Alice in Borderland (TV series)

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Alice in Borderland
Alice in Borderland poster.jpg
Promotional release poster featuring Yamazaki and Tsuchiya as Arisu and Usagi respectively
Japanese今際の国のアリス
Genre
Based onThe original graphic novel "Alice in Borderland"
by Haro Aso published by Shogakukan
Written by
Directed byShinsuke Sato
Starring
ComposerYutaka Yamada
Country of originJapan
Original languageJapanese
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes16 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerKaata Sakamoto
ProducerAkira Morii
CinematographyTaro Kawazu
Editors
  • Tsuyoshi Imai
  • Shoukichi Kaneda
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time41–80 minutes
Production companyRobot Communications Inc.
DistributorNetflix
Release
Original networkNetflix
Picture format4K (Ultra HD)
Audio formatDolby Digital
Original releaseDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10) –
present

Alice in Borderland (Japanese: 今際の国のアリス, Hepburn: Imawa no Kuni no Arisu) is a 2020 Japanese science fiction thriller drama streaming television series based on the manga by Haro Aso. The series was directed by Shinsuke Sato. It stars Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya as allies trapped in an abandoned Tokyo forced to compete in dangerous games, the type and difficulty represented by playing cards, to extend "visas" that, if expired, result in the player's execution by lasers being shot from the sky.

The series' first season was announced in July 2019 and filmed from August to December 2019. Set locations included Shibuya districts and a green screen studio replica of Shibuya Crossing. The show's visual effects were produced in an international collaboration between Japan's Digital Frontier and teams from Singapore, the United States, and India. The musical score was composed by Yutaka Yamada, who had collaborated with Sato.

The first season premiered on the Netflix streaming service on December 10, 2020, and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the action sequences, direction, and acting; they compared the show to many entries in the survival genre, including the films Battle Royale (2000) and Cube (1997). The first season's strong performance and high viewership in many countries resulted in Netflix's renewal of the series two weeks after its premiere; the second season was released on December 22, 2022.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Kento Yamazaki as Ryōhei Arisu:
    A video game-obsessed man who "doesn't fit in with his family". He teams up with Usagi while in the Borderlands and later develops romantic feelings for her.[4][5]
  • Tao Tsuchiya as Yuzuha Usagi:
    A mountain climber who was transported into the empty city of Tokyo shortly after the death of her father, whom she deeply respected. She teams up with Arisu while in the Borderlands and later develops romantic feelings for him. [4][5]
  • Nijirō Murakami as Shuntarō Chishiya:
    A mysterious, quiet, and sly player who teams up with Kuina to steal Hatter's deck of cards, believing that a full deck would transport them out of the empty city. He later becomes interested in Arisu and Usagi after helping them escape a game of "Tag." Before arriving in the Borderlands, he was a medical student.[5][6]
  • Ayaka Miyoshi as Ann Rizuna:
    An executive member of "the Beach" who attempts to win difficult games through rational thinking, later becoming an important ally and friend to Arisu and his group. Before arriving in the Borderlands, she was a forensic scientist for the police.[4][5]
  • Dori Sakurada as Suguru Niragi:
    A young yet dangerous member of "the Beach." He is described as being "aggressive due to his complicated past" and is part of "the Militants." Before arriving in the Borderlands, he was often bullied by other students at his high-school.[4][5]
  • Aya Asahina as Hikari Kuina:
    A close friend of Chishiya, whom she helps steal Hatter's deck of cards. A former clothing shop clerk, Kuina is revealed to be transgender in a flashback in episode 7, in which she was disowned by her father, though they reconcile at the end of the second season.[4][5]

Recurring[edit]

