Alice in Borderland, Vol. 1

Viz Media. Mar. 2022. 344p. tr. from Japanese by Jonah Mayahara-Miller. ISBN 9781974728374. pap. $19.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
High schooler Ryohei Arisu fights a constant struggle against crushing anxiety over his grades, social standing, and potential for future success. One night, he and his two best friends—a hormonal goofball named Chota, and big, brooding Karube—witness an unexpected fireworks display over the city. When the display ends, they find the city around them overgrown and seemingly abandoned. Ryohei wonders if they’ve been transported to a wonderful dreamland where he’ll be free of worry until an unseen enemy forces the three friends to compete in a complex trivia game where wrong answers are punished with volleys of flaming arrows. Miraculously, they survive…only to discover they’ll be forced to compete in life-or-death competitions each and every day, for as long as their captors see fit.
VERDICT Aso proves a master of suspense and visual storytelling, especially over the course of a sequence depicting a game of tag through a sprawling apartment complex, complicated by the presence of a hulking, gun-toting serial killer wearing a terrifying horse mask. This first volume, which is the inspiration for a hit Netflix series, should have readers clamoring for future installments.
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