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Manga / Alice in Borderland

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I'm tired of trying
Like my name carved on the wall
All the hypocrisy up till now
Has rusted the chronic chain of grief
On my cruising lane.

"In this world, I'm neither a hero nor a sorcerer. Heck, I'm not even a player. I'm just an NPC villager. I just wanted freedom from this meaningless reality. Escapism, delusions, Peter Pan syndrome. It doesn't matter what you called it. Haven't you also wished for similar things in your life?"
The prologue of the OVA from the protagonist, Arisu Ryohei

Alice in Borderland is a manga series created by Haro Aso.

The story focuses on Arisu Ryohei or better known as the titular "Alice". He is a juvenile delinquent who has a poor luck in life and also will leave the Highschool soon. Bored with his current life and his down luck to the point he avoid thinking about his own future, he mostly hangs around with his friends, Daikichi Karube who is a bartender that runs the bar Arisu and his friends mostly spends their time hanging around so they can talk with each other and Chota Segawa, a playful person who has a huge interest with pretty girls and tries to woo them.

Like Arisu, both Chota and Karube are bored with their current live to the point that both of the three wants to go somewhere else. During their stay at the station, suddenly a fireworks appeared in front of them and after one blindingly bright explosion thanks to said fireworks, the three are transported to the other world which looks like Tokyo but is much more barren and abandoned that it looks like a scenery that takes place After the End.


At first, Arisu, Chota and Karube are enjoying their lives in this new world. However, it was not until they discovered another person named Saori Shibukiu who also got transported to another world with the same circumstances. After the four went into a place that surprisingly has the electricity on, it turns out that the four of them are trapped in a place known as "The Borderland" and in this world, people are forced to play a hard game and were given a visa in order to stay in this world. Anyone who didn't play the game despite the visa already reached its deadline or losing said game, they will die no matter what the circumstances are. As a result, both Arisu, Chota, Karube and Saori tries to survive in the harsh environment of the Borderland no matter what it takes despite the games itself can crush them both physically and mentally.


Despite the manga itself doesn't have an anime, it has 3 Episodes OVAs by SILVER LINK. released in 2014 until 2015.

