A little secret about me- I love any series that focuses on mental trickery, the psychology of people, and the moral nature of humans in general. They tend to be thought provoking, challenging, and provide scenarios where you can’t help but wonder, “what would I do in that situation?” As far as manga goes, there are a few series that jump to mind that provide this sort of stimulation. We have the manga version of Death Note, the deadly game of “Life is Money,” but, for this Throwback Tuesday, I’ll talk just a bit about a manga that I feel hasn’t been talked about very much: Liar Game.
Liar Game is, wouldn’t you know it, all about a huge game for cash, known as the “Liar Game,” in which the participants compete in various ways to take the cash of their opponents. Through gambling, tenuous alliances, and all sorts of creative individual games, the participants of the Liar Game have the opportunity to gain millions of yen should they win, counterbalanced by the possubility of going millions of yen in debt, should they lose. With such huge stakes, the participants of the game feel very much justified in lying, cheating, and backstabbing their way to victory- well, all but one.
Our protagonist is the naive college student, Nao Kanzaki. Young, trusting, and completely honest, when Nao finds herself invited to the Liar Game, she finds herself at a loss for what to do- how could she possibly survive in a cutthroat game of deception and lies? Refusing to let go of a naive hope in other people, she is close to losing it all, until she is able to beg for the help of master con artist, hardened, cynical professional, Shinichi Akiyama. Together, they plan to beat the odds, win the Liar Game, and in Nao’s case, show that it is possible to trust people, despite seemingly living in a world full of liars.
I found myself reading this manga, when I was still hungry for a plot full of mental games and trickery, and Liar Game didn’t disappoint. Despite an art style that…well, as many people note, leaves a lot to be desired, the concept and character interactions are complex enough, and unique enough, to leave me entertained, at least.
There are a huge variety of games that are played, all involving the acquisition or safeguarding of money, and each one provides its own challenges that are rather interesting to watch the protagonists overcome. Whether that is by psyching their opponents out, using some slight of hand, or creating alliances that you’re SURE are going to fracture at any moment, Liar Game has quite a bit of unique charm.
It’s not the deepest manga out there, but if you have any free time, I feel like it has the potential to suck you in deep, and never let you go till you’re done. I can’t speak for others, but I just HAD to know what would happen next with every most every chapter. It’s just…an interesting read, especially if you have an appreciation of strategy, basic psychology, or basic sociology in your stories. Give it a try!