of dissolves. What you need to keep in mind from this point on is that
a) Arisu and the Prince are connected because they love each other
b) Arisu hops dimensions based on how she feels
c) the chapters where the Prince and White Rabbit are living with Arisu at "his" parents' home (her mom and dad still think she's a boy) and have part time jobs is their "home" dimension. The ones where shit is totally different is when they're in another dimension or hallucinating or something.
So the "main" arc is that the Prince is in love with Arisu, and even though she's in love with him she doesn't want to admit to it or accept that she wants to be a woman.
The reason I'm mentioning this is because, at its heart, this is what the story is about. There's a lot of disjointed, alternate reality warping in this story, and a lot of it is symbolic. Some of the chapters are clearly semi-hallucinatory fantasies created by Alice to represent what she *really* wants. Some of them are fever dreams the prince has while he's sick. Some are real dimensions one or more of our main characters end up in. Usually because they're chasing Arisu. The trick to following this story is to know which is which. Follow what's happening in their home dimension and you'll be able to follow along better. Ask yourself "is what's happening figurative or literal" a lot.
This kind of progression goes on for awhile, and then the Prince proposes to her and she freaks out and ends up in another dimension where she meets a *different* prince, the Prince of Spades, who claims he knows her and is madly in love with her. She's like "whatever" and goes back home, and then later on that prince kindaps her and explains about his history with her and why he's in love with her. It's never explained why he has this history with Arisu, but I think he fell in love with a different version of her and that version is... somewhere else? Idk.
Anyway, once she's kidnapped, the Prince of Hearts (her prince) gets beat up by the Prince of Spades, and then claims he's going to take back his castle, which has been conquered in his absence (he left it behind to live with Arisu in her dimension), to try and save her. And then the manga ends. That's it. Thaaat's all there is!
TL:DR trans girl with dimension hopping/reality altering powers goes on a prolonged, multi-dimensional drug trip to try and run away from the fact that she's both a girl and in love with this Prince guy from another dimension. Then she gets kidnapped by a different prince in love with a different her and THE END
Now, I know that when I was looking through Manga fox and found Boy Alice in Wonderland, I knew I would expect a cheap smut walk through. But I was in the mood for things like that so I decided to hop in and enjoy. Until I realise I had just hopped onto the Manga version of the Titanic!
The First Chapter seemed pretty good, and like the titantic I thought it would be nigh unsinkable. The second chapter proved the same until I got to the third. Where we strike the Iceberg.
Suddenly the Character Boy Alice is kidnapped by a Erotic wolf who keeps having
mood swings and telling the character that the Prince is dead and suddenly the Prince comes back and makes the Boy Alice, who was in the last chapter hating him, suddenly fall in love and be peachy about it till the wolf reveals himself to be the prince and talks about some ritual!(pant pant)
And yet I continued reading, intrigued on how they can dig out of this. But then the 4 chapter flips out of it and goes to boy alice Marrying the prince as if nothing in the past 3 chapters happened. Then it switched to a mermaid setting, then to the boy alice dressing up as Nurse and giving the Prince a blowjob or something, and Alice finally turning into a slave, getting rescued by the prince, and through all this each chapter they begin with no recollection of ether of them whats so over!!!!!
The thought that this mess was released professionaly amazes me. The Artwork was the only excuse for me to keep reading on as I desperatly try to get my mind off the Tits the boy alice is showing like a flag at half mast.
Overall, the thing could have been quiant but it suddenly became muddled by WTF moments, no etory connection at all, and Characters who make you want to eat their brains out for saying such stupid things.
The easiest way to describe Boy Alice in Wonderland is as an episodic mind frag. Continuity between chapters is sparse at best, and I doubt giving it more time to gestate in my mind will help. Let's just dive right in, shall we?
Story: There is something of a unifying story, from time to time, within this manga. Whether its just that the mangaka intended chapters to be jumps forward or backwards in time from one to the next, I don't know. What I do know, though, is that reading this in chapter order makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Our main character starts out fairly clearly
male, becomes more effeminate, gets turned completely into a woman and goes back to being effeminate at varying points, all while insisting that they are, and always have been, male. They are also regularly set upon by various male characters seeking to make them their bride. Frankly, I just don't think much of this whole thing. I don't mind time skipping storylines (Reservoir Dogs is a fine example of such a sotryline done properly), but this is taking things to an absurd level (if that is, in fact, what's really going on). I'd love to give this manga more time to hammer out the details, but I just don't feel that I can right now. 3/10
Art: Where this manga pulls itself completely out of the fire. The art is quite nice. Not superb, by any means, but still very nice. 8/10
Character: Characterization is tied incredibly deeply with the storyline of this whole thing, and thus doesn't quite match up to expectations. It, however, receives a higher score than storyline for the simple reason that the characters maintain far greater continuity than the storyline itself (even if they don't remember each other, their personalities and motivations don't do any great flips or flops, generally). 5/10
Enjoyment: There is great documentation of people deriving a perverse pleasure from watching train wrecks, car crashes and the resulting rescue operations. Frankly, I think those would be more enjoyable than continuing to read this. It isn't absolutely horrible, but I can't see myself continuing to read this for any reason than to see what other bizarre leaps the mangaka has in store for their characters, and only then when no train wrecks or car crashes are available to satiate my stranger moods. 4/10
Overall: 5/10 I'm fairly sure this manga will appeal to some, but it just doesn't to me.
