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Whether you're a k-drama fan looking to explore the wider world of Asian entertainment, or a Squid Game viewer ready to jump into another heart-pounding series, Alice in Borderland needs to sit at the top of your watchlist. Netflix's Japanese death-game drama returned for its second season this week, following a group of young adults who get transported into a life-or-death game of intense strength, wit, teamwork, and psychological challenges. The terms are simple: you win, you live; you lose or refuse to play, you die.
The thrilling series features some of the biggest stars in Japan, while also introducing some up-and-coming stars. Read on to meet the faces behind the players. Warning: Some spoilers for Alice in Borderland Season 1 ahead.
Kento Yamazaki as Arisu
The Alice of this tale, Arisu, is a brilliant analyst and gamer who lives with his disappointed family, missing job interviews to play games. In Season 1, he's transported to Borderland along with his two best friends, and he later connects with mountain climber Usagi. He plays through the games by getting into the minds of the gamemasters and other players, though his loyalty to his friends can be both a strength and a liability.
Yamazaki, 28, is one of Japan's most popular actors, and is known as the "Prince of Live Action Adaptations" since he's starred in so many projects based on manga and anime. His most well-known series and films include the 2014 film LD-K, the 2015 film Orange (where he co-starred alongside Tao Tsuchiya), the 2015 TV adaptation of Death Note, the 2016 drama A Girl & Three Sweethearts, the 2018 Japanese TV remake of Good Doctor, and the 2019 film Kingdom (which was also helmed by AiB director Shinsuke Sato).
Tao Tsuchiya as Usagi
Quiet and mysterious Usagi (which translates to rabbit, a.k.a. the White Rabbit) was taught how to hunt and survive outdoors by her father, a famous rock climber. After she was transported to Borderland, where she played as a loner until forming a friendship with Arisu.
Tsuchiya, 27, started her career as a model before branching into singing, dancing, and acting on stage and film. Besides AiB, she's best known for her roles in the 2013 manga adaptation Arcana, the 2015 film Orange, the 2015 drama series Mare, and the action film series Rurouni Kenshin.
Nijiro Murakami as Chishiya
Chishiya is another extremely observant character, who's a strong ally due to his quick-witted decisions. He's also very hard to read; it's difficult to tell whether he wants to escape Borderland or to gain the most power within that world. His expression mostly remains neutral, except for times when he has a mischievous grin that may remind you of the Chesire Cat.
Murakami, 25, is a film, TV, and voice actor who made his debut in 2014, as the lead in the award-winning film Still the Water. He has also starred in the 2015 live-action adaptation of the anime Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, as well as the 2017 TV series Dead Stock and the 2020 film Soirée.
Aya Asahina as Kuina
Kuina, one of the former residents of the Beach, is a talented fighter who became a fan favorite and scene stealer in Season 1. Before landing in Borderland, she grew up learning martial arts from her father, but she left home when he disowned her because she's trans. She's best friends with Chishiya, and she quickly becomes impressed with Arisu. (Also, she likely represents the Caterpillar because she went through a metamorphosis and she holds a stick in her mouth to keep from smoking.)
Asahina, 29, is a model and TV personality who made her acting debut in 2017 in Amazon series Tokyo Alice. She's since starred in the shows Runway 24 and Girl Gun Lady in addition to AiB.
Yutaro Watanabe as Tatta
Kind Tatta first meets and is saved by Arisu during an early game in Season 1, and they later reunite at the Beach. We still don't know Tatta's backstory by the end of Season 1, but he became braver over the course of the episodes, becoming more active in the Ten of Hearts game after freezing up earlier.
Watanabe, 28, made his acting debut in 2014 and has appeared in mostly supporting roles, including the 2015 film The Werewolf Game: Prison Break, the 2017 series A Female Factory Owner, and the 2020 film Stare. He also starred in another Japanese show centered on a death game, 2021's Aoiuso: After School of Confession.
Ayaka Miyoshi as An
An is a former member of the executive team at the Beach, where she used her critical thinking skills and level-headed gameplay to help the residents. She's a former forensic scientist for the Tokyo police and one of the show's many badass women. Fans also believe that she represents the White Queen.
Miyoshi, 26, is an actress, model, and former J-pop idol, who was a member of the girl group Sakura Gakuin from 2010-2012. She started her career as a child actor and has starred in numerous shows and films, with her latest projects including the 2015 drama Angel Heart, the 2019 film Dance With Me, and the 2020 film Howling Village.
