‘Alice In Borderland’ Season 1: Recap And Ending – Everything You Need To Me Before Watching Season 2


Directed by Shinsuke Sato, the first season of “Alice in Borderland” is based on a graphic novel by Haro Aso of the same name. The series makes us privy to all those things that the residents of 23 city wards of Tokyo had to do in order to survive in the extremely hostile environment. They were made to play dangerous games, and whether they lived or died depended upon the outcomes. Unable to understand the intricacies of the game at play, the residents were forced to trust their instincts and act in accordance with them. They knew that one misstep could cost them their lives. The residents of Tokyo went through a great deal of physical and emotional agony, but they remained relentless. When they began their journey, they had no clue about the kind of sacrifices they would have to make to stay alive and uncover the truth. So, let’s revisit the first season of “Alice in Borderland” and try to understand what exactly was happening in Tokyo and how it impacted the lives of those who found themselves stuck in the chaos.

Spoilers Ahead

What Is ‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 1 About?

Ryohei Arisu, Chota Segawa, and Karube had been friends for a long time. Arisu used to play video games throughout the day, and his family was fed up with his attitude. Arisu came from a very influential family, and he had everything that a man could desire, but still, he was not at peace when he was around his folks. His father and brother tried their best to get him a job, but he was not interested in doing one. Arisu wasn’t always like this. The death of his mother had changed him, and it felt like he had been perpetually depressed since then. Nobody tried to understand what Arisu was going through internally. His father scorned him and always compared him to his successful brother. One day, Arisu’s father got so angry that he told his son to leave his house. Arisu’s ego got bruised, and he left his home without knowing where he would go. He called his two best friends, who were also not having the best of days. Karube had left his job, and Chota was also entertaining a similar thought. Arisu, Karube, and Chota understood each other, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Karobe lifted Arisu on his shoulders, and they started howling on the streets. The police started following them, and they entered a public washroom. They heard a noise outside the washroom, and then suddenly, everything went quiet. They came out to find that there was nobody left on the streets. They wandered the streets of the Shibuya ward of Tokyo but couldn’t find a single soul. They weren’t able to understand what had happened in that split second and where everybody had gone. A digital hoarding on the streets pointed towards the direction of a game arena, and the three of them went there in hopes of understanding what exactly was happening. They met a girl named Shibuki who told them that the world had been converted into a big VR space and they had to play and win games in order to survive. Arisu and his friends still didn’t understand the nature of the danger that they were about to face. Will they be able to survive this new reality and return to their homeworld alive? Well, let’s find out. 

 Arisu, Chota, And Karube Are Forced To Play The Games To Survive

In the very first episode of “Alice in Borderland,” we saw that they played a game called “Dead or Alive,” where they just had to select the correct door and move through the interconnected rooms. The stakes were quite high; if they opened the wrong door, they could be immediately killed by a laser beam. Arisu was always told by his family that he was wasting his life playing online video games, but little did they know that the expertise he had gained would become the difference between life and death in the future. Arisu knew how to devise strategies to win a game and did exactly that. He first tried to decipher the architectural blueprint of the building and, according to that, started opening the doors. Arisu, Chota, Karube, and Shibuki were able to finish the game successfully. At the end of each game, the winners got credit points that extended their visa validity. In case they didn’t win games and their visa expired, they were killed immediately by a laser beam that fell upon them from somewhere in the sky. Chota had gotten gravely injured in the first game, and Arisu and Karube realized that they would have to go to the next game without him. Shibuki stayed with Chota and tried to manipulate him and turn him against his own friends. When Shibuki had played her first game, a while back, all the other participants had died except her. She had realized that one had to fend for their individualistic interests and try to outsmart the other competitors.

