Is Alice in Borderland a real story and what are the rules?

Adapted from a Japanese manga by the same name, Alice in Borderland is a dystopian drama that’s currently available for streaming on Netflix

 Alice in Borderland
(Image credit: Netflix)

Season 2 of Alice in Borderland just dropped on Netflix and fans already can't stop talking about it.

Among the must-see show currently streaming on Netflix - Smiley! Farha! Harry and Meghan! - is Alice in Borderland, a Japanese dystopian science fiction thriller drama based on the eponymous manga by Haro Aso.

The first season of the show premiered in 2020 but season 2 just wrapped up on the streaming platform and fans are already wondering if and when there will be more episodes.


In Alice in Borderland, Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya star as, respectively, Ryōhei Arisu and Yuzuha Usagi. The former is a 24-year-old man obsessed with video games who doesn't get along with his family and the latter is a mountain climber who moves to Tokyo following the passing of her father, whom she was very close to.

The premise of the series is a pretty straightforward one: the two characters find themselves trapped in an abandoned Takyo that is really a parallel universe. While there, they are "forced to compete in dangerous games" to survive as allies. 

The difficulty and type of challenges they face are represented by playing cards. Reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Squid Games, the plot of the show calls for execution by lasers shot from the sky when not properly completing one of the presented games.

Alice in Borderland

(Image credit: Netflix)

Between the two seasons, there are a total of 16 episodes to catch up on.


Alice in Borderland is based on an eponymous manga written and illustrated by Haro Aso. The live-action series and the manga are not based on a true story.

In the manga, Arisu, Karube and Chōta are three bored high school students whose lives forever change following a firework celebration during which Arisu wishes he could live in a different, more exciting, world. As a result, the trio is transported into a post-apocalyptic parallel universe, Borderland, that's really an abandoned version of the city of Tokyo where the stars are forced to play games to survive. Pretty exciting, right?


Every game featured on Alice in Borderland comes along with a different set of rules and guidelines that all have one thing in common: to survive in the parallel apocalyptic Tokyo, the players must win each game.

Each competition results in the gathering of more numbered cards, which in turn extended a player's "visa" and their lifespan in the dystopian world. As a general statement, the higher the number on the card, the more difficult the game, with the ten of hearts representing the deadliest competition possible. 

PopBuzz breaks down the various rules attached to each type of card:

Alice in Borderland

(Image credit: Netflix)

Things get a bit more technical and complicated in season 2 with the arrival of Face Cards, which represent other, more difficult games that are also "tailored" to each player.

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.