When Season 1 closes on a cliff-hanger, I was flabbergasted and was reading some of the manga to see what is the ending. Season 2 follows suit with the story from the manga very closely.
Lesson of Leadership at the Port amidst Containers : The members who survived the earlier “Beach Club” are separated, with Arisu, Usagi, Kuina, Tatta and Niragi joining the King of Club for a game. Kuyuma is the King of Club, whereby the team game is played at the port area amidst the colourful containers. As it is a team game, the team with the highest points wins. Kuyuma who is the band lead previously with his team members following him, exudes confidence in leading his team while Arisu & members are still reeling from their previous encounters. As Arisu’s members flip between despair & hope in winning against Kuyuma’s team, Tatta sacrifices himself to save the team in a last-ditch effort. In Arisu’s final confrontation with Kuyuma, he seeks answer to their predicament being stuck in an everlasting violence of games although he does not get an answer.
Muse #1 : Kuyuma goes totally nude (as his rebel against social norm) and his abs looks great! It is heartening that Kuyuma’s members do not blame him in their losses but expresses gratitude towards their leaders – reiterating that as a team they would not be able to survive this long without their leader. Kuyuma’s quote for a leader – wait for them to follow you, you can’t force yourself to be someone’s leader. Well-said.
Lesson of Trust at the Prison Cells : On the other hand, Chishiya chooses to play the Jack of Hearts. The game tests the trust of the players, who is to depend on others to check the signs at their back, of which they have no access to. Chishiya, being the cool cucumber who seems to ace through via keen observation skills manage to outsmart the manipulators.
Muse #2 : Chishiya concludes that the game is easier for those who is honest and is not manipulated, whereby trust plays an important role in the game.
Lesson of Love in Game of Tag : As Arisu & Usagi are separated, Arisu is saved by Heiya and Aguni who reside at the fringe of the forests nearby the city. Both faces challenges before reuniting at a game of tag, promising each other to stay together and protect each other. In the game of tag, Arisu & Usagi manage to convince the other players to take a chance to fight back for a life of their own rather than stuck in the game as players, winning the game against a very aggressive Queen of Spades.
Muse #3 : There is always a simmering of longing and shyness between Arisu and Usagi, culminating in their attraction towards each other.
Lesson of Rational Arithmetic vs A Chance Given : Chishiya on the other hand, continues to play a game with the King of Diamonds on a arithmetic game. He gives his answer away, but his opponent Kuzuryu chooses to let Chishiya win as he is unable to make a decision on choosing the value of a person’s life. Chishiya is a little surprised but grateful, and puts a mental note that his ability to survive is affected by other player’s choices – not just his own ability in the game.
Muse #4 : Mind game is always an interesting one, whereby the actors and actresses have to flex their skills. I love the way the Balance Scale is played, with the pressure and tension of the game all apparent in the players’ facial expression. Mind you, the acid is just waiting to pour down on you anytime. I kept thinking, don’t look up when the acid pours down but almost ALL the players looked up. What a horrible way to die!
Lesson of Teamwork Against the Combative King of Spades : The pick up in violence culminates from the game against the super combative King of Spades. Even with the combined strength & strategy from Aguni, Heiya, Arisu, Usagi, Kuina and Ann, the elusive King of Spades is still able to shoot out many rounds of bullets and seriously wounding the many of the players. With the death of the King of Spades, the Queen of Hearts finally appear.
Muse #5 : The violence in the Spade games is mind-boggling, and the King of Spade is made up to be so invincible that he could survive so many attacks from other players.
Lesson of Participating Against the Queen of Hearts : Only Arisu and Usagi are fit enough to limp up for the game against the Queen of Heart, to play 3 rounds of croquet. The catch is to complete the 3 rounds, without ever giving up or forsaking the game. And the Queen of Heart uses manipulation techniques to convince Arisu that the world is an illusion where he is escaping from reality. The backdrop painted is extremely real, almost convincing Arisu to give up. Except Usagi is there to remind him of his promise to live the rest of their lives together. Sweet and a stark reminder to Arisu of how real the world is. Both manages to complete the game, winning against the final cards.
Now – the ending is a real anti-climax for me. I did not really like it, in actual fact I hated it. It is duly revealed that meteorites hit down-town Tokyo and many perished in the aftermath. For those who survives, most suffered massive heart attack, often not breathing for more than a few minutes. It is the few minutes in “borderland” that these games encapsulate the survivors. Each and every one of the survivors are indicated to have been at Shibuya crossing by chance, and surviving the meteorite crash, ending up at the hospital. Arisu finally meets the real Usagi at the hospital, striking up a friendly conversation leading to their assumed friendship.
Season 2 is a little more muted and lacks the excitement that is originally in Season 1. Perhaps due to the fact that the novel idea of a fight-to-death playing arena is fully introduced. Key themes in a survival mode is repeated in Season 2, and the curiosity on what exactly happened keeps the audience guessing. Which is the reason why I hated the very lame ending. I would have actually preferred the alternatives given by the Queen of Heart – an alien invasion, a futuristic society hell-bent on revisiting the past through real virtual simulation, an Artificial Intelligence residing in androids being used as bets in hunting games for the wealthy. All these alternatives are offered on the table, and all so much better than the final ending! Combining Season 1 and Season 2 – a total of 16 episodes, an easy binge over the weekend. But the early episodes are obviously fingernails-biting experiences while the latter episodes are a little muted. Watch it if you are into sci-fi out of the world, survival mode adventure experience. Pull down the expectations a notch.