'Alice in Borderland': Japan's survival series sweeping Netflix is ​​an addictive variation of 'Gantz' and 'Battle Royale'

Review 'Alice in Borderland': Japan's survival series sweeping Netflix is ​​an addictive variation of 'Gantz' and 'Battle Royale'.

We recently commented on the bittersweet taste left by the irregular 'Sweet Home' (2020), a horror and action series that has appeared at the same time on Netflix as 'Alice in Borderland', another fantasy series from Japan and directed by Shinsuke Sato from Haro Aso's manga, which, while not quite finished either, is much more solid and consistently entertaining than the Korean one.

In this case we have fewer monsters and mutations but no less violence, since the series is a new visit to the favorite themes of Japanese science fiction culture, the gymkhanas with the spirit of a video game in which a series of characters try to survive death to a series of tests that put the protagonists in a position of forced survival, like cruel dystopias with rules of increasing difficulty.

The Alice in the title of the story, alluding to the work of Lewis Carroll, is Ryohei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki), who, fleeing from the police with his friends Daikichi Karube (Keita Machida) and Chota Segawa (Yuki Morinaga), ends up hiding in a bathroom at the Shibuya station to leave the city totally deserted with the lights off, as if the harvest of 'The Leftovers' had happened in a matter of two minutes.

This is the beginning of a series of survival games whose instructions are transmitted to the players through smartphones with the general rule that whoever loses is executed by means of a satellite laser or suffers an explosion from his collar in the game.

Ryohei, who spends most of his time playing video games, quickly begins to recognize the logic behind the game's designs, although some are too diabolical even for him to decipher.

When he encounters other players also stranded in the deserted capital, he forms an alliance with Yuzuha Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), a mountaineer whose physical prowess is the perfect complement to his problem-solving skills. The development of the episodes has a general arc but a "test of the week" style in which the protagonists go from campaign to campaign barely surviving.

The legacy of 'Battle Royale' is elongated

Netflix's most successful Japanese productions of these years have been anime, so it makes sense that their live action productions are aimed at the same audience, and he explains that dramatic logic has a lot to do with other Live action of the style.

And it is not surprising that the architect behind 'Alice in Borderland', comes from directing one of the most obvious precursors of the series, 'Gantz' (2011).

This one worked in a similar way, with a group of unknown characters trapped in a mysterious purgatory, where they are forced to participate in very deadly missions with changing enemies that make them hesitate at the most inopportune moments. 

But here we have a less fantastic world, with those crazy monsters and something more focused on the ingenuity process for each enemy, and rules similar to 'Battle Royale'.

With tests going through the great original 'Escape Room', 'Cube' (1997) to Stephen King's approach in 'Persecuted' (The Running Man, 1987), 'Alice in borderland' easily becomes an addictive series, with good production values ​​that do not make you long for a version of with Anime. 

However, it does not fully exploit its possibilities either and it remains a pleasant pastime with gore, action and some drama without much depth, but that at least shows signs of life in the Japanese fiction scene. 

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