In “Alice on the Border” Season 2, we saw Arisu, Usagi, and other players risking their lives and participating in life-threatening games, once again. Several game masters presented some of their best games to baffle the participants with their sense of judgment and skill. These games were ruthless and lacking in empathy. Wit, intelligence, common sense, confidence, stamina, and physical strength were some of the traits that the masters of the game expected the participants to display. It was a tough race, and more than survival of the fittest, it was about who was the luckiest on that specific day and time. In addition to putting the contestants in life and death situations, the games also made them realize who they really were. After crossing each barrier, players got a little closer to their true selves and watched their layers of artificiality peel away like an onion. So let’s try to understand the purpose behind the creation of these games by these game masters and what role their own sensibilities and experiences played in the scheme of things.
the king of clubs
Kyumo, the King of Clubs, was a sensible enough man, and he wasn’t here in the Borderlands to impersonate his evil intentions and take pleasure in other people’s misery. Kyumo understood the complexities of human behavior and was very clear about the type of life he wanted to live and what his priorities were. He wanted his participants to shed their pretensions to him and, for once, discover his true self. Maybe that’s why he practiced nudism, because he wanted to exist and accept himself as he was, without artifice of any kind. Kyumo knew that human beings often wished to communicate with something greater than themselves. An incessant need to satisfy a larger-than-life philosophy was evident in his actions and words.
Kyumo’s game wasn’t just about winning; he wanted his participants to face death and witness the change that occurred within them. He was an intelligent man and he knew that after death, people were the same again and they no longer cared what opinion the world would form about them. He knew that people only stuck to principle and ethics until they knew their very survival was not at stake. He hadn’t met a man who was so perfect that he was willing to give his life without compromising his values. He didn’t have a specific problem with that, but he just wanted the participants to stop fooling themselves by living their lies. He knew that the hypocrisy of human beings had become so ingrained that they did not realize that they were not who they pretended to be all their lives. He wanted them to recognize that they were willing to do anything to save themselves and escape death. He wanted them to come to terms with their full potential and stop living a life of unspoken regrets.
Kyumo was the type of man who believed in equality, which was probably why he had a lot of complaints about society and the way it worked. He was a rebel who wanted to question each and every one of the social norms and traditions. He wanted to even the scales equally and give everyone the chance they deserved. Perhaps it was his socialist sentiment that sowed the seeds of discontent within him, and he decided to leave the real world forever and create his own reality within Borderland.
the jack of hearts
When Chishiya became a part of the game called Solitary Confinement, he realized a few things about the guy who was chosen to be the Jack of Hearts. He was the type of man who thought highly of himself. He deeply distrusted each and every human being and believed that they were inferior to him. He had more faith in his manipulative abilities compared to the honesty and integrity of other participants. He thought that he could win by fooling everyone, but he lost to those who decided to trust unconditionally. Jack of Heart’s inflated sense of ego became the reason for his downfall. He wanted to brainwash the participants and instill in them a sense of fear. He wanted them to believe that the world around them was not worth fighting for. Perhaps the Jack of Hearts may have had some adverse experiences in its past life, which shaped its belief system. His trust may well have been broken in the real world, leading him to believe that the only way to win a battle is to fool the other participants.
Banda, who was a criminal in the real world, had dealt with a feeling of abandonment his entire life. When Yaba approached him and treated him as an equal, he felt that he was worth something. Throughout the game, the Jack of Hearts had tried to manipulate him, and that’s where his approach had failed wildly. The Jack of Hearts never trusted because he feared being betrayed, but he failed to recognize that trust is the backbone of any relationship, and one cannot hope to strengthen a bond if one is devoid of trust. Jack of Hearts had a good game plan, but he still lost because he couldn’t fully understand human behavior.
