Alice in Borderland Manga vs. Show: What Are the Differences?

alice manga

Alice In Borderland is one of the Japanese live-action series that was based on the bestselling manga of the same name by Haro Aso. While a lot of anime and live-action manga adaptations don’t necessarily follow the source materials by introducing changes, the Alice In Borderland series tends to be quite faithful to its source material in terms of almost every aspect. 

But the thing is that, like all adaptations, it still has its own uniqueness. That means that there are new things that were introduced to the Alice In Borderland series when you compare it to the manga, although some changes may be a bit minor. So, with that said, let’s look at some of the differences between the manga and the show versions of Alice In Borderland. 

The Start

arisu friends

The start of the Netflix version of Alice In Borderland allowed us to see Arisu, Karube, and Chōta meeting up at Shibuya Crossing, as they mess around and cause disruptions in traffic. However, after hiding in a comfort room to escape the authorities, they were surprised by the sudden electrical problems as they got transported into an empty version of Tokyo when they got out of the washroom. That was when they were transported to the Borderlands without their knowledge or consent, as they never saw the event that caused them to get transported there. 

Meanwhile, in the manga, the thing is that we were allowed to see that the people who were also pulled into the Borderlands saw fireworks at dusk. But this was something that was only revealed later in the Netflix adaptation of Alice In Borderland.


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Of course, the moment that Arisu and his friends were transported to the Borderlands, they were forced to play the first game, which was the Three of Clubs. But there are huge differences between the manga and the Netflix version of the Three of Clubs game.

In the manga, the three friends were forced to answer trivia questions that had difficulty levels determined by how lucky their paper fortune was. If they got the wrong answer, the difference is subtracted from the correct answer, and flaming arrows equal to the result would be shot at them. 

Meanwhile, in the Netflix version, there is an unnamed girl that was trapped together with them. Five of them had to play a completely different game compared to the one in the manga, as they were now forced to decide between two doors in the Live or Die game. Choosing the wrong door meant getting shot with a laser. And not choosing in time meant that the room would be engulfed in flames.

Seven of Hearts

trio seven of hearts

There is no doubt that the most dramatic moment of the entire series was the Seven of Hearts game because this was the game that tore Arisu and his friends apart both emotionally and physically. Because of the very nature of the Seven of Hearts game, they were forced to contend with each other as the game, according to its rules, only allowed one player out of four to survive. In that regard, they saw themselves betraying one another until Karube and Chōta decided that it was best for Arisu to stay alive and live on for their sake so that he could clear all of the games.

In the series, Arisu became the wolf and attempted to hide so that he can find a way to solve the puzzle without the need for any of them to die. He hid in the bushes while trying to reason why he needed to be the one to live, all while Chōta was restraining Shibuki so that she wouldn’t be able to go after Arisu. However, in the manga, Shibuka didn’t want to chase after Arisu because she didn’t want to be the one to bear the death of her friends on her shoulders if she were the one to survive the game.

Arisu also found Karube in the series and was able to see the explosion taking his life. Meanwhile, in the manga, he never saw him and only heard the explosion. Then, in the manga, Arisu had a mental breakdown because he saw that the prize of the game was a plate of mutton, as he saw that the game rewarded him with something that wasn’t even worth a quarter of the lives of his friends. And that was what forced him to snap, saying that he’ll kill the people that created these games.

The Different Characters And “Side Story”

arisu and allies

In the series, Arisu was known for being one of the most intelligent characters due to his analytical and tactical skills, which were honed by his love of gaming. However, in the manga, Arisu was never a gamer but was just someone who loved observing people and things. In the manga, Karube is an employee that was about to propose to his girlfriend instead of being a single man that owned a bar. And Chōta was a pervert in the manga instead of someone who was part of his mom’s cult.

Shibuki was also shown to be quite cruel in the series compared to her manga counterpart, as she was willing to use the girl in the first game to survive and even manipulated Chōta by sleeping with him. However, in the manga, she is less manipulative despite the fact that she still slept with Chōta, as she was the one that provided him the emotional comfort he needed to go through the games. And Shibuki was a much more sympathetic character in the manga due to how somewhat good-natured she was portrayed to be.


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Then, in the manga, there were side stories that were integrated with the show, as Arisu and Usagi were seen participating in the Four of Clubs game. The game was changed from Runaway to Distance. There were also details that were changed between the side stories in the series compared to the manga version.