This manga contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Although Arisu is the main focus of the story, several characters in the manga are also portrayed as the main characters, mainly in the special chapters, to give their point of view about the games that they have to endure. One of the best examples is in the Jack of Hearts chapter, which focuses on 20 players in a deadly game of solitary confinement. Most of the characters in said chapters have no relationships with Arisu or the other side characters who had been featured in previous chapters.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Arisu's father, a superintendent in the education department, intensely dislikes Arisu because he considers him a really stupid person and always compares him to his more competent younger brother, who is a honor student. As a result, his father often neglects him. He also meddles with Arisu's life, such as moving the teacher to another school in order to stop Arisu's new hobby even though said teacher influenced him to become an aspiring guitarist.
    • Kuina's father is a strict Dojo master as he trains her harshly and, at one point, he always scolds Kuina because she doesn't deliver a final blow against her opponent in training and sometimes beats her up to the point she ends up changing her sex in a sex reassignment surgery to become a girl. It was also revealed that Kuina's father also divorced her mother when the latter was sick.
    • Aguni's father is an alcoholic who repeatedly abuses his son and wife when he is returning home carrying another drink, to the point that his mother ran away from home. This resulted in Aguni being motivated to beat his father when he got stronger. However, his father died of alcohol poisoning.
  • Alice Allusion: The title is a pun of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Arisu is close to the name Alice. The final game of the manga is against the Queen of Hearts in Croquet, where the difficulty is not on the games itself, but the circumstances surrounding it.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Characters like Takeru Danma/Boshiya, Aguni Morizono, Ginji Kyuma and Hikari Kuina look like someone from Caribbean islands or southern parts of Africa rather than a natural Japanese person. This is understandable due to the art style used by the author. Also, Hikari is revealed to be transgender in the manga.
  • An Arm and a Leg: One of the players in Borderland, Akane Heiya, lost her left leg after struggling to escape from the baseball arena. It was destroyed by the initial burst of hot water, which resulted in it being amputated. This is a reflection of what she was experiencing in the real world, as after Japan got struck with a meteor, her left leg was amputated with a Flex-Foot Cheeta.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The final game against Mira, the Queen of Hearts was definitely rough, but not for anything about the game. Arisu nearly loses due to Mira's mind games, but once he overcomes her mind games, all he has to do to win is play a simple game of Croquet. He doesn't even have to win. Mira takes her failure to mentally break Arisu without concern and happily plays through the game knowing she will die at the end.
  • Art Evolution: Compare the beginning of the series to even just an arc or two past that. Arisu himself goes from fairly plain-looking yet simple to a much more rough yet realistic design, and the background detail also significantly goes up the further one reads in the series.
  • Attempted Rape: One of the members of the Beach, Suguru Niragi, attempts to rape Usagi when she tries to steal one of the Beach's cards and then he attempts to rape her again when he is seemingly losing with his team in a game known as King of Clubs.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Seven of Spades starts off introducing a boxer as the POV character and when the game actually starts and killing most of them, it proceed to the lone survivor of the game, a seemingly vain Akane Heiya.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Several characters, such as Rizuna An and Hikari Kuina, wear outfits that expose their midriffs even after the association that they joined known as the Beach is disbanded. Several characters from the Beach also qualify as this due to one of the rules being that the members should wear swimsuits or summerwear.
  • The Bartender: Karube, one of Arisu's friends, works in a pub where Arisu and his other friend, Chota, frequently visit so that they can talk with each other.
  • Big Bad: Mira Kanou, one of the citizens of Borderland, is the closest thing that this series has, because her games are responsible for Arisu's depressed state and is also the last enemy to be dealt with. Amusingly, she is the Queen of Hearts, which is technically one rank lower than the King, which is cleared off-screen before her game
  • Call-Back: At the end when we see the survivors recovering at the hospital, aside from the named characters, we see some one off characters who also survived such as the girl from the bus in the tunnel game and the little boy who in the final phase of the game only had 1 day left.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: After being bullied in the past, Niragi has one purpose: to become the most hated person in the world, then proudly fall into Hell. He also doesn't regret the deplorable actions that he has committed.
  • The Caligula: After spending a long time in Borderland, Takeru Danma slowly becomes this as the leader of the Beach. He has no hesitation in killing the residents who don't offer the card to him and kills any person who betrays him.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The fates of a large number of players, whether by other players, the games or other circumstances. One game highlight: players who fail calculations end up getting melted down by acid where they sit, leaving a smoldering corpse the series thankfully doesn't focus on.
  • Deadly Game: One of the premises of the manga itself. A lot of people called "the players" who were trapped in Borderland were forced to play a deadly game in order to extend their visa and find some clues in order to get out of the Borderland. Once their visa ends, they will be shot by a laser in the sky. Said games can break some people's psychology, especially when some of their loved ones can die or be pressured by the hard challenges in the game.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Despite being a successful entrepreneur, one of the players in Borderland, Yuji Mahiru, desperately looks for the purpose of his own existence by traveling around the world before being sent into Borderland.
