Alice In Borderland (2020 - 2022) Review
Movies or TV shows centered around survival games have been around for as long as I can remember. In most cases, it shows the brutality of humans when they are in dire situations. It shows that when people are in desperation, they become beasts.
Alice In Borderland deals with the exact survival-esque nature that people must do to stay alive. Although the title rhymes and contains some elements of the famous Disney classic film, this is nothing close to that.
This is based on the popular manga written by Haro Aso.
We follow the story of Ryohei Arisu, a video-gamed-obsessed person who frequently hangs out with his friends Chota and Karube. One sunny afternoon, the three friends caused a commotion in Shibuya Crossing and were chased down by police. They hid in the bathroom for several minutes until the authorities were gone. When they reemerged, they noticed that the seemingly populated streets of Tokyo were now empty.
The three of them wait it out until night when an announcement that a game will start at a specific location. They went to the area and inside the game arena, where a batch of smartphones awaited them. The devices, when touched, display the difficulty of the game represented by numbers and the type they are going to play, represented by suits (spade, heart, diamond, club). Two women joined them. One of them was Shibuki, who instructed them that once they entered the game, the only way to escape was to finish it. The game they will play is called "Dead or Alive." The rules are simple, each room has two doors, and there's a time limit for the group to decide on the right door. They will die if they fail to choose one or exceed the time limit.
Although the group successfully managed to outlast the trial due to Arisu's wittiness, they didn't come out unscathed, as Choto's leg was burned. After they finished the game, they were given visas which told them how much time they had. To earn visas, one must participate and win in those games. If the visa runs out, a laser beam will shoot you out and kill you.
Arisu and Karube soon joined another game with a spade-type difficulty and won. They also meet Yuzuha Usagi, a skilled mountain climber who wants to win every game, the strong Morizono Aguni, and the cunning Shuntaro Chishiya, who explains to them what the suits are. They managed to outlast the trial and learned more about the place they were in. Arisu, Chota, Karube, and Shibuki joined in the third game. The difficulty is Seven of Hearts which means the game is about betrayal. The rules are simple. One will survive, while the three will die after the time limit expires. Arisu must quickly choose who to save or let his friends die by saving himself.
Throughout its two seasons, we have been presented with many games and their types, but first, we need to explore what each suit means.
Club - the cooperation game. The first game that Arisu participated in was along with his friends. To beat this game, teamwork is a must. It is virtually impossible to outlast this trial individually.
Spade - the physical game. The most challenging game in Alice in Borderland is arguably a spade-type. To win this game, you must work as a team to beat the enemies or be physically strong to out-muscle your opponents. The second game that Arisue participated with Usagi, Chishiya, Aguni, and Karube.
Diamond - the intellectual game. This is Chishiya's specialty because of his witty personality. We don't see many diamond games throughout the series, which makes it disappointing.
Heart - the betrayal game. This is Arisu's specialty. This game challenges one's idea of trust and betrayal. It's either someone who is sent to participate in the game or lets others kill themselves to win. There is no formula for winning the game. It's either you trust or betray others.
The game's difficulty is determined by its number. The first season explores the numbered cards from Ace to Ten, while the second season focuses on the face cards from Jack to King.
In its two seasons, we were introduced to many characters but focused only on a handful of main ones.
Ryohei Arisu - the main character. For most of the series, his personality is an emotional rollercoaster. His primary story starts after his first heart challenge, where he must choose who to save. Usagi soon accompanied him, and they finished several trials together until they were brought to a haven called "The Beach."
Yuzuha Usagi - the female lead A very skilled mountain climber. She also knows basic survival skills. At first, she is determined to complete every trial individually. She soon realized that she needed companions to finish some of the most challenging games, especially those that needed cooperation.
Shuntaro Chishiya - the cunning one. His personality was always a mystery, especially during the first season. His backstory is revealed during the second season. His initial goal was to take the Hatter's deck of cards for himself. He always excels in intellectual-type games and solves them with his incredible wit.
Ann Rizuna - One of the executive members of The Beach. She is a forensic expert and solves games by rational thinking. She becomes an essential ally to Arisu, especially during the second season.
Hikari Kuina - a close friend of Chishiya. She is transgender and knows martial arts. She also becomes a trusted ally of Arisu.
Morizono Aguni - the strong one. During the first season, he becomes a semi-villain but is a valuable and strong ally during the second season. He was a close friend of "Hatter" and was one of the founders of "The Beach."
Suguru Niragi - one of the most dangerous members of "The Beach." He was a villain during the first season and often butts head with Chishiya and Kuina. We learn more of his backstory in the second season when he teams up with Arisu and Usagi.
What's astounding about this series is that it doesn't let you breathe. The story is fast-paced, letting you in for a fast and bumpy ride. It starts and ends with a lot of action, battle scenes, and a little drama.
The first season focuses more on the background of the Borderlands and the state of the people in it. We learn how they are desperate to win games, showing their survival instincts kicking into place as soon as their emotions are tested. We are also presented with various characters other than Arisu and Usagi. The show gets more interesting in the second half when the two main leads are in the place called "the Beach." Where the Hatter established a haven for people to enjoy after winning the games
The second season follows right after the first. However, the trials are more defined and dangerous than the initial season. The suspense and action also level up and keeps you on your toes more.
Alice in Borderland thrives on gripping action sequences and character development to deliver a fast-paced story.
A very solid 4 out of 5 stars.