Liar Game: Semi-Finals

I am actually NOT doing a side-by-side comparison post for this round. The Korean drama only has two episodes left and there is a reinstatement round where one person goes on and then the finals. It’s a bit hard to compare rounds when they don’t have an equivalent of the round in the Japanese drama. The manga did have more than one reinstatement round, I believe, but the Japanese drama only did one. Thus, Round 5 of the Japanese drama is the semi-finals and technically round 5 of the Korean drama will be the final (reinstatement rounds are not counted as a normal game round).

Toda Erika, Matsuda ShotaSo Fukunaga, Nao, and Akiyama all make it into the semi-finals since their team won Round 4. They split their winnings so there was no way any of them could withdraw from the game, but that’s fine. Fukunaga wants as much money as possible and both Nao and Akiyama’s true goal is to destroy the Office and stop the game once and for all. The three arrive at a bowling alley where there are a total of 12 players for this round. Katsuragi Ryo  [Kikuchi Rinko] is also one of the players—remember she’s the youngest psychology professor of an elite Japanese university and a former classmate of Akiyama.

The first half of the semi-finals is a game called Angels & Demons. There will be three parts to this game with two 10 minute breaks. 10 players will start out as angels while two players will start out as a demon. If two angels connect their bracelets, then they gain a cross. Four crosses are needed for players to advance to the second half of the semi-finals. If an angel connects with a demon, then the angel becomes a demon. If an angel with at least one cross connects with a demon, then the demon becomes an angel while the angel turns into a demon. If two demons connect, nothing happens, they remain demons. Once two players have connect with each other, they cannot re-connect with the same person. Four confessionals are available so that players can check whether they are an angel or a demon.

Like always, there is a practice round. From the get go, Nao pleads with the players to join her and her sure-fire way to win. First off, the demons need to come forward. Once the demons have been identified, the angels will connect with each other. Once the connections have all been made, the demons will be made into angels and connect with the other players so that everyone can advance to the next round. Few people are on Nao’s side to try this out. When Katsuragi steps in and agrees, the others begin to follow suit. The experiment begins. Two people come out as being demons and the rest of the angels make connections. When Nao goes in to check her status, she finds out she’s a demon! How is that possible. And not just her! Everyone is a demon! What happened? When the final score is announced for the practice round, there are three angels and nine demons.

It’s pandemonium and Akiyama says he has a way to figure out what had happened. He has everyone write down who the first person was they connected with. The one person’s name who appears the most will be the culprit. So whose name is it? Katsuragi’s! Before the game had even started she joined forces with Marie [Megumi] and Norihiko Yasukawa [Harumi Shihou]. Katsuragi says that it doesn’t matter if Akiyama exposed the truth. Everyone now knows that the trio will be angels in the next round and that is an advantage to them.

The official first part of the game starts and everyone checks their statuses. Fukunaga and Nao confirm they are both angels and run upstairs to where Akiyama is observing everything. He doesn’t believe that Fukunaga is telling the truth. Fukunaga does breakdown and admit he’s a demon. This puts them at a bit of a disadvantage. They also can’t connect as it will draw suspicion since everything is tense right now. Katsuragi then announces a deal. She’ll open up her team to except a few members (only the amount needed so that she and Marie, and Yasukawa can get their four crosses needed to advance). As people start running towards them, Akiyama then breaks in and tells her that once her team is solidified, he will form a team with the remaining 8 players and she will be brought down. Thus…it’s a stalemate.

And like that round one passes without any connections made. Then comes the second round. Katsuragi and her teammates make their connections. They just lie in wait upstairs while people agonize downstairs. Akiyama then comes up with a pendulum scheme. He says that he created a pendulum that will detect angels and demons. He holds the pendulum over his bracelet and one string moves. He then does it over Fukunaga’s and the opposite string moves. Then does does it with Nao’s. This proves that he and Nao are Angels and Fukunaga is a demon. He then points out Kawai [Kyo Nobuo] as another angel and then Momoko [Katagiri Hairi]. Soon these four have all made connections. Katsuragi does have to point out that this method is all a giant lie and it’s really just Akiyama moving the pendulum in a way that causes one string to move over the other. She then announces that Fukunaga, Akiyama, and Nao are a team and thus that’s how Akiyama knew they were really an angel and a demon. Everything after that was a guess.

Katsuragi then starts to bully Nao. Why hasn’t she saved Fukunaga when she talks about saving everyone, but leaves him in a demon state? Akiyama keeps telling Nao NOT to pay heed to Katsuragi’s words, but Nao cannot stand Fukunaga’s desperate pleas. She makes him into an angel and thus her crosses go down from 3 to only 1. And…of course…Fukunaga breaks from Nao and Akiyama. He, Momoko, and Kawai all have four crosses now and don’t need to make any more connections.

