The empty building is the rabbit hole
When Arisu, Chota, and Karube find themselves trapped in an empty room and unknowingly cross into the VR world, they are at least metaphorically tumbling down the infamous rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland. Alice also grows and shrinks after ingesting the “eat me” and “drink me” potions. While there are no potions in Borderland, the effect comes from the characters being squeezed into that room, then lost in a massive empty building.
Usagi is the White Rabbit
Undoubtedly Usagi (whose last name translates to “rabbit” in Japanese), the White Rabbit in Borderland has several things in common with the character she was inspired by. Wonderland’s White Rabbit is elusive. He is always running somewhere, and Alice is always chasing him, much like Arisu is always chasing Usagi in Borderland. She trains for games by running. Another throwback to Alice in Wonderland is what she hunts—rabbits, of course.
Chota and Karube are Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Chota and Karube might not look identical, but one is Tweedledum to the other’s Tweedledee and vice versa. In Alice and Wonderland, these characters—who actually emerged from a nursery rhyme before Lewis Carroll’s fairytale—are always playfully fighting. So are the walrus and the carpenter in the nonsense poem they recite to Alice. Like the walrus, Karube is more of a trickster, and Chota, like the carpenter, believes hard work will get him what he wants.
The Hide and Seek botanical garden is the Tulgey Wood
In Alice in Wonderland, the Tulgey Wood is a seemingly endless forest where Alice is easily lost and runs into bizarre creatures. In a futuristic upgrade, the botanical garden in Hide and Seek is the Tulgey Wood in the Borderland universe. While the characters are not chased down by a Jabberwock or Frumious Bandersnatch analog (that happens later), they all might as well be vicious predators because each “lamb” can turn into the “wolf” with a look in the eye. This is when Borderland becomes the inside-out version of Wonderland, because lambs hunt the wolf.
The Light Bulb room is the Pool of Tears
When Alice grows distraught from being lost in Wonderland, she cries so much that her tears overflow into what becomes the Pool of Tears. Arisu is forced into another game right after losing Chota and Karube to Hide and Seek. While he doesn’t cry enough to fill an entire room, Light Bulb is a symbolic game, since the inescapable room (with electrical wires showering sparks from the ceiling). It keeps filling with water as an already traumatized Arisu tries to keep it together but almost breaks down trying to stay alive. He might as well be crying.
Chishiya is the Cheshire Cat
Chishiya not only has a name that is a Japanization of “Cheshire”, but while he doesn’t sound entirely bonkers like the cat that materializes in Wonderland, he often confuses his competitors even further with the way he figures out what sick machinations are behind each game, whether you are hearing his thoughts or he is baffling others. He might be Borderland’s most cunning character. Though Chishiya might not grin, his lips are often curling into a sly smile. His mantra? “I’ve always loved messing with people who try too hard at life.”