Dori Sakurada as Niragi
Niragi is a former member of the militant group at the Beach. He's a psychotic bully who doesn't care about others and abuses his power with violence and intimidation. We also learned that he is deeply insecure due his past trauma with bullying. Though he ended up severely burned and injured in the Season 1 finale, Netflix has confirmed that he's back in Season 2. (Also, his closest Alice in Wonderland match is the March Hare.)
Sakurada, 31, is an actor, model, dancer, and singer. He got his start as a child actor in 2005, when he was cast in a stage musical adapted from the anime The Prince of Tennis, known as Tenimyu. He's recently starred in shows and movies including the 2019 film La, the 2019 dramas Coffee & Vanilla and Perfect Crime, and the 2021 drama 3B Lover.
Sho Aoyagi as Aguni
Arisu first encounters Aguni during the Five of Spades game in Season 1, and they later meet again at the Beach. The intimidating man is the former leader of the militant group at the Beach, and was best friends with the compound's head, Hatter. Netflix has confirmed that he'll reappear in Season 2, after surviving the Ten of Hearts game along with Niragu.
Aoyagi, 37, is an actor, singer, and member of the all-male theater troupe GEKIDAN EXILE. His previous works include the 2012 film Love for Beginners (which also featured his AiB co-star Kento Yamazaki), the 2015 drama Wild Heroes, the 2017 film Tatara Samurai, and the franchises High & Low and Jam.
Riisa Naka as Mira
Mira is another Beach executive we meet in Season 1, where she doesn't stick out much and spends most of her time with An. In the finale, we learn that she's actually a Gamemaster, as she invites Arisu, Usagi, Chishiya, and Kuina to play more games in the finale. We'll meet her again in Season 2.
Naka, 33, is a prolific actor who made her acting debut in the early 2000s and received a Best Newcomer Award from the Yokohama Film Festival in 2009. Her recent works include the 2018 drama Holiday Love and the 2020 drama Mothers in Love.
Tomohisa Yamashita as Kyuma, the King of Clubs
Kyuma is one of the first opponents that Arisu and the players will face in the new season, with the mysterious man leading his own team as the King of Clubs. Yamashita, 37 (also known as Yamapi or Tomo) is an actor, TV host, active solo singer, and former member of the J-pop boy band NEWS from 2003-2011. In addition to his popular career in Japanese TV and film, he's recently starred in international projects including the HBO Max series Tokyo Vice and the 2022 film The Man From Toronto.
Yuri Tsunematsu as Heiya
Heiya, another new player in Season 2, is a scrappy fighter and talented archer. Tsunematsu, 24, started out as a child actress and has appeared in numerous films and dramas. Her recent projects include the 2019 film He Won't Kill, She Won't Die; the 2020 film Wife of a Spy; the 2022 drama The Travel Nurse; and the 2022 film Kisaragi Station.
Hayato Isomura as Banda
Also joining the show as new player Banda is Isomura, 30, who recently won Newcomer of the Year at the 45th Japan Academy Film Prize, for his performances in the 2021 films A Family and What Did You Eat Yesterday?. His other recent projects include the 2020 drama Mothers In Love, and the 2022 films Plan 75 and The Fish Tale.
Kai Inowaki as Matsushita
Playing new addition Matsushita is Inowaki, 27, who made his acting debut with a main role in the acclaimed 2009 film Tokyo Sonata. His recent projects include the 2019 drama Magi: The Tensho Boys' Embassy, the 2021 film Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, the 2021 drama Promise Cinderella, and the 2022 drama Kurosagi.
Katsuya Maiguma as Yaba
Playing the intimidating Yaba is Maiguma, 35, an award-winning actor who made his debut through stage acting in 2010. His recent series and films include the 2020 dramas An Incurable Case of Love and Yokai Housemate, and the 2021 drama 5 Meter Radius.
Honami Sato as Kotoko
Yaba's teammate Kotoko is played by Sato, 33, who's also known as Hona Ikoka, the drummer for the J-rock band Gesu no Kiwami Otome. (If the name sounds familiar, her bandmate Masao Wada appeared on the reality show Terrace House: Opening New Doors.) Sato made her acting debut in 2017, and has since starred in several movies and shows including the 2021 films Ride or Die and Sexual Drive, the 2022 film Love Nonetheless, and the 2022 drama 30 Made ni to Urusakute.
Chihiro Yamamoto as the Queen of Spades
The leader of the Queen of Spades game is played by Yamamoto, 26, who's known for starring in several action films and TV series. She previously appeared in the 2018 show Ichibei of the Wind: The Abacus Samurai, the 2022 series 10 Count to the Future, and the 2022 film sequel Kingdom 2.
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