Arisu – a listless, jobless and video-game-obsessed young man – suddenly finds himself in a strange, emptied-out version of Tokyo in which he and his friends must compete in dangerous games in order to survive. In this surreal world, Arisu meets Usagi, a young woman who’s navigating the games alone. Together, they set out to unravel one mystery after another as they risk their lives and confront what it means to live.
Alice in Borderland is a new drama series in eight episodes presented on a grand scale as a Netflix original series from Japan. It premiered globally on 10 December 2020.
Netflix announced it as an incredible work of visual storytelling that subverts viewers’ expectations at every turn, unfolding in exciting and chaotic twists.
Step into the bizarre reality of Tokyo and discover 27 Facts About Alice in Borderland Season 1 (Season 2 will premiere on 22 December 2022 on Netflix).
27 FACTS ABOUT ALICE IN BORDERLAND
Alice in Borderland is the most popular Japanese original live action title on Netflix. The series has just been renewed for a second season.
The series is based on the original graphic novel Imawa no Kuni no Alice by manga artist Haro Aso. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday S and Weekly Shonen Sunday (Shogakukan) from 2010 to 2016.
Ryohei Arisu has no job and spends the whole day playing video games. His father despises him and prefers his successful youngest son. Arisu’s two best friends since high school, office worker Chota and bartender Karube, also waste away their days and have no goals in life. One day, they meet in Shibuya for drinks, but all of a sudden, they find themselves in a strange, emptied-out Tokyo. After entering a building, they are forced to join a mysterious game of life and death in a locked room.
They realize that the world has completely changed. It appears that in order to survive in Borderland, they must participate in and win assorted games. Perplexed by these illogical circumstances, Arisu taps into his incredible mastery of games to awaken his skills of observation and judgment and escape with his friends.
An office worker named Shibuki, one of the players who survived the game with them, tells them the rules of this new world they find themselves in: they must win assorted games and obtain a visa in order to survive.
After joining a second game, Arisu meets a mountain climber named Usagi. She has been playing the games alone, rather than team up with a partner. In time, the two of them aim for the Beach, which holds the key to unlocking the secrets of this world.
WIN OR DIE – THE RULES OF THE GAMES
If players win a game, they receive a visa, which allows them to survive for the number of days corresponding to the card. Before their time is up, they must play another game. Games are held each night after sundown. Locations and details vary, but participants can join any games anywhere. After entering the game venue, they are not allowed to leave unless they win.
Each participant is given a smartphone. A playing card appears on the phone to show the type and difficulty level of the game. Spades represent physical games that require strength. Hearts represent psychological games that play with the human heart. Clubs represent balance team games where bonding with teammates is crucial. Diamonds represent knowledge games of intelligence.
SIX GAMES – FROM LIVE OR DIE TO WITCH HUNT
Episode 1: Live or Die (3 of ♣)
Rules: Find the correct door within the allotted time and escape the building.
Episode 2: Tag (5 of ♠)
Rules: Touch the base somewhere in the apartment building while avoiding the person who is “it”. After 20 minutes, the apartment building will explode.
Episode 3: Hide and Seek (7 of ❤)
Rules: This Game has four players. Everyone wears a special collar. One person is the wolf while the other three are sheep. If you lock eyes with the wolf, the roles of wolf and sheep are exchanged. After 15 minutes, only the person who is at that moment the wolf wins the game.
Episode 4: Distance (4 of ♣)
Rules: The time limit is 120 minutes. Overcome a series of challenges and aim for the goal.
Episode 5: Light bulb (4 of ♦)
Rules: Of switches A, B and C, only one will turn on the light bulb on the other side of the door. Which one is it? When the door is open, you can flip the switch only once. When the door is closed, you cantry as many times as you want.
Episodes 6 & 7: Witch Hunt (10 of ❤)
Rules: The time limit is 120 minutes. There is one “witch” who took the life of a young girl. Find and burn the witch with the flames of judgment in order to win. Note that the witchmight not be a woman.
THE CAST OF ALICE IN BORDERLAND
Kento Yamazaki, who plays Arisu, is a 26-year-old Japanese actor who has 4 million followers on Instagram. He won the Newcomer of the Year prize at the 39th Japan Academy Awards for his role in the 2015 films No Longer Heroine and Orange. He starred in films of assorted genres, including You Lie In April (’16), Psychic Kusuo: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (’17), and A Forest of Wool and Steel (’18), Theatre: A Love Story (’20). He collaborated with director Shinsuke Sato for the 2019 mega-hit Kingdom, which will receive a sequel. In 2021, he will star in the film The Door into Summer.
Tao Tsuchiya, who plays Usagi, is a 25-year-old Japanese actress who has 2.1 followers on Instagram. She has appeared in many films, including the Orange (’15), Yell For The Blue Sky (’16), The 8-Year Engagement (’17), and Kasane: Beauty and Fate (’18). In fall 2020, she appeared in the musical Roman Holiday, and in the films Food Luck, Aishu Cinderella, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.
Nijiro Murakami plays Chishiya, a character many viewers consider as The Witch. The 23-year-old actor made his film debut in Still the Water (2014), which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. After gaining attention in Destruction Babies (’16), he was an overwhelming presence in Mukoku (’17), where he co-starred with Go Ayano. He also appeared in The Gun (’18), They Say Nothing Stays the Same, (’19) and The Promised Land (’19).
Ayaka Miyoshi (25) plays Ann, the transgender fighter. After winning the Miss Seventeen contest in 2010, Ayaka worked as a model for the fashion magazine Seventeen for several years (watch her best catwalks and her daily beauty routine). As an actress, she has appeared in many hit films, such as Inuyashiki (18), DanceWith Me (’19), Howling Village (’20), and Junihitoe woKita Akuma (’21).
VISUAL EFFECTS – FROM THE BLACK PANTHER TO AN EMPTY TOKYO
The series opens with an overwhelmingly bizarre setting where people have disappeared from Shibuya, Tokyo. “The director was committed to using Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Japan’s most famous intersection,” says art design director Iwao Saito. The filming took place on a massive open set in Ashikaga city, Tochigi Prefecture. The set was constructed in conjunction with the Chinese film Detective Chinatown 3, which was filmed during the same time period. Everything but the road and the ticket gate at the east entrance was produced with computer graphics (CG) through green screen compositing.
The stunning visual effects created by Sato’s team are spread across the entire episodes.The black panther that appears in a tunnel in Episode 4 was a deliverable of the visual effects team visiting zoos beforehand and researching the feel and movement of the creature’s fur.
In the wire work scene where Usagi jumps onto a bus, the team focused onthe details and shot the moving bus and the actress separately, to give flexibility to thecamera work and realism to the scene.
TRAILER ALICE IN BORDERLAND SEASON 2
The story follows Arisu and Usagi as they hope to return to their original world by making it through a variety of deadly ‘games’. But even if all the cards are in order, will they be able to return to their original world?
(Unfortunately, the Netflix assistant who’s in charge of Japanese and South Korean shows never replies to media requests. Therefore, we can’t publish any article on season 2 of Alice in Borderland.)
TRAILER & MAKING OF ALICE IN BORDERLAND SEASON 1
There’s much more to unveil than 27 Facts About Alice in Borderland. Watch the making of video.
ALICE IN BORDERLAND: STORY AND ENDING EXPLAINED
INTERVIEW WITH THE ALICE IN BORDERLAND CAST
If you liked our article 27 Facts About Alice in Borderland, read our latest articles about films, actors and Netflix series.
Watch Alice in Borderland on Netflix.
This article was first published on 3 January 2021 and updated recently.
Photos: © Haro Aso,Shogakukan / ROBOT