  • Yūki Morinaga as Chōta Segawa:
    A highly-religious IT technician and friend of Arisu and Karube. Chōta severely burns his leg while participating in a game titled "Dead or Alive," and as a result, slows down his friends while recovering. In season 2, he makes many appearances in flashbacks, and in the last episode, he and Karube encourage Arisu to enjoy his life and live it to the fullest.[4][5][7]
  • Keita Machida as Daikichi Karube:
    A bartender and close friend to Arisu and Chōta. Before being transported into the empty city, Karube was preparing to propose to a woman he worked with at a bar, who happened to be the lover of his boss. In Season 2, he makes many appearances in flashbacks, and in the last episode, he and Chota encourage Arisu to enjoy his life and live it to the fullest.[4][5][7]
  • Sho Aoyagi as Morizono Aguni:
    A strong fighter and Hatter's best friend, Aguni is first introduced as an important member of "the Beach." He is in charge of a violent group at the beach titled "The Militants". After leaving the Beach, he becomes an important ally to Arisu towards the end of the face-card games. [4][5]
  • Nobuaki Kaneko as Takeru Danma / Hatter:
    The leader and founder of "the Beach," a hotel inhabited by dozens of players. His main goal is to collect all the playing cards given to players for winning games. After his death in Season 1, he often appears as a ghost to Aguni during the events of Season 2. [4][5]
  • Riisa Naka as Mira Kano:
    A mysterious woman with an "elegant presence" and an executive member of "the Beach". She is revealed to be the Queen of Hearts in the second season, and the last enemy of Arisu and Usagi in the Borderlands. [4][5][7]
  • Yutaro Watanabe as Kōdai Tatta:
    A former car mechanic who is saved by Arisu during a game and later becomes a member of "the Beach", and in Season 2 he joins Arisu's group. Before arriving in the Borderlands, his previous job resulted in tragedy when his mistake caused his co-worker to lose his hand.[4]
  • Kina Yazaki as Momoka Inoue:
    A member of "the Beach", a 'game dealer', and Asahi's best friend.[8]
  • Tsuyoshi Abe as Keiichi Kuzuryū:
    An executive member of "the Beach." He is later revealed to have survived the hotel fire and become the King of Diamonds, where he participates in a game with Chishiya. Before arriving in the Borderlands, he was a lawyer who was dissatisfied with the outlook of human life and the morality of others, particularly those in positions of power.[4]
  • Yuhei Ouchida as Takuma:
    An injured player in the Four of Clubs game: Distance. In a flashback, he was revealed to have helped Kuzuryū in a game.

Season 1[edit]

  • Shuntarō Yanagi as Takatora Samura / The Last Boss:
    A strange man and dangerous member of "the Beach," the Last Boss has his face covered in tattoos and carries around a katana to intimidate members. He is also part of "the Militants"[4][5]
  • Ayame Misaki as Saori Shibuki:
    The first person Arisu and his friends encounter while in the deserted city. At first, Shibuki is presented as a smart and skilled player, who helps the group get past their first game. However, she is later revealed to be manipulative to get what she wants.[4]
  • Mizuki Yoshida as Asahi Kujō:
    A member of "the Beach", a 'game dealer', and Momoka's best friend.[4]

Season 2[edit]

  • Tomohisa Yamashita as Ginji Kyuma:
    A band frontman and the King of Clubs, who is challenged by Arisu's group in the game "Osmosis."
  • Ryohei Shima as Sogo Shitara:
    A former member of Kyuma's band and his team-mate in the Osmosis game.
  • Alisa Urahama as Uta Kisaragi:
    A former member of Kyuma's band and his team-mate in the Osmosis game.
  • Eishin as Takumi Maki:
    A former member of Kyuma's band and his team-mate in the Osmosis game.
  • Eita Okuno as Goken Kanzaki:
    A former member of Kyuma's band and his team-mate in the Osmosis game.
  • Hayato Isomura as Sunato Banda:
    A serial killer who participates in the Jack of Hearts game with Chishiya and decides to stay in Borderlands at the end of Season 2.
  • Maiguma Katsuya as Oki Yaba:
    A con man who participates in the Jack of Hearts game with Chishiya and decides to stay in Borderlands at the end of Season 2.
  • Kai Inowaki as Enji Matsushita:
    A sly young man who participates as the Jack of Hearts in the prison game with Chishiya.
  • Honami Sato as Kotoko Shiga:
    A woman who participates in the Jack of Hearts game with Chishiya.
  • Yusaku Mori as Ippei Oki:
    A timid man who participates in the Jack of Hearts game with Chishiya.
  • Yuri Tsunematsu as Akane Heiya:
    A high-school girl who works with Aguni after losing her foot in the Seven of Spades game, and later grows feelings for him.
  • Ayumi Tanida as Isao Shirabi:
    A mercenary and the main opponent in the King of Spades game, where he shoots players on sight.
  • Chihiro Yamamoto as Risa:
    A highly athletic woman who is the Queen of Spades and the main opponent for the game "Checkmate."
  • Aina Yamada as Urumi Akamaki:
    A sly, cunning woman who participates in the Jack of Hearts game with Chishiya.
  • Jun Hashimoto as Benzo Yashige:
    A man who participates in the King of Diamonds game with Chishiya.
  • Aimi Satsukawa as Hinako Daimon:
    A woman who participates in the King of Diamonds game with Chishiya.
  • Wakato Kanematsu as Takashi Asuma:
    A man who participates in the King of Diamonds game with Chishiya.
  • Miyu Yagyu as Nozomi:
    A woman who befriends Usagi and a child, Kota.

