Arts and Entertainment

Review: Netflix airs the second season of Japanese drama ‘Alice in Borderland,’ is it better than the first?

The show balances the brutality of human suffering while showing the compassion in people brought out in desperate times.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/kristystell/" target="_self">Kristy Castellanos</a>

Kristy Castellanos

March 3, 2023

In season one of “Alice in Borderland” director Shinsuke Sato gave us a series full of twists and turns that was quite a rollercoaster of emotions. Now with the release of the second season, released December 22nd 2022, fans are at the edge of their seats as this show envisioned our worst dystopian nightmares. This action packed season was equally terrifying and heart wrenching as the first but what made it was the elevated stakes. 

Arisu the main character of the series awakens one day to find himself in a hyper-realistic world that mimics the real world but has an evil twist to it. The inhabitants of this world are people who have been pulled from real life to play a series of deadly games inspired by the suits and face cards in a card deck. The games test the players intelligence and physical strength as they fight for their lives. The first season sets up the world and has the characters playing these games to try to get back to real life but ends with the character’s being stuck and not knowing what to do next.

That’s when the second season came out and fans got the answers to all their questions. This season brought forth more dystopian type characteristics as it further showed the environmental collapse which was only just beginning in the first season. It also gave different characters a deeper focus which allowed for the plot to be furthered in differing point of views. The differing point of view’s gave way for a more fast paced season as the end goal became more life threatening. The second season also had more stakes to it as the characters find themselves having to sacrifice each other to save themselves. The selflessness once seen in the prior scene is completely diminished as the character’s become selfish in their need for survival. 

As for the composition of the series, the new season is more gory and violent as the series got a budget increase. The setting was also completely transformed as it has become hyper-realistic in showcasing the city of Tokyo but as a ghost town void of life and joy. 

Although the season got a major upgrade, one could argue that the first is better because of the plot and the way it was developed. The second season lacks the emotional connection that the first had since a lot of the character’s storylines were already fully explained. But the second season introduces new character’s that explain the overall plot of the series and the why behind what is happening. 

Director Shinsuke Sato envelops the brutality of human suffering and the lengths in which people are willing to go to rise above and survive in this series. But he also shows the compassion that is wrought in times of desperation and the friendships that allow humanity to go on. The second season overall shows the beauty of forming bonds that can save one’s life rather than the straightforward first season that disregards the importance of friendship. Therefore arguably making it better in all aspects including cinematic ones.

“Alice in Borderland” can be viewed on Netflix, is directed by Shinsuke Sato, and the main cast are Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Asahina Aya, and Njiro Murakami. There are currently two seasons available with eight episodes each and was inspired by the manga ‘Haro Asu’.

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