What’s it about? Shinohara Hiroto is new to Academy Island, a place where games are more than just games and your ability to lie is key if you want to earn the illustrious title of Seven Star, which is currently held by Saionji Sarasa, otherwise known as the Empress. However, when Hiroto encounters her and manages to pull off a win by sheer luck, he finds himself instantly embroiled in a twisted challenge of bluffs, trickery, and weakness in order to stay on top.
Anifam, I’m going to tell you a secret: a secret that people seldom know about me online.
I really, really, REALLY love Danganronpa. (This is a joke. Well, the “secret” part at least.)
I spent most of my graduate degree playing the games on my Vita, engrossed in the story largely because of just how wild it was. There was something that pulled me in about the chaos of a spiritual successor to things like 999: games where you have to risk your life to figure out a larger mystery. In the end, Danganronpa was my gateway to series like Kakegurui and my general entry into death game media, and years later, is a touchstone series I frequently return to.
I say all this because Liar, Liar is an anime centered on being well…a good liar and has similar vibes while not being as deadly as Danganronpa or even Kakegurui. It’s a series all about deceit, duplicity, and most of all, being willing to bluff and trick your way to the top and to do all manner of down and dirty debauchery to stay there.
For me, that set a lot of expectations going into Liar, Liar, not necessarily because IK expected a death game, but because I expected to see a lot of what makes Danganronpa so compelling: desperation used as a vehicle to explore the darker side of human ambition and desire.
But ah…..well, maybe we should get into the premiere before I set your expectations too high here. So let’s start with Liar, Liar’s first episode.
Episode 1, “The King and the Lie,” starts with a monologue from transfer student Shinohara Hiroto, one of the most pompous dudes I’ve ever had to endure. I mean, this kid just sucks, and while that’s the purpose, already, I feel exhausted knowing he’s at the helm. That said, he also gives viewers a pretty good taste of what Liar, Liar’s setting will be: a high school where its students will push themselves to the limit to be the cream that rises to the top. In a crab barrel kind of world–i.e. a school where rank means more than cultural standing–that means Hiroto is going to have to go above and beyond anyone’s above and beyond.
Too bad he’s an absolute dweeb.
And that’s kind of the gist: episode 1 is table setting, as most premieres are, jumping us into a future tech romcom with minimal action. In fact, the most action comes from introducing us to their Device (a smart phone) and its various apps via Stock, which houses the games that students at Eimei Academy, and the general populace of Academy Island where Hiroto is now a student, play to earn stars and rise to the tippy, tippy top of society. That said, there’s an instance of the AR-esque game, which is…just okay. It’s all just okay.
Oh, but wait: there’s one thing I forgot. There’s girls. There’s girls? There’s girls. Did I mention that there’s beautiful girls? Because of course there are, and the camera definitely won’t let you forget that they’re girls.
Liar, Liar is pretty easy on the eyes which was a pleasant surprise as I haven’t watched anything by Geek Toys studio. That said, it’s nothing groundbreaking, and looks like a lot of other anime. I don’t know if that’s because of my bias and comparison to other shows or just because Liar, Liar kind of slots in alongside the plethora of completely average anime. Speaking honestly, I think it’s the latter more than the former: this show just…isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for me, despite having a shocking THIRTEEN VOLUMEs of a light novel that’s still ongoing and has an official localization.
Musically, this show is…confused on what its sound should be. It constantly goes back and forth between genres in this weird way that kind of put me off. I think it’s because nothing in it sounds distinct: once again, it kind of feels like it’s channeling shows like it rather than being its own distinct thing. All of this mixes together to form a really routine premiere that rolls into the equally routine second episode, which was surprisingly available same day as the first.
It’s a shame too because I think there’s something here: I’d like a romcom with a bit of playfulness and some games to relax with this summer. Unfortunately, I feel like I need to look to seasons of the past, rather than anime seasons of the present.
As a fan of school islands or communities–I’m looking at you A Certain Scientific Railgun–I really, really wanted to like this, and while Liar, Liar isn’t bad, it’s so average that I don’t have much in my closing remarks. The fan service is pretty rote, the voice acting is what you expect, and the animation is, as said above, fine. It’s all just fine, which might be the biggest crime here. But hey, at least they’re not lying to you about the quality of this premiere.
Ultimately, Liar, Liar has a potentially exciting story that…kind of just falls flat right out the gate. Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it won’t: realistically, I won’t be around to see if it does.