How Alice In Borderland Could End

Did you guess this twist?

'Alice In Borderland’s Original Manga Ending, Explained. Photo via Netflix

Alice in Borderland has seen a steep increase in viewership in the wake of survival thriller Squid Game’s inescapable popularity. The Netflix-distributed Asian dramas follow groups of people who must compete in a series of life-threatening games, and both shows have already been renewed for second seasons. But while fans of Squid Game created, written, and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk — must watch Season 2 to find out what happens after Season 1’s cliffhanger ending, Alice in Borderland viewers can look to the original manga for clues. The sci-fi drama is based on a series of graphic novels by Japanese writer Haro Aso, and Season 1 followed the original storylines pretty closely. If you’re curious to know where the characters are headed next, here’s everything we know about the Alice in Borderland manga’s ending.

Alice in Borderland Season 1 Plot And Ending, Explained

The Netflix series’ eight-episode Season 1 centers around Ryōhei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki), a directionless, mid-20s gamer who ends up in a hotel in a desolate, alternate-reality-version of Tokyo along with a group including his friends Chōta Segawa (Yūki Morinaga) and Daikichi Karube (Keita Machida). There, they must compete in dangerous, tricky games corresponding to playing card suits in order to survive, with spades signifying physical competitions, clubs meaning group work, diamonds representing logic games, and hearts enabling players to outsmart and impair one another. After completing (and surviving) their first game, players receive “visas” that extend as the competition persists — but if a player’s visa expires, they’re killed by red lasers from the sky.

In Episode 3, Karube and Chōta sacrifice their lives during a 7-of-hearts game so Arisu can live. He then teams up with former mountaineer Yuzuha Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), and together they discover the Beach, where 10+ players have gathered to collect the game cards in hopes of survival. Soon, the pair learns the Beach is divided into two militant groups, one led by Beach leader Hatter (Nobuaki Kaneko) and the other by Hatter’s confidante Aguni Morizono (Shô Aoyagi). After Hatter is murdered, Aguni’s side reigns supreme and the Beach mansion transforms into a 10-of-hearts gaming arena where players must find the killer of player Momoka Inoue (Kina Yazaki) and burn them like a witch at stake.

Arisu then tries to team up with Aguni to find the witch and stop the ongoing indiscriminate in-game slaughter of players by the militant group. He quickly learns that Aguni isn’t the witch — Momoka actually is — but Aguni murdered Hatter after growing to dislike the Beach’s impact on his psyche, as it turned Hatter into a mass murderer. Once Aguni learned Hatter’s own gun was empty, meaning he didn’t want to live either, Aguni began killing everyone in his path, believing they’re all responsible for Hatter’s passing.

Arisu relates to Aguni’s feelings, as his own friends sacrificed their lives for him, so he tries to work with Aguni despite his violent outbursts. But then Suguru Niragi (Dori Sakurada) miraculously returns — burned, but alive — from the hotel fire and shoots at Aguni, Arisu, and Usagi. Finally, Aguni moves in front of Arisu and Usagi, grabs Niragi, and plunges into the fire with him, ending both of their lives. As the survivors leave the burning hotel, player Shuntarō Chishiya (Nijirō Murakami) collects the final card.

The following day, Arisu and Usagi watch several videos recorded by deceased player Asahi Kujō (Mizuki Yoshida), revealing her and Momoka to be “dealers,” aka players who organize games to extend their visas. One clip sees the pair in an underground lair full of “gamemasters,” which Arisu and Usagi then successfully locate. There, they only find a pile of dead “gamemasters” as well as Chishiya and fellow player Hikari Kuina (Aya Asahina), who also found the lair and realized the “gamemasters” are really just players. Then, the group meets a supposed “gamemaster” named Mira, aka an executive of the Beach, who sends them to compete for face cards in a new set of games.

© Haro Aso,Shogakukan / ROBOT

Alice in Borderland Manga Ending, Explained And What To Expect In Season 2

According to Haro’s original manga, as reported by Inverse, the players will now have to compete in 12 more games, each higher in difficulty than its predecessor. Per the graphic novels, this group of games features a high-stakes fighting round against a nudist, a tile-based game similar to mahjong, a number guessing game, a seemingly never-ending trust game opposite a traitor, and a horrifically unhinged face-off with a cruel shooter. Along the way, Arisu and Usagi will take their tight-knit relationship to the next level — though a death-filled series of games isn’t exactly the best place to pursue love, and they’ll face difficulty.

The first of the 12 face card games the five remaining players will compete in is the King of Clubs, a calculated team-based battle game in which they’ll face-off against five Borderland residents, each personally connected to the actual King of Clubs. After the Borderland team uses a surprise tactic placing them ahead in the game, player Kōdai Tatta (Yutaro Watanabe) cuts off his hand in a plan to allow Arisu to grab the game-winning bracelet. However, Tatta’s hand then bleeds out, and he dies, sparking more survivor’s guilt in Arisu.

Haro’s novels reveal Mira to actually be the Queen of Hearts, who challenges Arisu to three rounds of croquet, the final competition between Arisu and the last of the 12 cards, which will send him to the real world if he collects it. The only rule is he can’t forfeit, which sounds simple until you factor in the thrilling twists bound to come. In the game, Arisu tries to get information regarding details about the Borderland, which Mira first says is a virtual reality destination for humans who’ve evolved to live in utopia but desire hardships. She explains that if you win games, you get to remain in the Borderland and design more games, but then she admits to lying.

Instead, she explains the Borderland as a hallucination created in Arisu’s mind to help him cope with the trauma of witnessing his friends get murdered by a train the day they were sent to the hotel. Mira then says she’s Arisu’s psychiatrist, and at that moment, he realizes she’s still lying — and that he’s been drugged. Following a long fight, he wins the game, allowing all players to choose to either remain in the game forever or return to real life.

Arisu and Usagi decide to go back to the real world, where they learn all Borderland players were injured by space rocks in a meteorite attack on Tokyo. The incident caused their hearts to stop beating for a full minute, meaning their tumultuous experiences in Borderland occurred over merely one minute of real time.