The first tankōbon of Liar Game as published by Shueisha featuring Nao Kanzaki (center) and Shinichi Akiyama (right) on the cover.
|Genre||Drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery|
|Written by||Shinobu Kaitani|
|Magazine||Weekly Young Jump|
|Original run||2005 – ongoing|
|Directed by||Hiroaki Matsuyama, Ayako Taiboku|
|Music by||Yasutaka Nakata|
|Original run||April 14, 2007 – June 23, 2007|
|Liar Game: Season 2|
|Directed by||Hiroaki Matsuyama, Ayako Taiboku|
|Music by||Yasutaka Nakata|
|Original run||November 10, 2009 – January 19, 2010|
|Liar Game: The Final Stage|
|Directed by||Hiroaki Matsuyama|
|Music by||Yasutaka Nakata|
|Licensed by||Pony Canyon|
|Released||March 6, 2010|
|Liar Game: Reborn|
|Music by||Yasutaka Nakata|
|Released||March 3, 2012|
The Liar Game (ライアーゲーム Raiā Gēmu ) is a Japanese manga series originally written and illustrated by Shinobu Kaitani. The manga was first serialized in 2005 in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Young Jump, published by Shueisha. It was adapted into a TV series, which started airing on April 14, 2007 on Fuji TV, achieving a 11.4 viewership rating in Japan's Kantō region. A sequel, Liar Game 2, ran from 2009 to 2010. It was also adapted into two live action films: Liar Game: The Final Stage in 2010, and Liar Game: Reborn in 2012.
The manga has also been translated into Chinese and into Dutch. In Italy the series is licensed by J-Pop and in France it is licensed by TONKAM.
Plot summary 
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2012)|
At the start of the manga, a scrupulously honest college student named Nao Kanzaki - receives a package containing 100 million yen (about 1 million dollars) and a note that she is now a contestant in the Liar Game Tournament. In this fictional tournament, contestants are encouraged to cheat and lie to obtain other contestants' money; those who lose have to bear a tremendous debt. When Nao's first opponent - a trusted former teacher - steals her money, she seeks assistance from a con man named Shin'ichi Akiyama. Though they manage to defeat him, Nao and Akiyama decide to buy out his debt and advance through different rounds of the Liar Game Tournament against merciless contestants, while at the same time attempting to free their opponents from debt and to defeat the Liar Game organization from within.
First Round: Liar Game 
In the First Round, each player was loaned 100 million yen (roughly 1 million dollars) and a randomly selected opponent. They were given thirty days to steal as much of their opponent's 100 million as they can while simultaneously protecting their own 100 million; whoever had the most money at the end of the thirty days was declared the winner. Without their knowledge, the LGT Office had changed the participants' phone books so they would be unable to call for help, and had made tremendous efforts to prevent the participants from going to the police. After 30 days, the money will be counted to establish the winner, and then each participant will repay the full amount of the loan, regardless of whether they won or lost, and keep whatever they had left of the LGT Office's money. In other words, the winner could win as much as 100 million yen, while the loser would shoulder a debt as great as 100 million yen to a phantom organization. However, unknown to the players at the time, victory also meant an automatic entry to Round 2, unless they were willing to pay a drop out fee of half their winnings.
Result: Kanzaki Nao obtains the full 200 million, but initially gives Fujisawa Kazuo (her opponent and the loser) 50 million; this is because Akiyama demanded the other half for his services. However, Akiyama says his fee was half of her profits - meaning if she didn't make anything, he didn't make anything - and Fujisawa's debt to the LGT Office is paid in full.
Second Round: Minority Rule 
In this round, participants played a game called Minority Rule, in which random players are selected to ask a question and then all players must answer either yes or no. The side (Yes/No) with the most players voting for them are eliminated. This process is repeated until only one or two players remain in the game - one or two because a minority can only exist with at least three people. Once again, the LGT Office has loaned each player 100 million yen, and will demand the full amount of this loan to be repaid at the end of the game. However, all of this money is awarded to the winner(s) -and is evenly divided in the event of two winners per stage - forcing the losers into debt. Just like the end of Round 1, the winner(s) must choose between giving half of the prize money to the LGT as a drop out fee, or proceeding to Round 3. Losers can proceed to the Revival Round in an effort to win the money they need to repay their debts.
