Liar Game: The End
You know, Liar Game was great. This is not the most objective way to start this hub, but I firmly believe it is true. I have always looked with interest on the manga and anime which does not follow kids, teenagers and those just slightly above. Very few do, and those few with adult main characters often manage to be special in other ways. Liar Game was a manga for those who enjoyed the games of psychology and strategy, and the interesting characters who was forced to play the games. And then the end came, like a truck tearing through a brick wall. It was a strange sight.
First, a quick rundown on the story. A woman named Nao is tricked into participating in a game where you could lose or earn enormous amounts of money. The game is called the “Liar Game” and while each round of the game is different, they usually involve deceiving, planning and manipulating, skills Nao is utterly terrible at. Luckily, she meets a man named Akiyama who is incredibly good at all things strategic, and together they try to win the games and defeat the people behind them.
The games were often simplistic in rules, yet they allowed for so many strategies, and so many levels of tricks and strategies. There was also the psychological element, and while Nao was terrible at strategy, she was good at making people trust her. This often helped swing the battles in Nao's and Akiyama's favor by getting help from the poor regular people, the ones without much thought and who just drifted through the games, constantly manipulated by the smarter players. I always felt sorry for them, but they really were the main point of the manga. Liar Game was about the psychological tricks, the strength of people uniting, distrust, trust and ruling by fear or letting people choose freely. It was an interesting games between minds where the battlefield where also human minds.
Liar Game's creator, Shinobu Kaitani, sadly fell ill, and for a long time Liar Game was in hiatus while he was recovering. Luckily, he got better and decided to end the manga, continuing the story in April 2014. But maybe he was in a little too much of a rush to finish it all. I can not say anything for certain, but it seemed like Kaitani just wanted it all to be over. At the end of what he wrote before his illness, we are pretty much promised a war between Akiyama and two of the other masterminds participating in the game. But this never happens, as one of the masterminds, Harimoto, quietly leaves the competition.
Illness and the Final Game
And then we enter the final part, the final round of the game. Would it be fair of me to say that the game feels smaller? There is no large island or an entire airport. It is just a small room. It also feels like this game is the shortest one, he finale certainly has less twists and strategic fights than any of the others. More than that, we were early on told that the point of the game was to find a “Liar King”. It was never explained why anyone would want that, but the last game makes this impossible, because it is a group-battle, so you win or lose together. No sole person could be the winner.
Further, and I realize that this is subjective opinion, but I felt the heart of the story between Nao and Akiyama was the two of them learning from each other. Akiyama learned about trust, about the importance of caring for people. He turns less cold as the game goes on. Nao, on her side, learned to think and to distrust, at least more than she did before. I imagined we would get some moment where each have to use the other's skill to win. This never happens.
It is not only that Nao never, in the final game, uses what she learned from Akiyama, she never does much of anything. That might be because trust plays a very small part in the end game. Instead it is all about trickery. We are told that Nao was important in bringing about trust between players, but this was at a point where everyone was distrusting each other, so it was hardly a great win for Nao's strategy.
The Final End
And then it ends. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Yokoya, the villain, defeats the leaders of the “Liar Game”. We then get a long exposition dump which explains that the leaders of the “Liar Game” were not the true villains, instead it was some shady government conspiracy which will never be explained further. The evil government wins, and that is how it ends, on a cliff hanger. Yokoya is never defeated, and what happened to the many players of “Liar Game” is unknown.
There seems to have been a lot of rushed endings in manga lately, each one sad. I really did like “Liar Game”, the plots, the characters. Perhaps Kaitani was simply tired of the story, or that he was not at full health still, so he created a quick ending out of consideration of the fans? Whatever the case I will look back fondly on the first 160 or so chapters, and the last fifth of the manga will not sour my impression of the story as a whole. Still, it is difficult to not imagine the ending that could have been.
Also, I seem to remember there having been a romance subplot between Akiyama and Fukunaga. That really did not go anywhere, did it?