Noob Reviews: Alice in Borderland (Season 01)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Alice in Borderland?
Alice in Borderland is a Netflix series in which a young gentleman named Arisu, along with his friends Segawa and Karube, find themselves in an alternative Tokyo who’s crowded streets and huge population have vanished in the blink of an eye.
Unfortunately for the friends, they are not alone, and they soon find more survivors. However, to stay alive, each must participate in a series of killer games to earn points for their visa. A type of digital currency which permits them x amount of days of freedom before they must participate in another game. If they fail to take part and keep their visa topped up, they are surgically executed by a series of high powered lasers that form very tight-knit (and highly effective) grids all across this strange new Tokyo.
Little do the friends know though, that not all of the other survivors have each other’s interests at heart, nor do they all believe in teamwork. Many will manipulate, steal and murder their way to a win where possible. And for those communities that have been established to help each other stay alive. Not all the factions within its walls are content with the status quo.
As you may be able to tell, Alice in Borderland dips into many genres such as action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi and mystery. In addition to these main genres, there are heavy elements of social exploration, politics and occasional features of suicide such as looking at the causes, effects of and ways of dealing with and preventing suicidal acts. A lot is going on!
When was the first season of Alice in Borderland released?
The first season of Alice in Borderland hit Netflix in December 2020.
How many episodes are there?
Eight episodes make up the first season, each with an average run time of around forty-eight minutes.
Has a second season been confirmed?
A second season has been confirmed to be in the works after Netflix commissioned additional seasons in December last year (2020) after the hugely positive initial release. However, because of the current climate with lockdowns and COVID - specific details have not been given for aspects like release dates.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
Alternatively, you can also find Alice in Borderland on Netflix here.
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
Kento Yamazaki (Ryōhei Arisu)
Nijirô Murakami (Shuntarō Chishiya)
Nobuaki Kaneko (Boshiya Hatter)
Tao Tsuchiya (Yuzuha Usagi)
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of the first season of Alice in Borderland?
When first seeing the trailer for Alice in Borderland, I was not too sure what to think about it. However, I am glad I succumbed to my curiosity and as a whole thoroughly enjoyed the series. It is a complex rollercoaster of emotions, plots, subplots and just day to day survival where Arisu must not only consider the needs of himself and of the people around him. But conquer his inner demons that would rather see him take his own life than push on and find a way to escape. Although this may sound quite daunting, how the story is written and plays out is phenomenal.
When it comes to the story, admittedly not all parts of it are unique and noteworthy, many of them have heavy elements of other tales and shows such as Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner, Escape Room, and (to a small extent) Battle Royale. But it’s not how unique the story is, it is how the writers have taken these already well-known themes and made them their own, adding just enough of their own twists and shocks to make it stand out.
When it comes to the cast, I thought they all did a phenomenal job, with the characters you want to survive, drawing out substantial amounts of interest and compassion. In contrast, others you may loathe and dislike immensely, always keep you on the edge of your seat and second-guessing their motives. Admittedly the show does start off relatively slow in the first few episodes, and if you are not used to Asian performances, there is a lot of emotion thrown at you at once - which can feel a little overwhelming to some. Or a bit boring and soppy to others. But work your way past this, and the show really picks up a pace that is continuously escalating from one plot twist and betrayal to another. The way the actors and actresses work together so seamlessly and complement one another so effortlessly is just fantastic to see.
Often when I do reviews I talk about effects and stunts, often using the terms cheesy or over the top and Alice in Borderland is no different - if you are lactose intolerant beware. The levels of cheese in the show can be exceptionally high, yet they are so much fun, whether it be a bus racing headlong into an oncoming wave and turning just at the right time to catch someone as they jump inside. Tense moments that really bleed that last drop of suspense out of them. Or spectacular parkour. There is so much going on on the effects and stunts front. Everything is choreographed with a high level of attention to detail and executed (for the most part) so well. As I said, at times stunts may seem very unrealistic and events are so unbelievably far-fetched, but oddly they fit into the show quite well and don’t really seem that out of place.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Alice in Borderland, it has its highs and lows but primarily highs. With a strong production team, fantastic cast and high entertainment value I would definitely say Alice in Borderland is one to watch either in its original audio with subtitles or English dubbed.
As a quick side note, I would just like to say that Alice in Borderland is based on a manga series of the same name. Unfortunately, I have not read the manga to compare the show to the original material. Still, it piqued my interest enough that I already have the manga collection on order from Amazon.
What rating would you give the first season of Alice in Borderland?
I would rate the first season of Alice in Borderland as a 4.4 out of 5 bananas.
As with all shows, films and literature, Alice in Borderland is not necessarily an original idea, but it goes out of its way to make itself stand out and put its own twist on well-known genres and themes. Whether it be the special effects, stunts or acting, there is something for everyone. From the heartwarming and emotional moments to the strobe light lit katana fights, Alice in Borderland caters to so many tastes and yet does not sacrifice quality for the sake of spreading itself out into many areas. It maintains it’s quality throughout and brings a consistent energy level that is refreshing to see.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Alice in Borderland and would like to check it out yourself, to form your own opinion - you can find it on Netflix here.