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If You Liked Alice in Borderland (AiB), then You’ll Love The Irregulars

by Stephen Dalton 2 years ago in entertainment
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The Irregulars are a Netflix original TV-Series, and AiB also played on Netflix. Some would say that’s where their similarities end; I disagree.

The Characters from Netflix' Alice in Borderland Source

I bet you are wondering how I am going to tie these two together. I mean, AiB is set in modern-day Tokyo or some surreal universe close to there, and The Irregulars takes place in London, quite close to 221B Baker Street, circa the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Some would say there is more of a similarity between The Irregulars and Stranger Things. I suppose there is more than a bit of merit in that statement. However, I find it too easy to compare those two, and where’s the fun?

TheTalisman Book Cover by Stephen King & Peter Straus from Amazon

What’s more, there are no new Stranger Things episodes to watch. Plus, I am saving that comparison for when they release The Talisman. I mean, the Duffer Brothers, the creators of Stranger Things, have already joined Steven Spielberg for the making of The Talisman.

Stephen King and Peter Straub wrote The Talisman.

That’s kind of almost already an early Christmas or birthday present. Am I right? We’re talking super-duper special here. But, I’m not going to go into that any further, but here is a link to iHorror’s telling of it if you are interested.

On to the telling of AiB and The Irregulars, what binds these two series together, in my opinion (IMO), is the friendships the groups develop.

I will try to do this without too many spoilers from either series, so it is for your own good if I am vague about some things.

Alice in Borderland Collage Created by the Author

Let’s Talk about Netflix’ AiB First

AiB takes place in an alternate universe that looks and feels like a video game. The most significant difference is when you die in the game, you die in real life (IRL). I honestly thought I wouldn’t like AiB. I mean, it’s manga. I’ve been forced to sit through too many manga, and I thought this would be the same. Not even close! It was excellent.

To get the warnings out of the way for those who haven’t seen it, there are sexual overtones but no nudity. It’s rated mature due to violence and blood, lots of it.

AiB was a Japanese manga series. It was written and illustrated by Haro Aso. However, it is live-action on Netflix.

There are eight episodes or about 42-45 minutes each. Three high school-aged boys near Tokyo get transported into an alternate universe. At least, that what everyone in the “game” believes.

As the three recklessly clown around in a crosswalk, the light changes. However, Karube has Arisu upon his shoulders, and they both spin around while Chōta is filming them with his phone.

Several cars try to avoid the boys in the crosswalk but plow into one another. Two approaching police see this happening and start after the boys, who start running.

The police chase them into a mall, where the boys pile into a Men’s room stall together.

The police start pounding on the door, but when the lights go out suddenly, the noise stops. After a few minutes, the boys look out the door, and there’s no one there.

The fact is — No one is anywhere around. Everyone has vanished.

Lots of YouTubers say this trailer is not good or doesn’t portray what happens in the movie. But do you really want spoilers in a trailer? I know I don’t.

YouTube Trailer Source Netflix

This trailer is a Netflix promotional presentation. If you enjoy it, “like” and subscribe to Netflix trailers on YouTube.

The Game: Episode One (There are spoilers, but only in Episode 1)

The boys go back to their homes, only to discover those are empty too. No family, no friends; it seems as if it is just the three boys.

When they approach one building, a BMW 523S is parked there. They are waiting by an elevator when a strange girl walks up. She tells them that they are now in the game. They have no option but to play or die.

To prove her point, she tosses her ID back the way they came in. It gets zapped with a hole through it by a laser beam. This shows them perhaps that will happen to them too if they go back that way, which is sure death.

A table sits by the elevator with what appears to be phones. A sign shows, “one per player.” Each grabs one, then another girl comes up to them; she is crying and screaming, “What’s going on?” “Where is everyone?”

Their phones notify them that registration is closed, and the game starts. The five participants walk into a room with two doors. The phones simultaneously chime in that they only have 2:00 minutes to choose a door and clear the room.

One door sign shows “Live,” while the other displays “Die.” The new girl, who came last, comes unglued and runs through the door screaming, “It has to be live. I want to live.”

She’s promptly killed with a laser beam straight through her head. This, of course, makes it easier for the rest.

The Meaning of the BMW 523S

So, Arisu flashes back to their entry and the BMW sitting outside. Since it is his favorite car, he knows that it is five meters long, and it looked as if the building was twice as wide, or 10 meters.