Katsuragi offers the deal again and the remaining players all join her…save one. This surprises her. The megane Makizono Wataru [Yuki Jutta] wishes to remain on Nao’s side. In the practice round, he was a demon who didn’t come forward because Marie and Yasukawa stepped up as demons first. He tells a story of how he was hospitalized and there was a young man he did not like at all, but when the hospital caught on fire and he was trapped in the bathroom, the young man came back and saved him. Fukunaga says not to trust Makizono as he’s obviously lying. Nao goes to make the connection with him to show her faith, but Akiyama steps in and does it instead. He then checks his status. Makizono really was an angel! This means the remaining demon is on Katsuragi’s team.

To get to Akiyama, Katsuragi is concentrating on having Nao end the game with less than four crosses. Katsuragi believes that humans being nice and good is hypocrisy as deep down they are hoping to gain something from such acts. Nao connects with Makizono and then she spends her ten minute break pleading with Kawai and Momoko to connect with Makizono to save him from elimination and debt. Momoko and Kawai run and run from Nao, who won’t give up and Akiyama thinks that this will be a good thing.

The final third hits and Katsuragi’s team all makes the connections with the remaining three players. She has Marie and Yasukawa go check their statuses, but they can’t. The four confessionals are all locked! This sends them into a panic. Katsuragi says it’s a vain attempt of Akiyama. She pegs that it’s Akiyama, Fukunaga, Makizono, and Nao in the confessionals, but boy do they get a shock when Nao and Makizono appear behind them. Nao explains Momoko and Kawai have decided to help in this way at least. Katsuragi then says no one will resist money. She puts a blank check in each confessional and says she will speak an amount. Once the amount they want is hit, simply slip the check back out and she’ll fill in the amount and they must vacate the confessional.

At 200 million, Fukunaga is quick to betray and runs out of the confessional followed by an angry Kawai and Momoko. The Katsuragi team then check their statuses and Yasukawa who connected with Tsuchida [Mirishita Yoshiyuki] (the man from Yokoya’s team who ran away and then came back during the Smuggling Game) is now a demon. He unhappily announces this and once he has, the three remaining players connect with Akiyama’s team. Akiyama is rejoicing in his victory over Katsuragi, but she forced the three to sign a contract and thus they all connect with her and her teammates. However…this means Yasukawa is one cross short of passing. Too bad, but so sad. He’s crying and Nao comes over to save him…now they can all move on together. Thus the game ends with everyone having at least four crosses and no one is kicked out. Katsuragi says they will regret it.

So now we head straight on to the second half game. The Contraband Game has been upgraded to Gold Rush. Each team has a total 17 bars in their vault, plus one bar for each player. You can call doubt and pass. The rules are virtually the same except teams can only smuggle one brick at a time and if a would-be smuggler is stopped with an iron brick instead of gold, the inspector must pay them a gold brick.

Nao becomes the leader of Shine and Katsuragi the leader of Flame (or something like that…I might have reversed the team names). If a losing team ends up having no money, the leader must shoulder half of all debt while the other half is split amongst the remaining players of the team. Thanks to Fukunaga, Nao’s team is quick to take a two brick lead, but it’s what comes next that’s the most important. Akiyama announces his fool-proof plan of smuggling their money over to the opposing team’s vault. Just like a regular bank, you can make deposits with the vault card. They will withdraw all 17 of their bricks and have a traitor from the opposing team deposit the bricks into their vault.

While they are happily rejoicing about this plan, it’s then revealed that they don’t have just 17 bricks in their vault…but a whopping 34! That means all of the vault gold is in their bank. Uh-oh. That means they are losing by a landslide. Apparently in each round, the Shine players were told by Flame players about how much that hate Katsuragi and want to bring her down and thus they left them bricks to take back. This was Katsuragi’s grand scheme. So she and Akiyama both thought of a winning method…but she was faster.

With only a few rounds left, what can they do? They will utilize the same plan, but in a different way. He knows Katsuragi is ruling Flame with fear. She holds the bank cards captive and will not give players their own cards. She even hands out voice recorders to reward snitches if any of her team members seem to be plotting with Shine. Heck, Katsuragi even threatens to burn the cards so they cannot get any money if they win. Thus Nao is sent in to sound out the players. Yes, they are quite unhappy and she thinks they might be able to get them to turn on Katsuragi.

Thus Akiyama goes in and tells Kawai and Marie that they did not deposit the bars, but hid them, so Flame will be in big trouble later. Kawai and Marie agree to help out. They then wish to approach Ikezawa [Oshinari Shugo] as the final traitor. Katsuragi has caught on that someone is doing something bad, but doesn’t know who. She leaves for the next round and Kawai and Marie are caught by Momoko. When she comes back, she has Kawai and Marie bound and gives them 10 minutes to talk. Marie makes it through, but Kawai spills everything. Thus Marie and Kawai are forced to betray their newly made alliance.

But Akiyama isn’t stupid. He knows something is wrong and didn’t give the location of the bank card like he was supposed to. Marie goes in next to reassure him everything is okay and in the next round Ikezawa gets the location and brings back all the gold to Flame. And so…here we are at the penultimate round. Shine is bright as is Flame, but one of these teams get a nasty surprise…which team do you think it is? Flame! Right now Shine is in the lead with like 42 or 43 gold bricks. Katsuragi is really confused. What has happened.

