Continuing the crazy Japanese sci-fi murder-fest set in a death-filled Tokyo, Alice in Borderland S2 ups the ante from the brilliant first season and delivers an even better second season as Arisu and friends attempt to escape their hellish version of Tokyo by completing the games set before them in the hope that they can return to the world they once knew.
Survival games always feel quite popular for TV and Film. Battle Royale, Hunger Games, Squid Game – we’ve seen inventive ways of killing off men and women for quite some time now, but the boredom will never set in if shows take the time to make the audience care for the characters whilst still providing incredibly unique ways of dispatching the poor folk like they do in Alice in Borderland S2. I have to admit, I was unsure if the show could pull off the second season following the surprisingly brilliant first one. With Arisu’s best friends dead and those relationships now lost to the show, I wondered if I would care about any newcomers or blossoming relationships. In the end, I cared far more. I invested in Arisu, Usagi, Chishiya, and Kuina as they attempted to solve the mystery of the Borderland and beat the remaining games – all face level difficulty (the hardest yet). I cared about each character and their strengthening relationships and this ramped up the tension as they face deadlier challenges throughout the season, with death always a breath away. Chishiya became my favourite character of the season. He is the Cheshire Cat of this play on Alice in Wonderland, always smirking as he watches and analyses his fellow competitors. He is the epitome of cool and he also gets the best survival games. One in particular involves trusting fellow competitors to tell you which card suit you belong to and wrong answers lead to a Battle Royale style head explosion. It is one of the best episodes on TV this year.
The games in Alice in Borderland S2 are a step up from the previous series. They are bloodier, more dramatic, and tenser than I believed possible. The pace of the games is perfect. The action may ramp up for a moment but it slows down when needed to give more depth to characters and their plight in this strange Tokyo. Arisu grows as a character and learns to move on from his past and work together with his new friends to do his best to escape the hell they are in. More money has been spent on this season with better tech for the unwilling contestants and games to show off the sci-fi elements of the show but it is great to see that the writing still focuses on character depth and unravelling the mystery. The season finishes without a need for a third, creating a brilliant two season series with a definitive ending that fans can enjoy without the show dragging on.
Alice in Borderland S2 is darker, bloodier, but more hopeful than its first season. You’ll come for the bloody death games but you’ll stay for the excellent characters. Alice in Borderland S2 is a series that focuses on how important friends are in keeping on a light to shine in the darkness when things get too tough. A perfect message for people going through difficult times.