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Alice in Borderland series review | Japanese never cease to surprise me!

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alice in borderland series review

Storyline

Arisu and his two best friends Chota and Karube are hiding in a subway toilet chased by police. When they leave it they find that all the people of Tokyo have disappeared and the city is empty. Then they will be forced to participate in life and death games. With the only option being victory; otherwise those who do not participate in the games are executed by the creator of the games.

credit to IMDb

Quick states

  • Rating: 7.7
  • Genres: Action, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Stars: Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Nijirô Murakami, Keita Machida, Yûki Morinaga
  • Director: Shinsuke Sato
  • Writers: Yasuko Kuramitsu, Shinsuke Sato, Yoshiki Watabe
  • Certificate: TV-MA
  • Country: Japan
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Release Date: 2020
  • AKA: Alice in Borderland
  • Runtime: 50 min at episode
  • Filming Location: Tokyo, Japan

Alice in Borderland series trailer

Credit to Netflix youtube channel

Hello everyone, today we are going to do Alice in Borderland series review. And the first part of this review will be without spoilers, and the second part will be with spoilers. But hey, don’t you worry; I am going to warn you with a heading that says “Spoilers” so you can stop reading, thanks!

All that said, let’s begging. A new series on Netflix named Alice in Borderland is a Japanese series inspired by a manga with the same name. This manga is a Japanese manga but it’s the Japanese version of the American comic book that we all know; not a big manga reader so excuse my french haha.

However, as I understand this is the first adaptation in the form of a series of the manga Alice in Borderland. What is weird is that this is the first attempt and it was a series, not an Anime; they made directly a live-action.

Alice in Borderland manga
Alice in Borderland Japanese manga

The story of Alice in Borderland, in a nutshell, is about three friends “unsuccessful” in their lives, shall I say. Living a normal kind of a boring disaster life, disintegrated from the society. Suddenly they found themselves being transferred to another place; probably a virtual world or a parallel world until now we don’t know. Moreover, literally, all people around them are gone, therefore, they found themselves living in a ghost city! So they begin signing up for some real dangerous life-threatening games to survive. So what is going to happen to them!

Between the pros and cons of how good was Alice in Borderland? To be honest, I was itching from the story and the trailer when it first came out; but seriously I didn’t expect this good of a series!

Alice in Borderland series review

alice in borderland series first game

Since the beginning of the season, who contains eight episodes (So apparently the plan is that we review from the beginning to the end without spoilers), The opening was stunning and eye-catching. Credit to the director, and his vision was so unpredictable; like in two scenes, I could catch all the feelings the characters had and what was going on with them.

Especially the beginning sequence when the three friends were standing in a yard full of people; and the camera is closing up on our characters, it just made us feel what they felt at the moment. And that they are completely cast away and at the same time lost in this world filled with noise.

Moreover, the second sequence when the characters are running away from the police when they made some trouble, and also their shift to the other world, was a continuous shot, with no editing! Since they begin until they made it to the other end! I mean if you paid attention to that shot, congratulations, you got the cinematic eye!

man scared

Certainly, we can’t review scene by scene, but let me recount the pros of the Alice in Borderland series. Firstly, the story and the idea are just brilliant, hand down! The way the story was told was just impeccable, the games our heroes participate in besides other characters are clever and you can touch that in the planning and intelligence required to pass the games. Games that are extremely dangerous; I mean you can feel literally the life of the characters are on the line here. Also, there is an absolute intelligence to this game that can be sometimes simple.

Directing

So the way they filmed these elements and providing them to us as viewers were great in terms of the live-action. Which is in this series that is Japanese and inspired by manga; inspired his way of directing by some animes are directed if that makes sense… Especially the angles of the camera and the story view and how they explained the events; in addition to the games going on. Moreover, the characters, we find each one of them has a special personality and send different vibes, the way they are dressed up reflect directly and sometimes indirectly their personalities.

Even the characters’ development and the way they transfer the feelings to the viewer, certainly, the acting makes you really feel like watching a Japanese anime that turns to be a live-action, you kind of forget that it’s based on a manga. Therefore, if you are a fan of anime and the manner that anime outline these things (directing…); you are more likely to enjoy the Alice in Borderland series!

Alice in Borderland series Cast

In addition, the majority of actors, speaking of the primary characters in general; whether those who we got to meet from the beginning or along the way. Tao Tsuchiya in the role of Yuzuha, Nijirô Murakami playing Chishiya, Keita Machida playing Daikichi; all were absolutely skillful and have embodied their characters in a professional way so to speak, they were more than convincing, in my opinion.

Most importantly, the main actor Kento Yamazaki playing the role of “Ryohei Arisu”, the man who gave us an extremely talented performance during the whole episodes of the series. A cool thing that I found is that Rabbit is what they refer to in Japanese as ” Usagi “; so the character Yuzuha Usagi is a representation of the rabbit.

