Alice in Borderland is the first chapter of Alice in Borderland manga series.
Ryōhei Arisu wants to escape from his boring life. School or anything other than video games doesn't interest him. Even his future or failing his own exams. He wants to play video games and read adult magazines instead.
After taking the National mock exams and bubbling in the same answer for all the questions, he thought about how he one day realized that he wasn’t special at all. If life was a video game, he was just “Commoner A”.
He and his friend Chōta Segawa, who is using a hose to make a puddle, talk about their less than stellar future that awaits them because they've accepted that they will be losers, and that unfortunately people like them don’t have the best of brains. Arisu then asks him why he’s making the puddle, to which Chōta responds that it can be used to peep under the skirts of girls passing by. When 2 girls approach them, Arisu perks at the puddle, only to realize that nothing can be seen since Chōta hasn’t stopped the water. He got mad at Chōta, who laughed at Arisu for falling for his prank.
At home, Arisu is drifting off when suddenly his young brother walks in. He immediately attempts to act like he was studying, to little success. He says the dad wants to see him to talk, but Arisu ignores the prompt as his younger brother continued to subtly brag about his grades. But instead of continuing to study, Arisu calls his friend and bar owner Daikichi Karube to meet him at his bar.
Even though Arisu and Chōta are friends, Karube expects them to pay for the foods and drinks they consume. But they don't want to, consequently pissing Karube off. The 3 exchanges friendly banter, in which Chōta praises him for already owning a bar even though he only went to primary school, to which Karube responds that he wants to make a living in Australia chasing lambs and that’s what he’s saving up for. Arisu recalls how he and Chōta met Karube. Arisu and Chōta got into a fight with some drunks, but the two young men lose in the ugly brawl. Moreover, the drunkards want to extort money from the two high school boys. Luckily, Karube witnessed this and beat the two bullies. Their conversation continues, and Karube warns Arisu that he should start considering his further and become more responsible.
Arisu then replies by making up obscure, apocalyptic scenarios and promising that he’ll become more responsible if any of those events occurred. The discussion of apocalyptic hypothetical scenarios continues into the night as the trio is walking the train tracks on their way to Shibuya. At dawn, the boys take a break at a train station. Arisu suddenly wishes that he could go to some foreign country. The others agree. Then, they see fireworks. Confused, Chōta points out 4AM. One of the fireworks, which seemed alarmingly huge, causes a giant explosion that can be seen even from space. The explosion is blinding, and they shield their eyes. After a psychiatric vision, they find themselves in the bar from earlier. However, everything is covered in a thick layer of dust. Walking outside, the boys realize that this isn't the Tokyo from last night. The infrastructure is ruinous and vegetation is everywhere.
Thinking that they're in a dream world, the boys start having fun, like going bowling and drinking alcohol, except for Karube, who believes that something is very wrong. He pinched Chōta and reminds him that pain can’t be felt in a dream, but he and Arisu ignores him, not fazed at all by the phenomenon, and even excited. By the time night fell, Karube confronted them on the fact that this may be reality. The two pass off his statement, but Karube doesn’t let up, becoming even more serious.
Then, they hear sounds and see lights from a distant festival. Upon entering the venue, they see toys, food, and masks and begin to have fun, again obviously except for Karube. That’s when they hear a toilet flushing from the women’s restroom. A woman walks out, muttering reproachfully. She expressed disdain upon realizing that she’s “paired up” with a bunch of high schoolers, but accepts that it’s better than no one. Chōta, still convinced this is a dream, addresses her as onee-san and asks to play. Her expression changes from annoyance to shock, and she asks if this is their first day in this country, and they know nothing. This revelation instils utter shock into Karube. He calls out for the others to leave, but right as he is about to cross the gate the lady tells his to stop in his tracks, stating that it’s too late since they’re already a part of their games. She tosses a stick out the gate, and it’s instantly zapped by a laser. She then proceeds to honestly tell them that if they continue to assume this is a dreamy they will die.
Giant computer screens light up, signifying the start of the “Game”.