Binge Battle: Alice in Borderland vs Sweet Home

Published December 23, 2020, 9:54 AM

by Angie Chui

There are two hot new entries available on Netflix right now that is perfect for your next binge. While the two series carries a similar flavor, we get to the nitty gritty and determine what’s the better binge between Japan’s Alice in Borderland and Korea’s Sweet Home.

SYNOPSIS: Alice in Borderland centers around college dropout Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) and his best friends who suddenly find that they are the only people left in Tokyo. They are forced to play dangerous games with high stakes in order to earn “visas” to stay alive.

Full Review: Alice in Borderland:

Sweet Home centers around Cha Hyun Su (Song Kang), a troubled teen who loses his entire family to a tragic accident. Days after he moves to his new home, people who are consumed by their own greed and desires start turning into unkillable monsters. He joins the other survivors in the apartment as they fight to stay alive.

Full Review: Sweet Home: review/

Both series have a lot of similarities. Alice in Borderland is based on a suspense manga series written and illustrated by Haro Aso. Sweet Home is inspired by a popular webtoon developed by Carnby Kim and Hwang Young Chan. Both series were developed by Netflix.

EXECUTION: Both series have interesting plots but the storytelling in Alice in Borderland is much tighter than that of Sweet Home. Stakes are laid out mercilessly from the first episode and the series adds more layers to its complicated plot with each installment. Relationships between the characters are better established, adding to the impact of each loss.
Because it had to balance the visuals with the storytelling, Sweet Home fell into the trap of biting off more than it can chew when it tried to tell too many stories at the same time. As a result, it lost focus on the central characters that made the series so compelling. It also tried to keep too many secrets close to its chest that by its end, it touches on too little details to move the story along.

CHARACTERS. Alice in Borderland once again takes the win in this aspect since the background stories of the characters that mattered were well fleshed out in the early episodes. This makes it easier for viewers to understand their motivations in the later episode. It knew what the back stories it had to tell and proceeded to do it extremely well.

Sweet Home had many great characters that could have benefited from more development. Green Roof Apartments’ leader Eun Hyeok was well described in the webtoon as a nerd who had a pragmatic personality which made him a perfect fit for the role. In the original material, he was a gamer who often spoke in technical terms to the chagrin of his followers. In the series, he is a quiet med student who makes decisions for the good of the majority, even though it makes him a villain in the eyes of some.
However, very little is known about his life even though he plays a major role in the survival of the apartment dwellers. The same goes for some of the series’ MVPs.

ACTING. I must commend the team of Sweet Home for putting together a great team of actors to support relative newbie Song Kang to hold up the series. However, as the lead star, Song Kang effectively played his role and carried his weight for the entire 10-episode run of the series. It’s hard not
to feel moved by his vulnerability as he tries to save the people who shunned him for being a monster.

Coupled with the natural acting of his veteran counterparts, Sweet Home did not miss the dramatic points and the poignant scenes.

Kento Yamazaki also levelled up his game for his role as Arisu. His raw portrayal in Alice in Borderland was a step up from his typical pretty boy roles. It’s a mark that he is growing as an actor. I wasn’t too
sold on Hatter or Niragi’s portrayals and felt they oversold their eccentricities a tad too much.

Both series are worthy of your time but for this reviewer, the better one is Alice in Borderland. If you want to know more about these two series check out my full reviews.