The Underground Marathon
Usagi begins episode 4 of Alice In Borderland tending to a rabbit which she’s caught in a net. It’s obvious animals are still inhabiting this world and as she snaps its neck, she heads off down the street with her dinner.
On the way, she passes a grief-stricken Arisu who happens to be lying face-down on the pavement. As she approaches, he tells her he’ll die soon. Usagi doesn’t seem to pay much attention until she sees him again later on that day and takes pity on him while the rain lashes down.
In further flashbacks to the past, we see Usagi and her Father’s relationship grow estranged. What once was a loving father/daughter experience soon turns to something else as her Father embarks out alone, deciding against taking her up the mountain.
This happens to be the last time she sees him, as news breaks that this world-famous mountaineer, Shinegori Usagi, goes missing. Rumours begin circling that he either committed suicide or head up the mountain alone with no oxygen. Ironically, Usagi’s face-down, hopeless posture in the days that follow this mirror that of Arisu right now.
In the present, Arisu awakens and blames himself for everyone else dying. As he curses the heavens, Usagi brings him back down to Earth by admitting that she too has been in the same position as him.
Usagi tells him that after saving her life during the game of tag, she wants to return the favour to him.
This seems to be enough to spur Arisu on as day turns to night and the duo prepare to enter another deadly game. A graffiti-covered bus sits in an underground car-park which signifies the start.
With mobiles in hand, the other boys greet the pair warmly as Arisu notices that one of them, a boy called Takuma, sports a sprained ankle. Although he doesn’t say it outright, it’s clear that this reminds him of Chota.
The game rules are simple – endure the trial, run the gauntlet and make it a set distance in a generous amount of time to survive. With the bus out of gas, Takuma decides to sacrifice himself to save the others. This doesn’t sit well with Arisu though but he joins the others and starts running nonetheless.
They keep going until they reach a replenishment station. Usagi is not sure they should take the drinks there and instead they share around a small bottle they brought with them.
Things soon take a turn for the worst though when they’re chased by a menacing, snarling panther that appears and lusts for blood. This chasing soon becomes more hostile though as the panther grabs one of the boys, Seizan, and takes off with him.
As Arisu continues on with the others, he spies a motorcycle in the back of a truck and comes up with an idea. He doesn’t want to sacrifice someone else for his sake and begins running back with the motorcycle to save Takuma.
He makes it back too but Usagi finds herself in hot water as she makes it to the target distance of 12000 meters…and finds the tunnel blocked. Only, it suddenly bursts at the seams as a rush of water chases her down the tunnels.
Thankfully she manages to make it back to Arisu and Takuma who open the bus doors and save Usagi at the last second from certain doom. As fate would have it, they just needed to stay on the bus the entire time (given “Goal” was written on the side.)
Beaten but certainly not defeated, Takuma says goodbye and hopes they’ll meet again soon. Arisu meanwhile, stands with Usagi and contemplates whether they should go to the Beach and try to stop the mastermind behind everything that’s happened.
Sporting a bicycle and a basket of luggage, the duo take off ready to tackle what may lay ahead at the beach.
The Episode Review
As we approach the midway point of the series, Alice In Borderland still doesn’t give many clues surrounding exactly what this game is and how it came to be. Instead, the different games work to develop our characters and add more dimension to their personalities.
Interestingly, Takuma’s sprained ankle is very similar to the burns Chota had to deal with before and I’m sure Arisu saw a lot of his old friend in him.
And what about those deaths last episode? The after-effects from seeing his friends murdered brutally in front of him certainly took its toll on Arisu during the first half of this episode.
Interestingly, this pain and grief is what he and Usagi have in common and the flashbacks throughout the series have worked really well so far to flesh out Usagi as an interesting and competent female.
Killing off the various supporting characters along the way is certainly a surprising turn of events, especially given this raises the tension and unpredictability of the series. You’re never quite sure who’s going to live and who will die and this only makes the different set pieces that much more exciting.
One thing’s for sure though, Alice In Borderland has been quite the surprise and definitely one of the better sci-fi series in 2020. Let’s hope the second half of this drama keeps up the pace and backs that up with some satisfying answers to the big mysteries raised so far.