The Deadly Game Of Tag
We begin episode 2 of Alice In Borderland with a girl called Usagi Yuzuha rock climbing. Her Father gives words of encouragement while watching from the top, fueling this girl’s courage in the present.
Usagi looks out at the eerie red and black cityscape. The reds, of course, representing all those in the game who are dying. Holding a playing card, she vows to survive.
After their ordeal with the game, Chota contemplates whether it was an electromagnetic pulse that caused all of this to happen. It’s not a bad theory to be honest, and one backed up by the fact all the electronics are out and not working. To add insult to injury, Arisu’s phone dies.
While the kids sit around eating, they discuss their previous live and what happened before they entered this game. Shibuki happened to be working for a big company but slept with her superior in order to secure a promotion. She dances around this fact though, instead changing the subject to the game itself.
There seems to be a strange passing of time here, especially after seeing rotten fruit out in one of the cars.
Arisu is sure there’s a game master out there pulling the strings. Given the high-tech lasers, he wonders whether it could be the government or an IT company involved. Chota meanwhile believes that it could be God’s work. However, it’s clear he’s in a bad way as he winces in pain from his burn injury.
While he recovers, Karube and Arisu discuss the implications of who this game-master may be. While they talk, lights suddenly pierce the darkness as we cut to the Toei Sendagaya Apartment block. There, a whole group of players happen to be standing ready, including Usagi. They’re not alone though, as both Karube and Arisu show to join the ranks.
With 13 competitors and a 5 of spades card to play for, a shady man wearing all black called Nitobe introduces himself and tells them this is a game of betrayal. It turns out the higher the level (of playing cards) then the more days they have to gain as a visa. Of course, this also increases the level of tension and risk too.
Their mission this time is to find the safe zone while playing a game of tag. There’s 20 minutes to complete this in and a series of explosives all wired up together due to set off and kill everyone if they don’t make it. No pressure then!
While Chota prays for help from God, Shibuki turns up and listens to him talk. Chota feels like the odd one out in his trio given Karube and Arisu both have unique traits while he doesn’t.
Shibuki asks whether he’d die for his friends’ sake or not. It seems to get through to Chota, as he realizes how hard his life has been. Shibuki comforts him and eventually sleeps with him.
Elsewhere, the 13-person game of tag commences as all the different competitors stagger themselves around the complex.
As the intensity of the game picks up, a strange masked man begins picking off the competitors one by one with a machine gun. Arisu and Karube do their best to avoid conflict but eventually realize they’ll need to work together to defeat him.
As Arisu starts screaming for the others to join and work together, it’s Usagi who answers the battle call and begins tracking the movement of the tagger.
With 8 minutes to go, things are definitely tense but the surviving 7 manage to work together to hunt down and defeat the tagger while checking for the search zone. Given Arisu is a climber (backed up by her earlier flashback), she can easily move from floor to floor while evading the killer.
Only, it doesn’t seem to work given this killer seems to sport inhuman strength. They brush aside the blows and continue to attack while Arisu appears to find the safe zone.
The killer blindsides him but Arisu stumbles upon the safe room… which requires two people to press buttons simultaneously to win. With Karube caught with the tagger and the safe room in Apartment 403, a mad scramble to get to the exit ensues.
Arisu fights with another tagger who shows up just as all hell breaks loose. With little time remaining, Arisu and Usagi work together to press the buttons… which they do with 1 second remaining.
They clear the game and manage to come away victorious. The killer happens to be a woman wearing a collar which blows up just as the game ends.
It’s clear they’re not alone in this fight and whoever’s behind this, has concocted quite the sick game. Karube finds a radio in the pocket of their tagger, repeating the same message again and again: “The answer is in our hands, return to the beach”
The Episode Review
With drip-fed bits of exposition relating to the game and who’s in control, episode 2 instead focuses on the subject of team work and establishing Arisu as a natural leader and selfless individual. Whether he wants to admit it or not, his quick thinking to coordinate the attack helped everyone survive at the end.
The sound design in this series has, so far at least, been very good. There’s a good balance between pulsating instrumentals and outright silence which helps to build atmosphere. Nowhere else is this more evident than in the deadly game of tag.
The game rules are slowly starting to reveal themselves over time but quite who set this game up and why remains a mystery. Hopefully we find out this season!