Alice in Borderland returns for an explosive second season
Alice in Borderland, based on the manga series of the same name by Haro Aso, is a rare example of a live-action remake living up to the precedence created by its original counterpart, perhaps even exceeding it. The story centres around individuals from Tokyo who inexplicably find themselves thrown into a crazy dystopian world known as "Borderland," being forced to compete in deadly games to survive. Failure to comply in the games will wind down their "visas" or result in their brutal deaths.
Season 2 picks off right where the first season ended, as the main character, Arisu, and his friends are left standing at Tokyo's Shibuya Square. A quick flashback of Arisu playing a shooting game on his computer alone in his room transitions smoothly into him running desperately for his life as a deadly gunman, the King of Spades, tries to shoot him and the other players down in Borderland. The danger is amped up as the faceless game masters start revealing themselves one by one as Arisu and his friends fight for their lives in the games.
From intricate characterisation and backstories to new team dynamics, this season of Alice in Borderland takes what made the first season such a fan favourite and builds an interesting and compelling story around it. Instead of the core group of characters sticking together, they are forced to branch off into smaller groups of duos and trios, which allows a deeper exploration of their individual arcs.
We learn about the past lives of characters like the cool and witty Chishiya and the jolly Tatta. Even the villains get their screen time, sharing their sides of the story. Although some characters get less screen time than they deserve, it is still interesting to see such a diverse cast of characters brought together by love, loss, and friendship.
Just like the games in Borderland have multiple layers, the messages they convey are also intricately layered and deep. From questioning the value of human life, to deciding who deserves to live and who dies – the games take unexpected psychological turns that leave even the viewers questioning the truth.
It all comes to a crescendo when Arisu discovers a shocking truth about the games – that all the "citizens" of Borderland, including the game masters and their helpers, were originally players, too. They competed in the games and were given a choice to either leave or become a part of Borderland forever.
So, does that mean there is no escape? Does the world they originally came from even exist anymore? Is returning to the "real world" even worth it? Or are they forever stuck in this lawless fantasy, doomed to be the ones forcing players to play the devilish games after they've cleared all the levels?
But be warned, this is definitely not a series for the faint of heart. It doesn't shy away from showing the violent ugliness of human nature and the stark cruelty of people living in a lawless world. But for those brave enough to venture into the world of Borderland, the show is captivating enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seats until the end.
Though the whirlwind ending does leave viewers with more questions than answers, the end scene teases more to come and a deeper look into Borderland and its purpose in further seasons. The immersive music scores, high-budget CGI action scenes, multi-layered game designs, and high-stakes storytelling make Alice in Borderland such a suspenseful, intense, compelling, and all too addictive series, perfect for binging this holiday season.
Sara Kabir is a dreamer, a Literature graduate, and a writer. She is often found juggling academics and her countless hobbies. Follow her @scarletfangirl on Instagram for more.