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
18December 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
28December 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)

Season 1 (2020)[edit]

No.
overall
EpisodeDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1Episode 1Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
In Tokyo, video-game-obsessed Arisu hangs out with his friends Chōta and Karube. After causing an altercation in Shibuya Crossing, the trio hide from police in the station bathroom but reemerge to find the city empty. At night, they follow a billboard's instructions to a "game arena." They find a stack of phones, which display the game's difficulty level, illustrated by a playing card. The group is joined by a high school girl and another woman named Shibuki who informs them that once a player enters an arena they cannot leave, as a laser will shoot them dead if they try. In this game, a "Three of Clubs" difficulty-level titled "Dead or Alive," the group is forced to pick between two doors under a certain time limit, one containing an entrance to another room with the same choice, and the other, certain death. The original trio and Shibuki make it out alive, with Chōta badly injured. Outside, the group is given individual "visas," which are extended the more they play and result in execution once expired.
2Episode 2Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
With no way of escaping the abandoned city, Arisu and Karube decide to play another game to extend their visas, leaving Shibuki to tend to an injured Chōta. Arisu and Karube find another game arena in an apartment complex and encounter several new players, such as the mysterious Usagi, the strong Aguni, and the sly, quiet Chishiya. Arisu also learns the meaning of each card; Spades represent physical games, Clubs are games based on teamwork, Diamonds are a battle of wits and intellect, and Hearts correlate to games of trust and betrayal. This game, a "Five of Spades" difficulty-level titled "Tag," force the players to hide in the building from two armed attackers while also looking for a room containing two buttons that must be pressed at the same time to stop a bomb from killing them all. Arisu, Chishiya, and Usagi work together to find the room and win, though Arisu later feels guilty when he sees the attackers executed. Karube finds a radio telling them to "Return to the Beach."
3Episode 3Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
Karube tells his group about the radio. To extend the visas of Shibuki and Chōta, they go together to a game arena in a botanical garden. There, they enter a "Seven of Hearts" difficulty-level titled "Hide-and-seek" as the only participants, but soon learn only one of them will survive. They are given facial recognition headsets and assigned animals, with three of them being "sheep" and the fourth being a "wolf." To play, a player switches animals every time they lock eyes with another, with the wolf at the end winning the game and the sheep dying. Arisu eventually becomes the wolf and spends the rest of the game looking for his friends, who have decided to sacrifice themselves for him. They communicate via the headsets and spend their last minutes together saying goodbye; Arisu screams in pain as he is covered in Karube's blood.
4Episode 4Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
Usagi finds a despondent Arisu and decides to help him. They visit a game arena inside a bus, located inside an underpass, and enter the game with three other players. In a "Four of Clubs" difficulty-level titled "Distance," they are told to "reach the goal." Deducing that the goal must be at the end of the tunnel, Arisu, Usagi, and two other players run to it, leaving behind another player with a sprained leg. Halfway there, the four players are attacked by a panther, who kills one. At the end of the tunnel, Arisu finds diesel fuel in a motorbike and decides to go back for the other player. Once he returns, however, he learns the bus has the word "goal" written on it, and they were running away from the target. Water spurts from the end of the tunnel, and while the other player is killed, Usagi manages to make it back to the bus, and win alongside Arisu and the injured player.
5Episode 5Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
Arisu and Usagi, looking for "the Beach," secretly follow a group of players with similar wrist tags to a hotel housing many players. They are found and taken to the place's leader, Hatter, who confirms they have made it. Hatter says the Beach's mission is to collect all the cards, which they believe will allow them to leave the city, but that the face cards have yet to appear. Arisu and Usagi are tasked with joining groups of players to collect the remaining cards. Later, Hatter reveals to a group of "executive members," including Arisu, who participated in a game as a "test" from Ann, that the only remaining number card to collect is the "Ten of Hearts."
6Episode 6Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
Needing to extend his visa, Hatter goes off to participate in a game, but his henchmen bring him back to the Beach dead, stating that he died during the game. Upon being threatened, the remaining executive members are forced to vote Aguni in as the new leader of the Beach, and he is given Hatter's deck of cards. Arisu teams up with Chishiya and Kuina to steal the deck, unaware that he had been double-crossed by them. Arisu is tied up, aware that his visa expires at midnight, and Chishiya and Kuina prepare to leave with the stolen deck, only for a wall of lasers to stop them in their tracks. The Beach is revealed to be an arena for a game titled "Witch Hunt," with a difficulty-level illustrated by the "Ten of Hearts."
7Episode 7Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
A girl named Momoka is found stabbed to death, and the game's rules are stated; the players must work together to find the "witch" who murdered Momoka, throwing the suspect into a bonfire to win. With only two hours to search for the killer, Aguni and his followers, known as “militants”, decide to throw everyone into the fire to collect the final card. As dozens are murdered, Usagi teams up with a group of players and rescues Arisu. Ann figures out that Hatter was murdered and searches for fingerprints on Momoka's body. The building is lit on fire, Kuina kills a dangerous militant known as the Last Boss, and Chishiya severely injures Niragi. After thinking about the logistics of the game, Arisu tells the group that he knows the identity of the hidden witch. Ann learns the murderer's identity before being knocked unconscious.
8Episode 8Shinsuke SatoYoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, & Shinsuke SatoDecember 10, 2020 (2020-12-10)
In a flashback, Momoka wanders through the empty city with her friend Asahi, recording videos with a working phone. In the present, Arisu confronts Aguni who, believing he is the "witch," confesses to shooting his best friend Hatter in self-defense. The real witch is Momoka, who killed herself. As Aguni attempts to kill Niragi,[7] who is still intent on murdering everyone present, the remaining players throw Momoka into the bonfire and win the game. Chishiya collects the final card. The next day, Arisu and Usagi watch the videos recorded by Asahi, who had sacrificed herself during the game. In them, Asahi and Momoka reveal they are "dealers," players who organize games to extend their visas.[8] In one video, the pair visit an underground lair filled with "gamemasters." Arisu and Usagi manage to locate the lair but find the "gamemasters" dead. Chishiya and Kuina appear and learn the "gamemasters" were actually players. Mira, who was one of the Beach's executive members, appears on screens around the city and introduces a new set of games to collect face cards.

