It is quite difficult to exist in a reality in which every action you take impacts your future. Every day it feels like you are being watched and monitored and judged by society’s unrelenting eyes. I know I’m not the only one who can possibly feel that way about life as some of the concepts presented in the show Alice in Borderland, originally a manga written by Haro Aso, represent how I feel about reality and its trials. The premise of the show is about being trapped in a place in which the constant judgement from people is how you survive. Which is essentially the life that we exist in as honestly, it is challenging to accomplish anything without the approval of others and that approval can only be given once you open yourself up to the world and allow them to look inside and dissect you. To me, I feel like it is a daily occurrence and struggle to truly open up and allow people to look past the mask that I plaster on. Alice in Borderland has many intricacies about reality that are either blatantly stated or have more hidden in depth meanings that can be interpreted in many ways.
Now in the show at the very beginning, a mysterious light appears and manages to wipe out close to all of Tokyo’s population. Everyone has seemingly disappeared and the city is virtually silent with very few people remaining and they are struggling to survive as it seems an overarching power has taken over. This “unknown leader” stays in the dark for the entirety of the series and at the end of the season while we get a slight idea of who or what the leader may be, there are still many questions yet to be answered as the horrors continue on. The people left surviving are by themselves in this new reality in which they are lost and confused by the unknown. No one of major consequence is there to help them and even if people do appear suddenly, they never stay long as it feels like the place they are trapped in is being paid no mind or thought. The reality in which everyone finds themself entrapped is obviously in existence as everyone there is living in its harsh environment, but the outside world seems to be paying it no mind as they do not know of it.
First, let’s take a moment to discuss the idea of monsters. What exactly is a monster can be open to interpretation as there is no real “definition” of what a monster is. It could be something imaginary or something with particularly unpleasant features. It could be something that is real and terrifying by what it represents in life. Like I stated, there are many kinds of monsters in this world. “Monsters who cause trouble without showing themselves” or “monsters who abduct children”. In the show Alice in Borderland, the idea of monsters is brought up by people lying and turning on one another for the sake of survival. The people end up tearing each other apart in both a literal and figurative sense and the start of it is by the lies they spout just to survive. The same idea sort of exists in the reality we live in except for the part about it being a life or death situation. I have not experienced that thankfully in my life, but obviously I cannot speak for everyone.
In reality, we all lie about many things just to survive the day and get through every fleeting moment. Though some people may disagree with this point as maybe lying isn’t a common occurrence for them. But even small lies are so natural that they come out unintentionally. They can even be as minute as the phrase “I’m fine” or “I’m ok”. But are you really fine? Are you genuinely alright inside? These small little things that we just let slip out so easily, don’t they make us essentially monsters as well? We are deceiving others for the sake of ourselves, which isn’t that what a “monster” does?
There is a scene in the show where the main character Arisu and his friends end up playing a game of chance where there can only be one sole survivor. Everyone turns on one another to earn that slim chance of living for just a bit longer. The minutes were passing quickly and the contestants were still fighting to the end to survive till they came to the grim realization that their endeavors to survive for just a bit longer were pointless and so they gave into the game. Arisu’s friends ended up hiding away and waited until the game was over and they were swiftly eliminated. Arisu being the only survivor was obviously devastated and broken as he was the only one who did not fall prey to the mind game of turning on one another and was desperately trying to find a solution so everyone would live. Evidently, his attempts to convince his friends to stop fighting were fruitless as his companions fell prey to the game and were lying to one another after years and years of friendship. The lies being harsh and cruel and relating to trickery.
The companionship they had once shared was quickly forgotten as soon as their lives were put on the line and they essentially lost all sense of trust in one another and just became senseless monsters that gave into the primal urge to survive. In this reality, whatever overarching power is there watching the players fight each other, represents the eyes of judgement in our world that are just there watching all the travesty occur and doing nothing to interfere or stop the horrors occurring. In a society, we all watch little things happen and sometimes have the ability to stop them, but do we always? No we do not. Instead, we stand around watching it occur and judging as if we have the right to do so. As if we have the right to stand at a higher state than the people that are supposedly below us. Society as a whole, which is the main beholder of the judgemental eyes, is not the only great evil in this world. It also is in the individual people who exist and allow for the judgement to occur either by participating in it or just watching it occur.
A certain character in the show who has been a victim to the judging eyes of society is Hikari Kuina. Those judging eyes have not been kind to her as they have constantly belittled and terrorized her about almost every aspect of her life. She is a prominent figure in the show and plays an important role. Throughout the show however, no real background is given about her and so we were left in the dark about her past life and the obvious trials that she has faced throughout her life. However at the end, we finally received some context about her past life and it struck a chord with me. The show did a wonderful job of representing a trans character. Kiuna was someone who originally did not fit in the body she was originally given, but managed to grow into herself and become someone she loved both internally and externally. I am still struggling with that in my life. It is quite difficult to be honest, about being open about gender and whatnot as though I have an outwardly feminine appearance, in my head I do not feel the same way. And it is hard to truly let people see myself as I am honestly terrified of letting people in to see that. To quote the “Work of Artifice”, the judgement of reality is something that is just so awful as it feels like I could have “could have grown eighty feet tall on the side of a mountain” if I had the chance, but society is holding me back and keeping me “carefully pruned” in the form I am in. Kiuna managed to break away from the state of taking every word that society had thrown on her to heart and letting it break her. I do hope that someday like Kiuna, I can find a way to also ignore the judging eyes that are always there surrounding and dissecting every move I make and I can break free from the constraints of this reality’s standards.
Judgement is at its best a very warped way of seeing the world and sort of makes a new reality that is different from the original. According to the poem “Muffin of Sunsets” by Elaine Equi, reality “is almost catastrophic” which is quite true as reality is nothing close to perfect. Which is probably why so many people everywhere always feel like they do not fit into the standards that have been placed on them in their society as they cannot handle the judgement or control what that judgement will later do in their lives. Alice in Borderland really heavily demonstrates this key idea of reality not being exactly what it is at first glance because of all the judgement from society’s seeing eyes. Even in our reality and in the society we exist in, everything is not as it seems at the first glance. We have to dive further into the rabbit hole that we call life to truly understand .
2 thoughts on “Rabbit Holes and Reality”
Okay. I need to look into this show. How graphically violent is it?
The show is fairly violent and is very action packed. If you are not a fan of heavy violence and a bit of gore, then I recommend not watching.