Result: Akiyama was declared the winner, beating Fukunaga, Miura and No. 15 in the final round. Akiyama chooses to progress to Round 3, allowing him to use his winnings to cover the debts of thirteen other players (he couldn't cover the remaining eight due to contracts concerning profits for these thirteen players). The remaining eight entered the Revival Round to win enough money to repay their debts, and Nao joins them in hopes of earning enough money to pay Akiyama's drop out fee.
Revival Round: Downsizing Game 
The invitation for this Revival Round encouraged players to bring any item they believe could help them win the game. The Revival Round itself consists of a ten period game in which players are loaned 100 million yen, presented in the form of a checkbook-like item called an "M-Ticket," and a voting ballot with five empty slots called an "L-Ticket." Each period, the players fill in five names on their L-Tickets to elect the player(s) they wish to win - players can vote for a single player 5 times, or vote for five players 1 time each - with the only restriction being that they cannot vote for themselves. The person with least amount of votes after all ten rounds has its 100 million divided evenly among all the other players, and all players are forced to once again repay the 100 million yen debt. Any players dissatisfied with the amount of this promised profit are free to try making more with their M-Tickets and the items they brought with them; players are free to buy and sell anything they want, so long as they are selling their own possessions. Should either player renege on their part of an M-Ticket negotiation, they'll be penalized with an additional 100 million yen debt. All winning players proceed to Round 3.
Result: Nao wins (has the most votes) and manages to claim all of the money on the M-Tickets. With the least votes, Miura Takayoshi is eliminated, exactly as Nao planned. In compensation for the compassion he showed her during the Revival Round, Nao uses 200 million yen of her winnings to erase Miura's debts from Round 2 and the Revival Round. With his loss and his debts paid, Miura is free from the Liar Game. The remains of her winnings are combined with the other six players' profits to repay half of their debts, allowing them to enter the next Round in debt only 100 million, and Nao enters debt free.
Third Round: Contraband Game 
This round divides the arena into two halves: the North Country and the South Country. The players are divided into two teams, and each team becomes a resident of one country. At the beginning of each period, one team selects one of their players to be a smuggler, and the other team selects a player to act as an inspector. The smuggler crosses into the other country to access an ATM machine in a separate room and chooses whether or not to put money into a briefcase (the briefcase can hold as much as 100 million yen) before making its way to the customs office. Once inside, the inspector must guess how much money the smuggler has in the briefcase, and is given 10 minutes to figure it out with the restriction being that the inspector cannot touch the case. If the inspector believes there is no money briefcase, then it calls "Pass"; should there be any money in the briefcase, the smuggler keeps it in what's called a "third country account." If the inspector believes there is money in the briefcase, "Doubt" is called with the amount believed to be in the case, and an indemnity equal to half the amount of the call is removed from the smuggler's account (Ex. if the inspector calls "Doubt 100 million yen," the indemnity is 50 million yen). Several scenarios result if the inspector calls doubt: if the there is no money in the case, then the indemnity is paid into the smuggler's third country account; if the amount called by the inspector is less than the amount in the case, then the smuggler keeps all the money in the briefcase and gets paid the indemnity; if the amount called is greater than or equal to the amount of money in the case, the inspector takes the money from the smuggler, placing it and the indemnity into the inspector's third country account. After this, the role of inspector and smuggler is swapped. This is considered 1 period, and the game lasts 50 periods. At the end of 50 periods, any money left in the other nation is divided evenly between the players of that nation. After the winner is announced, the debts are recollected. Each player has 300 million yen in the other country's ATM, and 100 million yen in the third country account, making the total amount loaned to each player 400 million yen. The team with the most money in third country accounts wins and proceeds on to Round 4.
Result: The Northern Country wins and progresses to the Round 4 Qualifier while the Southern Country may enter the Second Revival Round to try to re-enter the tournament.