It turns out that he took a voice recorder from Marie and that was used to pass on the instructions. Ikezawa was already on Shine’s side before Katsuragi caught Marie and Kawai. Marie genuinely thought Kawai betrayed them, but he told her and Ikezawa the plan was still on. Why? Why did they turn against her? Because of Nao. Because someone like Nao exists and affirmed that she will make sure to save everyone…even Katsuragi. Our psychology professor is defeated and knows it. She is the final player in the final round. Nao pleads for Akiyama to save Katsuragi as she really isn’t a bad person deep down—Nao can see this now.

Ah…and the backstory of Akiyama and Katsuragi. They were students studying psychology. Akiyama was particularly interested in profiling. He was top in the class, but once suffered a big loss to Katsuragi. The professor gave them a letter and asked for a profile. Katsuragi and Akiyama give opposite profiles and it turns out Katsuragi’s is right. Akiyama is angry because Katsuragi, while right, did not really use profiling to come to the answer. The professor agrees that while it isn’t strictly profiling, he has to give credit where it’s due. Katsuragi has something that Akiyama doesn’t and it’s up to Akiyama to figure it out.

In the final round, Akiyama hands his card over to Katsuragi and asks her what she has that he doesn’t. Maybe the answer lies with that card? Katsuragi takes it and puts it in the vault…nada. She smiles bitterly and then turns and sees one lone brick sitting out. As long as there is one brick, she won’t be burdened with overwhelming debt. The problem comes that with that one brick, Shine loses one of its tickets to the Finals. You see, the semi-finals is the only stage of the game where you don’t have to repay half the prize money. You can leave the game with your winnings and no extra debt. However, you can purchase tickets to pay in the final round. That one brick means that there is not enough tickets for Nao, Akiyama, and Fukunaga. We all know Fukunaga will not give up his ticket. So Nao gives hers up. She tells Akiyama to bring the game down for her—she has faith in him.

The game is over and Eri walks to a different semi-final round. There Yokoya [Suzuki Kazuma] has come out as the ultimate winner. He shockingly declines participation in the Final Stage. This opens up a spot and our gold-toothed detective Tanimura [Watanabe Ikkei] approaches Nao to take up the final ticket. Nao doesn’t wish to re-enter the game, but we all know she will once Tanimura pleads with her to step in and save Akiyama since, for the past two years, he’s saved Nao countless of times.

And that is where season two of the Japanese drama ends.

Now, if you read my Round 4 post and the Korean version of the contraband game, you will see that parts of the character of Kang Do Young really do resemble Katsuragi Ryo. He’s probably really a mix of Yokoya and Katsuragi if not more players. Whiile Yokoya and Katsuragi turned out not to be evil to the bone…it’s kind of hard to think that Do Young isn’t. I mean, look at what happened to baby hacker Sung Joon! He dug into Do Young’s past and Do Young had the elevator he was in sabotaged! Now we do know that Do Young’s creation of the Liar Game is solely because of some beef he has with Woo Jin and Woo Jin’s mother…something to do with the orphanage that she ran, but will whatever the crime is really justify his cruel game?

We’ll see. I will do a Final Stage comparison. The finale is coming next week for the Korean drama. What will we get and who will rise victorious? Ah…and with the Japanese version…who do you think the ultimate winner will be between Akiyama and Nao?


  • NeeNee, another great post! Thank you! So, much detail that really makes me appreciate how the writer(s) created this world. Again, it helps me better understand the kversion as well as see how it differs from the original. It’s interesting to see how DY seems to have been created not based on one character from the original but several.
    DY is def a very twisted, evil person who will do anything. Why, SJ?!
    I’m not overall great at predicting so I feel that no matter what I answer I will be wrong. Lol. I will say Akiyama will be the winner.
    I hope that in the kversion finale DJ gets a chance to shine & out wit DY and thus help WJ.

  • Katsuragi does not exist in the manga and was created for the J-drama. She is based on Yokoya, and her backstory is actually Akiyama’s.

    • Ahh, thanks for that clarification. I haven’t read the manga, obviously, but I do know that the jdrama did not follow the manga faithfully as I checked out the Liar Game chapter descriptions. It’s interesting how Katsuragi is so calm and quiet…even when being evil. Yokoya, not so much (at least in the drama version), so it’s interesting to know that she’s based on Yokoya.

  • Do you know what Katsuragi has but Akiyama doesn’t? I’ve been so confused by that part towards the ending. Perhaps money? One-sided love for Akiyama? That she has more human-like feelings rather than just being a machine?

    • I don’t know…in the end Akiyama’s pursuit of taking the Liar Game to the finals is always centered around revenge and putting a stop to the cruelty. He appears all calm but its more so a facade while Katsuragi’s really isn’t?

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