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Manga / Usogui

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You... are a liar.
—Baku's quote after winning a game

Usogui is a long-running psychology-and-gambling-based seinen manga by Toshio Sako. The manga ran in Weekly Young Jump from 2006 to 2017 for an impressive 49 volume and 539 chapter serialization.

There are gamblers out there who even bet their lives as ante. But to secure the integrity of these life-threatening gambles, a violent and powerful organization by the name of “Kagerou” referees these games as a neutral party. Follow Baku Madarame a.k.a. Usogui (The Lie Eater) as he gambles against maniacal opponents at games – such as Escape the Abandoned Building, Old Maid, and Hangman – to ultimately “out-gamble” and control the neutral organization of Kagerou itself.

An OAD shipped with the 26th volume in 2012. While there has been an announcement and plans for a live action adaptation as early as 2016, it took over 5 years for another peep to be made about it. The movie was finally released on February 11, 2022.

In April 2021, a spinoff manga was announced for the series. It's an immediate sequel, taking place just days after the end of the first manga. Baku, now in charge of Kagerou, advises each of the referees to tell him about a previous match they presided over and allow him to bet on who won it. He starts with Hikoichi Yakou, No.0 referee in Kagerou.

Usogui provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The entire premise of the story. The stakes only become increasingly high, culminating in Kagerou's "Surpassing the Leader" competition (which requires all players to pay a down payment of over 4 million dollars before risking their life with near-death drugs over a guessing game).
  • And the Adventure Continues: Baku and pals don't stop their extreme gambling after climbing as high as they can. By the epilogue, Baku's off challenging other remaining threats to Kagerou, while Hal slowly recovers from the final Surpassing the Leader game. The manga ends with Baku and friends setting up another one of his plans in a gamble.
  • Art Evolution: While the art was plenty expressive in the beginning, over the course of the years and volumes Sako's art became much more realistic and detailed. Take the first volume's cover of Baku and compare it to the last cover; the difference is night and day.
  • Author Appeal: Martial arts. Besides the many martial artists in the story, the manga has many chapters centering around the author's adventures in martial arts, culminating in a boxing match against a Yakuza where the author wins! There is also a Capoeirista character, referencing the author's own love for the martial art.
  • Batman Gambit: Baku uses his opponents' personalities against them. Q-Taro found this out the hard way when Baku recruited Marco during his battle with him. He used Q-Taro's belief that Marco was dead to lure him out and attack him with Marco.
  • Big Bad: Vincent Lalo, who is the leader of the terrorist group IDEAL, and the many antagonists are directly connected to said group.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Barely a character that will look similar, not to mention the sheer variety of designs of the different referees of Kakerou.
  • Character Catchphrase: "You are a liar", told by Usogui, mostly every time he is about to defeat his opponent.
  • Combat Referee: Games involving Kakerou members will be supervised by referees, who are also very powerful fighters to stop retaliation from the loser as well as stop outside forces who intend to intervene in the gamble. There are 101 referees in Kakerou and they have their own ranking system.
  • Comic-Book Time: While the manga starts in the mid-late 2000's time period as it was in real life, the manga ends in Las Vegas where a sign advertising Pacquiao-Mayweather is seen, which took place in 2015 and the characters haven't aged at all.
  • Character Tics: You would be hard-pressed to find a character who doesn't have one.
    • Midara makes bubbles out of his spit that float in the air.
    • Manabe Takumi dropping a freshly cracked Balut (half-incubated egg delicacy) into his mouth.
    • Bandai Kaoru sneezing and blowing his nose.
  • Deadly Game: You would be hard-pressed to find a gamble that doesn't involve human lives. Examples include a gamble that involves betting blood, Air poker where both players are submerged underwater and the chips are actually oxygen tanks, or a game of Hangman taken literally.
  • Fighting Series: The intense gambling is usually juxtaposed with violent, bordering-on supernatural fights the referees get into with the enemies of Kagerou.
  • Foreshadowing: The manga is a masterclass of this, but the peak of this trope comes in the final game where the details of the outcome is foreshadowed inside of a dream Baku has.
  • Gambit Roulette: Some of Baku's plans seem to be this. But he actually does try to learn everything about a target, down to their personalities, forces, and supplies they would have hidden in their building. Yes, he even plays roulette this way.
    • Culminates in the series climax of the Air Poker arc, where Baku wins despite lesser odds as his genuine care for his companions pays off in full, while Lalo ultimately loses because he treats his companions as expendable. The most ironic part is despite his shortcomings, Lalo could have easily won the game if he didn't tried to constantly out-gambit Baku.
  • Genre-Busting: A gambling manga that involves high-stakes gambles in unique games unlike ones seen in most Gambling centered manga. Alongside the psychologically thrilling games, the manga features well-choreographed Baki-esque fighting, something not really done before in the Gambling genre.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Marco joined Baku's side after asking Baku who he was. Baku's response:
    "That's something you must decide for yourself."
    • Mitaka Hana and Manabe Takumi were initially working for the police's Private Funeral Division before losing a bet during the events of the Tower Arc and becoming referees of Kakerou.
    • Fukurou takes the offer of being a referee after the events of Air Poker.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Baku has such mastery of this that he seems to be borderline psychic.
  • Long-Runners: The manga spans over 500 chapters in an impressive 11-year run.
  • Serious Business: Baku treats slots as such. But his entire life has been about life-or-death gambling, so...
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Do not stick a syringe in Marco as he will turn into Rodem, his violent personality that came about from being experimented on by his father.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: For Baku: kariume, a pickled Japanese fruit that's somewhere between a plum and apricot. Eating one usually means he's about to do something badass.
    • Manabe Takumi enjoys feasting on Balut eggs almost everytime he is introduced.
  • Xanatos Gambit: All of Baku's strategies are these. If an opponent calls his bluff, he reveals that it wasn't a bluff and wins anyway.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The final "Surpassing the Leader" game between Baku and Hal is insane. While Baku may have planned out several tactics beforehand and ultimately came out on top by taking advantage of a time shift down to the minute, Hal became just as on the nose.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Usogui has a story structure very similar to Nobuyuki Fukumoto's Gin to Kin, where a down-on-his-luck gambler follows a man with peerless intelligence and gambling prowess, eventually following his example to be a brilliant gambler in his own right; the games usually involves betting human lives as well.