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Series / Alice in Borderland

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Alice in Borderland (今際の国のアリス; Imawa no Kuni no Arisu) is a Netflix original science fiction/horror/thriller Japanese television series, based on the Shonen Sunday manga of the same name. Its core premise is that Tokyo has been almost entirely depopulated and those few who remain must play sadistic and violent "games" in order to survive. It stars Kento Yamazaki as Ryōhei Arisu and Tao Tsuchiya as Yuzuha Usagi. The first season was released worldwide on 10 December 2020, and a second season has been ordered.


This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the Netflix series, Tatta and Aguni first appear during the Tag game, with Aguni replacing one of the guys who thought of simply beating down the attacker. Unlike the guy in the manga, Aguni succeeds (though it helps that the attacker only had one gun instead of two, instead having a machete as a back up weapon.)
  • Adaptational Heroism: Heroism would be too strong a word, but Arisu's father in the Netflix series seems to be less abusive and more just tired of Arisu's utter lack of motivation to do anything. He still constantly compares Arisu to his more successful younger brother, but unlike the manga where he throws a party for Arisu's brother for getting into college while outright ignoring that Arisu is in the room, he celebrates with dessert that he even offers to Arisu, who silently ignores him.
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  • Adaptational Intelligence: Though the Arisu in the manga was hardly unintelligent, we get more immediate examples of the show's Arisu being Brilliant, but Lazy with the variety of math books in his room and how he casually solves a digital 5X5 rubix cube on his phone while walking down the street. And the first game he has to play in the Borderland is much more of a Diamond game than a Club game, but it doesn't stop him from figuring it out rather quickly. He comes across as more of a Diamond expert than a Heart expert with the show's changes.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: A watery version occurs at the end of the Four of Clubs game.
  • Age Lift: Here, Arisu is a young adult instead of high school delinquent.
  • All for Nothing: The 4♣ game, Distance, that Arisu and Usagi along with three men participate in episode 4 seems to be this in a tragic sense as it turns out that the bus was actually the goal all along instead of the end of the tunnel all of them has to run faster over there except Takuma as he had a sprained foot as the bus has the graffiti word 'GOAL!' already painted over its side. The two men, Arisu and Usagi were with had already died; the first man from being mauled to death by a panther and the second man trip down and drown as Usagi notices the tunnel is about to flood immediately by the submerging levels of water from the other side of the metal wall. Fortunately, she survived as Arisu and Takuma manage to get the bus working and she's saved at the last minute ending the game with Takuma the only man surviving.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In the final episodes of season 1, all of the remaining players are trapped inside The Beach and forced to play the 10♥ game, Witch Hunt.
  • Anyone Can Die: With a dash of Decoy Protagonist. The first two episodes and the first bit of the third set you up for the expectation that the series' character focus is on Arisu, Karube, Chōta, and Shibuki. Only Arisu survives the events of episode 3, leading Usagi to become the true deuteragonist.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Displayed early on by Arisu in the Three of Clubs game and most of the succeeding games except tragically for the Seven of Hearts. Chishiya later gets to show off his own intellect as well when he figures out where Hatter was keeping the cards (and manipulates Arisu into getting caught looking in a fake location so that he can go after the real location), and later when he figures out a seemingly random doodle was actually a map of the subway system.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Arisu and the wounded man on the bus during the Four of Clubs game.
  • Bilingual Bonus: At the beginning of the eighth episode of the Netflix series, during the boot sequence of Asahi's phone, the only word not translated into English is でぃらぁ. It's the word "dealer" written in Hiragana, which is a significant clue that Asahi may play a bigger role than she appears.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The first episode begins by showing the books in Arisu's room, and a lot of the books' topics later become relevant in how Arisu solves the 3♣ Dead or Alive.
    • The drawing Chishiya finds in the dead tagger's pocket. The season finale reveals it was a subway map leading to the dealers' room.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 1 ends right after the end of the 10♥ game and the existence of the Citizens is revealed.
  • Deadly Game: The main premise of the series. The color of the cards that represent the game indicates the "genre": spades are primarily physical challenges, clubs are based on teamwork, diamonds are intelligence-based and heart games are based on betrayals and heartbreak. The card value represents the difficulty and the number of days added to the players' visa if they survive the game.
    • That said, the solution to the games can overlap with qualities typically attributed to other genres. For example, in Tag, a Spades game, teamwork between the players and Arisu and Chishiya's intelligence were both factors that helped the players win. Also, 10♥ Witch Hunt is won by stopping and thinking things through.
  • Death by Irony: In 3♣ Dead or Alive, between "Life" and "Death", a schoolgirl goes through the door labelled "Life" and gets a laser to her head as the result.
  • Explosive Leash: Used in lieu of the lasers to kill players who "lose" games, particularly games where players compete against one another.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The solution to 4♣ Distance in the tunnel is written on the side of the bus they start the game in.
  • Fatal Family Photo: During 4♣ Distance, one of the participants has a picture of his wife, whom he talks about as his reason for surviving. He fails to outrun the flash flood before the game ends.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Happens briefly during 7♥ Hide and Seek, before Karube and Chōta let Arisu win.
  • Gasoline Dousing: In episode 7 Last Boss douses a utility room with gasoline and lights it with a lighter to force people into the courtyard to get shot up by the militants.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Karube and Chōta hiding from Arisu so he can win the Seven of Hearts game.
  • Le Parkour: Used to great effect by Yuzuha to win the 5♠ game.
  • Red Herring: Used frequently across the games.
    • In 3♣ Dead or Alive, the doors marked either "Live" or "Die" don't really tell the players which one to go through. The true key to the game is Arisu figuring out where they are in the building and how the rooms are arranged.
    • The goal of 4♣ Distance is not to achieve the highest value. The bus they started at was literally tagged "GOAL" the whole time, and it's the only refuge from an incoming flash flood on the other side.
  • Sequel Hook: Season 1 ends with the mysterious game leader (possibly a representative) announcing the introduction of new games. The next day, blimps carrying huge banners of face cards fly in over Tokyo, suggesting that the new games will be even harder than the hardest encountered up until now.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: The murder victim in 10♥ Witch Hunt turns out to have been a dealer and to have actually stuck the knife into her own chest and the solution to the game is to throw her on the fire.
  • Too Dumb to Live: 4♦ Light Bulb takes place in a room being filled with water with live wire hanging from the ceiling. A girl touches a metal conductor and gets zapped to death as the result.