Alice in the Borderlands is a Japanese-made series in the genre of thriller and science fiction. Based on the manga of the same name by Haro Aso.
It is easy to guess that this is an allusion to “Through the Looking Glass”, but, nevertheless, there are few references to Lewis Carroll here. But the atmosphere of mystery and unsolved mysteries coincides almost 100%. The show has very good ratings and reviews.
The protagonist Ryohei Arisu is a typical gamer, but also unemployed. He lives with his brother and dad, mom, alas, died. Since at home he was tired of talking about what a freeloader and lazy he is, Arisu, tired of all this, decides to go to the bar where his friend Daikichi Karube works, after calling him. The friend did not answer the call, and then Arisu recruits his second close friend, IT specialist Segawa Chota. But he, in turn, does not answer the call.
As it turned out later, both had reasons not to answer the call of their best friend, as they reported in the general chat. There, friends arrange to meet near Shibuya Station to have a drink and share their problems. Having met, all three understand that all the bars are now closed, as it is still quite early in time.
The guys are clearly not one of those who will be bored, they start having fun right in the center. Daikichi puts Arisa on his shoulders, and Segawa films everything on the phone. They have fun exactly until an accident occurs through their fault, as they ran out onto the road and did not notice it. Noticing this, the police begin to chase them, and the guys hide from them in the bathroom of the mall. But suddenly the light goes out in the toilet and the phones stop working. All three go out of the toilet to the street, but there is not a soul around, although before that the center was crowded with people. The guys start looking for at least someone, but to no avail. Cars are abandoned right in the middle of the road, cafes and shops are empty.
When evening comes, the sign “Welcome. The game will start soon” and indicates the direction. The guys follow the signs and get into the building, where there are several phones near the elevator. On the phones, an inscription appears stating that there are two minutes left before registration and then the name of the game “Life or Death” appears. Difficulty 3 clubs, as in cards. So far, none of them still understand what is happening, but they try to follow all the instructions.
The task of the game is to choose the correct door. Once in a room with two doors with the corresponding names “Life” and “Death”, the guys understand that they need to make a choice, while one of the doors leads to the next room with the same doors, and in the other they are waiting for death from a laser that pierces body through. Turning on the logic, the guys go through all the doors, and after that it is reported on the phones that they received a visa for three days, and if the visa is not extended, the player will be killed by a laser. The number of visa days received depends on the complexity of the game.
In this game, Segawa got burned while running from the fire, which burned all the rooms they passed through. Every day he got worse, so Arisu and Daikichi decide to go to one more game to buy some time and understand how they work.
The next game has a difficulty of 5 spades, and in addition to them, there are 13 more participants in the building where it will be held. Later, the guys find out that spades are a power game, that is, the type of game depends on the suit. Clubs are a team game, spades are a power game, diamonds are a game of intelligence and hearts are a game of betrayal ability. The second game is called “Fifteen”, where they need to find a safe room, while all the players will be chased by a “driver” with a weapon in his hands. During the game, the guys team up with several surviving heroes and decide to kill the driver. As a result, this game is also passed. But, in the process of passing, one of the killed players, the main characters find a walkie-talkie from which the voice reported about some beach.
At this time, Segawa’s visa ends, and the guys decide, before they go in search of an incomprehensible beach, to go through the game with him.
The difficulty of the third game is 7 of hearts. Before starting, they were asked to wear collars with built-in explosives that would go off if the player lost. The name of the game is “Hide and Seek”, where there will be only one survivor, the one who will be in the status of “Wolf” by the end of the game. The rest – “Sheep”, one way or another, will be considered losers, which means they will die. As a result, at the end of the game, Arisu will remain “Wolf”, but will lose friends.
Desperate, Arisu cannot forgive himself for this and simply sees no point in moving on. But he meets a girl from Usagi’s second game who tries to support him and help him get over this shock.
Then they go together to the fourth game with the complexity of 4 clubs called “Distance”, where the task is to reach the finish line, without specifying where exactly it is. Having passed, thanks to the logic of Arisu, and this test, he and Usagi decide to still go in search of that very beach. Having figured out people with bracelets, like the dead man, from whom they found a walkie-talkie, the guy and the girl try to follow these people and find themselves at the entrance to the hotel, where they are met by “locals”, who show all the suits of the games they have won and tell that their main goal is to pass all kinds of difficulties.
The leader of this movement talks about the rules that everyone must follow if they want to live in a hotel. Realizing that there is no other way out, Arisu and Usagi decide to join this adventure. They take away all the cards they have won and put them in a hotel.
Teaming up with some characters, the main characters decide to steal all the cards from the safe.
Further, the whole hotel becomes a gaming arena, where they are announced the difficulty of the game – 10 worms, where they need to find the killer of the girl, whose corpse was lying on the first floor. In the turmoil and chaos that takes place among the players, where the hotel military decides to kill everyone until they find the culprit. Having passed this game, the main characters survive, take the last card and understand that the only cards that have not been passed are the curly suits.
The only question that remains unanswered in the minds of the heroes is who is behind these games and what kind of world it is.
