The first time I watched Liar Game was probably around a year ago, and I just fell in love with the series. I watched it very fast and even after the second season I watched the movie straight away, even though it was some 3 AM already – it was so engaging that I couldn't help myself. A month or two ago, VioletSakura finally convinced me into reading the manga as well. And now, I bring a comparative review/discussion article for those who have thought about reading manga or for those who are interested in comparison between the original story and the live action remake.
First drama season appeared in 2007, it has two seasons, two movies and two specials. The sequence in which one should watch Liar Game is:
Liar Game season 1
Liar Game season 2
Liar Game: The Final Stage [first movie]
Liar Game Reborn Special - Fukunaga VS Yokoya [special, does not need to be seen beforehand to understand the second movie]
Alice in Liar Game [though it was rubbish, I don’t recommend watching it; also does not need to be seen beforehand to understand the second movie]
Liar Game: Reborn [second movie]
P.S. the only spoilers that I put in this article are the titles of games played, so it‘s safe to read even for those who still plan to watch the drama or read manga, or both. I know that anticipation waiting for a new game is part of the fun, so I put them in bright letters, in case someone doesn't want to know that. I left only around 3 mentioned in particular, since I'm comparing them among the versions or they have been only in either drama or manga.
The plot goes pretty much like in drama – Kanzaki Nao receives the envelope from Liar Game and is tricked into participating in the game where you can win a lot of money, but if you‘re not the winner, you can suffer huge debts. And the company will take its money „one way or another“, like it was said in the story. She meets an ex-con Akiyama Shinichi, and eventually together they participate in many rounds of the games that Liar Game Office has come up with. Throughout the games they find allies and enemies, but eventually they're fighting against the Liar Game Office itself. The game endings do differ a little bit from the ones in drama, but I think that‘s because in drama they wanted to end it quicker and all that. But in general, the games‘ endings are almost exactly the same.
In season 2, in drama they brought Akiyama‘s ex-coursemate and she was the main villain, while in manga the main enemy always remains Yokoya. Or at least one of them.
Also, in manga Kanzaki Nao remains the main female character throughout the whole process, as opposed to drama having Tabe Mikako during the second movie.
The first season of Liar Game included the first game with no title, where one had to steal 100 million yen from his or her opponent; Minority Voting; Downsizing Game and Contraband Game. The second drama season included 24-Shot Russian Roulette; 17 Card Poker; Stationary Roulette; Angels and Devils. Angels And Devils are different in manga, in manga it‘s called Pandemic Game and it‘s about virus spreading among the players instead of them turning each other from angels into demons. The Musical Chair game, which was the next in manga, was used in the second movie - Liar Game: Reborn.
After that, manga started another game which is called Bid Poker. Since it took place after the Musical Chairs, it has not been in live action, unless the producers plan to make a third season or a third movie or something. But I guess drama would be impossible, since the manga is still ongoing and it hasn't developed enough for a whole drama season yet. The system of the Bid Poker is like this: there are a few randomly predetermined sets of cards, which are bought by the players in an auction – that‘s why the Bid Poker. Then there is an opportunity to discard cards you don‘t need and later those lots are also up for buying (also in an auction way) to improve someone‘s hand. Of course, there are more details, but that‘s the basics.
Two games existed only in drama and did not appear in manga at all. Those were the voting with apples in The Garden of Eden, which took the whole first movie Liar Game: The Final Stage, and the Taboo Game, which took place in Liar Game Reborn Special - Fukunaga VS Yokoya.
I fell in love with Akiyama-kun in the drama – that‘s right, not with Matsuda Shota (even though I‘m sure he helped), but with Akiyama – very fast. He was the first guy that turned me on only with his intellect. No, really. And at first I thought it was all Matsuda‘s doing, but when I‘m reading the manga, I love Akiyama-kun even more. I must admit his stares are quite a lot scarier in manga version [while in drama it adds to the overall turn on], but somehow he seems more engaging and affecting as well. I wouldn't have expected a character‘s charisma to ooze from manga pages more than from screen, which, surprisingly, happen. Also, in manga he‘s either blonde or red haired (I've seen both cases, which makes me confused, but it seems he‘s blonde, cause that has been more often). Similarly to drama, Akiyama seems to be affected by Kanzaki‘s kindness and becomes a bit soft himself, but that does not affect his genius strategies for the games, only the motives for choices of specific strategies and perhaps overall point of view to the game.
