If you’re thinking you won’t like Alice in Borderland because you don’t like manga, put that out of your mind. This is excellent!
NOTE: I guess we should get the warnings out of the way. If you have a weak heart, you should probably choose another series. Likewise, there are some scenes with sexual overtones, though no full nudity. However, it is for mature audiences as there is plenty of blood and violence.
AiB is a Japanese Manga series illustrated and written by Haro Aso. The series was brought to Netflix in live-action.
In the eight, roughly 42-minute episodes, near Tokyo, three high school kids bored with life are transported to an alternate universe (best guess by the participants).
The three are recklessly enjoying life in a crosswalk. When the light changes from walk, Karube still has Arisu on his shoulders spinning him around, while Chōta films the action on his phone.
Trying to avoid the action in the crosswalk, several cars plow into one another. The three boys seeing what’s happened and two approaching police, run.
There are thousands of people in the streets and cops coming from every angle. The boys duck into a men’s room, into the same stall.
The police are pounding on the door when suddenly the lights go out. All noise stops outside the door. Eventually, the boys peek out to see that there is no one there.
In fact, there is no one anywhere.
Many YouTubers complain this trailer does not do the series justice. However, it’s a sneak peek at episode one, and you don’t really want all the details and spoilers, do you?
Watch the trailer by clicking the link below.
As the boys are walking into a building, there is a BMW 523S parked there. As they wait by the elevator, a girl walks up and tells them they are now in the game and have no choice but to play or die.
She throws her ID out toward where they came in, and it gets zapped by a laser beam making a clean hole through its center to show them going back that way is sure death.
There is a table with what looks to be phones and a sign that says one per player. They each grab one, and another girl walks up, screaming and crying, “Where is everyone?” “What’s going on?”
The phone notifies them registration is closed, and the game begins. The three boys go into a room, which has two doors. Their phones inform them they have 2:00 minutes to clear the room.
A sign on one door reads, “Live,” and the other reads, “Die.” The girl who walked up last freaks out and says, “It has to be live. I want to live.”
She runs through that door and is promptly killed by a laser beam through the head. Making the choice easier for the others.
The Significance of the BMW 523S
In the second room, they have ten seconds less to solve the room and escape. Arisu, the resident gamer, remembers the BMW outside. Since it is his favorite car (how convenient, right?), he knows it is almost five meters long.
Arisu is always compared to his smarter, younger brother by his father in real life and labeled as a loser by his bother. It is here, in the game, where Arisu can finally excel.
He quickly steps off five paces, does the math, and figures the number of rooms. That tells him the number of rooms per floor and that the right door will take them into an adjacent room. The other door would be the exterior of the building, and thus death.
The three clear the building and get a three of clubs playing card. The girl that joined them gives them a quick rundown about the significance of the playing card, and that each game gives them a playing card.
The Significance of Playing Cards
Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, where the playing cards were characters, in AiB, the card suit determines the game type.
Plus, the card number gives you the number of days of your visa. Therefore, the players got the three of clubs, so they got a three-day visa. They must participate in a game and get another Visa before their visa runs out.
Clubs are the playing card used to designate a teamwork game, hearts games mean you must play with the hearts of other participants, and there can usually only be one winner (unless you trick the game), and so on.
You’ll quickly find out the other card suits and their significance after a few episodes, so I don’t want to give too much away.
Why Watch AiB?
If you’re looking for an exciting series that will keep you glued to the screen this is it. (We binge-watched it in one night.) This was the most fun I have had from a TV series since Money Heist.
You might also enjoy this other Money Heist related story.
Summary & Recommendation
The storyline is impressive, even if outlandish. I wanted to say it was believable, but that would be a stretch. Unlike most manga I have watched, the acting is actually excellent. So much fun!
Given that the episodes are only 42 minutes, and there are multiple deaths in each episode, character development is incredible. You will cultivate feelings for the characters, which hurts even more when they die.
I truthfully thought, “Oh shit, I am going to have to sit through this BS manga because she loves this kind of stuff and I love her.” Boy, was I shocked when it turned out to be exciting and exhilarating. I can’t wait for Season 2.
My recommendation is that you set aside about six hours and binge-watch this series! It is one of the best Netflix series I have seen.