Season 2 (2022)[edit]

No.
overall
EpisodeDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
9Episode 1Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
The games' Next Stage starts when the King of Spades, an expert marksman, begins shooting players indiscriminately. The King of Spades' game arena is the whole city, and his presence is marked by a blimp with his face card that follows him. Arisu, Usagi, Kuina and Tatta escape into hiding together, while Chishiya and Ann have to flee separately. Still searching for answers, Arisu decides to play against the King of Clubs, with Usagi, Kuina, Tatta and Niragi as his teammates. Kyuma, the King of Clubs, introduces himself and his team as "citizens" of the country.
10Episode 2Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Kyuma explains that all face card games are deathmatches against citizens. The King of Clubs game, "Osmosis", is a points-based game where players have the opportunity to increase their points in certain ways, including via "battling", where if two opposing players touch, the player with higher points takes 500 points from the losing player. The team with the highest points at the end wins. At first Arisu's team takes the lead, only to be surprised by Kyuma and his team's fearlessness and willingness to die in order to help their team win. Kyuma's team takes the lead of 500 points, with seemingly no way for Arisu's team to catch up.
11Episode 3Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Kyuma and Arisu, who have grown to understand each other, have a chat while waiting for the countdown to run out. Arisu realizes that Kyuma and his team were once regular players, and fears this means that clearing all the games won't let them return home. Arisu asks to shake Kyuma's hand; when Kyuma does, he loses 500 points, putting Arisu's team in the lead. It's revealed that Tatta smashed his hand to give his points bracelet to Arisu, who could use the accumulated points to win one last battle. Kyuma and his team accept their deaths, and Tatta dies of his injuries. Elsewhere, Chishiya plays the Jack of Hearts game in a prison, where players have to correctly guess the playing card suit on the back of their collars to avoid being killed, but at the same time find the Jack of Hearts who is hiding among them.
12Episode 4Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
The Jack of Hearts is found by Chishiya and two other players: a serial killer and a con man. The serial killer and con man want to torture the Jack for information, but he commits suicide, ending the game. Kuina leaves Arisu and Usagi to find Ann and Chishiya. Arisu is depressed after Tatta's death, speculating that as all gamemasters seem to be former players, winning the game will just lead to them also becoming gamemasters, but Usagi urges him to help her hunt. They find a community outside of Tokyo that was slaughtered by the King of Spades, and watch a film where a girl explains that the fireworks everyone saw before entering weren't fireworks. They are then separated when the King of Spades attacks again. Arisu is rescued by Aguni and his new friend, Heiya.
13Episode 5Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Before the change, Heiya is a girl who lives a frivolous life. She wakes to find herself in her first game, "Boiling Death". She is the only survivor, but she loses her leg in the process. Now she is determined to survive any way she can. Arisu joins Aguni and Heiya to set a trap for the King of Spades but the plan fails and Arisu is separated from them. Ann hikes out of the city but finds only forest, surrounded by giant craters. Kuina survives the Jack of Spades game, but struggles alone. Usagi decides to help a young boy whose visa is expiring, by taking him into the Queen of Spades game and protecting him. Arisu also enters the game, reuniting with Usagi. The Queen of Spades game is "Checkmate," a chasing game where tagging someone from the opposite team brings them into your team, and the team with the greatest number of members by the end wins. Usagi's team starts to lose when the other players decide to stay with the Queen of Spades.