In the drama this girl is so naive and stupid that it annoys me to pieces and I kinda hate her character, despite realising that she is crucial to the whole plot. Like it's told in the drama by the character herself, she's simply too honest and trusts people too much, which eventually puts her into many troublesome situations throughout Liar Game. I agree one needs to trust people, but I'm sure a healthy mind would still be able to tell apart where someone is simply trying to con you, especially when playing such a manipulative game, but she trusts completely everyone. In manga, she‘s still absolutely naive, but somehow that isn't annoying at all, perhaps only very little in the very beginning. I believe that might be the effect of the actor's portrayal as well, because in drama you can hear that naive voice of hers, while in manga you have only the behavior, which does not have this additional expression. I can clearly see her developing as well, especially in a sense of still wanting to help others until the end, but not being so stupid as to believe them right away. Also, in manga she gets a bit clever regarding the strategies as well while in drama not so much.
In the beginning I thought he‘s pretty much the same as in drama – sleazy, cunning, he hates Akiyama to bits and he wants to prove that Kanzaki‘s goodness won‘t win. Of course, he‘s wrong. But you‘ll see that in details yourself. But then I realised that manga version of Yokoya is actually quite different. Yokoya in drama is simply someone almost random with very high intellect, just another enemy for Akiyama, and he is supposed to be this very mysterious guy who's kinda a part of the LG office. But in manga he's much more cunning than in drama, in drama he almost seems silly, but in manga, he's a true rat (he even has one) and I really like him, even though he's the villain. In drama he's almost a parody of an intellectual villain, while in manga he's more of a "someone who could be a hero but he uses his powers for evil", if such comparison makes sense. The difference in appearance is that in manga he has black hair and very narrow eyes, he almost resembles a rat. That kind of appearance almost makes me put him into a yakuza or something :) And in drama he looks quite posh, a rich guy (well, he is rich indeed) and almost a pretty boy, while in manga his appearance doesn't have any appeal, at least for me.
Firstly, this character in manga greatly shocked me because... He is a woman. Well, kind of. He is one of those called „new halves“, but in manga he pretty much goes being a woman, and in drama he‘s your real standard man. Remember the posters in the beginning of the article? Yup, that other girl in manga's cover is Fukunaga. Since I watched the drama first, you can imagine my awkwardness when seeing a chapter cover in which Fukunaga was wearing some S&M-ish leather underwear with a whip in her hands. Yup, quite the shock :) Other than appearance, manga‘s Fukunaga seems to be more loyal to Akiyama and Kanzaki, even though she, in the beginning, also had betrayed them quite a few times. But simply in drama you don‘t see that much of loyalty, at least from the emotional side. I think that‘s the main difference – in drama, Fukunaga becomes loyal because of convenience to play while having allies, and in manga I can see an emotional trust having emerged. Also, for those, who have read the manga [for others it won‘t be spoiler] – my favorite moment in manga until now has been when Nao asked Akiyama „Why do you think Fukunaga really dressed as a woman today?“ – I almost fell off my chair.
Overall, I'm happy that I watched drama first because I enjoy manga so much more [even though drama is really amazing as well], so I don't have that feeling of "oh, the book was so much better than the movie, the movie didn't do it justice" and so on. Therefore if you're okay with reading mangas, I suggest you also watch drama first and read manga then. On the other hand, if you read manga first, there is that great feeling of seeing all your loved characters becoming alive, so I guess eventually it all depends of which one of these two scenarios you would prefer - getting better emotions because of the plot, or getting great emotions because of seeing something coming alive. TL;DR - drama is great, but manga is even more amazing!
So this has been my comparison of manga vs drama in Liar Game. I've become quite an avid fan of Liar Game franchise, so feel free to write me with any fangirl spazzing about it that you have ;) I hope you enjoyed this article and if you want to write an article comparing another drama to its original manga, contact HeyitsEst or SeRose and tell them all about it!