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Alice in Borderland (2020) review | Netflix

In early December, this highly binge-able Netflix show Alice In Borderland premiered. It is an 8 episode Japanese drama based on the manga of the same name by Haro Aso.

[This review was contributed by AF]

Mind + Weapons = Smart Japanese Drama 

Set in 2020, three best friends recently homeless, jobless, and pressured by society to live the salaryman life run into a bathroom to evade cops and come out to an alternative Tokyo with 99% of the population gone. 

With no electricity or running water, the city is their playground but not for long as they are courted into a dangerous game of Life and Death. Barely of which they barely survive. They are introduced to a sadistic world where you play games to earn days to live or face death by a laser from the sky. 

Ryōhei Arisu is the lead character accompanied by friends Daikichi Karube and Chōta Segawa. They learn that large department stores, apartment buildings, and even carnivals are turned into Arena’s categorized by one of four genres: intellect, team battles, strength, and betrayal. A playing card with the suit and number correlates with the genre and difficulty level in each Arena. 

In episode 2, they were shown a Five of Spades which means it’s a strength game with a level five difficulty. If you win the game, you earn five days towards your visa to stay alive and earn that playing card. Registration is with a cell phone, and each episode showcases people who panic under pressure, get savagely killed, or are smart enough to survive. 

Episodes 1-6 are set at a good pace, as you may find yourself gripping a pillow struggling to solve each game along with the characters before you scream for them to hurry up and get out. As always, humans in an unknown land, regardless of the circumstances, have a knack for organizing themselves under a leader and imposing a monarchy while gaming the system or at least trying to. 

With a ‘death by laser’ element and a fragile community of dangerous misfit players, we follow the clues about the new world at the pace of Arisu. Building up the audience’s connection to each new character introduced through their backstory and individual talents, the potential to binge this show is high. 

The last two episodes draw out the drama but set you up for a second season. Season 2 was greenlit by Netflix, two weeks after its premiere. Season one covered 31 of 64 chapters from the original manga, which leaves plenty of material for season two to explore. 

Clear your weekend, grab a snack, and enjoy the ride from the safety of your home. 

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