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Japanese actress Riisa Naka talks manga, gaming and appreciating Japanese culture

By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Netflix’ Alice in Borderland is a perfect gaming drama in a COVID-19 world.

The Japanese-themed series launched season 2 this week with Riisa Naka returning as Mira Kana.

Based on Haro Aso’s manga series of the same name, the series follows two friends, Ryōhei Arisu (played by Kento Yamasaki) and Yuzuha Usagi (played by Tao Tsuchiya) , who are trapped in an abandoned Tokyo and forced to take part in dangerous and deadly games.

It is quite an exciting series and shares some similar traits to hit Netflix Korean series Squid Game, with the whole games of death type theme. Season 2 of the series will come with more mystery with season one survivors Usagi and Arisu discovering who the puppet master behind their living nightmare is as well as the dangerous nature of this world and why they have been sent here.

In a recent interview with AsAmNews, Naka spoke about what to expect from Mira Kano this season as she grows in terms of being more mysterious and becoming more tricky and cunning.

“Mira started off midway in season 1 as a mysterious character and she reprises this aura in season 2. Her mysteriousness exudes this season more so in the way she carries herself and how she speaks”, Naka said.

“She is almost like an android and is very tricky with the people she is deceiving in the game world”.

Being a series focusing on the reality versus gaming/fantasy world, this theme is interesting considering how the past few years have been difficult for the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdowns, isolations and people learning to live, work and have fun at home. With this reality comes a lot more surfing online, spending time in front of the TV and of course immersing oneself into the gaming world. In a weird way Alice In Borderland which was first released in 2020 is quite appropriate for the time in both good and bad ways.

“Nowadays, we do things remotely and we all stay home for long periods of time and I feel we are losing engagement with real people. What we gain though is discovering all things virtual, and I feel this is what the series demonstrates”, Naka mentioned.

“Alice In Borderland shows how the reality of people being and engaging together can do so in a nonreal/gaming world and I think that is an important theme for our current world”.

Japanese pop culture such as manga and anime have really taken the world by storm for decades. Many global animated brand names such as Pokemon, all stemmed from Japanese anime and manga. Naka passionately spoke about how she feels the world has an appreciation of Japanese culture and even though the global understanding is just on the surface, it shows the power that Japanese culture has had on the world, and this is something she is extremely proud of.

“I travel abroad a lot, and it has always never ceased to amaze me at how Japanese manga and anime is appreciated abroad. This has also broadened the perspectives of people all over the world and has made Japan a “must go to” travel destination”.

“Manga and anime has really defined where Japanese culture stands in the world and so working in a series like Alice In Borderland pushes this culture and gives audiences everywhere a renewed appreciation of Japan and our culture”.

Naka is a seasoned actress who has appeared in a number of Japanese dramas and movies. Her film and TV career spans from 2006 where she played the lead in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time which was an animated science fiction romance film and in drama series My Boss My Hero which was based on the South Korean film of the same name. However, her claim to fame was appearing in Hachi One Diver (2008) where she played the lead and as Hana Adachi in Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (2010).

Alice In Borderland season 2 can now be streamed on Netflix.

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