Alice is drifting through life, desperately wanting something to grab onto. Constantly compared to his high achieving brother, he seeks solace and company in his two best friends, Karube and Segawa. One day the three of them are spirited away, and wake up in a dystopian world. Initially excited about this newfound freedom from their responsibilities and previous life, they soon realise that this new world isn’t all that it’s cut out to be.
The series is an OVA adaption of an ongoing manga by Haro Aso. The world they are thrown into is called ‘Borderland’. Those trapped in ‘Borderland’ must compete in dangerous games to extend their visa in the land. Games are ranked on a card system, the number on the card reflects the difficultly of the game and the type of card reflects the type of game, for example ‘Spade’ represents a physical game. Over the three episodes Alice and his friends are thrown into these games as they try to come to terms with the world they’ve been sent to.
Despite there only being three episodes, audiences learn a lot about Alice as a character. We learn his background, his complex thoughts and his scars. His two friends on the other hand are only given a small amount of background, and only in reference to their relation to Alice. Karube seemed like he could have been developed
into a much more in depth character, for me, he was the real hero of this series. Shibuki, a woman they meet later in the first episode, is frustrating and confusing. One minute she’s only looking out for herself and the next she wants to help them. Unfortunately the series was so short, interesting characters were introduced only to fade into obscurity in the next scene.
Having not read the manga, I think the OVA ended their story at quite a good point. Although I would’ve liked a couple more episodes of them exploring the Borderlands, and developing some of the side characters. One side character gives them a cryptic message which is never expanded upon. Furthermore we learn nothing about the actual Borderland – is it our future world (I assumed it was), but could it be in another dimension, a parallel universe? I wish that they had spent more time grounding the series, rather than in the first episode they show up and almost immediately go into a game, without knowing anything.
The animation is pretty average, same as character design. Although, Chouta definitely got the raw end of the deal. Although I really liked the background designs – particularly in the first episode depicting the plant growth that suffocates the city, as well as the spatial design of the games. Particularly the first game which is set in a small festival.
7.5/10 It’s definitely inspired me to go out and read the manga, but I wish there were more episodes to further develop the story – it all ended too soon. With 8 volumes of the manga, they definitely have enough material for 5 or 6 episodes.
Favourite line: from Karube. Pretty much me screaming at my TV whenever I watch a series like this.