No one I've seen has had a good idea of what is going on in this manga, so I would suggest that you read as much as you can stand of it and then start looking for other’s interpretations of whet they think is going on. (Note: other people’s input helps A LOT here) A few interpretation are presented latter in this review but they are very wordy and should only be attempted after you give up or finish the manga.
WARNING! GO READ THE MANGA SOME BEFORE PROGRESSING
For a story, Fushigi no Kuni no Shounen Arisu seems to hold a weak continuity and story
line reusing the same characters to tell “love” stories between the Prince of Hearts and Arisu. Don't worry if you aren’t into man love ect. it isn’t that kind of manga, however you should be weirded out occasionally. This strangeness adds to the enjoyment and the overall ambiance of a drug induced hallucination that was the original Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll was a Morphine addict). Hoverer, the plot is just an optical illusion, a mystery if you will, all the more dramatic when revealed at the end! The plot between chapters reads like a drug trip and is actual fascinating in that respect, understanding the action is underrated BUT if you just can’t stand it then find some one trying to interpret it and get an idea of whet other people think. This sort of ruins the mystery, like flipping to the back of a mystery novel so be warned. Each progressing chapter blurs the line between unrelated side stories, dream sequences and the “actual story” resulting in characters developing in story lines seemingly unrelated to the plot. All in all, the confusion seems to have subtle patterns indicating a rhyme and reason to the literature further confusing you. This strangeness is one of the reasons I think this is a great manga. Anything that gets you going “What the heck was that!” hours or even day later is a true work of art, maybe it won’t be enjoyable but it will always be fascinating and I think this makes Fushigi no Kuni no Shounen Arisu a fantastic read.
The other reason I so greatly enjoy the series is that I think Arisu becomes a great tortured character. Arisu’s overall personality and the sort of “self hate that should be developing but isn’t” as he progresses through the story line are my favorite way that writers mess with characters. His agony and confusion in latter stories as everything becomes subtly wrong to him, even himself and eventually when he just breaks down because everything he ever knew or believed becomes wrong and the only thing left in his faded memories stretching back as far as he can remember is the Prince of Hearts. That is some sad stuff, but great reading. Stockholm syndrome for the win!
What is actual strings the chapters together, for everyone who just doesn't get it. Its ok if you have read the manga three times and asked your friends and forums and you still don’t get it. This is the natural order of things, sit down with a dictionary and I will explain.
Pre work: do not begin reading until you understand the following terms!
Dimension/ Plane of Existence
“Alternate” or “Parallel” Reality
#Idea 1 No continuity: nothing in any of the chapters can be thought of as effecting any of the other chapters, if it seems like it does then it is just to mess you up.
#Idea 2 More than one Arisu: Every time Arisu enters Wonderland or returns home, he never does, in fact he shifts to one that is almost, but not quite, the same as the last one he was in which was just vacated by another Arisu. This is an adequate explanation and what gave me my final aha moment, answer #3.
#3 Power of a God: Arisu doesn't know it, however due to the nature of wonderland as explained by Alice and shown in chapter two he has the ability to change wonderland with only his thoughts. When he retuned, he somehow took a bit of wonderland with him and though the manga as it is demonstrates that he can return to Wonderland, he subconsciously forms the wonderland and bases what he is creating on his own world view and recreates himself a bit with it. This normally wouldn’t be too bad, he would end up taller, handsomer and a better singer than he formerly was, but no big deal. However, the constant bombardment of affection from the Prince of Hearts causes a problem, all of those little things that you do that are out of character and dirty little thoughts that you have combined with the Prince’s attempts at Arisu and the general chaos are stacking up into a knock back combo pushing Arisu from what he was to what people (the prince) think he is. It certainly doesn't help that each jump smears Arisu’s memories eventually leaving his only constant input as “You are Alice, bride to me the prince of hearts! Come away with me and we will be married”.
Following this mental recreation of everything creates the following changes and stationary concepts over the chapters. The Prince of Hearts gets more manly going from crybaby to playboy to finally loving man as Arisu tuns him into the manly man he can love. Arisu slowly shifts from “the Arisu who got on the bus” to “the Alice that is to be wed to The Prince of Hearts” because this concept has become a solid rock in an ocean of confusion and change. Also fairly constant are “Arisu is a man, he live here” and “The White Rabbit”. What is really going on in the end is that Arisu dreaming, fantasizing, what ifs, self doubts, and the Prince’s superior force of will are destroying Arisu’s stable image of reality causing Arisu to create reality as he thinks it is, unstable thus creating more chaos. Repeat this cycle 2 or 3 times and you have the manga.
You may also want to decode individual chapters and for that you really need to put them into any of three categories: Reality, Lucid Dreams and Unconscious Dreams. Reality is what you think of as the core of the continuity he is not in wonderland and he is Arisu. Lucid dreams are chapters were Arisu has total memory and is in wonderland or an actual dream, everything make comparative sense but has an unrealistic tinge. He remembers these experiences fairly well and they are always as much of an influence as reality is either directly or though reshaping of Arisu’s world view. Unconscious dreams are those side stories that seem to not be part of the continuity at all. These are where Arisu creates a world that isn’t related to the story, plays out a story and then tweaks the characters based on what you see in that story. If these are real honest to god dreams or trips to wonderland with everything made weird, I don’t know, but everyone has a new history for the course of the dream and never remembers it latter on so even if it is just as real as everything else the only part of it that matters outside of the dream is that little part that is subtly altered because of the dream.
I hope this gave you some new eyes to try and reread the manga with or if you were bad and read all of the way through convinced you to read it once. It is worth the examination.