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 😄
“Come on, let’s go on a journey.” – Miyazono Kaori
Overall. Wow, what an emotionally intense episode after the setup in Episode 3. My palms started sweating and I almost cried when Kousei struggled and finally gave up on playing in the middle. It was the sort of thing you knew was coming, yet couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment anyways. Episode 4 was the like the epiphany that finally sparks after two years of struggle. We got our long-awaited Kaori-Kousei duet, Kousei’s return to the limelight, and a semi-success in overcoming his trauma. This is just a beginning for Kousei—technically he still can’t hear his own notes—but it seems to be the beginning of the end for Kaori. These two are polar opposites. Kousei is trapped while Kaori is free. Kousei is monotone while Kaori is colorful. Kousei is timid while Kaori is bold. It makes sense then that as Kousei waxes, Kaori wanes. People, “April will be ending soon.”
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor is a Korean light novel about a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role playing game (VRMMORPG) called Royal Road and the efforts of a poor but hard-working guy to become number 1 in the game and make real-life money in the process. The RPG aspects of this series very much resemble those of Sword Art Online, .hack, or Log Horizon, but unlike many of the other MMORPG stories out there, The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor (LMS) is more humorous and light-hearted. It’s a subtle difference, but it significantly changes the way you experience the story…
Episode 4 is a couple days late due to weekend traveling, sorry folks…
Overall. While Episode 3 was about getting stuff done, Episode 4 was an exhibit of horrors: the horrors of what can happen when too many girls are together for too long, the horrors of too many characters musing about romance, the horrors of Studio Deen’s truly atrocious art, etc. I am not sure how I feel about this episode because there are just too many mixed messages flung around, and the only thing flowing continuously through Episode 3 seems to be Akatsuki’s depression, which is just sad [pathetic]. I supposed I should be excited that Shiroe has some deep plot to take over the world through flavor text or that stereotypical big bad wolf villain finally did something other than appear dramatically for two seconds…buuut, I think watching Akatsuki has eroded my own self-esteem and I need a few seconds. Pardon me.
Originally I planned to review and discuss the second episode of Liar Game in the same post as the first episode since they both aired in the same week, but there was too much to talk about to comfortably put into a single post. The second episode covers the release of Cha Woo-Jin from jail and how he helps Nam Da-Jung take back her money from her teacher, wrapping up the first round of the game.
Being a fan of the Liar Game manga and Japanese drama, I went into watching the Korean adaptation with high hopes and high expectations. It has been a few days since the airing of the first two episodes, and I’m excited to say that both my hopes and expectations are still fairly high. The action-packed first episode starts off with a bang, and as the episode progresses, we gradually see familiar elements from the manga reveal themselves, oftentimes along with subtle twists that suggests the drama’s trajectory may not be as predictable as we might initially think.