14Episode 6Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Usagi confronts some of the players, asking if they'd really prefer to stay in these games, instead of holding out for the possibility of going home and starting over. Usagi's argument works and the players work together, winning the game. Arisu and Usagi find hot springs in the remains of a stadium; they bathe together and share a kiss. Chishiya and three others play "Balance Scale", a mathematics/logic game against Kuzuryu, the King of Diamonds and former Beach executive member. Chishiya realizes that Kuzuryu has been trying to figure out if all lives have equal value; Chishiya gives Kuzuryu the chance to kill him, but Kuzuryu decides to let Chishiya win.
15Episode 7Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Kuina and Ann reunite in the Queen of Clubs game, and win together. With two face games left, players start converging in Shibuya. Niragi, Arisu and Chishiya meet at the Shibuya crossing; Niragi drags the other two into a gunfight, during which Arisu shoots Niragi and Chishiya is shot saving Usagi's life. The King of Spades arrives. Arisu and Usagi team up with Ann, Kuina, Aguni and Heiya. While Arisu prepares a trap, the others engage the King of Spades, who defeats them one by one. Aguni and Arisu blow up the King of Spades with an explosive, and Aguni ultimately shoots him in the head, killing him. With the rest of their friends injured and near death, Arisu and Usagi go to the final Queen of Hearts game to end things.
16Episode 8Shinsuke SatoYasuko Kuramitsu & Shinsuke SatoDecember 22, 2022 (2022-12-22)
Mira is the Queen of Hearts, and her game is "Croquet", where Arisu only needs to play three rounds of croquet without quitting, regardless of who wins or loses the game. Mira reveals that she designed the Seven of Hearts game that killed Arisu's friends; this enrages Arisu, until he realizes that if he kills Mira, they'll never be able to finish the game. Mira's psychological taunting breaks Arisu's mind, and he hallucinates that he's in a mental hospital with Mira as his psychiatrist, trying to convince him to quit the game. Usagi manages to snap Arisu out of his mental breakdown by cutting her wrist and convincing him to come back to save her. Mira is touched that their love was able to break Arisu out of the hallucination, and she finishes the croquet game with Arisu. The last game beaten, all players are given the choice to become "permanent residents" or not. Players who are still alive and who choose not to stay then wake up in the regular world, where they are survivors of a meteorite crash in Tokyo. Arisu's brother tells him that his heart stopped for one minute, during which he was at the border between life and death. The survivors don't remember their experiences in the other world, but some recognize each other, including Arisu and Usagi, who meet at a vending machine and decide to take a walk together. The last shot is of a table of playing cards, with focus on the Joker card.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On July 16, 2019, Netflix announced that they were creating a live-action adaptation of the manga Alice in Borderland, with Yoshiki Watabe, Yasuko Kuramitsu, and Shinsuke Sato writing the scripts for each episode, and Sato directing in an attempt of making the show appear as "one very, very long film."[2][9][10] A few months later, on August 4, Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya were cast as the main characters of the series, with the pair appearing as Ryōhei Arisu and Yuzuha Usagi, respectively.[11]

