Too bad Alice – she’s no sooner seen a show about missing girls all over Tokyo than her friend Tamami gets an SMS invite to a new game that draws her into the phone! In Alice’s attempts to save her, she is also sucked in, and now she is stuck in the world of Love Color School Stars, probably the worst otome phone game ever written. If she wants to return to the real world, she’ll have to win the game by raising a top idol group, and too bad if she’s not interested. So Alice quickly grabs five guys from the huge selection screen and dives in…
…with half a dog who comes with his own dog sitter, a giant, 41-year-old man who reversed his time to his cutest point then froze him, a ghost and a guy who measures eight inches. She also faces off against Tamami, who has fully invested herself otaku mode and has no intention of ever leaving the game world again. silver. She’s also fully aware that while Tamami and the other missing Tokyo girls (and the women; one person she’s a worker against) were all singled out because they’re obsessive consumers of this kind of game, she is just there because she foolishly tried to save a friend from an isekai experience she really wanted. Alice’s betrayal by Tamami is treated lightly and doesn’t really factor into the story, but Alice’s sense of annoyance and resentment still comes through. very clearly. If you thought the guy in Konosuba hurt, poor Alice beat him.
Fortunately, this little two-volume series is also very funny – I laughed out loud several times in each volume, which is a good sign. The story is a perfect send-off of otome and gacha game tropes, emphasizing how weird and scary it can be to live in one of those worlds. For example, for all the many isekai series that take place in a game-like world, we hardly ever see one with a “new character” gacha option; it is not true for Alice in Bishounenland. It doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about how uncomfortable it is, but a scene where you see the guys squirming around inside the capsules and someone comments that Alice should hurry up and put the coins on so that ‘they can all get out of there more than get the job done. And naturally, Alice can get duplicates from guys she already interacts with, which is just as weird as it sounds. For the guys too – despite the fact that Alice now lives in the game, the boys she’s supposed to raise as idols are all aware that they’re in a game and most of the features of the game remain; they even practice with what they flatly call mini-games. It’s patently ridiculous, and that’s a big part of the story’s charm. Other self-aware moments include one of the characters getting pixelated when trying to get him to spend real money on in-game money, how pathetic the much-vaunted CG is and how Alice can’t help noticing how very, very badly everything is written.
Luckily for us, the manga itself isn’t poorly written, or translated for that matter. The major issue is that the money is given in dollars rather than yen, which I have mixed feelings about. While I understand the urge to use a motto that may be more immediately familiar to readers who haven’t read a lot of manga before, this particular series is so steeped in the tropes of a few very specific elements of Japanese pop culture that ‘She doesn’t feel like a title that someone who isn’t already a manga or light novel reader would pick up in the first place. Perhaps more of an argument could be made for the attractive gameplay for otome mobile game players, a fair amount of which are available in any given app store, but that still seems a bit hypocritical. But that ruling aside, the humor clearly shines through in the English translation, and there are even a few bonus gags for French speakers among readers, such as the fact that the school of the game Alice attends is called “L ‘école High School’, which translates to ‘The School High School’. The art also does a great job of conveying the humor and sheer madness of the story, especially half-dog Kensuke and his dogitter and the giant fortress Kyojima. Bad CG has to be seen to be believed, but it’s worth it.
Although the series is brief, something that seems to have been the decision of the creators rather than the magazine, it actually works in its favor. The premise could have suffered from being too long, and the conclusion we get is, if a bit rushed, just as crazy as the rest of the series. Simply put, this is a deliberately crazy take on the story of isekai and otome games, and as such it works impressively. There’s more to enjoy if you’re familiar with the particular game genre(s) the story is set in, but simple familiarity with idol stories will also suffice for you to get most of it. jokes. And as a bonus, the second volume contains a long discussion of the process that artist Yukito undergoes when designing a Volkswagen figure, which is interesting in a whole other way. Alice in Bishounenland is great fun the next time you need a laugh.