Second Revival Round: Eastern Army vs Western Army 
In the second revival round, six contestants are split into two groups of three and set against each another. There are three games, each based on a different gambling game, and the team that wins at least two out of three rounds will advance to the next round. The losers are permanently removed from the Liar Game and made to pay back all of their debts.
Result: Eastern Army (Kanzaki Nao, Akiyama Shinichi and Fukunaga Yuji) wins overwhelmingly and advance to Fourth Round Qualifier. They use the winnings from the revival round to pay back the debts of the Western Army.
Fourth Round Qualifier: Pandemic Game 
The Round 4 Qualifier takes place to narrow down the large number of players who have proceeded to Round 4. The groups are split into two large groups and made to play a game where the objective is to create vaccines by contacting with other "normal" players. Two players are made "infected" and must contact with other "normal" players to return to normal, at the cost of infecting the other player. Players with 4 or more vaccines can advance into Round 4.
Result: Group A wins: 6-loses: 6, All Group B players wins.
This round is a game of musical chairs, though it is slightly altered. Players must get to a seat before they are all taken, with any player left without a seat being eliminated. The players are given 23 medals, each of which are worth ¥100,000,000 for a total of ¥2,300,000,000, of which only those bearing the winner's name can be cashed in for prize money. All players eliminated in the qualifier serve as "extras" along with the others eliminated throughout the round. In each sub-round, a chair is removed by a person voted by the majority.
Result: In a sense, Akiyama group's complete victory.
Third Revival Round: Bid Poker 
There are two separate games of Bid Poker in this round. Group A is located in an internet cafe, while Group B is in a dance hall, players are given tablets with which to bid on card lots. On the tablets are 300 coins, in which one coin equals 1,000,000 yen. At the end of the game, players must pay back 100,000,000 yen.
Result: majority rule dominated, won by Akiyama group because of player trust that put on Kanzaki Nao. After this game, Harimoto Group withdraw from this game, and even pay off the debt that burdened on Akiyama shoulder from Sakai. In the other place, Yokoya won a total of a billion yen and caused Fukunaka to lose the game.
Nao Kanzaki (神崎 直 Kanzaki Nao ): Nao Kanzaki is a "foolishly honest" college student, who is coerced into playing the Liar Game. She is extremely honest and, initially, naïve, but these attributes allow her to win the trust of fellow contestants in the Liar Game. Nao is often able to make profound insights concerning the Liar Game and human nature and gradually learns to question others while maintaining her ability to trust her allies, while becoming more mature and considerate with each round played. Although Nao has had several opportunities to leave the Liar Game, she continues to play wishing to save the other players who have fallen into debt. Nao's only known family member is her father, who is in the hospital with terminal cancer.
Shinichi Akiyama (秋山 深一 Akiyama Shin'ichi ): Akiyama is a graduate of Teito University with a master's degree in psychology, who became a con man in order to take down the Multi-level marketing corporation that swindled his mother and drove her to suicide. In Volume 1 he has just been released from prison and agrees to help Nao in the Liar Game because her honest nature reminded him of his mother. Akiyama enters the Liar Game himself in Round 2 by substituting for another player, and by Round 3 is a respected and feared, unofficial leader among the Liar Game's contestants, although he recognizes Nao as the group's "true leader" as a way to persuade members of the opposite team to turn traitor. Akiyama's motivation for continuing in the Liar Game is to find the real motives behind the Liar Game Tournament organization and bring it down.
Kazuo Fujisawa (藤沢 和雄 Fujisawa Kazuo ): Nao's former teacher and opponent in Round 1, who was originally a kind man concerned about the welfare of his students. After a series of misfortunes, Fujisawa has become angry, hateful, and mistrustful. Nao is shocked when he outright told her that he doesn't care if she goes into debt or is forced into prostitution to pay it back. Fujisawa's behavior, however, only solidifies Akiyama's decision to help Nao. At the end of Round 1 when Akiyama outsmarts Fujisawa but Nao gives Fujisawa her winnings to that he can repay his debt, Fujisawa is last seen bowing to her in gratitude.
