Play the Liar Game

liar game cover

Manga Title: Liar Game
Mangaka: Shinobu Kaitani
Genres: Psychological thriller, mystery, drama
Demographic: Seinen

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Liar Game; the title immediately made me think of survival games and their ilk, so I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t one. Still, the main protagonist Nao Kanzaki finds herself in a situation not very different from a survival game – one where she needs to win by deception.

Nao Kanzaki

Nao Kanzaki

Two elements got my attention after only reading a little of Liar game: the first was its great pacing, introducing one challenge after the next in the mysterious game, and the second was how perfectly opposite the two main characters are and their unlikely team up that’s fun to read.

Nao finds an invitation in a package that comes in the mail, telling her that by breaking the seal she’s already consented to join the ‘Liar Game’. It immediately makes a mess of her life as she’s not used to dealing with complex situations, not to mention scams. Her personality is what could best be described as honest to a fault, and her honesty (though praiseworthy) ends up getting her in all kinds of trouble.

A real dilemma

A real dilemma

There are some loopholes in the logic behind the rules of the Liar Game, so some suspension of disbelief is necessary. The company behind the Liar Game gives the players 100 million yen each, which is collected in a month. During this time they’re given an opponent, who has the exact same amount of money and who they can attempt to steal from. The money they have can be used for any purpose, but the exact sum needs to be given back – therefore if you haven’t taken your opponent’s money you end up with nothing, or in debt to the Liar Game’s personnel if you’ve had your money stolen.

Folks from the Liar Game office

Folks from the Liar Game office

Initially Nao decides to just sit on the money till the month is over and have nothing more to do with it. Problems arise when it turns out that her opponent doesn’t see things the same way and succeeds in swindling her out of her money cunningly. Eventually it dawns on her that this is what the Liar Game is all about: who can lie artfully enough to get the other player’s money.

Nao's opponent

Nao’s opponent

At her wits end, and after receiving a suspicious suggestion from another individual, she seeks help from a con man who was recently released from prison. His name is Shinichi Akiyama, a master of disguise, and literally the polar opposite of Nao – calm, calculating and brimming with confidence. He’s initially unwilling to help Nao, having just been released from prison, but decides to after being impressed by her sincerity (he asks her to not leave the spot as he makes his getaway and she stays right there for nearly a day).

Shinichi Akiyama

Shinichi Akiyama

The unlikely duo team up to try retrieve Nao’s money by doing something she is not so good at – lying and psychological manipulation.

As I mentioned, the unique character team up and fast pacing of Liar Game give it an attention grabbing edge. Also the challenges that face the pair and the innovative and surprising techniques that both of them come up with to deal with them are an enjoyable read.

 

The players

The players

The art’s straightforward, but delivers a good solid impression; particularly some of the characters’ facial expressions are pretty creepy. At each stage of the Liar Game the plot thickens as different ‘games’ emerge. I felt really involved in the process; trying to guess what would happen next and figure out the puzzles the team is faced with. Liar Game initially seems quite simple, but ends up having complex twists and turns – a decent thriller that will keep you on your toes!

What is your opinion of this manga? Can you recommend another manga in a similar genre that you enjoyed?

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