The Smuggling Game is here. After the last two episodes ran off and spun a new and original game for the third round, I thought that there was a chance that the remainder of the drama would continue to create new and original drama-only games. For better or for worse, the kdrama has returned to its pre-President Game pattern and decided to have the participants play the Smuggling Game (a.k.a. the Contraband Game).
Finally, an original game! Three rounds in and more than halfway into the first season, it seemed like the Korean adaptation of Liar Game would, for the most part, just stick to the games and rounds as they appear in the original manga. But fortunately, in an unexpected twist, the fourth round of the Liar Game is not the Contraband Game but the President Game, a new and original concept that had not appeared in other Liar Game media ever before.
It might be that I’m just getting really excited about how this drama is progressing as a whole, but Liar Game feels like it’s getting better and better with each episode. Episodes 5 and 6 detail the events of the revival round, where Nam Da-Jung and other losers from the Minority Game come together to participate in the Layoff Game. Also called the downsizing game or the restructuring game, the basic premise of the Layoff Game is a popularity contest where contestants vote for each other in a series of rounds, with break time in between each round. The one with the fewest number of votes at the end of all the rounds gets “laid off” and officially loses the right to participate in future rounds of the game.
Iwatani Naofumi was summoned into a parallel world along with three other people to become the world’s heroes and save the kingdom from the Calamity. Each of the heroes were respectively equipped with their own legendary equipment when summoned. Naofumi coincidentally received the Legendary Shield as his weapon, the only defensive weapon of the lot. Scorned by everyone for his uselessness, Naofumi’s destiny in a parallel world begins…
Hands down, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari takes one of the most unique approaches to the virtual video game genre I’ve ever read / seen. And that is, the light novel incorporates a very real emotional element in its storytelling. Having read many tales in this emerging genre, I am definitely not over-generalizing when I say that most virtual MMORPG stories are lacking in “dramatic complexity.” And that’s perfectly fine because audiences are buying into these stories for the vicarious experience of living a video game, becoming heroes / villains, and conquering the world. Even Log Horizon, which takes a more “slice of life” approach to the genre and explores the psychological difficulties of suddenly living a video game, has mostly one dimensional characterization in a mostly happy-go-lucky atmosphere. Well, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari is definitely not happy-go-lucky, and characters are certainly far from one dimensional.
For what it’s worth, I simply love it every time a manga I’ve been following since Day One becomes an anime. It’s like a little personal affirmation that “The Important People in the Industry” agree with my taste in manga. Sometimes it was only a matter of time (Nurarihyon no Mago, Ao no Exorcist, Kuroko no Basuke, etc.) as these manga were made for shounen tv, and other times it was a complete surprise–Yowamushi no Pedal, Love Stage (like how the heck did this get approved O.o), Baby Steps (eh, anime / manga have been biased against sports stuff for a while now), etc.
But Shokugeki no Souma is a different beast. By all means, it should have become an anime a loooong time ago. Although it’s a cooking manga, Shokugeki no Souma is so much more “shounen” than most action mangas out there. Except for one defect: the ecchi (aka non age-appropriate for the shounen anime audience). I wrote about the regretful unfulfilled anime potential in my review on Shokugeki no Souma the manga, and I’m so, so glad that my wish came true and it finally got an anime anyways.
Watch Shounen Jump’s hype video for the anime below:
In my opinion, out of all the games that are ever played in the liar game, whether it be in the original manga or the Japanese drama, the minority game is the one that most embodies the spirit of the series as a whole. The first round, although it does introduce you to the “liar” part of Liar Game, is there mainly as an extended introduction for the main characters. You get to really see how naive and honest Nao/Nam Da-Jung is, and on the other side, how smart and cunning Akiyama/Cha Woo-Jin is. The second round is where the “game” part of the title comes in and where we get an idea of exactly how deep and complex the tricks and manipulation can get…
Overall. First of all, what an amazing episode!!! After all that buildup in the first few episodes (and an especially action-less Episode 4), Episode 5 has delivered on everything and more. All my regrets and doubt have been washed away. The People of the Land (well one guy) has really stepped up to present a legit challenge to the all-powerful adventurers. Some light is finally peeking out beneath the Akatsuki dark cloud. Soujirou has a MASSIVE episode as he finally shows us why he’s cool enough to have a harem. We finally see an offensive style “Teaching” / “Overskill” and it looks awesome. Shiroe’s entire party got wiped out by Boss X but whatever, at least they found a boss when they were just crawling around complaining last episode. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that ominous foreshadowing in Episode 1 when Akatsuki and Shiroe meet in death on Christmas Eve just happened, which means that this is the depth of their failure — all that’s left to do is go up!! I can’t wait until Shiroe comes back with a vengeance and Akatsuki just destroys that creep. So, so satisfied right now 😄