I didn’t see this coming!

man and women

I had a good watching experience, enjoying the ride shall I say, and during all the episodes I was having fun. And let me point to a little thing that was a strong side of the series, which ironically made the level of the quality of the series decrease a little bit in the end, this point is that the Alice in Borderland series was a little accelerating at the beginning sequences, so they finish a certain chapter of the story. As a result, in the third episode, they did something that changed everything, changed the events and we can say that it turned them into a different thing.

Meanwhile, when they did that, the third episode was in my opinion the best episode of the series; and arguably one of the best series episodes of all time, not joking!! The quantity of emotion it had, the way you will be engaged during the events, literally was off the charts, impeccable. Seriously it gave me a moment of shock when I was watching!

I can easily say that Alice in Borderland series can be categorized with some heavy series like breaking bad… The creators could easily let this strong element until the end of the series; but I got the feeling that they are accelerating the story for a reason maybe.

However, this let me be excited for the second section of the series, to see what is going to happen, but not as excited as I was at first.

Some Pros and Cons of the show

alice in borderland series, a man with a horse face

And if there was something weak about the first season of the Alice in Borderland series, it will be the second section of the series, as a result of something that happened in the first section, especially as I said in the third episode they were rushing things up.

Another thing that I wish they enhanced is the CGI, filming some animals, it wasn’t that good! What I mean is that there is room for improvement.

On the other hand, in terms of soundtracks, filming, cinematography, decoration; moreover, the dressing everything was perfectly done, you can tell that the invested a lot of time on those things, all that was impeccable. However, the CGI would have been better, but, it didn’t affect the show that much, and you can easily gaze the other way. But hey, there isn’t a completely perfect show!

In my opinion, Alice in Borderland series was a completely unexpected shock, and if you still didn’t watch it, you can literally expect anything to happen, so you don’t get shocked, but I guess you will get shocked anyway! certainly, this is the kind of series that most of us like, and personally Alice in Borderland surprised me and got me attached in an abnormal way; the characters, their world, the whole story, the games, the need to know what is going to happen, how is the story going to continue, who is behind all of what is happening. The show got me excited in a weird way, if I got to describe it, I would tell you that something was missing I didn’t know what it was, and when I saw the series I knew it was the missing thing!

Alice in Borderland series Rating

So my rating of the Alice in Borderland series is 8.5/10, I can’t give it more than that because there was a sort of inequality between the first and the second section of the first season of the show. Moreover, the rush in the events and some defects in the use of the CGI. Other than that, as a first season, the show was good, and it will go into the list of the best series of 2020, hoping that they add a second season because the story defiantly needs to be continued, because it is a very good series but it’s sadly pressed, and nobody talks about it.

If you didn’t watch Alice in Borderland series we defiantly recommend it for you, please consider looking at some of our other reviews, you will like them. And stop here because the spoilers will begin!

Spoilers

spoiler alert

Okay, let me tell you about the third episode, I barely kept myself from talking about it in the non-spoilers section. Oh my god, it was off the charts, impeccable. When Arisu, the hero of the Alice In Borderland series ( very hard to recall the names), when he lost all his friends, while they sacrifice themselves for him. Moreover, the tag game when they were chased by that horse masked man holy crap, very intense sequences.

I did not expect to be bonded to these characters, just after three episodes; I did not expect them to have the courage in terms of directing and writing to kill two main strongly effective characters Karubi and Chota while leaving Arisu continuing the show. It was a highly emotional scene in a strange way, in addition to the perfect acting, everything about the scene was perfectly done.

alice in borderland series man in the ground

However, the timing was not accurate, they were rushing to get to the beach chapter. What is surprising about the beach is the way it is organized, as the “Utopia “, that restore hope for these people or whatever, and everyone is working together and all.

And things are really getting interesting on the beach, they got a king and the executives and an army, in addition to the rules, the three rules. It is literally like watching an anime.

In conclusion

To sum up, I like the structure of the story, and its development, even though the beach story at the first was kind of boring, but things got way better. Further, to the end we have Aguni, which is at the same time the army leader and the king’s old friend; his story is good and evil, comforting and disturbing, I mean there are some mixed emotions there for sure.

The way Aguni was treating Arisu during the whole series ( reminded me of Levi and Eren ), beating him, locking him up, he even nearly killed him; However, in the end, Aguni saved everyone from that crazy bully person. When the bullets were going through him while he is going forward, I told you it is a bit like an anime; Will he still be alive in the next season if there is any, I mean he can surely be still alive, that is very possible.

In the end, we saw the place where there were the game dealers, but it turns up that there is someone above them that is controlling everything, and it was even with them all the time at the beach, one of the executives, I don’t know what her name is.

It appears that there are more games ahead, and when you think that you reached the Boss Level, you find another boss level. I really want to know what is going on, what is the nature of this game anyway, are they aliens or what… But of course, with more seasons we will get to know the other characters more… Anyway if you reached hare thank you for reading, there are more things in my mind about the Alice In Borderland Series, but I don’t want to write more. The series is highly recommended!

Ayoub
Writer and film critic for Filmiland website, movies enthusiast. "Everything I know I know from movies!"

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