The good news is out, the Japanese Netflix series Alice in Borderland is getting a second season! Well, this comes as no surprise because the show definitely compelled us viewers with its ingenious survival game plot that stacks wits, action, and drama in one thrilling ride.
Based on a manga series of the same name, Alice in Borderland follows Ryohei Arisu– a young adult who wastes his life just playing video games. One day, he and his friends Chota and Karube were loitering around the streets of Tokyo when suddenly, everyone just disappeared. Little did they know, they’ve become players to a series of death games with each win guaranteeing them a few more days of survival.
If you’ve finished the first season and you’re already missing Arisu and his companions as they try to unravel who is behind the twisted game of cards and survival, you’re not alone. Luckily, as we await the continuation of the show, you could in the meantime pick up some books and manga series under the same subgenre. We’ve rounded up some of them for your choosing below!
By Koushun Takami
Koushun Takami’s bestselling dystopian novel has already been adapted into a manga series and a film, but the source material remains to be the best introduction to this gruesome yet fascinating story. The novel is set in 1997 at a fictional fascist Japan where highschool students are randomly selected to participate in a military program where they must kill each other until only one student remains.
While the government poses this “battle royale” as a means to test the survival skills of its citizens, their underlying motive is to instill fear among the people and send across a clear message to prevent any rebellious acts: you can’t trust anyone.
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The novel is bloody and violent, but it also depicts the picture of humanity from different perspectives. While others are desperate to keep themselves alive, some would rather put their lives on the line and fight back on the government’s game operators rather than losing their humanity altogether. But which side will succeed?
As The Gods Will
By Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Akeji Fujimura
Here’s another survival game that brings in some fantasy but does not tone down on the blood and tears. As The God’s Will or Kamisama no Iutoori is a manga series where students are subjected to a series of death games operated by some supernatural force. It all begins with Shun Takahata, a student who was bored of his everyday routine in life. But everything changes when during class, their teacher’s head turns into a Daruma doll that would blast anyone who moves. This will be followed by more life threatening games operated by a talking Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat charm), kokeshi dolls, and other uncanny creatures.
Seem familiar? The film adaptation of this manga had given more popularity to the title, but for those who liked the movie and its bizarre yet gripping premise, there is a lot more waiting for you in the manga series.
Battle in 5 Seconds After Meeting
By Saizō Harawata
This manga is a bit like As The Gods Will, but this one focuses more on the action. High school student and avid gamer Akira is on the way to school when out of nowhere, he is attacked by a mysterious bandaged man with the intent to kill. Despite having the physical disadvantage against his hulking pursuer, Akira’s quick wits helped him take the man down. Then, a mysterious girl appears to tell him that it was all a game, and that it was just the beginning.
While this series starts off with the familiar survival game approach, it would soon become more of a fighting manga with Akira and the other participants gaining different superpowers to overcome the challenges that often put players against other players.
By Shinobu Kaitani
If you prefer less of the action and gore, but enjoyed Arisu’s quick thinking moments during the show, then you should check out Liar Game. Like Alice in Borderland, it is about people rounded up to play a series of games, but in this manga series, the players’ lives are not technically at stake. Instead, enormous debt awaits the losers while the winners can gain massive amounts of money.
The story follows the honest and naive girl Nao who was forced into joining the Liar Game– an intricate tournament where people must lie and deceive to win. When the game begins and Nao gets easily tricked into giving her starting money to an opponent, the girl seeks the help of the genius con artist Shinichi Akiyama. With Akiyama’s cunning, Nao survives her first round of the Liar Game, but soon the two would face more formidable opponents, making this big battle of wits all the more interesting to the reader.
The Hunger Games Trilogy
By Suzanne Collins
Let’s not leave out perhaps the most popular “survival game” book series from an American novelist– Hunger Games. Similar to Battle Royale, the Hunger Games franchise is set in a dystopian world where the authoritarian government displays its power over the people by holding a televised survival game where participants fight to their death.
Every year, each of the twelve districts are made to choose two “Tributes” who will be joining the Hunger Games. When her 12-year-old sister gets selected, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place. During the deadly tournament, Katniss faces different dangers and losses while civil unrest looms to threaten the government’s grasp over its citizens.
By Sakae Esuno
The manga series Future Diary or Mirai Nikki features yet another fight-to-the-death where the players are given a supernatural ability– to predict the future. The God of Time and Space, Deus Ex Machina, is looking for a successor and to find one, he assigns twelve individuals with future diaries, each with a unique way of predicting what is soon to happen. These individuals must then use the power vested upon them by Deus Ex Machina to take down their co-competitors, until one survivor remains to become the new God of Time and Space.
Teenager Yukiteru Amano is a loner who often writes diary entries on his phone. When Deus Ex Machina makes him a candidate for the survival game, Yukiteru seems hopeless when faced with the other players who are more capable in combat than him. That is until he finds himself protected by Yuno Gasai, a girl his age who is also part of the game. When Yuno’s obsession for Yuki surfaces, he gets torn between trusting her or considering her as one of his most dangerous foes.
The Maze Runner Series
By James Dashner
Last on our list is another book series from American writer James Dashner. Like Alice in Borderland, the Maze Runner series begins by dropping the readers onto a mysterious situation. A teenage boy wakes up in an elevator with no memories except for his name– Thomas. He surfaces to a land called The Glade, where other teenage boys like him live a trapped life. For outside the thick walls surrounding The Glade is an enormous, ever-changing maze filled with deadly creatures.
When Thomas proves his capabilities, he becomes one of the Runners who are tasked to venture into the maze in the hopes of finding a way out. But when they finally find a path, the young boy must lead his fellow prisoners to a dangerous expedition into the Maze where lives may surely be lost.
While this series does not exactly follow the death game formula, the way it captures the reader’s interest through a thrilling journey for survival mixed-in with drama and mystery makes this page-turner worth checking out for people who appreciated the same elements from Alice in Borderland.