‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 2 Review: Arisu and His Friends Go to the Next Stage

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The Death Game genre is one that has become quite popular in the medium of manga. From there, it has recently escaped and now has found a place among the rosters of many streaming services. Especially Netflix, which has found success in adapting these stories to a live-action setting. Squid Game, of course, is the most successful series the streaming service has ever seen. However, many would argue that Alice in Borderland is the better show and the better Death Game story. Its second season is here to consolidate that claim.

Alice in Borderland is a TV series based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Haro Aso, and stars Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Nijiro Murakami, Aya Asahina, and Riisa Naka. The series tells the story of Arisu, a young man who has apparently wasted his life on video games and hanging out with friends. One day, he is transported to a version of Tokyo that is completely empty, except for very few people who participate in the life-or-death game with the hope of returning home. Now Arisu must put all of his experience in gaming to good use if he is to survive.

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Season 1 introduced audiences to the concepts of the world Arisu and his friends are not living in, while season 2 took it to the next level. This time we have higher stakes than ever and also with the promise of answers at the end of the road. Season 2 delivers on all of these fronts with a thrilling ride that could be one of the most entertaining of any show Netflix has released this year. Alice in Borderland is truly one of those shows you cannot stop watching until you finish every single available episode.

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Alice in Borderland’s season 2 also consists of 8 episodes, and each one is more exciting and thrilling than the last. The games that are part of this season are twistier and more dangerous than ever before, but just like the people who set these games in the show, we are quite entertained while watching from the comfort of our homes. There is certainly an entire commentary on the nature of spectacle and violence that is much better developed than anything that Nope could have done during its runtime.

All the actors are also great in their roles, and you feel like they never left. The first season of the show debuted in 2020, so there have been more than 2 years of wait, and yet, the show and the performances manage to catch the drift very quickly and set us up for the dangers coming. Our main characters, Arisu and Usagi are especially interesting this season as the promise of an exit becomes more and more real with each passing episode, and their relationship also becomes more and more complicated.

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While the games and the solutions to the problems they present are quite thrilling, the relationships and interactions between the characters are really the main dishes. Arisu and Usagi, for example, clearly have feelings for each other. However, their perception of the world they now live in is very different, and it makes you wonder if there is a way for them to unite those mismatched perceptions. It is exciting to see the characters grow and face dangers together, but it is also stress-inducing as we don’t want anyone to bite the dust.

This is a very hard thing to do because, as in Gantz and other stories in the genre before it, death is a main part of the story. So expect some characters not to reach the end of the road. There is also the mystery surrounding the games: why these games are being held and who is the mastermind behind all of this circus. Season 2 offers answers to all these questions. However, how satisfactory those answers are will depend on every viewer’s own perception of reality. What is true is that the answers will not satisfy everyone.

In terms of visuals, Alice in Borderland continues to push what Japanese television is capable of. The visual effects on display here are quite good and gruesome as well. You can really feel that the scope of the show has gone to the next level, and the show really needed this push in terms of visual fidelity. The series has become a huge success for Japan as part of the industry and also for Netflix, so a bit more budget was warranted. Despite this, there are still some choppy visuals in the more visually demanding set pieces, but at this point, no one will be taken out of the story by these flaws.

In the end, Alice in Borderland offers exactly what it promises: a thrilling ride filled with gruesome games, lots of death, clever solutions, and answers to the mysteries at hand. Again, the answers provided by the show might not be to everyone’s liking, but they are there. Also, the show leaves some loose threads that could lead to the third season, but there is definitely some finality to season two. We will have to wait and see. It will all depend on the viewing numbers, for sure.

SCORE: 8/10

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