The following contains spoilers for Alice in Borderland Season 2, now streaming on Netflix.
Season 2 of the live-action Alice in Borderland (based on the survival manga of the same name by Haro Aso) premiered in December 2022, two years after its successful first season. This season takes place shortly after the events of the first and focuses entirely on the Face Card games presided over by Borderland citizens, against whom the players now have to compete. Season 2 finally answers the series’ most burning questions: why were people sent to the Borderlands? What was the purpose of the games? What happens if they cleared them all?
The second season recorded over 61 million hours viewed during its first week of streaming, proving the popularity of the series. As is the case with most adaptations, there are some significant changes from the source material in the second season, such as Netflix-original scenes. Here are the major differences from the manga in the live-action adaptation of Alice in Borderland.
The Jack of Hearts Featured Chishiya
As his specialty is Diamonds, Chishiya only played two games in the manga: the Jack of Diamonds and the King of Diamonds. Although the live-action adaptation includes the Jack of Diamonds, seen in a brief shot of characters playing mahjong, Chishiya was not there. Instead, he played in the Jack of Hearts.
While much of the content of this game — including the way participants die — remains the same in the drama adaptation, some details have changed. The manga version of the Jack used an artificial eye to check the sign on his collar, whereas the live-action series version relies primarily on Kotoko Shiga. The game in the manga also had more rules, such as the inability to stop other players from entering the cell, not having more than one person in a locked cell or preventing other players from announcing their mark, resulting in the elimination of one of the players because he broke the rules. In the manga, everyone died via exploding collars because they said the wrong mark.
Alice in Borderland Created an Original Queen of Spades Games
Only a few select Face Card games were shown in the manga: Jack of Hearts, King of Diamonds, King of Spades, King of Clubs and Queen of Hearts. It was a little disappointing that, despite how the Face Card games were built up, only five were shown in full. The live-action adaptation showed a brief montage of the other Face Card games that contestants played, such as the Queen of Clubs, featuring a game of dodgeball on beams that Kuina and Ann play in; the King of Hearts, which has a mysterious creature chasing contestants through a dark labyrinthine arena; and the Jack of Clubs, which appears to be a game of endurance of rope-hanging.
The live-action adaptation created an original Queen of Spades game called “Checkmate” where players tag people from the opposing team to transfer them to theirs. To protect a young boy on the last day of his visa, Arisu and Usagi work together to win; however, when the players realize that those on the victor team will survive, they decide that being tagged by the Queen might not be as terrible as it seems. Viewers were treated to an exhilarating game of tag atop a power station and a Queen with an obsession with Arisu, specifically wanting him to be on her team.
The King of Spades Game Had a Different Team Playing
Although not important in the grand scheme of things, the live-action adaptation did not include one minor character: Dōdō. In the manga, Dōdō first appears when he plays in the Four of Hearts game, but he plays a bigger role later when Heiya rescues him from the King of Spades. Heiya, Dōdō and Aguni later work together to take down the King of Spades. In the live-action adaptation, Heiya teams up with Aguni at some point in time and the two save Arisu from the King of Spades. It was through the combined efforts of Arisu, Usagi, Aguni, Heiya, Ann and Kuina that they finally defeated the veteran mercenary. In the live-action adaptation, Heiya and Aguni’s relationship veers more romantic than familial as shown in the manga.
The Backstories of the Citizens
Very little is known about the citizens of the Borderland in the Netflix adaptation except that they were former players who, after clearing the last game, became citizens and were the ones to design and administer the games for the next round of players. Nobody knows who the citizens were before they became citizens. While the live-action adaptation does depict Kyuma’s past life as a singer, and a short clip of the King of Spades making the painful choice of ending his friend’s life to spare him any further suffering, the manga expanded the citizens’ backstories, particularly that of the King of Spades, Isao Shirabi.
The manga also showed how the citizens were, perhaps not friends, but at least acquaintances. Isao first met Kyuma before the King of Diamonds, Keiichi Kuzuryū and Mira joined the two. The four of them began musing about the concept of life and death and what comes after winning the games before eventually working together to take down the last game, the King of Hearts.
Arisu and Chishiya’s State of Mind in Alice in Borderland Season 2
Throughout the entirety of Alice in Borderland, Arisu has always been searching for the answer of the Borderland. It almost became his downfall in the Queen of Hearts game as Mira used his desire for an answer to manipulate him into forfeiting the game, thereby granting her the win. Arisu’s existential crisis about his purpose in life consumed his entire being in the manga, fueled by the guilt he had over his friends’ deaths, whereas that became more paramount in the final game.
Tatta’s death had rattled Arisu a lot in the manga. His sense of guilt had already been strong with the loss of his friends in the Seven of Hearts game and losing Tatta was the final nail. He vowed not to participate in another game, fearing another person would die by his hand again. The last game he would play would be the Queen of Hearts whereas in the live-action adaptation, Tatta’s death did not affect him as strongly.
In the manga, Chishiya did not seem to have any interest in life, either for his or for others. He simply didn’t believe there was any value to people’s lives at all and even seemed to believe his existence was just an example of how empty it could be. In the live-action adaptation, Chishiya’s apathy appears to be a result of the ethical violations he witnessed as a medical student. Rather than not believing, Chishiya did not know what the meaning to life was anymore.
The Ending in Alice in Borderland Season 2
The final game is the Queen of Hearts and in the manga, everyone wanted to participate in the game but through a game of rock-paper-scissors, Arisu and Usagi were the ones who earned the chance to face off against the Queen. In the live-action adaptation, as a result of nearly everyone being close to death, it was Arisu and Usagi who headed for the final game venue. The hallucinations Arisu had in the live-action adaptation differed slightly such as how, in the manga, Arisu thought Chōta and Karube died during a train crash after trying to save Shibuki from committing suicide, whereas in the Netflix adaptation, Chōta and Karube died in a car crash. Arisu’s estranged relationship with his father was given more of a spotlight in the manga whereas this was left out in the second season.
At the end of the Netflix adaptation, the camera ominously zoomed in on the Joker card, seemingly implying that there was a new antagonist, and it is perhaps the Joker in charge of the games. In the manga, the Joker does appear but in the form of a shadowy figure when Arisu and Usagi refuse permanent residency. Arisu realizes the Joker is merely an inter-mediator and as soon as he says so, he is sent back to the real world.