Meanwhile, Arisu and Karube played their second game, and they started figuring out many things that were unknown to them earlier. The suit of the cards determined the kind of game it was going to be, where clubs meant that it was going to be a team battle and diamonds meant that it was going to be a battle of wits. The most dangerous were the hearts, which signified that in order to survive, one has to kill others. Arisu and Karube were told that the number signified the difficulty level. The game they entered was called “Tag,” in which the players had to discover and touch a symbol hidden in one of the rooms and, at the same time, save themselves from a tagger who was constantly on the prowl. Arisu and Karube met a lot of seasoned players like Yuzuha Usagi, Shuntaro Chishiya, and General Aguni Morizono. Arisu saw that the tagger was a person wearing a horse mask who was actually shooting the players when he spotted them. Arisu and Chishiya found the symbol, and with the help of Usagi, they killed the tagger protecting it and pressed the buttons to end the game. The players witnessed something that they didn’t expect they were capable of. Arisu had made them all play together, not against each other. They realized that they were able to win because they combined their efforts; had they not done so, the tagger would have killed them one after the other.

Arisu and Karube came back home after winning the game. Chota’s leg had still not healed, but he had to play another game as his visa was going to expire. The third game in which the three friends next took part together was called “Hide and Seek.” The games in which the hearts card came were the ones in which the clues were quite deceptive, and one had to figure out the hidden details in order to be victorious. So, one person was supposed to be the wolf, and the others were lambs. The group thought that the lambs would have to hide from the wolf, but it was the other way around. The person who was the wolf at the end of the game was the one who was going to survive. If a wolf made eye contact with the lamb, then the wolf’s tag was transferred to the lamb. So basically, whoever got the tag of the wolf had to make sure that he hid and didn’t make any eye contact with the others. Shibuki was ready to kill the others, but the three friends were facing a moral dilemma. Shibuki was caught, and Arisu was made the wolf. Arisu decided that he would take out his gear and call it quits, but things didn’t happen as he had planned. He wasn’t able to take out his headgear. Karube, for a moment, thought that Arisu had become greedy and was wanting to save his life. It was a desperate situation for all of them. In the end, Karube and Chotu decide to sacrifice their lives for their friend. Chotu didn’t let Shibuki make a noise, as he didn’t want Arisu to find them and pass the wolf tag. Arisu saw his friends getting killed in front of his eyes. Nothing made sense after that incident. Arisu was left all alone, and along with his friends, his own will to live, also died. He was found lying on the road by Usagi, who took him to her shelter and made sure that he survived the mental trauma.

What Was The Beach? 

Usagi and Arisu played one more game together. Once again, the hints deceived them, but they were able to survive and accomplish the mission. Arisu had made sure that he saved as many people as he could. He had decided that he was not going to survive by killing others. He had seen enough deaths, and now, he was sure that he would rather not live than bear the guilt of losing his loved ones. Usagi and Arisu became quite close, and they started understanding each other better. Usagi’s father was a mountain climber, and he had gone missing after the news of him climbing Mount Everest made waves in the media. The media put an allegation on him that he had faked the whole narrative and that, in reality, he hadn’t climbed Everest without using an oxygen cylinder, as he claimed. Usagi still wanted to find out what happened to her father. She was not ready to believe that he was not alive anymore. Arisu and Usagi started investigating and examining other players who were participating in different games. They saw that some players wore identical wristbands, and it seemed like they all belonged to a particular organization. Arisu had heard the term “beach” on the walkie-talkie of a player who was participating in the tagging game. He knew that he had to reach the Beach in order to know who was running the show and what the motive was behind making the individuals go against each other. Arisu and Usagi got kidnapped, and they were taken to an unknown facility where they met Hatter, the head of the organization called Beach. A few players had formed this league and were trying to win as many games as possible. General Aguni headed the army of militants and was in charge of the weapons. Aguni was the same man who had met Arisu and Karube in the tagging game, and they had witnessed the kind of skills he possessed. It was said that the militants wanted to conduct a coup and seize power, but the presence of Hatter didn’t let them accomplish their hidden agendas and malicious plans. Hatter was the one who was keeping everything under control, and he made sure that evil militants like Niragi didn’t trouble the newbies. Arisu had realized that the power dynamics of the Beach were not as simple as people were thinking it to be. Aguni’s melancholic eyes spoke a thousand words and Arisu knew that there was something that the general was hiding.

