This is a review for Soumei Hoshino's reverse harem manga called "Alice in the Country of Smexy Bishounen." The Japanese name is "Smexy Bishounen no Kuni no Alice." It's supposed to be based off of Lewis Carroll's classic tale. I've read the original book and, well, this isn't very similar.
Story: The story of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" has been retold many times and in many media. The animated Disney® movie is fantastical and lovable and probably one of my favorite movies (and is pretty faithful to the book). The one with Johnny Depp is a total letdown, and it's nothing like the original story. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is this manga. It follows Alice, a young girl, down the rabbit hole where she finds a bunch of hot guys. For an example of what happens, think of "Ouran High School Host Club" or "Vampire Knight:" Bishounen are practically created here. Alice learns that all the men of Wonderland will love her, and that, to get back home, she must interact with them until her cute little vial is full of... some liquid. So she goes on her merry way, meeting bishies and the occasional pretty woman along the way. Some bishies are more important than others, but they all seem to love Alice to some extent, even though a certain one seems to not care for her.
There is quite a bit of violence and people dying, but very little gore or even blood, and the manga-ka seems to dislike drawing dead bishies. However, it may catch some readers off-guard. (But, on the other hand, it cannot be as scary as seeing Johnny Depp!)
It's an interesting (and fanservice-laden) twist on the original story, but isn't original enough. Plus, it doesn't really follow the book. (For example, no Mock Turtle here!)
Art: There is some damn good artwork here. Soumei Hoshino knows how to draw incredibly good-looking men. Every guy looks 100% f*ckable (to put it not-so-lightly), which could either work or not work. Of course, catering to girls' fantasies can be viewed as the intention of all shoujo, but I didn't mind. (Though it did seem a little odd when, say, the Cheshire Cat is a hot young man instead of a creepy smiling cat.) The character designs didn't remind me of animals or Carroll's creatures, save for some animal ears and whatnot. Alice, on the other hand, looks like my mind's eye's view of Alice--short, pretty, blonde and wears a simplistic dress. (Thank you, animated movie.) The Queen is disturbingly gorgeous.
Background art is pretty, as it should be for such a tale, but most scenes aren't very detailed. The violence isn't too gory or, um, violent. (Think something more along the lines of "Vampire Knight" instead of "Higurashi.") Guns look fine, but I'm no gun otaku. The fantasy isn't really here, though. One of my favorite scenes from the animated movie is when Alice falls down the rabbit hole and is surrounded by rocking chairs, books and towers. In this, Alice falls down the rabbit hole... and ends up in Wonderland. No trippy visuals at all.
Characters: Expect little-to-no resemblance to their classical counterparts.
(I had a damn good time looking up pictures for this.) Characters: Blonde girl: Alice Liddel; man with silver hair and bunny ears: Peter White; man with black hair and teacup: Blood Dupre; man with black hair and eye patch: Nightmare; man with black hair in background: Julius Monrey; man with blonde hair and bunny ears: Elliot March; man with red coat: Ace; woman with black hair: Vivaldi (Queen of Hearts); man with violin: Merry Gowland; man with pink hair and cat ears: Boris; identical twin boys with black hair: Dee and Dum.
Alice Liddel: She certainly got on my nerves. I have an automatic hate for all "Mary Sue" characters, so of course I'm going to dislike her. She seems to be pretty unfazed by the fact that she is in one weird-ass land, but that's fine. At some point, one of the faceless cards (read: We, the inhabitants of Wonderland, don't give a f*ck about you) is about to be killed. Alice jumps in, and everyone is confused. He's worthless, so why would you care for him, Alice? She responds by saying that no life is worth nothing--everyone is important. Okay, that's kind of you... but are you seriously fine with the fact that THEY MIGHT KILL YOU?!? (They didn't, obviously, but that's not the point.) Later on, a bunch of servants are killed right in front of her. Now, a few things could happen because of this.
A.) You lose your sanity and start killing with reckless abandon.
B.) You feel bad for the people, but run away in fear.
C.) You puke. How disgusting it is to see dead bodies!
D.) You turn around and stab the killer.
E.) You faint.
Sure, sure, many things could happen. What does little Alice-chan do? Why, the only logical thing: She sits down and cries for those who have died, because she TOTALLY sees people being murdered every day. It's as normal as reading a book for her. Sheesh. Realistic? I've never encountered this situation, but I don't think so. It'd be more likely she'd scream bloody murder.
Peter White: In the immortal words of Ayuzawa Misaki, "Perverted alien stalker!" He follows her around like a second shadow and proclaims (multiple times!) that he loves her. Yeah, everyone here does. That's the freaking point. When he realizes that Alice is irritated by him, he turns into his (effing adorable) bunny form. When the screams of "OMG KAWAII!!" by fangirls die down, Alice deflates and does everything he wants. I guess this makes him a bit of a douche.
Blood Dupre: He looks like the man from, ahem, non-Wonderland on whom Alice has a crush. So she loves him from square one. He doesn't care and shoos away her advances. Poor girl. Crush on someone who cares! Also, his name gets a little confusing. Are these people saying "blood" as in the red liquid running through our arteries and veins, or "Blood" as in this guy?
Nightmare: No, he is not scary; rather, he's a sickly young man. Evidently, he is... something, the explanation of whom he is puzzled me.
Julius Monrey: The man who fixes the clocks (if I continue on this subject, I will reveal a minor spoiler). He houses Alice, but it's not sexual, if you catch my drift.
Elliot March: He looks like Peter in some scenes, so watch out for that. He's an unmemorable character. (And I'm not kidding about that. I can't remember him. >.>)
Ace: The ONLY guy who doesn't love Alice. (Unless he's lying. The sly bastard.) He provides most of the gore of the manga, and might be my favorite character, for some reason.
Vivaldi: The drop-dead gorgeous queen of the land is much kinder than the queen of the original. Sure, she beheads her servants, but it isn't shown and is said only in passing. Mostly, she's a sort of sisterly figure to Alice, which makes her seem like a replacement for Alice's real sister. That really sucks.
Merry Gowland: A very cheesy pun makes up his name. He runs the amusement park, and I'm sure some people find him to be annoying.
Boris: Our scantily-clad version of the Cheshire Cat, he loves Alice and is on good terms with her. Not much to say here.
Dee and Dum: What is wrong with them? They say they like Alice (and view her as a sister), but they also try to kill her? LOL what? Come again?
No depth, no development and no backstories make for flat and bland characters. Some are unlikable, while others are simply boring.
Overall: A mediocre take on the "Alice in Wonderland" genre. Better than the live-action crap, but oh-so-inferior to the animated movie. Maybe it's due to the lack of whimsy (isn't that kind of the whole point of the story?!).