Roots of Akiyama?

23 03 2009

So…

What of Akiyama’s original character, before he lost his mother and went on to take down the Shuuei Group?

What’s always been a part of Akiyama’s character (both in Roots of A and Liar Game)? What has he gained in the 5 years between Roots of A and Liar Game? What has he lost?

What Akiyama Has Always Had:
Depth/Intelligence: Well, obviously. I don’t just mean Akiyama is intelligent in what in knows (though he is), but also in the way he thinks as a whole. Akiyama’s classmates in Roots of A are smart, but they’re surface thinkers. Akiyama’s thought processes go much deeper, which I think is really the single key to his personality, so much so that it’s part of his name (the ‘shin’ in Shinichi means deep, despite there being about, oh, 8 other thematically appropriate and more common variations of the name available). He rejects immediately obvious conclusions, and sees possibilities and nuances that other people choose to ignore. This is what makes him a genius, and really, really good at the Liar Game.

Quietness:
I would call Akiyama an introvert, more a quiet observer than the center of the circle. The only time he speaks up is when giving an explanation, when pulling a scheme, or when asked a question that he has to respond to. He also very rarely actually talks about himself or shares himself with others. Usually he has to count on Nao to connect with others.

Emotion: As much as Akiyama is quiet and intelligent, I think he feels (and is motivated by) some pretty deep emotions. By the end of Roots of A, he seems just as much moved by the story he told as his classmates, and I wonder if the impact of the story is why he chose to tell the whole thing in class. In Liar Game, you can’t convince me that his decision to help Nao isn’t based on his own emotions just because if Akiyama were completely rational, he would have ignored her.

Humility: I don’t think Akiyama ever had much of an ego. He never takes credit for any of his plans, and never acts in a way that indicates that he finds himself above other people. Despite the fact that he has a graduate-level education, he appears to work a manual labor job outside of the Liar Game. Additionally, he chooses to paint Nao as the boss of their team, even though he’s really the ‘mastermind’. In Roots of A, he admits up front that he failed to do the profiling assignment, and that he asked the professor’s wife, instead of taking credit for his deductions.

What Akiyama has gained since Roots of A:

Bravado:
Boy, Akiyama’s learned how to bluff since Roots of A. Well, maybe he always had that ability, but he doesn’t really show it at all during Roots of A, whereas in Liar Game, his ability to use his confidence to get other players to believe along with him is his biggest way of manipulating people. Well, other than offering tangible rewards to people who join him.

Ruthlessness: Akiyama has always been persistent in finding solutions. That’s what you get when you see possibilities other people don’t. But Akiyama in Liar Game can and will trick and manipulate people in order to get through, which goes against his ideals. Please don’t forget that this is a man who went out and bankrupted a corporation, even though it would ruin his own life, because he wanted to avenge his mother’s death.

What Akiyama has lost:

Expression: He slowly seems to be regaining this in Liar Game. Compare his behavior in the first round to that in the third round, and I’d cite the upcoming volumes, but I really can’t. =P Just trust me. But in Roots of A, Akiyama’s thoughts and emotions are a lot closer to being transparent.

Idealism: I think this is really the saddest part of all. You have Roots of A, and by itself, it has a happy ending. Akiyama, full of idealism, chooses to enter graduate school so he can really understand people. His expression in the last panel is one that we will never see again: bright-eyed idealism. I think he’ll be happy, and I think he’ll learn to trust again, but the Akiyama in Roots of A believes that people’s intentions are basically good. The Akiyama in Liar Game knows this isn’t the case.


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15 responses

23 03 2009
quantula

I don’t disagree with a single thing here. πŸ™‚
What’s also interesting to note about the expression thing is that we first see him get angry at Nao when he’s saying “It’s because you’re so honest you’re easy to fool!” Other than that, he’s either just chuckling/smirking (in a hollow sort of way), or just plain straight-faced.
Up to this point, only Nao has been able to make him react, whether that reaction was anger, laughter….
Awww ❀

23 03 2009
onicchi

I think in the third round, it’s definitely implied that he’s becoming a touch more expressive when around the other players. It’s just Nao’s the only one who cares enough to notice, that he’s not acting with the same ‘confidence’ he always has.

Oh…and the upcoming arc is really awesome for Akiyama facial expressions.