People could do whatever they wished inside the utopian haven they referred to as the Beach. Hatter believed that they could send people back to the real world once they had all the number cards with them. They had developed an intricate setup to collect all the cards as soon as possible. They had researchers on board who had devised a pattern to predict which card would emerge in which arena. Arisu and Usagi saw that Chishiya, the one who had also successfully deciphered the tagging game, was a part of the organization. Chishiya had a partner named Kuina, and together they were up to something. To prove his mettle, Arisu had to play a game called Light Bulb. Arisu showed a lot of courage and wit and passed the test with flying colors and as a reward was promoted to the executive level.

The face cards did not appear in any game arena, and it was believed they didn’t exist. The Beach had most of the cards, but Ten of Hearts was the one that was missing. Hatter’s visa was also on the verge of expiry, and he decided that he would take part in the next game. He was quite confident about the fact that he could win any game. Hatter had a private conversation with Arisu before the game as he was the only one who had experience in how to tackle the situations in a “hearts” game. Everybody was hopeful that their leader would come out victorious, but the opposite happened. The maintenance team found Hatter lying dead near a gas station in Shinjuku.

Did Chishiya Find The Deck Of Cards? 

Everybody believed in the narrative that Hatter had died in the game area, but nobody was sure about what had happened exactly. Niragi, Last Boss, and other assassins forced the people to choose Aguni as their new king. Chaos spread throughout the entire organization, and the militants started killing whoever they wished. Chishiya told Arisu that all the cards that were collected by the organization were kept in a safe in Hatter’s royal suite. There was a black envelope that had a code to open the safe, and it was kept at a secret location. The ritual said that the only time the black envelope was to be opened was when there was a new number one. The new king opened the envelope in the presence of all the executives, but he didn’t show it to them. Chishiya had planned to steal all the cards from the safety vault. He had told Arisu to infiltrate the facility and open the safe with the code that he would give him. Chishiya didn’t tell anybody how he would find the code, but he asked Arisu to trust him and do as he was told. Usagi was skeptical about the plan and thought that it was way too dangerous, but they didn’t have any other option. In order to survive, they had to find the cards, before Aguni and his men killed everybody else. Arisu didn’t realize that he was being used as bait by the shrewd Chishiya. As soon as Arisu typed the code that Chishiya gave him, the alarm bells started ringing, and Aguni and his men arrived at the scene. Chishiya had played his cards well, and he came into the good books of the militants. Chishiya had noticed that when Aguni had come to catch Arisu, he was looking in a particular direction in the room. There was a painting hanging from a wall, and Chishiya had figured out that something was hidden behind it. He knew that it was possible that the black envelope didn’t have any code but just a symbol or a painting that told the leader about the location where the cards were hidden. He was absolutely right, and he did find all the cards hidden in a safe behind the portrait of a reindeer. Chishiya would have escaped easily, but the moment he was going to step outside the premises of the Beach, the whole place was converted into a game arena. Probably for the first time, The Beach had become an arena, and each and every member had to participate in the game, called “Witch Hunt”. Finally, the ten of hearts card emerged, which was the only one that was missing from the deck that was now in possession of Chishiya. Momoko had been killed by somebody, and the participants had to find the witch who had committed the offense.

Arisu, who was still locked up inside one of the rooms, knew that because it was a heart game, the hints were not as simple as they sounded. He knew that there was some hidden detail that they weren’t able to see. But to solve the case, first, he had to be released, and he hoped that Usagi would find him before it was too late.

‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 1: Ending – Who Was Responsible For Momoko And Hatter’s Deaths? Who Was The Game Master?