Filming[edit]

Keita Machida, Yûki Morinaga, and Kento Yamazaki at the Ashikaga Scramble City Studio, a large replica of the popular Shibuya Crossing.

Filming for the series began as early as August 2019, when Yamazaki was spotted during filming in Dōgenzaka, a district of Shibuya on August 8.[12] The following day, crew members were spotted near a store in Fukutomi-cho, located in the city of Yokohama.[12] From September 17 to September 20, Yamazaki and Tsuchiya were seen filming in an apartment complex in front of Kita-Suzurandai Station, on the Shintetsu Arima Line, in the city of Kobe.[12] According to the production company Robot Communications, the show's script was revised to "match the building layout."[5] A scene from the premiere episode featuring Yamazaki's character, Arisu, meeting his friends Chōta and Karube near Tokyo's busy Shibuya Crossing, was originally supposed to be filmed inside a Starbucks. However, due to the complexity of a glass-covered set, the scene took place in front of a sign outside Shibuya Station.[13] Furthermore, a scene taking place inside the Shibuya Station, in which the main characters enter a bathroom and reemerge to an empty Tokyo, was shot in a four-minute continuous take.[13][14] Extras were recruited for the series from August 9 to December 11, in various cities.[12][15][16] The creator of the original manga the series is based on, Haro Aso, was also allowed to visit various sets.[17] Filming took place in several cities and concluded in December 2019.[12]

Filming for the second season wrapped in March 2022.[18][19]

Visual effects[edit]

During filming, scenes focusing on the empty city of Tokyo were primarily shot using special effects and extensive uses of green screens, with Sato explaining that with the help of his assistant director, he would run into the middle of the intersection of Shibuya Crossing with a small camera "to figure out which parts to actually build and which parts to CGI."[10][20] Using the Ashikaga Scramble City Studio,[20] a large set 100 kilometers from Tokyo constructed for the series and the film Detective Chinatown 3 (which was filmed during the same period),[21][22] scenes featuring Shibuya Crossing were filmed using mainly green screens, with "everything but the road and the ticket gate at the east entrance [being] produced with computer graphics."[5][23] To keep the scenes "authentic," visual effects director Atsushi Doi recreated the shadows of the Tokyu Building where they would normally fall.[14] A scene in episode 4, which showed an underpass being flooded with water, was created with the help of previsualizations, which allowed the show's crew to "experiment with different elements before the actual shoot."[5] The panther that appears in that same episode was created using visual effects developed after the crew visited multiple zoos.[20] Additionally, Academy Award winner Erik-Jan de Boer supervised the production of the tiger featured in episode 5, which was created by Anibrain, an animation studio in India.[13] Post-credit visual effects were added in with the help of Japan's Digital Frontier, who worked alongside teams from Singapore, the United States, and India in an international collaboration.[24]

Music[edit]

