REVIEW: Alice in Borderland Volume 3

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alice in borderland volume 3 - but why tho

Alice in Borderland was easily one of the best series on Netflix in 2020, and the manga has shown that that achievement comes from strong source material. With Alice in Borderland Volume 3, we find ourselves near the end of Season 1’s material. That said, each and every volume has given readers more difference than similarity to the series which has made it well-worth picking up.

The series was originally published in Japan in 2011. Created, written, and illustrated by Haru Aso (ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead), Alice in Borderland is published and localized in English by VIZ Media through its VIZ Signature imprint. The English translation and adaptation comes from Jonah Mayahara-Miller and features touch-up art and lettering by Joanna Estep.

In this volume, Aguni now has control of the Beach, and one of his first actions as king is to leave Ryohei locked in a room on one of the empty floors of the hotel to die of an expired visa. But Ryohei gets an unexpected stay of execution when the Beach becomes the arena for a brutal game of hearts. With a person murdered and the game calling the murderer a witch, the Beach quickly devolves into a chaotic witchhunt that many aren’t surviving. As bodies pile up, we get to see two distinct teams push to win, kill, and stay alive.

Alice in Borderland Volume 3 is two things. It’s the most violent of the series, and the most emotional so far. With multiple characters taking the spotlight and even a side story included in the bound volume’s pages, there is a lot to unpack. That said, Kuina emerges as one of Aso’s most compelling characters.

While manga is getting better with queer and trans representation, readers still often find these characters as the butt of jokes or highly sexualized. That said, Alice in Borderland Volume 3 gives readers a character who is more than what happened to her, and dynamic at that. Kuina is a trans-woman and in Part 6, we get to learn her story. We get to see her struggle with her father, how she left her family, and how the game took her right as she was reconnecting with her mother. Juxtaposed against a character with nothing to live for, Kuina is fighting to return to her mother, and even uses a lesson her estranged and abusive father once taught her in the dojo. She is a complex character whose past isn’t just one note. While I could do without the dreads (like I could do without them in Aso’s other work), Kuina as a character is resilient and powerful because of who she is, and that’s she wins.

Overall, Alice in Borderland Volume 3 continues to be a great series. However, I’ve begun to find myself called to side characters and away from our lead. While this is because of the time and weight that Aso has put into writing the secondary characters, Ryohei has quickly become the least interesting, even with his emotional moment in Part 5. That said, I’m beyond excited for what happens next.

Alice in Borderland Volume 3 is available September 20, 2022 wherever books are sold.


Alice in Borderland Volume 3
4.5

TL;DR

Alice in Borderland Volume 3 continues to be a great series. However, I’ve begun to find myself called to side characters and away from our lead. While this is because of the time and weight that Aso has put into writing the secondary characters, Ryohei has quickly become the least interesting, even with his emotional moment in Part 5. That said, I’m beyond excited for what happens next.

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