    • Arisu's ultimate conflict comes down to this. He spends most of the story searching for the reason the Borderland exists, a reason that his friends all had to die. The final game, the Queen of Hearts, preys on his all encompassing need to have meaning to it all. She deduces that his desperation to find meaning in the Borderland, even at the risk of losing the final game, comes from a deeper desire to find the meaning of his own life, which so far has been meandering and pointless. It is only in giving up his search for some grand meaning and simply living his life to the fullest he can that Arisu is able to come to terms with everything in the story and clear the final game.
  • Double-Meaning Title: In one of the side stories, a group comes across a Club game called "Run Away". The find themselves trapped in a very long tunnel, with timers counting down next to gates that almost certainly contain things that are no good for the group. To top it off, one of them gets his leg injured almost immediately. Considering the name of the game, they all begin to run down the tunnel, but the man and the girl helping him along are clearly lagging behind until they reach a bus. Upon finding the bus doesn't run, most of the group continues running, but the girl and injured man stay behind. Shortly after, the runners are forced to deal with, in succession, jaguars, a flood of water that contains alligators, extreme cold, and finally an unavoidable explosion. The final runner, abandoning everyone else, reaches a dead end. He then realizes that if they had all just stayed on the bus at the start, they would have been able to survive everything. On the bus was a dictionary that was marked so that they could see that another meaning of "run away" is an effortless victory, like a "runaway success". Ultimately, only the girl and the injured man survive the test, though the man is revealed to be one of the people running the tests after the girl leaves to go find him first aid.
  • Too Dumb to Live: During the Jack of Hearts game, the girl Urumi puts together a group that are all supposed to work together. But she begins manipulating the group into turning on each other for no particular reason, leading to deaths within the group. When the others catch on to the pointlessness of it all, she is quickly killed and removed from play.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Multiple secondary characters are introduced in side stories that were released long before they meet the main cast in the main story.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the Jack of Hearts game, Yaba is a scumbag who manipulates the weak willed woman Shiga into being his partner by convincing her that he's the only one she can trust while secretly working with the psychopath Banda to win the game. While Shiga is hypnotized into turning on Yaba, Yaba keeps giving her the correct information she needs to live, even when the hypnotism leads her to lie to him about what he needs to live. When Banda says he would have given her the wrong info, Yaba says that he knew he didn't like him. Also Yaba disapproves of Banda's sadism, even though he makes no attempt to stop him from indulging in his proclivities.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In each game, there is usually at least one losing character who takes their imminent death with grace.
  • Fair-Play Villain: During the final arc, how fair each face card citizen varies. The king of Diamonds and King of Clubs both play their games fair and square, on even ground with any opponents who face them. The Jack of Hearts on the other hand cheats by having a prosthetic eye that tells him exactly the information he needs to know, that other players have to rely on each other to get. How you feel about the King of Spades (a soldier who can be sent any weapon he needs by his blimp when all his targets have to survive on whatever they can scavenge) and the Queen of Hearts (puts a chemical compound in the tea she serves Arisu to mentally break him) may vary, as what they did isn't explicitly against the rules of their games, but it isn't exactly fair.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted with Arisu's friends from the real world. They die rather early on in the story, but their deaths haunt Arisu throughout the story.
  • False Utopia: The beach is seemingly the only peaceful place in the harsh environment of Borderland. Up until it is revealed that it isn't as peaceful as it appears to be because of the boss of the beach, Takeru Danma, known as Boshiya, kills some people if they're not offering their cards and sometimes executes some people who betray the beach. Not only that, in the past, the beach was revealed to be a bit of a rule-less dystopia as leisure facilities, suicide, drug abuse, violence and sexual assault became more common in the Beach, which results on Boshiya creating false hope for the Beach residents.
  • Fanservice: The chapters involving the association called the Beach have a lot of people wearing their swimsuits. However, it soon becomes Fan Disservice due to the dark secrets that the Beach has, such as the corpses scattered in the secret part of the beach. Said corpses are the people who failed to get the cards for their leader, Takeru Danma.
  • Fantastic Drug: One of the strategies that Mira has to defeat Arisu. In the final battle, Mira gives Arisu tea filled with a drug that can make someone fall into a huge depression and make them easy to manipulate. Fortunately, Usagi is there and alert enough to not drink the tea and successfully save Usagi from quitting
  • Familyof Choice: A topic that comes up during the King of Spades battle royal event. Three people - a boy, a man and a woman - meet by chance, all because the K - who has been depicted as a unstopable force capable of slaughtering a entire squad of players - has been chasing the boy into the woods due to a chance wind making him miss his mark. They bond while under fire from the K and their mutual dark issues, and in the middle of a typhoon they challenge the K to one last showdown together, because they choose to protect eachother from the K in their own way and make sure NOBODY in the family is dying this day. The family unit wins.
  • Genre-Busting: The manga could be considered as a darker version of Isekai. Despite being an Isekai, it's not a fantasy manga and is more of a survival psychological thriller with a mix of drama and tragedy, considering the games in the Borderland that could mentally break the minds of the players.