He measures the room by pacing off five steps and then plots the distance and the number of rooms shown on the building map by the elevator fire escape plan to figure out how many rooms on each floor. Ingenious, right?

This info tells him the right door will take them into an adjacent room, the other is outside, and a laser shot to the head.

They clear the building and get a playing card, the three of clubs. The girl explains the card’s significance as the number tells them their resting period before getting another visa to stay alive. Plus, each suit represents the game type.

The Meaning of the Playing Cards

The club’s suit means a teamwork game where the members must help each other; whereas, the hearts game means the players will tug heartstrings, and typically there can be only one winner/survivor. Spades are the suit requiring physical strength, endurance, speed, or dexterity. Diamond games deal with gambling and lady luck.

The other episodes introduce other players and different game levels.

Summary & Recommendation

The story is impressively planned and executed, though it is outlandish. Unlike other manga I watched, the acting is not bad. What’s more, it’s just so much fun!

I cannot wait for the next season. If you haven’t watched it, set aside six hours and snacks. It’s a worthy binge-watch.

It is one of the best Netflix series I have seen. Now let’s move on to the reason we are here. A comparison-contrast with another Netflix TV-serries, The Irregulars.

The Irregulars “A Darkness Came to London”

Genre: Crime drama; Horror; and Mystery.

What you need to keep in mind with The Irregulars is that it is not a Sherlock Holmes spinoff. Many would say it is because, well, Sherlock and Doctor Watson are in the story. However, it has an independent storyline, and it’s fun.

However, if you are the type who can’t overlook plot holes or a weak storyline occasionally, you might want to choose another story. I really don’t understand those who would watch all eight episodes and then complain about plot holes. Just enjoy it or watch something else.

Also, since Holmes is the greatest fictional detective in British history, it makes sense to spin these largely unknown kids with a prominent albeit fictional character. It also helps that Bea, Jessie, Billy, and Spike live in a cellar across Baker Street from 221B.

This story could stand without Sherlock & Watson, but it does help the story that this really despicable Dr. Watson contacts the kids to find out who is stealing babies from their homes.

Watson tells them the police or bobbies don’t care about the babies because they are from poor families, and since they are street kids, they might be better at getting information about their disappearance.

He offers to pay them, and they need money for rent and food. Of course, they find them, and he hires them for other mysteries.

Created & Written by Tom Bidwell


Bea or Beatrice, Bumble to Billy (Thaddea Graham) — She is the gang leader, the glue that keeps them together.

John Watson (Royce Pierreson) — This Doctor Watson is mean and cantankerous. He’ll do or say anything to protect his partner Sherlock.

Jessie or Jessica (Darci Shaw) — Jessie is the gifted one, the Ipsissimus who can peer into a person’s past simply by touching them.

Billy (Jojo Macari) — Billy is a fighter with an uncontrollable temper. He’s in love with Bea, as is Leopold.

Spike (McKell David) — Spike is the smooth-talking negotiator and spy.

Prince Leopold (Harrison Osterfield) — The Prince of England, who sees Bea tear into his “butler” after the carriage almost runs over Jessie while she is in a trance. The Butler makes the mistake of asking Bea, “How dare you talk to your ‘betters’ in that manner.” She verbally rips his head off as the Prince looks on in amazement.

Sherlock (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) — Sherlock is the drug-addled former lover of Alice; any more would be a spoiler.

Alice (Eileen O’Higgins) — Alice is also an Ipsissimus or psychic.

Linen Man (Clark Peters) — The Linen Man can pull Jessie from her dreams and talk to her.

The Bird Master (Rory McCann of GoT fame Sandor "The Hound" Clegane) — The bird master can, of course, control the birds. All of them.

There are some other promising bit actors, but primarily these are the stars.

The Episodes:

Ep #1: An Unkindness in London

Ep #2: The Ghosts of 221B

Ep #3: Ipsissimus

Ep #4: Both the Needle and the Knife

Ep #5: Students of the Unallowed Arts

Ep #6: Hieracium Snowdoniense

Ep #7: The Ecstasy of Death

Ep #8: The Ecstasy of Life

Summary & Recommendation

As I stated right from the start, I loved it. Could the story have been better? Sure. Could the acting have been better? Yes. Even though they’re mostly unknown kids, I think they did pretty well. Did I absolutely enjoy it and will watch another season if there is one? You bet! So, quit blathering about plot holes and have some fun!


About the author

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton is a retired US Army First Sergeant with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a Certified US English Chicago Manual of Style Editor.

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