Later, after going through all the games of curly suits and losing all the comrades who played games with them, Arisu and Usagi find themselves in the final game of the Queen of Spades suit, where they meet with a girl who was previously on the beach led by the leader. The girl says that they need to play croquet, while trying to get into the head of the protagonist and make him think that he was crazy and all the games that he played were just an object of his imagination.
She tries on the image of a psychotherapist who allegedly tries to heal Arisa from a psychological trauma. He tries to convince him that two of his friends died not during the game, but as a result of an accident that they themselves staged. With all this, she is trying to get Arisu to admit his guilt in the death of his friends and just go crazy because of it. But, having appeared in the office where they were talking, Usagi tries to get through to Arisu and explains to him that all this is a bluff on the part of the Queen of Spades and the game actually exists. And it hasn’t passed yet. The guy comes to his senses, finishes the game and wins. All games completed. The boys are looking forward to their return home.
And the next frame explains to us that all the games that Arisu played were the result of his being in a borderline state between life and death.
It turns out that when the three friends were in the center, a meteorite fell there. A large number of people died as a result of this, and those who “passed the games” experienced clinical death. And this whole “world” in which they arrived was an illusion. Exactly until the Joker card was shown in the last frame of the final, thereby driving us into even more misunderstanding. And leaving unanswered the question: “Were there really games after all?”.
Perhaps the series will have a continuation, which we will find out a little later.
Alice in Borderland ending explained
A joint attack on the King of Spades resulted in victory. He is dead, which brings them one step closer to the freedom they seek. But they did not leave that battle unscathed.
Kuina (Aya Asahina) and Ann (Ayaka Miesh) appear to be mortally wounded along with Aguni (Sho Aoyagi) and rookie Heya (Yuri Tsunematsu).
Unfortunately, Chishiya (Nijiro Murakami) is bleeding from being shot by Niragi (Dori Sakurada), who has also been shot, but fights to the last for his life.
Needless to say, the team isn’t in the best shape, so when the Queen of Hearts’ airship hovers ominously overhead, Arisu and a stabbed Usagi take over.
They meet Mira in a pristine looking garden where the two are given a task. They must play three rounds of croquet. Winning is not the goal – they just have to complete three rounds without leaving the game.
Sounds simple enough, which means something much more sinister is going on.
This becomes apparent when Arisu gets past the first two rounds and Mira starts to slow down the game. At this point, Usagi’s injuries require emergency care – she is weakened, but agrees when Mira insists that they sit down for tea.
Mira pours, but they refuse to drink. This does not stop Aris from getting involved in Mira’s games.
He constantly presses Mira about what happened to the real world and she plays with him. Mira initially lies, giving false information about what happened before she manages to convince him that the shock of losing his friends Karube (Keita Machida) and Chota (Yuki Morinaga) in a car accident was so traumatic that it made him imagine the games.
The illusion served as Arisu’s way of coping with the loss and was his way of exploring the fundamental question he had been wrestling with all along: what is the purpose of his life?
Mira convinces Arisa that he is in the hospital receiving psychiatric treatment from her, his doctor, and that Usagi is a patient to whom he has a strong attachment. The more he sinks into this belief, the farther he goes from finishing the game with the last round of croquet.
Usagi does her best to contact him and convince him otherwise, but her attempts fail. It is only when she is forced to cut her own wrist in an attempt to get him to save her that he slowly emerges from his hypnotic state. Just in time, as Mira was close to getting him to “quit the game” to free him from his illusions.
Instead, Arisu and Usagi exchange feelings about wanting to be together, to live together, and Arisu ends his outpouring of feelings with:
“I just want you to live, Usagi. I want to protect you,” he says as she bleeds profusely. This is enough to bring them back to the reality of pristine gardens and escape the sterile environment of fake hospital facilities.
Mira is moved to tears by their feelings for each other and continues the game without annoying delays, thus admitting defeat.
After that, gloominess appears in their game. A bizarre sadness that ends with Arisu asking Mira one last time, what is this place they ended up in?
To which she explains that he will soon find out, and of his two options, the one he chooses will show what kind of person he really is. Shortly after her cryptic words, she is killed.
Now that the games have ended, all surviving players are asked if they will accept permanent residence, thus becoming citizens, making them similar to, if not a replacement for, face card game masters.
Arisu and Usagi refuse. As well as Quina, Chishia, Aguni and Heya, who managed to stay alive. Even the terribly despicable Niragi refuses the offer, however Gang (Hayato Isomura) and Yaba (Katsuya Maiguma) agree, suggesting they could be the next masters of the game in a possible third season.
However, the rest share a different fate.
Are players returning to the real world?
It certainly seems that way. They all wake up in the hospital to find that the fireworks they saw in the first season, the one that preceded their arrival at the games, were actually a meteorite.
The catastrophic damage claimed many lives, but they survived. All of them have various injuries of varying severity, including Ann, who was thought to be dead, but she had to fight for life in a coma.
The only thing they have in common is the fact that each of their hearts stopped for one minute after the disaster.
They all also don’t remember the game ground and their relationship with each other, so when Arisu and Usagi meet again, they will have the feeling that they know each other.
