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, Gambling, Mystery|
|Written by||Shinobu Kaitani|
|Magazine||Weekly Young Jump|
|Original run||2005 – 2015|
|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|
|Directed by||Kim Hing-sun|
|Written by||Ryu Yong-jae|
|Original run||October 20, 2014 – November 25, 2014|
The Liar Game (Japanese: ライアーゲーム Hepburn: 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 an 11.4 viewership rating in Japan's Kantō region. A sequel, Liar Game: Season 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.
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, with the losing ones forced to bear a debt proportional to their losses. When Nao's first opponent - a trusted former teacher - steals her money, she seeks assistance from a con man named Shinichi 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.
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 transgendered person who first appears in Round 2, where she poses as a woman named Hitomi. Possibly in-transition or post-op MtF transsexual (in which case she should not be called a transvestite, which is different from transgender), 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. However, Fukunaga is forced to confront Yokoya without their help in the third revival round and is eliminated from the game with over one billion yen of debt. In later chapters, Fukunaga recognizes Nao's improvement and starts to get fond of her, although she still believes she is incompetent. Nao also observed that Fukunaga may have a crush on Akiyama. After Fukunaga's identified-as-male-at-birth 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. She is absolutely convincing as a female when she 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, most notably Adolf Hitler. 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, but he actually had read a foreign book from which the Liar Game was inspired, including the games played on it by order. After being outsmarted by Akiyama in the final game, Yokoya finally admits defeat, claiming that unlike Hitler whom he admired, he must know when to quit, much to the happiness of his father, who is also revealed to be one of the hosts 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. Once defeated in Round 4, Harimoto and his cultists return for the subsequent revival round, and moved by Nao's incorruptible spirit, they withdraw from the Liar Game, giving away the money they had previously collected to pay other players' debt.
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. He is also Yokoya's father.
Altair (アルタイル 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 December 2014, the series continues with 18 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 was adapted into a Japanese television series: Liar Game, a 2007 Fuji series broadcast, followed in 2009 by Liar Game: Season 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.
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- "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.
- Choi, Eun-hwa (September 12, 2014). "Kim So Eun, Lee Sang Yoon and Shin Sung Rok Confirmed for Drama Liar Game". enewsWorld. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Jones, Julie (September 12, 2014). "To Win At The 'Liar Game' These Actors Will Cheat And Lie". KDramaStars. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Liar Game (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- TV Drama Official Site (Japanese)
- Film Official Site (Japanese)