Remember all those interesting and carefully defined characters in Death Note
? Well Liar Game
forgot to add them.
's most severe issue is its characterisation. The protagonist, Nao, clearly has a lot of heart, but she is thick, naive and pathologically gullible. This is a problem in a series that relies on huge battles of intellect to carry the story, so the character Akiyama is introduced to provide the brains. Unfortunately that is the only thing he provides. He has no defining characteristics outside of his intelligence. Early on it is shown that he is laconic and has a tragic past, but it isn't explored to its full potential. As it stands, it feels like someone split a main character in two - one with all the personality and one with all the intelligence. This doesn't work because Nao often gets relegated to the sidelines whilst Akiyama is merely a computer. Add to this a one note villain whose soul desire is power, and you have a far less interesting conflict than anything out of Death Note
There is only one remarkable character in the entire series to date. He is Fukunaga, a secondary antagonist who happens to be a transvestite. He is easily the most fleshed out, and what is more, this series contains one of the few fair treatments I have seen of a transvestite in an anime or manga. Usually, "deviant" types tend to get marked out as creepy perverts or comic relief, flamboyant queers. Fukunaga is neither. He is ruthless, selfish and violent, but he is not made to look a weirdo. He is also intelligent, strong willed, and a martial artist to boot, and this is all established in his initial portrayal. Throw in his development and occasional moments of poignancy, and you end up with a really cool character who grew on me. He alone almost makes up for the others.
is weaker than Death Note
because, beyond the interesting explorations of game theory and logic, Liar Game
is lacking in every other respect - the story is less exciting, the stakes are lower, there is less humour (and what little there is, it doesn't translate so well), and the characters are dreadful hams.
Do I recommend it? Not before recommending Death Note
. The puzzles are the saving grace of the series and they alone make it worth reading. But really, there is little else there.