‘Alice In Borderland’ Characters: Arisu & Usagi, Explained: An Exploration Of Loss, Grief, And Finding The Will To Live


The characters of Arisu and Usagi in “Alice in Borderland” portray a transformative journey of learning to accept and cope with one’s grief to ultimately find the hope and will to live by allowing the kinder side of the world into their lives. When they entered Borderland, they both carried a deep sadness within themselves. Arisu had been depressed ever since he lost his mother and being unable to cope with that; he had completely immersed himself in his video games. He had made grief his entire world, to the point that he did not like to do anything besides indulging in the escapism of it all. His father and brother constantly told him to get a job and to make a life for himself, but grief and anger can make a person deaf. Even though they were supportive of him, it made him angry that they just wouldn’t let him be. 

Spoilers Ahead

We can admit that Arisu’s family was probably not the most sensitive to his mental health. Maybe they did not understand it themselves, but even then, all they wanted for him was to have a life instead of taking his privileges for granted by locking himself in his room. In no way is any of it Arisu’s fault, but the end situation was such that he felt misunderstood and rejected by his own family. His one comfort was his friends, Chota and Karube. They were the only ones with whom he seemed to smile and who let him be however he wanted to be. Of course, one might argue that they did not have a personal stake in Arisu’s future, nor were they responsible for his day-to-day well-being, which allowed them to exercise that level of acceptance, but again, they were the only people Arisu could be with without wanting to leave the room they were in. Before he went to Borderland, if you had asked Arisu what he wanted to live for, he probably wouldn’t have an answer, except that he liked the moments of happiness he had with his friends. But once he reached that morbid place, things changed.

Coming to Usagi, this was a woman who was left severely disappointed by the world. Her father, who was her only family, had been called a liar by some conspirators, and that had caused him to take his own life. What must she be going through? First, there is the grief that comes with losing a person. Second is the disappointment in the very person for leaving you when you most need them. It doesn’t matter whether the anger is justified or not; it is there. Would she not have questioned why the words of worthless naysayers were important enough for him to leave her alone in this world? Additionally comes the fear when one witnesses the cruelty of the world. Her father was just a good man who liked climbing mountains. Was that really so intolerable for the world that they had to push him away like that? The hatred and injustice towards two people innocently living their lives had really jaded her. Her father was her support system, the way Arisu’s mother seemed to be his. Without her father, Usagi did not know what to live for. She did not want to die because that would mean accepting defeat the way her father had done. But she had not forgiven the world either.

When they both come to Borderland, it is not just the games of survival that they learn. They also come in contact with the basest human emotions, the unmasked selfishness and greed, an utter lack of empathy towards anything, and just an overall view of the worst of humankind. While they continue to struggle to find a way back home, they cannot escape the journey or the fact that they may never go back. We think it first happened for Arisu in “Alice in Borderland,” Season 1, during the game of hide and seek. When it was about either him or his friends, he acted selfishly. According to him, it was Chota and Karube who had so far made his life worth living. Then why on earth was he ready to let them die? With them gone, what did he have to live for? And that is what is called the human survival instinct. We want to survive at any cost. Right now, if we can’t find a reason to live, there is hope that we will find one in the future. We may accept sadness as a part of ourselves, but that never stops us from looking for happiness. It is a drug that humans will kill for. Think of it, every war in the world, whether it be for religion, resources, or revenge, have all been in the pursuit of happiness. We think we will be happy when someone shares the same faith as us or when we satisfy our greed by gaining what they have or even by satiating our ambition; it is all about that sense of contentment, that feeling of happiness. It is weird to think that every grief in this world is borne out of the pursuit of happiness. 

Arisu is devastated upon losing his friends, but that also brings him face-to-face with the fact that he wants to live, contrary to what he had thought before. Even Usagi, who had been left severely angry and disappointed by the real world, found that within the insidious avarice of humans is startling kindness. People love and protect each other as much as they tear each other down, and it is humans coming together in kindness and determination that helps them overcome even seemingly insurmountable challenges. As she became more and more privy to this, she realized that she wanted to go back home after all. The disappointments would always be there, but it was only in the real world that she could enjoy kindness the way she wanted to.

As for Arisu, the death of his friends and the incident with Tatta helps him realize that he wants to have a life. Yes, the grief is there, but he doesn’t want to let go of everything he holds dear because of it. In the end, Arisu and Usagi are finally able to return to their world. They have no memory of their time spent in Borderland, but it has left an emotional footprint. This means that though they don’t have the memory of it, the lessons they have learned are ingrained in their soul. If and when “Alice in Borderland” Season 3 comes out, we will get to see them start to live the lives they want and deserve. 

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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