‘Alice in Borderland’ VS ‘The Squid Game’: Which is better?

    When ‘The Squid Game’ premiered back in September 2021, it quickly went from being a South Korean title that no one had heard of to a phenomenon that was crowned the first among the most watched Netflix series in its history. Many of its viewers later began to watch a series that shared certain elements with this one: the Japanese ‘Alice in Borderland’ also put its characters to the limit through a series of children’s games turned into killing machines. The curious thing is that, although in the eyes of many it was its successor, it had been released earlier, in December 2020. Their viewings are complementary, yes, but it is impossible not to compare one with the other, especially now that the Japanese has released its second season. Which is better? ‘Alice in Borderland’ versus ‘The Squid Game’: 3, 2, 1… Fight!

    macabre games round

    It cannot be said that neither of these two series invented putting their protagonists in trouble through games. There are ‘3%’, also from Netflix, or the ‘Hunger Games’ saga. But ‘The Squid Game’ raised it to another level: where it most attracted attention was in its aesthetic commitment, making all its elements emblematic (the killer doll, the red jumpsuits and the masks, the green tracksuits, the colored stairs, the cookie…) and fixing them in popular culture.

    netflix alice in borderland season 2


    ‘Alice in Borderland’ lacks that aesthetic iconicity, but, although its games are also based on children’s games, in this second season the ante has been raised and, in most cases, for the better. While the killer horse tag is still simple but very spectacular, the game against the king of clubs in the container area (for me, the best) increases the complexity of the game and makes it very enjoyable even if it drags on in more than one episode. When ‘Alice in Borderland’ gets it right with the games, it hits the mark, although it’s not always the case.

    Characters to keep track of

    Our emotional involvement as viewers in these games would not be the same if these series did not bother to build the identity of their characters; it hurts or shocks us when they die or we suffer when they are close to it because we know them. This, which sounds quite obvious like that, is not always taken into account by many series and, although ‘The Squid Game’ and ‘Alice in Borderland’ put a lot of effort into it, the result is mixed.

    While the Japanese has a more classic hero in the center (a good-hearted boy with wit on his part), the South Korean opts for a good guy but something less obvious and with certain grays; and therefore more interesting. In general, ‘The Squid Game’ is more accurate in exploring human miseries, better uses the characters to talk to us about universal concepts (fierce capitalism, greed…) and, ultimately, better achieves that we care and let us worry about their performance in that tricky game. The other, although it also tries to explore general themes, tends to stay more on the surface (with mourning and taking advantage of life as pillars).

    'the squid game' all the details about the cast of the korean netflix series


    ‘Alice in Borderland’ is flatter both in the construction of its main couple (you can tell that the South Koreans are a little “more Mediterranean” than the Japanese with their modesty and modesty) and the rest. In addition, Japanese fiction, especially in this second installment, decides to divide the action into various plots that alternate so that not all the participants are part of all the games we see. This is a good proposal to diversify the action, but it also creates valleys and peaks of attention depending on whether we like some characters more or less (I, for example, can’t stand Chishiya and her mushroom face).

    The importance of the path and the end

    We are not going to gut the outcome of either of the two series here in case any reader has not yet reached that point (you have the end of season 2 of ‘Alice in Borderland’ explained here), but rather to assess how important this is within of the set of each series. In some fictions, the path followed is much more important than a final resolution or a surprising last twist, but in others it is a determining factor that can make the balance of our assessment lean to one side or the other.

    Although in both series we have a slight certainty that the central character (or characters) will arrive at the end of the games or, at least, this is the last episode (because otherwise there would be no series), ‘The game of the squid ‘ It maintains the tension better and, precisely because of what we mentioned before, it does not mortgage its entire value to how satisfied we are when the final credit titles appear. The path counts more than the end. However, the question that opens ‘Alice in Borderland’ (why the characters are in that game and if they can leave it when they complete it) grows and grows. until turning the path into a mere procedure (more or less entertaining, depending on the enjoyment of the viewer) towards the final episode. The answer is worth too much and the series stakes everything on a single card (and, in my opinion, it is not worth much).


    Both ‘The Squid Game’ and ‘Alice in Borderland’ are quite entertaining and although they start from similar concepts, they manage to differentiate themselves enough from each other so that a viewer can enjoy both. No one has to bow their heads in terms of their visual proposal, but while the spectacularity and the action would be the strengths of ‘Alice in Borderland’, ‘The Squid Game’ manages to capture more for the themes it touches on while we vibrate with its games . If you are only going to play one round, bet on Korea. If you are going to continue at the table, play with the Japanese, but be careful because she can bluff.

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