Developed from the namesake manga series by Haro Aso, ‘Alice in Borderland’ is a Netflix survival action thriller series. It tells the story of a group of individuals trapped in a deserted and strange version of Tokyo and forced to play increasingly deadlier games to survive. The four types of games are represented by four suits of cards. Spades stand for physical, diamonds for intelligence, clubs for teamwork, and hearts for psychological. The number in the card denotes the difficulty of the game — the higher the number, the more dangerous game.
If the first season is about the number cards, the focus shifts to face cards in season 2. Meanwhile, protagonist Ryohei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) and his friends and allies aim to complete all the challenges so they can get back to their old world. If you watched ‘Alice in Borderland’ and loved it, here is a list of recommendations that might suit your taste. You can watch most of these shows similar to ‘Alice in Borderland’ on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or HBO Max.
8. Liar Game (2014)
Based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Shinobu Kaitan, ‘Liar Game’ is a South Korean series that tells the story of an innocent young woman named Nan Do Chon (alternatively Nam Da Jung) who struggles with mounting debts. In the hopes of paying them off, she decides to join the titular reality show, where contestants play psychological games with each other to win ₩10 billion. To ensure her victory, Do Chon teams up with Cha Woo Jin, a brilliant conman with the rare ability to correctly detect whether a person is lying to him. Both ‘Liar Game’ and ‘Alice in Borderland’ originated as a manga before being adapted for the small screen. They also share themes and genres, though ‘Alice in Borderland’ has a fantastical aspect that ‘Liar Game’ lacks.
7. High-Rise Invasion (2021-)
Developed from a manga series written by Tsuina Miura and illustrated by Takahiro Oba, ‘High-Rise Invasion’ is the only anime on this list. Although ‘Alice in Borderland’ itself has an anime adaptation, it’s a three-episode-long OVA. Like the Netflix series, ‘High-Rise Invasion’ is set in an urban area of a parallel version of our world. The anime defines this as an “abnormal space” that only has the appearance of a city full of skyscrapers connected by suspension bridges. When high school student Yuri Honjou arrives there, she discovers that she must flee from or kill a group of masked figures hunting her. Yuri soon finds out that her Brother Rika is also in this strange world, and they start helping each other by sharing information.
6. Panic (2021)
Created by Lauren Oliver from her 2014 novel of the same title, ‘Panic’ is a short-lived series starring Olivia Welch, Jessica Sula, and Mike Faist. The plot follows 23 freshly out-of-school graduates taking part in the annual Panic competition, hoping to win a $50,000 prize. Set in the fictional town of Carp, Texas, ‘Panic’ shares multiple themes with ‘Alice in Borderland,’ including desperation, hope, and the desire to survive. Also, like the game in the Japanese series, Panic (the game) is incredibly dangerous. We are told that two people died while playing the game the previous summer.
5. Sweet Home (2020-)
‘Sweet Home’ is a South Korean series developed from the 2017 namesake webtoon by Kim Kan-bi and Hwang Young-chan. The story revolves around the tenants of the Green Home apartment building, who discover the world around them has suddenly turned hellish, with people transforming into monsters. Although these monsters serve as an important aspect of the narrative, the main focus in ‘Sweet Home’ remains on character interactions and how various characters — humans or monsters — react to circumstances. The lore behind both ’Sweet Home’ and ’Alice in Borderland’ is rooted in fantasy. Both shows also have sublime action sequences and massive set pieces that do justice to the nail-biting plot.
4. The Purge (2018-2019)
James DeMonaco’s anthology series ‘The Purge’ is part of the franchise of the same name. The story takes place in an alternate version of America controlled by an authoritarian government. Like in the films, the government has allowed an annual purge lasting 12 hours, during which all crimes are legal. The first season revolves around several characters who seem to have no connection to each other. As the night of the Purge begins, the paths of these characters inevitably intersect. ‘The Purge’ has a similar structure and seemingly dystopian setting as ‘Alice in Borderland’ and other entries on this list. And like ‘Alice in Borderland,’ ‘The Purge’ explores the notion of whether society and its norms exist only because a legal structure is already in place.
3. 3% (2016-2020)
Created by Pedro Aguilera, ‘3%’ takes place in a dystopian and unspecified future. A group of 20-year-olds, hoping to escape the abject poverty of the Inland, participate in something known as “The Process” so they can be selected as the residents of the privileged society known as the “Offshore.” The Process is highly competitive, with only 3% of all candidates succeeding every year. The rest is bound for a worse fate, including death. As in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the world of ’3%’ is bleak and cynical. And yet, there are characters, just like in ‘Alice in Borderland,’ who dare to hope.
2. Re: Mind (2017-2018)
A Japanese series, ‘Re: Mind’ is complex and audacious in its execution. The plot revolves around 11 high school girls who wake up with bags over their heads and feet secured to the floor. When the bags are removed, they discover they are in an old European-style room, and their captor seems to have a noticeable limp. As the girls try to figure out what has happened to them, they begin to disappear one after another. Just like in ‘Alice in Borderland,’ much about the mysteries in the show is not revealed until later in the series. ‘Re: Mind’ may not have the action sequences that ‘Alice in Borderland does,’ but the psychological thriller aspect of the show makes up for it.
1. Squid Game (2021-)
Like ‘Alice in Borderland,’ ‘Squid Game’ is a fun and actioned-filled series about a survival game, though, with the Korean show, the game master is very much human. The series follows 456 people who agree to take part in a series of children’s games in the hopes of winning ₩45.6 billion. Even after they discover the deadly twists that the games have, many continue to play it because they have no other choice. ‘Squid Game’ may seem like a run-of-the-mill survival show, but its candid exploration of themes such as classism, wealth disparity, and exploitation of the underprivileged and disenfranchised make it such a remarkable series.