Warning: Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of “Alice in Borderland” ahead
Season 2 of “Alice in Borderland” has kicked off… with their heads!
The Japanese live-action series, based on the manga by Haro Aso with allusions to Lewis Carroll’s classic story “Alice in Wonderland,” instantly became a global hit after it debuted on Netflix in 2020. The series rode a second wave of attention after last year’s “Squid Game” took over the world and surged a demand for the survival game genre.
Viewers were left on a major cliffhanger by the end of the Netflix original’s first season, when Mira Kano (Riisa Naka), an executive member among Borderland’s hierarchy of players known as the Beach, was discovered to be behind the deadly games in some capacity. She has since been revealed in the Season 2 trailer as the final gamemaster players must face in Borderland.
With each of the games represented by playing cards, the suit indicating the type of game being played and the number corresponding with the level of difficulty, only the face cards are left in the deck for Season 2, which means this next round will surely up the ante.
Naka, who reprises the role of Mira, spoke to NextShark via translator about unveiling the real Mira for this latest season, as well as the fate of Borderland.
Knowing what would eventually come to light, Naka describes how nerve-wracking it was leading up to Season 2 as the actor hid the true nature of her character behind a facade.
“She’s portrayed as one of the characters among a larger crowd who enjoys the games,” she says. “While I was working on Season 1, I had access to the original manga where I found out about Mira’s true character. Thinking about her final game in Season 2, I was very tense, wondering if I’d be able to pull it off. But then once I began working on Season 2, because her character was already revealed, it took a lot off my shoulders.”
Naka says she methodically delivered her lines with help from director Shinsuke Sato, noting the vast variations in tone she uses to convey her character’s deranged motives.
“Mira uses different tones of voice when she’s speaking what seems to be the real truth. She goes through so many changes, and they’re all quite intense. There were times when I had to speak very quickly and times where I was mumbling, depending on the dialogue. It was difficult for me to capture the character because I wasn’t sure which was the right way.”
On the question of life beyond Borderland, Naka says she went into the series blind of its existence, limiting her awareness of the manga to Mira’s part only. But it came as a relief to learn what would happen to the characters from the script, she says.
“Arisu lost his friends and people he cared about through these various games, but then you find out that the truth is that it wasn’t just a simple game. So I thought it was significant that people didn’t die in vain and felt a sense of relief knowing the outcome.”
It’s the sort of meaningful death you might not see in “Squid Game,” where the characters “just die,” she adds when asked to comment on the show that’s often drawn comparisons to her own.
“In ‘Squid Game,’ when you fail, you just die. For my game [the final game], this is a game of words, a game of truth. It’s about tricking or being tricked, and of course, there could be similarities between the two shows. But I think in ‘Squid Game,’ the games are more representative of the maliciousness or the ugliness of human beings, whereas in ‘Alice in Borderland,’ there may be some of those themes conveyed, but then I don’t think there’s that much to it. In terms of level of difficulty, I think my game would be more difficult.”
The feeling of relief may or may not be short-lived. Nothing’s been set in stone by Netflix, but the ending of Season 2 leaves room for yet another sequel, which Naka hopes might see the return of several characters — including her own.
“If there were to be Season 3, I wonder what would happen with the whole team that fought together so far. You saw the ghost of Hatter introduced in the show so many times, so I have this feeling that he might come back again. So for Mira, you might also think that she could return.”
Season 2 of “Alice in Borderland” is now available on Netflix.