Many people have been accusing me of giving up on 2D (nijigen) and moving on to 3D (sanjigen). Well that is just not true. There’s no reason why you can’t like both. Anyway, I’ve been watching Liar Game, a live action adaptation of the semi-popular somewhat-obscure manga series by the same name.
It’s a highly-flawed show that is nevertheless engaging enough to draw you back for another. Or maybe not. Read on…
Nao Kanzaki is a down-to-Earth honest-to-God girl who has probably never told a single lie in her life before, i.e. a super boring and fictitious person. One day, she finds a box containing a hundred million yen outside her door, along with an invitation to participate in the “Liar Game Tournament”, a game where, as its name implies, you are supposed to lie and cheat other contestants out of their money, i.e. the worst game a girl like her could possibly take part in.
Now it may seem like no big deal to get cheated out of your gajillion yen since yen is worthless and the money was provided by the organizers in the first place. However, the catch is that at the end of the game all players must return a hundred million yen back to the organizers or they will own your sorry ass with a camel whip. So if you manage to steal/cheat/rob money from other players, you will earn a net profit after returning your original portion of the money, whereas those gullible fools who got cheated will become sex slaves for the organizers to repay their debts. Players are allowed to use any means of obtaining their opponents’ money within a time limit of 30 days with no risk of being prosecuted by law.
All the above rules were explained by this clown-like creep, who is apparently the dealer of this game, in this video tape that came along with the invitation. That thing freaks me out. It spent the entire duration of the video oscillating back and forth in a vaguely menacing manner while its face is transfixed in a perpetual fusion of shock and joy. And just what kind of secret organization powerful enough to be immune from law uses VHS tapes in this day and age. It would have been much more apt if the introductory video was sent via YouTube.
Of course Nao, being the kind and honest girl that she is, got owned by her opponent before the first commercial break. Boohoo. Desperate for help, she turned to an expert conman, Shin’ichi Akiyama, who was coincidentally just released from prison. He agreed to help her on the condition that he receives half of her prize money, which works out to fifty million yen. (Two hundred million yen in total between the two contestants, one hundred million goes back to the organizers, therefore the maximum prize money is one hundred million and half of it is fifty. Wow I are smart!)
If Nao is the stereotypical good girl with a heart of pure gold, then Shin’ichi is the cold and fierce-looking misunderstood guy with a sad angsty past. What am I talking about, they ARE exactly that. These people do not exist in real life. They both piss the hell out of me with their predictability and shallow characters. So anyway, he agrees to help out and together they pull off a somewhat clever plan and etcetera etcetera. You can guess the rest.
While it sounds like I hate the show to its core, that is absolutely not true. The premise is actually pretty interesting and creates enough suspense for the viewer to feel a sense of anticipation for the final revelation of each arc. Although you have to admit that the timing of this whole thing most definitely points to an attempt at cashing in on the whole hype over pseudo-intellectual psychological thrillers started by Death Note. (Erika Touda, the actress of Nao, played Misa Misa in the movies.)
Speaking of Erika, she, along with Shouta Matsuda (Shin’ichi), are the two largest flaws in the entire series. They just can’t act. I think she did a lot better as Mariko in Nobuta wo Produce because she didn’t actually have much acting to do. The thing she does best, and about the only thing she does well, is looking cute. Shouta on the other hand makes me want to punch his face out with his forced “I don’t give a damn” look that is more like “I’m trying to look like I don’t give a damn but I have no idea what I am doing”.
So far three episodes of Liar Game have aired and it appears that every two episodes will be one round of the tournament, with one “introductory” episode and one “revelation” episode, though I have never read the manga so I am not sure.
Despite the weak acting and other imperfections, the series benefits a great deal from its story concept and thus manages to maintain a sufficient level of interest for me to recommend it. So, uh, go watch it…or something.
P.S. the best part of episode one was when Nao was chased away by this Chinese road sweeper lady who basically said the equivalent of “fuck off” in Mandarin because she was sleeping in front of a shop house in this Chinatown-y place. Cool stuff.