Alice in Borderland Season 1 Recap & Ending Explained

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One of the most popular Japanese live-action series that you can watch on Netflix is Alice In Borderland, which is an adaptation of the manga of the same title. Of course, Alice In Borderland follows a sci-fi survival battle royale kind of storyline where the characters have to use their wits to survive the different games that they are forced to face. And these games involve situations wherein they could die at any given moment.

With that said, the uniqueness of Alice In Borderland comes in the form of how unpredictable the games and the characters are, as we saw a lot of twists and turns involving Arisu while he was playing the game. Because the game is far from over, season 2 of Alice In Borderland is on its way. So, while waiting for the second season, let’s look at a recap of what happened in the first season of Alice In Borderland.

What Happened During Alice In Borderland Season 1?

Arisu Is Forced Into The Game

The storyline of Alice In Borderland starts with a jobless young man named Ryohei Arisu, who had earned the ire of his family because he didn’t want to work as he was always skipping job interviews. Instead, he would rather spend his days playing video games, as he was seemingly using this as a way for him to escape the reality of the world. Of course, it was through his experiences as a gamer that he developed a keen sense of knowing how to solve puzzles. Arisu was always smart but was someone who didn’t want to use his head to work in the real world.

When he wasn’t playing games, Arisu spent his time hanging out with his childhood friends, Chota and Karube. The three enjoyed walking around Tokyo while they were quite unaware of the things that were happening around them. After creating traffic chaos, they were forced to hide in a public toilet. But things changed the moment they came out because the entire world had become silent.

trio

The trio was now in a fantasy sci-fi world where they were forced to play survival games to earn visas, which was their life in that game. They have to earn their living by playing games nonstop, as that was the only way for them to keep on living in this world. Of course, the goal was to escape, but that wasn’t an option for them if they couldn’t even survive in this world.

Due to his experience as a gamer, Arisu was quick to find a way out of the puzzles of the games in front of them. As such, it was clear that he was perfect for this world, where survival was determined by a person’s ability to solve puzzles and find a way through the different tricks of the games that they were forced to play. But he was also forced to make tough decisions because certain instances required only one winner.

As such, the struggle for Arisu was to learn more about the world he was now forced into. But he was not alone because the other characters were also given enough screen time as well so that we could get to know more about their backstories. As such, the way that the series was set up clearly allowed the inclusion of different characters with different backgrounds and specialties in life.

Here Come The Games

Called the Borderland, this world resembled a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo where there were no other people aside from the ones that were forced into that world. The different games that the players had to play were timed, as each player needed to sign into the games using their phones. Once the player enters the game, they cannot leave it, or else they will be terminated without question.

The first game that Arisu and his friends were forced to play was called Dead or Alive, which made them choose between two different gates. One gate was death, while the other was life. And if they opened the wrong gate, they would all die.

As such, they had two minutes to decide which gate to open because flames would engulf the floor and kill everyone in the room. But it was through Arisu’s ability to solve puzzles that they were able to escape that game with their heads.

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Each game in the Borderland is labeled differently, depending on the different suites in a deck of cards. The different symbols are clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. Each of these symbols represents a different genre of game that requires different specialties. Meanwhile, the number on the card indicates how difficult the games will be.

The heart game, for instance, is the trickiest because it involves a person’s emotions. These games attack the emotional weaknesses of the players and will force them into situations where they have to make tough decisions based on their emotions. 

When one finishes the game, the player is awarded the card that indicates the type of game and difficulty of the game. The goal was for the players to collect all of the cards in a single deck (not including the face cards) so that they could return to the real world. And that means that they have to survive all of the tough games that they are forced to play.

Friendships Are Tested

One of the toughest scenes in the entire series came when Arisu and his friends were forced to play a heart game. In that regard, this was when their friendship was tested, as heart games force the players to use their emotions to win. Of course, these games also attack the players’ emotional weaknesses, and that’s why heart games are the toughest that the players are forced to play while they are in Borderland.

In this game, Arisu and his friends were forced into a situation wherein there could only be one winner. Chota and Karube, who both accepted their fates, decided that they needed to die so that Arisu could win because he was the only one with the brains and the capability to beat this game. As such, Arisu was forced to see his friends dying in that heart game, as he used their deaths as motivation to find a way to escape this world and make sure that no more innocent lives go to waste.

hearts game

Of course, there were also other characters whose friendships were tested during the events. These are the antagonists named Hatter and Kuzuryu, who both rule over a club-like settlement in Borderland. This place is a party haven called The Beach, which is located in a resort complex where almost all of the different players gathered so that they could help one another while partying and having fun when they weren’t playing survival games. And all of the players in The Beach were forced to wear beach clothes or bathing suits to make sure that they weren’t hiding anything.

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The goal of Hatter and Kuzuryu was to make all of the other players gather all the cards for them so that they could eventually escape the game. However, they were forced into a situation where Hatter became mad due to how difficult the game was. This was the ten of hearts game that manipulated everyone into killing one another.

The Witch Hunt

The ten of hearts game was a witch hunt that forced the residents of The Beach to find who the witch among them was so that the game would end. They needed to find the witch who killed a character named Momoka and then burn this witch. As such, what happened was that Aguni, the muscle head of The Beach and the leader of its inner army, decided to launch an all-out battle royale to find out who the witch was.

This caused violence to break out and destroy a seemingly peaceful haven as people were forced into killing one another so that they could find out who the witch was. Aguni didn’t care who was dying as long as they could find out who the witch was. And there were several suspects, but none of them ever turned out to be the witch.

beach

But because this was a hearts game that involved emotions more than straight-up brains and brawn, Arisu knew that this wasn’t a game that could be solved using force. That was when Arisu realized that the game could have been won without even killing or hurting anyone because the witch was Momoka, who died through suicide instead of murder. As such, the very same witch that killed Momoka was herself all along, as all that they needed to do was burn her body to finish the game.

However, a lot of people had already died in that game. But while Momoka’s death was the trigger of the ten of heart’s game, it was eventually revealed that they were actually “dealers” in Borderland and had arrived there before most of the other players did. She and Asahi were actually recruited to work for the game masters that were behind the entire scheme the entire time, as they were forced to perform tasks that allowed the games to progress. 

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Nevertheless, it was the completion of the ten of hearts game that allowed the players to complete all of the 40 numbered cards on the deck. The only cards that remained were the face cards. Of course, it was the different games that Arisu played that made him realize that this was a world where people were forced to play alone because emotional attachments could only make things more difficult. But the arrival of the athletic Yuzuha Usagi, who served as Arisu’s love interest, changed his mindset a bit as he learned that working together could make things easier for them, despite the fact that emotional attachments are still a hindrance in such a world.

Alice In Borderland Season 1 Ending Explained

After Arisu and his allies completed the final game, which was the ten of hearts game, he learned more about what the dealers were asked to do after he saw the recording on Momoka’s phone. This allowed him to enter a hidden chamber inside the subway, where they found out that the people in the real world were actually betting on the players, as the entire Borderland setup was a high-stakes gambling game.

But Arisu and the others were surprised to see that the middlemen that helped in the arrangement of the bets were now dead. Suddenly, a broadcast appeared to the remaining players as the face cards finally revealed themselves to be actual people. 

Mira, who was one of the highest-ranking members of The Beach, was actually a face card all along, as she was the one who delivered the news that the face cards were now going to reveal themselves so that the players could now collect them and leave this world. As such, season 2 is set to reveal the mystery behind the face cards and the different games that Arisu and the others need to play to finally return to the real world.

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