Either way, they decide to take a walk together in the hospital gardens, and the uplifting, grandiose music almost makes us believe they’ve reached their happy ending. Not perfect, but at least they’re at home. Almost.
The meaning of the cards and their variety
The higher the number on the card, the higher the difficulty level. As we saw in Season 1, Ten of Hearts is the deadliest high-stakes game that players take part in. However, the face cards in Season 2 are much more difficult and require players to fight a live person. The game does not end until the face card avatar is dead.
Here’s what the card suits mean and what type of game they represent:
- Team battles in which it is necessary to increase the skill of communication and trust. Players can survive if they work together.
- In the first season, we see two club games. The first one is the very first game Arisu plays with doors, it’s called Dead or Alive. The second game is “It”.
- Games that require intelligence, strategy and wit. Players need to use their brains during these games.
- In Season 1, Arisu takes over the Four of Diamonds game – the one with the switch and light bulb – when he wants to prove himself worthy of joining the team.
- Spade games require great stamina, strength and agility.
- Season 2 kicks off with a deadly, twisted King of Spades game that lasts throughout the season.
- Nightmare. Psychological games. They require a high level of trust, and are also fraught with betrayal.
- In the last episodes of the first season, players take part in the game “Ten of Hearts”, which requires them to identify among their own Witch and throw her into the fire.
Meaning of the Face Cards in Alice in the Borderlands
Throughout Season 2, Arisu, Usagi, Kuina, and Chishiya fight multiple Face Cards in order to survive. Each Card participates in games that represent its suit. What do you need to defeat them in order to survive?
King of Spades (Survivor)
The King of Spades game starts almost immediately and continues throughout the season. The King of Spades is a deadly mercenary who is referred to as the “boss of physical trials”. Oh, and his combat area is the entire city. The game does not end until the players kill him.
The King’s airship constantly moves around the city. Players can also avoid him by interacting with other Cards, as he cannot interfere with this..
The king of clubs is Kyuma, and he runs the main team game, Osmosis. Arisu’s team battles Kyuma’s team to finish the game with more points. Most of this game takes place in episodes 2 and 3 of the drama, and it really has a lot of rules.
Each team has 10,000 points distributed among them. You can fight alone or team up to steal points from another player, find items to increase points, or touch the other team’s base for a whopping 10,000 points. When fighting someone with more points than you, you lose 500 points. And if the player guarding the base touches you, then you are practically dead. Why? The player touching the base has infinite points.
Jack of Hearts
This game – “Solitary confinement” – is taken over by Chishiya. The game is simple: players must guess the suit of the card shown on the back of their collar, but they are not allowed to look at the symbol themselves. They must trust those around them who must tell their comrade the truth. However, the Jack of Hearts wants to fool everyone and make others lie.
The symbols change at the end of each round. If the players give an incorrect answer at the end of the round, the collar will explode. The only way to win this game is to identify the Jack of Hearts and lie to him about his card suit so that he dies.
Lost in episode 5, but we do not see the game itself. The action takes place in a multi-storey car park, and quite a few survivors stumble out of the building.
Jack of spades
Weapon play is briefly shown in episode 5 with Quina as the player.
Queen of Spades
Her game starts in episode 5 and turns out to be a game called “Checkmate”. The team of players opposes the team of the Queen. In the game, each team takes turns “capturing” a member of the opposing team by pressing a button on the back of their device. If you are touched by the opposite team, you move to the other side. The team with the most players at the end of the game wins. The losing team dies.
In Episode 6, Chishiya takes on another mind game against the King of Diamonds. This is a very complex and confusing number game that requires players to strategically choose a number between 0 and 100.
The average of the selected numbers is then multiplied by 0.8, and the one with the closest number of points to that number will survive to play another day. If you lose, you lose a point. If the player reaches -10 points, the scale will tip over and be flooded with sulfuric acid.
Queen of Clubs
The Queen of Clubs is responsible for the deadly dodgeball. Ann and Quina take part in it, and see two of one team throw balls at members of the other team as they run across concrete bridges suspended over a huge dark pit.
Queen of Hearts
The last person the characters and viewers meet is Mira, the former Beach CEO and game creator who introduced Stage 2 to players at the end of the first season.
Her game seems quite simple: you need to play croquet against her. And you just have to not…lose. Of course, in reality, everything is not so simple, because Mira has several aces up her sleeve …
What does the Joker card mean?
As the second season draws to a close, the camera pans to a table in the garden with several cards scattered on it. A light breeze blows them away, leaving one card. Joker.
What does it mean?
His very presence implies that the players did not get out as they think, but instead entered the third phase of the game, which became more dangerous due to the fact that they did not realize it and forgot everything. The Joker suggests even more unpredictability.
In many card games, the Joker can take on the characteristics of other cards, meaning that it can represent any of the dangerous challenges they have faced before, or it can be a whole new hell for them to contend with.
In any case, this will probably be the most difficult, the most sinister. The decoy card lured them into this false sense of security, erased their memories and brought them “home”.
It is worth noting that a third season is not expected , as the original manga has the same ending as the series. Based on this, the show ends with an open ending.