Season 1 Ending


The way that season 1 ended was quite different compared to the way that this part was portrayed in the manga. In the series, season 1 ended when the players found all of the Number cards and found out that Asahi and Momoka were dealers that played alongside the players but were actually of the people that helped set the games up. We also saw that Aguni was the one that saved Arisu from Niragi by pushing him into the fire, as we didn’t see what happened to them.

However, in the manga, Arisu and his friends actually met four citizens of the Borderlands, but their faces weren’t shown. They still saw the hideout of the dealers and were confronted by Kano Mira, who was one of the executives of the Beach but was secretly a Face card the entire time. But Mira didn’t look “friendly” in the manga but was quite unhinged while she was recounting all of the different things that the players had to do to get to this point of the Borderlands. She was essentially basking in the despair of the players.

Face Cards

jack of hearets

While the Face cards in the Netflix adaptation were quite similar to the ones in the manga, the thing is that their manga versions were allowed to be more human in terms of their backstory. Of course, this included the likes of the King of Spades, which was quite shrouded in mystery the entire time during the second season of Alice In Borderland. In the manga, his backstory was actually told well enough, whereas the Netflix version shows that he was a nameless mercenary that killed a friend in the past.

But the Jack of Hearts also had a huge change introduced in the Netflix adaptation. In the series, the Jack of Hearts was a mystery until the final portion of the game, when Chishiya was able to deduce that Enji Matsushita was the one behind the game. Throughout the entire game, he played like a true player that didn’t have any significant advantages over the other players. However, in the manga, he had a significant advantage when he cheated the Jack of Hearts game’s system by wearing a prosthetic eye with a monitor that displays the same symbol as the collar, ensuring his survival in his game.

Exclusive Face Card

queen of spades

While all of the Face cards in the manga were shown in the Netflix adaptation, there was an exclusive Face card that was featured in the live-action version of Alice In Borderland. This was the Queen of Spades, whose identity and game were never shown in the manga but were nonetheless defeated by the players. In the Netflix version, however, she was one of the characters that showed us the growth in Usagi’s character and resolve.


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In this game, which was called Checkmate, the Queen of Spades tried to weaken the resolve of Usagi and the other players by choosing a child as the king of the player team. However, Usagi used her voice to win more players to her side, while Arisu used himself as bait so that they could win the game in the final round. It was this game that allowed us to see Usagi’s renewed resolve to clear all of the Face cards.

Arisu And Usagi’s Steamy Encounter

arisu and usagi kiss

In the series, after clearing the Queen of Spades game, Arisu and Usagi stumbled upon the Seven of Spades game that involved Akane Heiya in the past. They started taking a bath in the hot spring that was created by the Seven of Spades arena and encountered elephants there. After that, they shared a passionate kiss which was interrupted when they saw a corpse that was most likely a remnant of the Seven of Spades game.

Meanwhile, in the manga, they never saw a corpse in the hot spring. Instead, they not only kissed while they were taking a bath but ultimately had sex in the hot spring as well. This steamy encounter was continued when they got back to their camp, as Arisu and Usagi established that they were a true couple by having sex.

The Joker

joker card

In the Netflix adaptation, Arisu and Usagi defeated the Queen of Hearts and cleared all of the Face cards. They were allowed to choose whether to stay in the Borderlands or go back to the real world. Of course, Arisu and his friends decided to go back to the real world, where they had no recollection of what happened in the Borderlands and were informed that they were victims of a meteorite crash on Shibuya. 

Just after what was supposedly a happy ending, with Arisu and Usagi meeting in the real world for the first time, we saw a table that had an entire deck of cards. All of the cards were blown away by the wind until only the Joker card was left. This seemed to tease us about the possibility of one more card remaining. And it is possible that we will see the Joker in the next season of Alice In Borderland if ever it becomes a reality.

Meanwhile, in the manga, the Joker appeared just before Arisu and Usagi were about to leave the Borderlands. He was a mysterious figure that seemed to hint to Arisu that he could be the person tasked to take all of the dead of the Borderlands to the afterlife. In that regard, the Joker is a person shrouded in mystery and was never given any backstory in the manga. But the difference here is that the Joker actually appeared in the manga, whereas only the card appeared in the Netflix adaptation.

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