For fans of the internationally popular Korean TV series “Squid Game,” the show “Alice in Borderland” could be worth checking out. The Netflix exclusive is an adaptation of a Haro Aso’s manga series of the same name, and acts as something of a Japanese older sister to “Squid Game.” The first season premiered in December 2020, followed by the second season in December 2022.
Dropped in the Tokyo-adjacent world called the “Borderland,” friends Arisu, Karube and Chota must compete in deadly games of wit, strength, teamwork and betrayal to extend their ‘visas’ in order to survive. If a player’s visa expires, they will be killed by a laser shot from the sky. Players are forced to continue playing, winning short visa extensions with each game they endure.
The story follows the mysterious circumstances of the friends’ arrival in the world, what it entails and how long they can survive. Throughout the first season, we slowly learn how the games work. We watch players fight to survive, trapped in a mysterious parallel universe, and follow Arisu as he learns to deal with the loss of more and more friends.
We soon meet more players, such as sly Chishiya and martial artist and trans icon Kuina, members of the secret alliance called the “Beach,” which Arisu and his new ally, Usagi, are investigating. As new characters establish their roles in the plot, the life-threatening games and the quest for survival carries on, growing increasingly perilous as the season continues.
After an alarming twist at the end of the first season, the game levels up, and players must play games with face cards, run by citizens of the Borderlands who have earned their way into the upper echelon of the Borderlands government and directly compete with players in their own special games. They win when all the players are dead. Living peacefully in the Borderlands is no longer an option and players realize they must team up to survive or else be killed.
The long-awaited second season seemed to fulfill viewers’ wishes for more games, more gripping action, more suspense and answers to their many questions. The season ends when Arisu and his friends complete all the face card games and defeat all the citizens of the Borderland, giving them a choice to either stay in the Borderlands and become a citizen, no longer needing to play games in order to survive, but renewing the cycle and creating more games for new players to compete in, or to be sent home. The season’s ending is satisfactory, although a small teaser right at the end signifies that Arisu’s time in the Borderlands is still not complete, leaving fans hopeful for a third installment of the internationally successful show.
“(Season 1) rose to the Top 10 in more than 70 countries, earning its place as a worldwide sensation,” Netflix said on their website. “(Season 2) shot up to the Top 10 in over 90 countries, claiming the No. 1 spot in 17 of them.”
Netflix reported on Sept. 27 that Alice in Borderlands would return for a third season. The streaming service announced that a third season is on its way. Trailers have yet to be released, but viewers can expect “an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster ride,” as the show explores themes of humanity, sacrifice and the pursuit of a meaningful existence.