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Alice in Borderland

Entry updated 31 January 2022. Tagged: TV.

Japanese Anime OVA series and live action Netflix Television series based on the Manga Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso, whose original title was Imawa no Kuni no Alice.

1. Japanese Original Video Animation (2014-2015). Silver Link, Connect. Directed by Hideki Tachibana. Written by Ryōsuke Nakamura. Voice cast includes Yoshimasa Hosoya, Maaya Sakamoto, Tatsuhisa Suzuki and Tsubasa Yonaga. Three 23 minute episodes. Colour.

At 4am three Tokyo teenagers' discussion of their uninteresting lives is interrupted by a firework display; after a rocket explodes they loose consciousness, awaking to find the city deserted. Ryōhei Arisu (Hosoya) and Chouta Segawa (Yonaga) are happy, thinking it a dream, but Daikichi Karube (Suzuki) is worried. His suspicions are well founded: they meet a young woman, Saori Shibuki (Sakamoto), who explains they are in Borderland, caught in a game (see Games and Sports) where, if you win, you gain a brief respite before you have to play again; if you lose or refuse to participate, you die.

In one game they are locked in a block of flats with other players, having to find the safe room whilst a killer in a horse mask hunts them down. The next game has the four given headsets and split into three sheep and a wolf; but a sheep becomes the wolf when the wolf locks eyes with them – and at the end the sheep will die. So, perversely, to live, it is the wolf who must hide. Selfishness initially dominates, but eventually the sheep are hiding from wolf Arisu as he tries to sacrifice himself to one of them: he fails, and they indeed die, and he vows revenge on the game's creators.

Arisu is smart, when under pressure at least; before his friends' deaths, part of him found the experience exhilarating, giving him the confidence lost by his father's disappointment. Little is revealed about the creators, though they have advanced Technology and are able to transport present day humans to the Borderland – which the manga eventually reveals to be a place between life and death (see Eschatology). The Anime ends just as the viewer becomes engaged.

2. Japanese tv series (2020-current). Robot Communications Inc. Directed by Shinsuke Sato. Written by Yasuko Kuramitsu, Shinsuke Sato and Yoshiki Watabe. Cast includes Nobuaki Kaneko, Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki. Eight 40-52 minute episodes. Colour.

The plots of the first three episodes are similar to those of the OVA, with only Arisu (Yamazaki) alive at the end. For the rest of the first season he teams up with the athletic Yuzuha Usagi (Tsuchiya); they find themselves forced to join another group of players, undertaking a further sequence of violent games (see Horror in SF). However, danger also comes from these other players, not least because anyone who wins a game receives a playing card and it is believed that collecting them all allows the holder to leave.

The relationship to Lewis Carroll's Alice books is not particularly strong and mainly involves names – Arisu and Usagi mean Alice and Bunny respectively; another character is Hatter (Kaneko). In the manga, there is also a game of croquet associated with the Queen of Hearts card. After a moderately well received first season, a second has been commissioned. [SP]


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