Random Review – Liar Game

Liar Game: Game I (Liar Game, #1)Liar Game: Game I by Shinobu Kaitani

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note before reading: This is a review of the entire series, which was, as far as I know, completed recently in 201 chapters.

Ahh, Liar Game. This was a Jdrama I just picked up to pass the time and suddenly, it had me and my sister hooked. Eventually I worked up the courage to read the manga and I have to say, it was both brilliant and a bit disappointing.

The premise of the Liar Game isn’t all that new – testing humanity in the face of impossible circumstances. The real genius of the books lies in its common sense delivery of high-falutin’ topics such as Game Theory, economics, psychology and the like, in a believable fashion. It doesn’t hurt that it has some charismatic characters in the form of Akiyama, Yokoya and Fukunaga to explain these things, and art that grows even more easy on the eyes as time passes. (Think shirtless Akiyama…)

Nao is irritating in the beginning, of course, but I think her character development is one of the most satisfying things to come out of any manga. That said, there are a few moments later in the series where she reverts to type, something I think the author could have avoided.

Excuse me while I go off on a tangent here. The drama fails to mention one of the most important things in the manga – Akiyama’s advice to Nao about doubting people to understand them. Why? This is such a pivotal factor in her character development and actions from that point forward, you would think they’d spare two minutes for it. I’ve watched the drama three times already and I don’t remember it happening. Epic fail guys.

All the praise aside, there are a number of problems with the manga. The main one is that it becomes formulaic after a while. The games themselves are not a problem, they get more and more twisted, but the story telling remains the same. Come on Kaitani-sensei, after hearing the dealers say, “Let’s watch the game unfold” the first fifteen times, you’d think we’d have figured it out already. Characters actions make less and less sense when we know for sure that Yokoya plans 20 steps ahead and they still don’t suspect anything. I don’t expect them to figure out intricate plots, but it would be most natural to not believe a damn thing Yokoya and Akiyama say.

The ending is the other big one. Hopefully, I won’t spoil anything too much, but here it is – IT WAS LAME. Seriously? I did not expect this from Liar Game of all things. The ambiguity of the victory was ok with me, but you’re telling me they started a game of that scale for such a waffly reason? It murdered my enjoyment of it, seriously. If the book had ended with Akiyama and Nao attempting to find out the truth of LGT, it would have been a much better ending. That’s how bad the ending was in my opinion.

The last problem I have the manga is purely a non-techincal, personal one.

*takes a deep breath*

WHY WON”T YOU LET ME SHIP NAO AND AKIYAMA, DAMMIT? WHY?! THERE WERE SO MANY WAYS TO END THE SERIES AND YOU WOULDN’T EVEN LET THEM TALK FACE TO FACE AT THE END?! I KNOW THIS ISN’T THAT KIND OF MANGA, BUT WOULD IT KILL YOU TO GIVE ME SOME HOPE? WASN’T THAT THE WHOLE DAMN POINT?

That’s all I wanted to say. Sorry for any spoilers, guys, but I think it’s better not to get your hopes up about this.

Ok, so now it sounds like I don’t like the manga, but that’s not true. It is a work of pure genius. For everyone who loves intrigue, logic games, mysteries and high-stakes games, this is IT. Even if you don’t like any of these things, you should read it for pure educational value. Especially the 17 Card Poker game and Musical Chairs. Pure analytical awesomeness.

So read it, but be prepared for a less than stellar ending and headscratching moments.

Bonus: Matsuda Shota, who plays Akiyama in the TV drama, just because I can.

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