You need to catch the most satisfying sci-fi movie of the year on Netflix ASAP

It’s hard to conclude A series that’s high-concept genre in a satisfying way — just ask Damon Lindelof, who’s best known for creating a different TV show about characters trying to survive in a brutal otherworldly world whose personalities are revealed through flashback. But while the deadly sci-fi Japanese drama Alice in Borderland It was not designed to have the duration of an American broadcast network TV show from the Age of Girls as Losthas the same kind of big plot that demands a big payoff.

Luckily, Alice in Borderland The second season highlights its finale, and then the finale is credited with a decisive (albeit divisive) finale, stunning action, and some great acting from the young Japanese cast. If you’re looking for a show to indulge in for the holidays, this is it. And if you’ve been late watching this sci-fi thriller on Netflix, it’s time to catch up.

In the first season, Netflix viewers around the world were immersed in a dystopian world games World Alongside the protagonist Arisu (Kento Yamazaki), a free-spirited twenty-something who spends his days playing video games and hanging out with his best friends, bartender Karube (Kita Machida) and shy tech worker Chota (Yuki Morinaga). Karube and Chota are with Arisu when he emerges from a subway bathroom to find a mostly deserted Tokyo cityscape, save for other reluctant “players” who have been transported to The Borderland and forced into deadly competitions.

Each game in The Borderland is identified by a playing card number (the higher the number, the harder the game) and a suit (hearts for betrayal games, clubs for team battles, diamonds for wit battles, spades for power games). If players “clear” a game, they get a visa, which allows them to stay in Borderland. If their passes expire, red lasers hit players where they stand.

Netflix’s poster Alice in Borderland.Netflix

Arisu’s best friends, Karube and Chota, don’t make it to the end of Season 1, but Arisu isn’t alone. He meets and stays with runner Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), a woman who lost her mountaineer father to suicide before coming to the Borderland. By the end of the first season, Arisu and Usagi have survived the Panthers and flash floods together, facing grief and trauma side by side. They also escaped from The Beach, a hierarchical society from Borderland who lives in a luxury hotel and tries to collect all the cards in the service of sending the highest-ranked member back to the real world.

The “witch hunt” at the end of the season saw the armed faction of The Beach massacre most of the population and revealed that some people in Borderland are actually “merchants” (players who help run the games in exchange for their survival). Arisu and Usagi manage to escape, but their fight for survival is far from over. With the completion of the numbered card games collectively by players in Borderland, the survivors must confront the next, potentially final level of The Borderland: face cards, and the long-term residents of Borderland who run them.

Heading into the second season, which adapts the second half of the manga, viewers are promised bigger and more intimidating games – specifically, a final 12 face-up match in a deck of cards. It’s not easy to sustain the kind of killer competition across two seasons, however Alice in Borderland It does this with a combination of diverse game-building, teamwork, and action direction that’s better than most big-budget Hollywood action movies these days.

I might be talking about Marvel fatigue in Chapter Three, but director Shinsuke Sato, well-versed in live-action adaptations of the manga and anime, knows what he’s doing. Exploding stadiums, carefully framed shots of nude figures, bathing elephants, and tightly choreographed action sequences involving fists, guns, arrows, makeshift bombs, and Toyota crowns— Alice Season 2 includes all of that and makes it seamless. Stills and scenes in Alice in Borderland It never feels superfluous, despite the fact that these characters follow a basic cycle of play and rest, play and rest. The CGI isn’t flawless, but Sato more than makes up for it with his understanding of pacing and emotion. (Yutaka Yamada’s return as the series’ original composer doesn’t hurt either.)

The game is in full swing and bloodier than before.Netflix

It’s a cliché for creators working in television today to sell their series as “like one big movie,” but the second season of Alice It really feels one, in its scope, and often in its structure. There are buzz scenes at the end of the episode designed to keep viewers engrossed, but the season is more plot-driven than character-driven. That’s not to say it doesn’t have compelling characters — this season gives us a real set-up by bringing back mutant martial artist Koena (Asahina Aya), scheming Chishia (Nijiro Murakami), endlessly sweet Tata (Yutaro Watanabe), and forensic scientist Anne. (Ayaka Miyoshi), as well as introducing some new characters, notably cute naked man Kyouma (Tomohisa Yamashita) and archer Heia (Yuri Tsunematsu), an amputee.

On this newly formed team, Arisu is the one who can see through the machinations of the players. When faced with a new level of play that doesn’t always come with clearly defined rules, he sees the logic. Thematically, this season questions why Arisu and the other characters can find a reason to keep fighting – in other words, to live – in a world trying desperately to kill them. In the midst of what may seem unnecessarily bloody a violent game, this quest for stimulation in a seemingly nihilistic reality continues. Alice in Borderland Relevant and rewarding. It’s a foundation and gives a deep storyline that this show would flounder without.

Squad Alice in Borderland Season two is stronger than it was in season one.Netflix

Like the series, Arisu never loses focus on answering the question at the heart of this story: namely, what exactly he is He is the border? I won’t spoil the answer, which is certainly divisive, but I will say Alice in Borderland The second season decisively gives us one, following the epilogue set by the manga.

In the midst of a traditionally leaning and still leaning, for better and worse, toward the endlessly open-ended finale on final conclusions, it’s amazingly satisfying to watch a high-concept genre show set everything for us after two eight-episode seasons. It does so alongside some of the most impressive, deeply violent, and psychologically engaging action sequences of 2022, performed by a cast of young Japanese talent, making it one of the most rewarding hours of the year. overly violent Alice in Borderland It may not seem like a classic show of the holiday season, but if you can stomach gore, you might be surprised to find something heartwarming and life-affirming in the epic finale.

Alice in Borderland Season two is streaming on Netflix.

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