the queen of swords
The Queen of Spades came up with the game Checkmate, as he believed that human beings always want to win and serve their own selfish interests. She knew that when their survival was at stake, they would abandon their principles and ideals without a second thought. Her strategy was based on this presumption, but her plans failed when Usagi inspired people to think beyond themselves. According to the Queen of Spades, human beings only protect their conscience until it is in their best interest to do so. She knew that fighting for a greater cause was the kind of notion that was only found in folktales, while in real life none of that happened. And she was right to a point because the moment Usagi entered the arena with a child, another contestant told her that while she wouldn’t want to hurt the child, she wouldn’t hesitate to do so if his life was at risk. . The queen knew that if she made the participants realize that they had no hope left, then half of her work would be done. She knew that in such adverse circumstances, a person usually becomes pessimistic and forgets how much strength hope can give him. But Arisu and Usagi made their fellow contestants realize the power of that emotion and how they could shape their own future if they kept their faith in difficult times. The queen she lost not because she had a bad game plan, but because humanity and empathy replaced greed and selfish desires. At that time, Usagi and Arisu proved that there are some things worth fighting for in this world.
the king of diamonds
Keiichi Kazuryu named his game Balance Scale because he wanted to tip the scales to restore justice and, for once, do the right thing. Kazuryu regretted his past actions and his conscience was always drenched in guilt because of it. He was a lawyer in the real world and witnessed firsthand how corrupt and flawed society was. He realized that there were only two types of people in the world: powerful and weak. He believed that there was no point in fighting for equality unless and until the dynamics and foundations of the system changed. Kazuryu was a realist and knew that whatever ideals people talked about, it was a harsh reality that the world was ruled by a few who held the reins and had the resources to turn the outcome of anything in their favor. He strongly condemned the capitalist fervor that he saw in the eyes of the rich and privileged, and believed that humans should not be able to determine who lived and who died. He made him lose trust in humanity when he saw how a rich businessman put hundreds of people’s lives at risk just to save some money and make some profit.
When Kazuryu created his game, he wanted to make sure that people would die or survive, not due to the actions of his competitors but simply by luck. He wanted to leave it in the hands of fate, and that is why strategy and tactics were useless in his game. No one had influence, not even him, and the scales stayed the same. We witnessed the relief Kuzuryu felt when he decided to lose on purpose and accept death. What he did for others, he did not want for himself. He had made sure that no one was able to dictate terms and control their or anyone else’s narrative, but instead, he decided for himself that it was time to embrace death. He lost on purpose and freed himself from all the burdens that he had carried on his shoulders for a long time. Kazuryu desperately wanted to achieve salvation and he believed that sacrificing his own life was probably the only way he could do it.
Queen of hearts
Mira Kano was the queen of hearts, and she was the type of person who enjoyed the process of formulating tricky games and being in charge of her own narrative. When Mira Kano became Game Master, she was very excited to think about what she could do with that power. She liked to deceive people, and witnessing her predicament gave her a lot of sadistic pleasure. We saw in the first season of “Alice in Borderlands” how Mira was willing to put a life on the line to just strategize to save Hatter until the last card, that they wanted to complete the deck, came up in one of the games. She hadn’t even flinched before proposing the game plan where one person had to be intentionally killed.
The Queen of Hearts was not a ruthless killer or murderer like Nigari and the King of Spades, but she did enjoy watching people suffer. She liked to play mind games with them, which she also incorporated into her croquet game. She hadn’t come up with a game that would test Arisu and Usagi’s strength or stamina, but she wanted to make them miserable by controlling their minds and making them summon their doom themselves. Her game was not about winning or losing, but about surviving through the three rounds without being influenced by her. Even as she answered a simple question that Arisu had asked her, she unnecessarily went round and round and tested the patience of both participants. She sometimes felt like Mira Kano was still an inner child that she liked to play her little games and she felt completely content and satisfied when she saw the other person fighting and irritated. She tried to trick Arisu and Usagi, but she had forgotten that love is a more powerful emotion compared to hate, fear, or guilt. Towards the end of “Alice in Borderland” season 2, we saw her childishness give way to a sense of maturity as she witnessed the beautiful bond Arisu shared with Usagi. Mira realized that she was going to lose and she accepted death very gracefully.
See more: Explanation of the world of ‘Alice In Borderland’: What does Borderland symbolize? Is it real or a fictional reality?