Channel: Netflix // Country: Japan // Release Date: December 10th 2020 // Runtime: 48 minutes
Trigger Warnings: Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, Profanity, Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking, Frightening & Intense Scenes
Before continuing, you must know that this post contains spoilers from the first episode. If you do not want to read this post, you could look over the blog and find something else you might enjoy. Happy reading!
Now because that’s settled, let’s start by summarizing the events of the first episode. The first scene opens with Arisu playing a videogame. Right off the bat, we are given enough details to know what kind of character Arisu is; he does not have a great relationship with his family and he drowns himself in videogames. We also learn that since his mother died, he was never the same, a possible reason being the trauma of losing a loved one. Despite all of this, he does show signs of cleverness. Arisu’s best friends are Karube, who used to work in a bar, and Chota, who was working for a corporation.
After leaving his house, Arisu meets with Karube and Chota outside the Shibuya Station, and after too much messing around (caused a car accident), they got the attention of the police. To escape, they ran into the bathroom where they stayed until the power went off. To verify what happened and why their phones died at the same time as everything else, they checked the outside of Shibuya Station. Everyone was missing.
Everything seemed great until one of the bigger screens on the building announced a game that would begin in any minute. At there whereabouts of the game, two more characters show up, one of them being Saori. The participants received a phone, and when the game started they received the difficulty; three of clubs. The contestants had to choose the correct door within the time limit to survive, and therefore leave the building until it was not too late. In the first round, one of the other characters dies, but after a couple more, Arisu finds a way to clear the game without killing any more people. In the process, Chota ended up being wounded, but they all survive. I will be talking more in-depth about this event a bit later.
In front of the exit, there was a table on top of which was a playing card; the three of clubs. All of the remaining players receive a notification on their phones, saying they received a three-day visa. Right after this event, a wounded man comes to them, telling them he would die as his visa expires. A laser shots through his head and kills him.
The episode ends with another girl, presumably another player, on top of a building.
The first things that caught my attention (and I do have to mention, it was on the second watch) were the short shots with the books in Arisu’s room. Those clearly showed Arisu being interesting in mathematics, and the 3D geometry of BMW and Audi cars. This knowledge will, later on, be useful to the main character.
Something that I found just as interesting was one of the lines Arisu’s brother said: “If only we could reset reality.”, and I think the statement can be interpreted in more than one way. The first way to see it would be the way the brother meant it; going back in time and stop the death of their mother. The idea can be justified by the look Arisu gives to the photo of his mother and him. Another way to see it would be as a premise to what is about to happen. When they end up in this new land, the reality could be seen as being restarted, so it would make sense to see it this way.
Another thing that caught my attention was Arisu’s shirt and the music playing in the background at the beginning of the episode. You can see from the first picture I attached that his shirt has a graphic saying Sunny climate. The background music was Good Times by Jan Erik Nilsson, and one of the lines in the refrain was “[…] Oh, sunny days are on.” This could be a simple coincidence, but it could also represent Arisu’s mood at the beginning of the show.
The impressive part of the episode was when the game occurred (as it should). In front of the building in which the game was held, there was a BMW. If you don’t have any knowledge about cars, you wouldn’t be able to tell, but the long shots on the car and the book from the beginning should be able to give it away. This does play a bigger role when it comes to solving the game.
When Saori joined the game, she took Chota badge and threw it in the lasers. When it fell on the floor, Chota’s face was pierced by the lasers. Later into the episode, Chota gets injured by the fire in one of the rooms – when the time runs out, the room in which the players were standings, goes on fire. I do think there is a link between those two events. Perhaps, the event with the laser announced that something is about to happen to Chota.
I do remember being utterly amazed at the way Arisu finds the answer, and I also remember feeling a bit dumb for not figuring out by myself. The second time I watched the show though, I realised there was no way to solve the puzzle before Arisu did. To clear the game, he uses the length of the BMW, the building evacuation plan, and a shit load of math. Despite being given the image with the BMW, no shots are showing of the evacuation plan. There is a shot of Arisu watching the map, but even so, we do not have an explicit view of it before the main character needs it. The action was intense, and the playing card at the end, lays the ground for the next episode.
Lastly, the Japanese name Arisu transaltes as Alice in English. This easily shows Alice in Borderland as a new take on the children’s story Alice in Wonderland. We could argue that this new land in which Arisu and the others find themselves in, is called Borderland, and to live there, they have to earn their visas.
Also, Netflix please fix the English subtitels to match the dubbed audio. They’re really confusing and hard to follow.
Overall, I enjoyed the attention to details this show provided, and I do think it is off to a promising start! But what do you think? Would you watch this show? Have you seen it and noticed other details?