Yuji Fukunaga (福永 ユウジ Fukunaga Yuuji ): A male-to-female transvestite who first appears in Round 2, where she poses as a woman named Hitomi. Possibly in-transition or post-op MtF transsexual, claims to be female in body as well as mind, and only male according to a birth certificate; still has breasts when not dressed in drag. Sly, calculating, and a 5th degree black belt, Fukunaga is a skilled manipulator whose weaknesses appear to be her desire for money and her temper. Age unknown, alludes to being noticeably older than she seems. During Round 3, Fukunaga learns to cooperate with Nao and Akiyama, and even when Fukunaga finishes the round debt-free, she chooses to continue in the tournament to aid them. In later chapters, Fukunaga recognizes Nao's improvement and starts to get fond of her, although he still believes she is incompetent. Nao also observed that Fukunaga may have a crush on Akiyama. After Fukunaga's transvestite identity is revealed, the Japanese text deliberately avoids referring to "her" by gender. (In the live version this character is still male, but with a vaguely homosexual overtone). Alternates between personas - an ultra-feminine cold and superior mature femme fatale; a bullheaded boisterous and physically intimidating man in obvious drag; a seemingly none-too-bright loud young delinquent girl; and gradations in between - whichever currently best suits Fukunaga's own needs, both in-game and outside of it. He is absolutely convincing as a female when he so desires and regularly has everyone fooled. Also stated to have managed to play a convincing non-descript male to orchestrate a con (not shown), despite having prominent "real" cleavage, said to be the result of a combination of female hormone injections and breast augmentation surgery with saline implants.
Norihiko Yokoya (横谷 憲彦 Yokoya Norihiko ): A character obsessed with domination, Yokoya first appears in Round 3. He is a calm, eerie dark-haired young man, who is often shown carrying white mice in his pockets, he dresses in vaguely militaristic suits, admiring and seeking to emulate notorious 20th century dictators. Nearco describes Yokoya as Akiyama's greatest rival, and Nao sensed something odd about him early in the game. Yokoya comes from a wealthy family, and his strategy frequently involves bribing other contestants into becoming his pawns. His team is depicted as Yokoya's complete dictatorship, as opposed to Nao's cooperative team. Although Yokoya initially planned to drop out of the Liar Game with his Round 3 winnings, Nao taunts him into proceeding to the next round, and Yokoya swore to bring down Nao and Akiyama in revenge. After losing Round 4 to them, Yokoya decides to keep playing to the end, aiming to become the ultimate winner of the Liar Game. During the Third Revival Round, Yokoya was able to accurately predict the name of the game to be played by the contestants; this is not even told to the hosts and other LGT Office Employees. Yokoya claims to have deduced the name because he has determined the true meaning of the Liar Game.
Takashi Harimoto (ハリモト タカシ Harimoto Takashi ): Harimoto wears long robes and a straw hat. He has deep wrinkles, which hints that he may be the oldest character introduced so far. Unlike Akiyama and Yokoya, both of whom excel at psychological and mental manipulation, Harimoto's strength lies in taking advantage of a person's emotional state. He first appears in Round 4, as the founder of the Peaceful Paradise cult. Three female members of his cult - Mika Mikamoto, Kei Kimura, and Yukiko Abe - are also contestants in the Liar Game and follow him unconditionally, giving him a strong advantage. He controls his cult members by telling them that all mankind descends from humans and demons as well, claiming that his mission is to gather those like him with little demonic blood under his guidance, in a quest to restore a (nearly) pure human bloodline and work to overthrow the demons. It is later revealed that he used cold reading to "rescue" the three women when each was in her lowest emotional state, thus seducing them into joining his cult.
Liar Game Tournament (LGT) Office 
The name of the organization that runs the Liar Game Tournament and its purpose have not yet been revealed in the manga. Rather, a number of employees of the LGT Office have been shown, who manage the rounds of the game. Two types of employees have been shown so far: "handlers" who manage individual contestants and provide information on upcoming rounds, and "hosts" who carry out the actual rounds of the Liar Game and observe the contestants.
