Anyone who ventured into central Tokyo while the state of emergency was in effect earlier this year may feel a twinge of recognition watching “Alice in Borderland.” The producers of this splashy Netflix drama must be ruing the effort spent on achieving its signature effect — a city devoid of people — when they could have captured the same thing for free in April.

It isn’t a pandemic that’s caused everyone to vanish in this sci-fi suspense series, directed by Shinsuke Sato. Even readers who’ve made it to the end of the Haro Aso manga on which it’s based may struggle to explain exactly what’s going on.

For Ryohei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) — the “Alice” of the story’s title — the adventure starts not with a trip down the rabbit hole, but into a toilet cubicle in Shibuya Station. When he emerges, alongside friends Daikichi Karube (Keita Machida) and Chota Segawa (Yuki Morinaga), they find the place suddenly deserted, and all the lights have gone out.