Imagine this: your little sister is dying. She needs 100 million yen for her surgery, and no matter how hard you work you can't raise the money. A charity started, but the people who helped to raise it took everything without a word. As you sit in a bar at night, drinking to forget your worries, a mysterious man asks you if you want to bet your life for money.
This is the start of Life is Money,
a short psychological horror series by Asiniji Teru.
The story is about ten people who compete in "The Nightmare Game." If their anxiety exceeds a certain numerical value, they die. When a player dies, their prize money is divided among the survivors. However, it is possible for all players to survive, in which each person will win fifty million yen.
Over the course of the game, the protagonists try to hold onto their humanity as they survive the mental prison, and learn a lot of things about the darker corners of the human mind along the way.
This series contains examples of:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game
- And I Must Scream: The Dice Game restricts one of the five senses, depending on what each player rolls. (The sixth possible roll is "spirit," which removes all previous restraints.) When "taste" is rolled, the player's mouth is gagged so that they can't talk. The moderator proposes that losing all five senses will result in being driven mad by lack of human interaction.
- A much more severe example when Meguru loses all five senses at the end, and must wait alone for the end of the game to see if Kukuri will survive.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Utsuromiya is pretty damn cute, despite being biologically male. The other characters acknowledge this, pointing out that she doesn't need surgery to look like a woman.
- Crazy Homeless People: Makabe.
- Despair Event Horizon: How several characters die, and the entire reason for the mental over system.
- Utsuromiya is killed by having her hair cut off while being taunted about her transsexuality.
- Ishimakura is killed by being mercilessly taunted at, including lots of profanity and references to his weight.
- Surprisingly averted with Shirakogawa. After he tries to kill Meguru and Momoko, everybody refuses to talk to him; after he is distressed by this, and loses most of his five senses without having anybody willing to help him, he is mostly dropped from the story until he makes it to the end as a complete Karma Houdini.
- Also averted with Meguru. Near the end, he could not hear, see, talk, or move. He is like this for several days until the end of the game, all the while not knowing if Momoko is okay.
- Drowning My Sorrows: In the first chapter, Meguru drinks away his sorrows about not being able to get enough money for Mawaru.
- Fat Bastard: Ishimakura definitely qualifies. He steals all of the food for the ten days so that the others will become too anxious and have a mental over. It backfires spectacularly.
- Freak Out: The characters are prone to having these.
- Single Issue Psychology: Shirakogawa and Utsuromiya.
- Shirakogawa was abused as a child, which led to him becoming a complete sadist in adulthood. When Meguru guesses this, he snaps and attacks him.
- As a child, Utsuromiya was outcast by girls for being male and by boys for dressing like a girl, so her best friend became a dog named Chappie. One day, she found her backpack covered in blood, and Chappie's corpse was inside it. In later life, she drew away from other people, and her only friend was a doll... named Chappie. Additionally, exploitation of the effect this had on her ultimately leads to her Despair Event Horizon and death.