The score for Alice in Borderland was composed entirely by Yutaka Yamada, who had previously worked with Sato on Bleach (2018) and Kingdom (2019). Produced by Kohei Chida, the music was performed by the FILMharmonic Orchestra of Prague. The song "Good Times" by Jan Erik Nilsson, was featured various times throughout the show.[5]

Marketing and release[edit]

On September 18, 2020, Netflix released a teaser video revealing that Alice in Borderland would debut in 190 countries on the platform on December 10, 2020.[25] On October 24, 2020, six set images were released to promote the series.[26] Four days later, an official trailer was released, along with a poster and a list of the main cast.[4] According to various critics, the first season of Alice in Borderland covered 31 chapters of the original manga, leaving 33 untouched.[6] The first season was released on December 10,[21] and in its first few weeks, the series "ranked in the top ten most-watched shows" on the platform in nearly 40 territories, including in Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.[21] Overall, the series did better in countries located in Asia and Europe, rather than in countries located in North America.[21] On December 24, 2020, Netflix renewed the series for a second season, two weeks after the first season had been released.[21][27]

On October 7, 2020, Haro Aso, the creator of the original manga the series is based on, announced plans to "celebrate" and promote the Netflix series by introducing a new manga titled Alice in Borderland Retry on Weekly Shōnen Sunday.[28] Launched on October 14 (#46, 2020 of Weekly Shōnen Sunday), the first volume of the manga tankobon was shipped out on December 11, one day after Alice in Borderland premiered. The manga series ended on January 20, 2021 (#8, 2021 of the magazine). The second and final volume of tankobon was released on February 18, 2021.[29][30] The second season of Alice in Borderland premiered worldwide on December 22, 2022.[31]

Reception[edit]

Following its release, Alice in Borderland received mostly positive reviews from critics, who applauded its cinematography, editing, use of graphic violence, visuals, and the performances of Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya,[32][33] but left mixed opinions on its advancement without special focus on character development and its story in general, particularly in the second half.[34][35] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of Alice in Borderland holds an approval rating of 75% based on eight reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10.[36] A month after its release, the first season had accumulated 18 million households in viewership.[37] On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season of Alice in Borderland holds an approval rating of 88% based on eight reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10.[38]

From The Japan Times, James Hadfield gave praise to Sato's directing but criticized the characters, stating that "few of the cast leave much impression, though Tsuchiya makes for an effective action heroine, and Nijirô Murakami has some fun as a smirking loner."[34] Writing for Ready Steady Cut, Jonathon Wilson gave a generally positive review, lauding the series for skipping over "exposition and careful backstory-building," and "just getting straight to it." Wilson also compared the series positively to the Japanese film Battle Royale, and the American horror film Saw.[39] Ars Technica journalist Jennifer Ouellette called the show "emotionally intense," and compared the show's games to those found in the books Ready Player One and Lord of the Flies, and in the 1997 film Cube.[6] Salon's Melanie McFarland compared the series to the CBS All Access miniseries The Stand, stating that Alice in Borderland "handles the mechanics of introducing its characters more effectively and it doesn't throw off the audience by leaning heavily on flashbacks [...] but unlike "The Stand," the "before" profiles aren't extensive to the point of dragging on the story's progress."[3] From Yahoo! News, Lim Yian Lu highly praised the series for its "suspenseful plot," stating that it "will keep you entertained and yearning for more despite its grisly and gory scenes."[40] Writing for the Anime News Network, Theron Martin gave the series a C+ and mixed feedback to the show's production, score, general storyline and acting, while stating that it gives a "modest amount of entertainment" for its runtime.[35] After watching the first episode of the series, and praising it for its tone, soundtrack, and ability to "shift gears so fast," the crew at Decider recommended viewers to stream the show.[41]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2021
3rd Asia Contents Awards Best creative Alice in Borderland Nominated [42]
Creative Beyond Border Won
Best OTT original Nominated
Technical Achievement Nominated
Best Actress Tao Tsuchiya Nominated
Asian Academy Creative Awards Best Cinematography Taro Kawazu Won [43]
Best Visual Or Special VFX In TV Series Or Feature Film Alice in Borderland Won
Best Direction (Fiction) Shinsuke Sato Won

References[edit]

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External links[edit]