Aguni and Niragi ordered all the militants to kill everybody in order to find the witch. Many people lost their lives in the massacre, but the witch wasn’t found. Usagi went with Asahi and Tatta to find Arisu, while Ann, who was a forensics expert, tried to figure out whose fingerprints were imprinted on the dagger with which Momoko had been killed. In the seventh episode of “Alice in Borderland,” we witness what made Last Boss an assassin. We get to know the source of all his motivations and why he was so barbaric in his approach. We get to know that Kuina’s biological sex never matched her gender identity, and she had always desired to be a girl. Her father disapproved of it, and that is why he never understood her point of view. Kuina killed Last Boss, and she fought just like her father had taught her to. Usagi and others finally found Arisu and told him what was happening in the facility. Arisu figured out that Hatter had not died in the game arena, but somebody had killed him. Arisu and Aguni came face to face, and that’s where the former revealed in front of everybody that Aguni was the one who had killed Hatter. Aguni had been there since the inception of the Beach. Hatter wanted to start a utopian society for the people who had lost all hope. He wanted to give them reasons to enjoy their lives and, at the same time, find a way to escape their harrowing realities. Aguni became the head of the militants only so that he could keep barbarians like Niragi under his control. Aguni always had all the weapons he needed to orchestrate a coup, but he didn’t because he wasn’t trying to sabotage the sitting regime but aid it in finding a solution. Aguni saw a change happening inside Hatter. He became more selfish and self-absorbed. Aguni still waited and hoped that he would change with time, but when he saw matters getting out of hand, he decided to kill the king and prevent further damage.

People thought that Aguni was the witch, but it wasn’t so. The hint, as usual, was meant to deceive the participants. Momoko was the witch, and she had taken her own life. Ann also corroborated this theory when she found out that the dagger had her fingerprints on it. Just when people thought that they could collect the ten of hearts card and complete the deck, Niragi arrived at the scene and started open firing at the participants. Aguni rose to the occasion, and he sacrificed his life to kill Niragi and end the nightmare once and for all. Aguni gave his life for the people as he had lost his desire to live and fight anymore. 

In the last episode of “Alice in Borderland,” we saw that Chishiya had taken the ten of hearts card and gone to the control room, from where the game was being curated. Usagi and Arisu had found Asahi’s mobile phone, on which she had left a video for them to see. Asahi and Momoko were the dealers who were working for the gamekeeper and making sure that everything went as per the plan. Arisu and Usagi went to the subway station where the control room was situated. They found that Kuina and Chishiya were already present there. Each and every employee who worked in the control room had been killed by the same laser beam that came from some terrestrial object hovering in the sky. Suddenly, the lights came on, and they saw Mira on the screen. Mira was one of the top officials in the Hatter regime, and apparently, she was the one on whose orders everybody else was acting. Mira told them that they had collected all the number cards, but the face cards were still left. She congratulated them on their victory and told them that there would be new games and that, this time, they would involve face cards. Usagi, Arisu, Chishiya, and Kuina didn’t know for sure if she was the game master or if she was merely acting on the commands of some other higher force. 

What Can We Expect From Season 2? 

It could be possible that some extraterrestrial being was conducting the whole fiasco, but as of now, the series “Alice in Borderland” does not divulge that information. In the trailer for “Alice in Borderland” Season 2 we saw that Arisu, Usagi, Kuina, Chishiya meet a group of people who call themselves natives of the land. It could be possible that they would have lived their entire life in the gaming world and didn’t know anything about the old normal world from where Arisu and others came from. It is quite possible that just like Last Boss, people would start liking this parallel reality. There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding what happens after they accomplish their goal and collect all the face cards, as Mira had asked them to. Towards the end of the trailer, we see Mira welcoming the participants to the venue of the final showdown. Arisu asks a muscular rival if he could go back after winning the games. The muscular man replies cryptically that Arisu would have to fight him with all his might to know the truth. So basically, it could be presumed that the brawny lad knew something which the others didn’t. The threats are going to be even more menacing and Arisu and Usagi would have to really give in their all to survive and win the battle. 

Season 2 of “Alice in Borderland,” we will reveal who the game master was and what was the intention behind doing so. We will also get to know if the mental and physical torture was ever going to stop, or the participants were stuck in an endless loop from where there was no escape. 

See More: ‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 2: Ending, Explained – What Does The Joker Card Signify? Will There Be A Season 3?

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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