Mitsuo Tanimura (谷村 光男 Tanimura Mitsuo ): A man who posed as a lawyer (a policeman in the live-action) and whom Nao first consults when she gets involved in the Liar Game Tournament. It isn't revealed until later that he is actually part of the Liar Game Tournament working to make sure players can't escape the game by going to the authorities. Tanimura is the Liar Game representative assigned to Nao. It was Tanimura who initially gives Nao the idea of using a scam artist to win the game (in the live-action adaptation, this was deliberately done in order to bait Akiyama into participating in the game).
Leronira (レロニラ Reronira ): One of the hosts of the Liar Game, he wears a suit and an ornate mask over his face. Although he admires Akiyama and Fukunaga for their intelligence, he admits to being most interested in how Nao participates in the games. In the live-action adaptation, he is the masked figure who gives players instructions via recorded videos or through a monitor.
Nearco (ネアルコ Nearuko ): A co-host of the Liar Game with Leronira who looks exactly like him but with a different mask, one with a long moustache. First appearing in Round 3, Nearco admires Yokoya, describing him as a fearsome individual, and cannot understand Leronira's interest in Nao.
Solario (ソラリオ Sorario ): A third host of the Liar Game, he looks similar to the previous hosts, except his mask has a sun on the right eye. Solario becomes quickly interested in Nao when she realizes the objective of Revival Round 2 before he expected her to.
Forli (フォルリ Foruri ): A fourth host of the Liar Game who appears similar to the other round dealers, but with a suit and bowtie. His clothes are a bit scraggly-looking, his hair stands out, and his mask resembles the face-paint of a clown in the Renaissance with long, oval markings on each of where his eyes and mouth should be. He hosts the Round 4 Qualifier for Akiyama and Nao's side, rooting for them and tending to fall completely for all of Akiyama's plans, even though he's not involved and knows all the rules of the game. Forli is more "goofy" than the other hosts.
Kurifuji (栗藤 Kurifuji ): A woman long dark hair, who wears sunglasses and a surgical mask across her mouth to cover her face. Kurifuji is assigned to Yokoya and often advocates his skills above other Liar Game contestants. It has been revealed that she, like Akiyama, majored in psychology.
Alsab (アルサブ Arusabu ): A fifth host of the Liar Game, who hosts Round 4 and its Qualifier for Fukunaga's side. His mask has a ying-yang symbol on the forehead; ☵ (water) i-ching symbol on the left cheek of mask; and ☲ (fire) i-ching symbol on the right cheek in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the South Korean flag. In contrast to Leronira, he doesn't seem consider Nao a serious threat in the Liar Game.
Silien (シリーン Silien ): A sixth host of the Liar Game, who was the dealer for the Revival Round III for Group A.
Rabelais (ラブレー Rabelais ): A seventh host of the Liar Game, who was the dealer the Revival Round III for Group B.
Altair (ラブレー Altair ): Called "Chief Executive". He appears during Revival Round III.
Liar Game started serialization in 2005 (September 16, 2005) in Shueisha's Weekly Young Jump. As of October 2010, the series continues with 13 tankōbon released, the latest on September 17, 2010. Shortly afterward, the serialization begins 1.5 years later with chapter 139. A short story "Roots of A" has been published as the title piece of a Shinobu Kaitani's anthology released in July 2008.
Live-action television Series 
Liar Game has been adapted into a Japanese television series: Liar Game, a 2007 Fuji series broadcast, followed in 2009 by Liar Game 2. In 2010 the full-length film Liar Game: The Final Stage was released as a continuation of the TV series. A sequel, entitled Liar Game: Reborn, was released in 2012.
- "LIAR GAME 1" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "LIAR GAME 13" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- "LIAR GAME roots of A 甲斐谷忍 短編集" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "Liar Game Manga Gets 2nd Live-Action Film Next March". Anime News Network. October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- Liar Game (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- TV Drama Official Site (Japanese)
- Film Official Site (Japanese)