  • Gainax Ending: In the last chapters of the manga, before Arisu and the rest of the surviving players are sent into the real world where they belong, Arisu meets with a being that looks like a god at first and it is revealed that the surviving players in the real world were the survivors of the meteor that strikes Japan and people who died in Borderland were the people who died from said meteor. Arisu is one of the people who survive the near-death experience.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • After his 3 friends sacrifice themselves in the game of Seven of Hearts, Arisu suffers a severe BSOD to the point he becomes a pessimistic train wreck. This also becomes a plot point, as the guilt that burdens him haunts him when he is taken as a hostage by Beach members.
    • The results of King of Clubs game breaks Arisu further, as it requires the death of a teammate in order to win against the King of Clubs, who is amiable that Arisu wishes to be friends with. This makes him quit the games along with Usagi for a week until a confrontation between Niragi & Chisaya prompts him & Usagi to join for one last game.
  • Infant Immortality: During the entire story, we only see one child who is younger than highschool age, with another character noting that he needs to play a game since he only has 1 day left. At the end of the story, we see that he survived to the end and reunited with his mother at the hospital.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Queen of Hearts uses it sometimes in the games she makes, in her own game of Croquet, and sometimes just to fuck with the Players at random. She even gets Arisu jumping though psychological hoops at one point just by fucking around with his expectations of what The Answer is/will be.
  • Intelligence = Isolation: It's explored a lot during the Diamond game sidestories - Chisihiya himself is intelligent to an almost-sociopathic degree, and often turns the Diamond games almost into Heart ones just from his level of intelligence and lack of regard for his own life or others. The King of Diamonds is the opposite of him - he cares about the value of other people's lives to the point he has become numb to everything and is using his position as King to try and find SOME rationality to it all. The K match is what helps Chishiya finally become a better person, ironically because Chishiya used Heart tactics - just showing the K his chosen number and forcing him to decide what his life is worth - to win.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from getting severely burned, Niragi ultimately survives the Borderland and does seem to come out the other side any better a person than he did going in. And even the burns don't seem to bother him too much.
    • The two winners of the Jack of Hearts game, a death row inmate and sociopathic executive, both survive their final game without any real hardship, spend the rest of the series relaxing in a penthouse, and choose to stay in the Borderland to inflict suffering on whoever is taken there in the next iteration.
  • Killed Off for Real: Arisu's friends, Chota and Karube, are truly killed off for real after playing the game of Seven Hearts. They also won't be coming back into the real world, considering they are among the victims of the meteor that strikes Japan. The fate of Chota and Karube is also experienced by those who don't survive the harsh environment of Borderland.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Even if the Beach were disbanded, Hikari Kuina is one of the people who shows a lot of skin even in her regular clothes. Rizuna An comes close to Kuina due to her regular outfit exposing her midriff and showing her legs.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Arisu's name means Alice and Usagi's name means bunny. This makes sense in context, as the manga takes cues from Alice in Wonderland.
    • It is also revealed in the manga that Borderland means the realm between life and death. This was intentional by the author, as it is also revealed that Arisu and the rest of the surviving Borderland players were deeply unconscious after a meteor hits Japan.
  • Obvious Rules Patch: While players can die if their visa runs out during a game they can reasonably be expected to clear in a short period of time (such as the game on the train with the poisoned compartments), if a player is in a game that can take days at a time, they will not be killed once their visa runs out.
  • Official Couple: Despite everyone losing their memories of the Borderland, meaning Arisu and Usagi forgot all of their time together there, due to a chance meeting in the hospital, they start dating anyway.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During the final phase of the games, there are 12 final games to be played, a Jack, Queen, and King game for each card suit. We only get to see the Jack and King of Diamonds, the King of Clubs, the King of Spades, and the Jack and Queen of Hearts (and all of the participants of the Jack of Hearts are characters we have never seen before). All the other games get cleared offscreen, presumably by other "residents" of Borderland that we don't know.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted and even inverted. In the manga, some of the characters wonder how they ended up in a strange world that requires them to play deadly games to keep living. One character, a forensic scientist, muses about different supernatural and spiritual reasons they might be there. Another character asks how a scientist could still believe such things, and she replies that science has only been able to take humanity so far, and at some point there are big things that even science hasn't yet been able to tell them.
  • Random Power Ranking: The difficulty of the challenges are determined by the number (Ace being the weakest and King being the strongest) and the type of challenges are separated by suits
    • Club is balanced in brain & brawn, but the actual requirement is for the contestants to work together in order to survive together... Usually, at least - it can throw curveballs at you. Is often followed by much nastier Spade or even a Hearts event, since in Club events it's absolutly 100% neccessary to have strong team bonds.
    • Spade focuses on physical activity - Which often devolves into meatgrinder deathraps disguised as physical activity, like having a heavily armed gunman chase you around trying to kill you. It has a reputation for being nasty for a good reason.
    • Diamond focuses on mental ability - They're often based on games of chance like Blackjack and Mahjong, but it's all about calculations and knowing what your opponent is thinking. However, note Diamond's mental ability events are NOT in the same league as Hearts - These are games of mental fortitude, logic and skill, Hearts is, well...
    • Hearts focuses in psychology and considered to be the cruelest of the 4 due to it being the most effective on breaking humans. Almost all the Heart events have ridiculous death counts from paranoia or the event being custom-made to screw over as many people possible. Heart events excell in manipulation and messing with your head and/or your expectations.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never do learn what exactly the Borderland is. Mira initially tells Arisu and Usagi that the whole world is a simulation to entertain people living in a time where there is no suffering or conflict. However, after letting this soak in, she quickly reveals that she is lying, before coming up with multiple other stories, all of which are also lies. Ultimately, not even she know.
    • The story even teases at it, with 2 chapters following a man who has a camera. He eventually comes across a band of people who say they have someone who knows what the world is, as due to complications of a surgery she had as a child, she managed to be awake for the entire transition to the Borderlands. She promptly gets shot by the King of Spades moments before she is able to say anything.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The Seven of Spades game. The only reason Akane even survived at the start is because she chose NOT to go anywhere near the hole in the centre, which of cource was positioned right next to the usual instructions to the game to get all the players to gather around the hole to begin with. Yeah, Spade games are kinda like that.
  • Rosseau Was Right: Oddly enough, considering the large amount of games that actively turn the players against each other, the theme for the Seven of Hearts assumes that 3 of 4 players will sacrifice their lives so the 4th will live. And in the end, that's exactly what happens, with Arisu's friends giving their lives so he can live.
  • Serial Killer: One of the players in the Borderland, Banda Sunato, is actually a convicted inmate who rapes and murders around 5 people. It says everything about the Jack of Hearts's game that he's one of the favorites to win. It is, ironically, used against the J himself because he was eventually faced between a prospect of being tortured by a serial killer for months (because it's not against the game rules) or suicide (via explosive collar).
  • Serious Business: Usagi's father was a mountain climber who vowed to climb Mount Everest alone without an oxygen tank. When it turns out he secretly did bring a tank with him, he got publicly shamed, with him getting kicked out of his mountain climbing club, newspapers reporting on what he did, people vandalizing his house, ending with him killing himself. All because he lied about taking an oxygen tank with him while mountain climbing.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Heart Games have almost always given SOMEONE this treatment - The infamous Seven of Hearts game gives Arisu massive story-spanning issues, The Ten of Hearts game has Agni haunted by Hatter's ghost for what he did, and the King of Spades has traditional PTSD and is killing people only because for him, all the Borderlands Citizens are soldiers suffering in perpetual, unending agony, and he HAS to shoot them so they don't suffer anymore.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Spade games almost always involve guns in someway, because running away from someone who's much, much better armed than you counts as "physical activity". The King of Spades also follows this rule, except his gamefield is THE ENTIRE BORDERLANDS instead of some small enclosed space. The K also has the best kind of military equipment available to hunt down EVERYONE with, including his own blimp just in case you try hiding and fortifying in some high-altitude space.
  • Stripperific:
    • After the Beach is disbanded, Hikaru Kuina wears an outfit that consists of a black bra and white trousers as her normal outfit.
    • Rizuna An wears a shirt that exposes her midriff and very short pants that expose her legs.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: After completing the King of Clubs game, Arisu vows never to participate in another game, even if it means his visa running out, after killing Tatta (consensually) in a last ditch maneuver to beat the other team. The fact that he realizes from his final conversation with the King of Clubs that all of the face cards were former contestants in the Borderland contributes to his decision. Usagi chooses to stay with him, also aware that she will die once her visa ends. They both come out of retirement to participate in the final game.
  • Transgender: Hikari Kuina is revealed to have been assigned male at birth who transitioned in the past to become a female with sex reassignment surgery.
  • Trapped in Another World: One of the main premises of the manga. The players are sent into the Borderland via fireworks that are fired into the sky. In Borderland, they are forced to play some deadly games that could psychologically break them. It is also revealed that some of the people who were trapped in Borderland were players burdened with their dark pasts to the point that some of them wanted to escape from the harsh world that they live in.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity: Heart Games. The rules have obvious loopholes to abuse - IF your lucky that is - but often the games are FULL of malicious design and intent, luring players into doing stuff in-the-moment that guarentees they either kill themselves or worse. One game - which was supposed to be a trivia quiz game - just started asking questions that only someone who picked up the hotel's pamphlet at the bottom floor AT THE VERY START BEFORE THE GAME BEGAN could know about. Another game gave the players the OPTION of having weapons, but didn't specify WHY they needed the weapons. The game technically didn't even need the weapons to be played anyway, but now all the players are armed and ready to attack eachother just-in-case the game says they should, or doesn't say anything in the rules about not doing so.

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