25 08 2009
Winterflower

i mostly agree with everything you said, but i’m not too sure about the humility part. Sure, he’s not an egocentric, but there’s something that strikes me odd in this story: why did he keep quiet trought the whole assignement and quietly investigated the affair, never saying one word to his classmates even while they told the teacher a version he knew was incorect?

you said “He never takes credit for any of his plans”, but if that’s so, even if he’s a “quiet” type of guy he would still have shared his findings with the others in the group. instead i get the feeling he didn’t want to share the credit with his classmates and so, purposely left them behind and did the assignement on his own so he could show off… do you think i’m being unfair? i love him, really, akiyama is a wonrfull char, but i think it would make sense if he was maybe a little too proud of himself for being so smart, after all he’s just human.

as for not bringing it up during the liar game, well, that would make it harder to work his bluffs and plans if people already suspected him from the begining: if you knew there was a guy smart like him in a game like that you wouldn’t drop your guard around him. thats why he’ll have a hard time dealing with yokoya. and he looks like he enjoys himself explaining his plans to nao and whoever whants to hear it every round, it’s not like he really needs to do that. he could just say “we won. period.” of course, we readers would be bored out of our minds then, but as a character he doesn’t know that xD so i think he does that to get the chance to let everyone whos safe to tell know just how cool he is. its the same as fukunaga (who’s anything but humble) in round two, reveling his plan before the game ended, only akiyama has a better sense of timing for his speaches.

by the way, i’ve been reading your blog for a while, but horible english and lack of anything useful to say prevented me from leaving any comment before -.- congrats, its been really interesting, not only for the spoilers and summaries (even tough i love them^^) but specialy for the comments. there should be more people up to analise things like manga instead of just buggering translators to go faster x.x discussing a story like this gives it a much better flavour. and liar game seem to be quite overlooked, so it’s nice that a blog like this exists for fans to reaunite. and thats it. sorry for the overly long comment o.o

26 08 2009
Jais

Thank you for your comment. Please don’t hesitate on account of your English, as I’m pretty sure that many other readers and commentors are also non-native English speakers. ^^ Comments are love. The more people who comment, the more discussions can be had. =D

I guess the reason why Akiyama didn’t tell his classmates had something to do with both his method (he did technically cheat on his assignment), which if he’d shared with the other people would have made them cheaters as well. Plus they had already expressed that they all thought there wasn’t a real story behind the letter.

I guess the thing is, Akiyama is smart, like genius-level smart, but unlike a lot of geniuses in fiction, he focuses more on telling people what he did and how to do it (effectively teaching them) and less on making them feel inferior. So when I think about his ego in comparison to his abilities, even if he holds back his explanations until after it goes down, he still appears humble to me…

30 03 2010
Keesie

I agree! At least, about how discussing the series gives it a better flavor. As for humility, I thought that was one of the characteristics of Akiyama that the article got right on the money.

The serious tone and content of the discussions we have here are rather similar to those I have in my AP Literature class; we analyze characters, make predictions, make connections to different works of similar caliber, and study plot development. Of course, Liar Game is a bit more exciting than Austen’s Emma πŸ™‚ But anyway, I just thought that was rather cool. Maybe we’re the AP manga appreciation class? ^_^

31 03 2010
Jais

Maybe we’re the AP manga appreciation class? ^_^

Maybe. Only more of an in-depth seminar on Liar Game.

((If I were still in an English class that would allow it, I would so write papers analyzing the game.))

26 08 2009
Silvara4ever

Lately, I am reading -or trying to read, more likely- mangas with the ‘psichological’ tag on them, and also ‘mystery’ most of the time. And you know what? After one chapter, I just throw them off in annoyance. Because they-are-always-the-same: they create these non-believable situations, from which a mega-super-indescribably cool genius character solves a mystery or a game, explaining how and why, and the explanations turns out to be (surprise!!) laughable. But of of course, the rest of characters are simply mesmerized by the guy’s intelligence, and that makes him the only worthy person in the whole world (words that sometimes even the character itself says). Seriously.

Liar Game has put a yardstick in my manga taste, and it’s a tough one to surpass. And one of the main reason is, precisely, how unusual Akiyama’s behaviour as a genius is. I mean, yeah, he does explain his plans, but in a different way. As Jais said, he teaches. And he doesn’t make the losers feel bad by it, at least if they don’t deserve it (I’m thinking the teacher from the first round and Fukunaga in the second one as exceptions). His explanations are mainly focused on Nao, because, in the end, what he apparently wants is to make Nao stronger and to be able to defend herself (although now that this is happening, he seems a little scared, lol, they grow so fast).

So, to sum it up, Akiyama is pretty much the only manga genius that doesn’t make me wanna puke… Lol. No, seriously. He IS a genius, but he is down to earth, and we can always feel in certain expressions of his that he is, after all, human. A concept that seems to be lost in other mangas.

26 08 2009
quantula

‘One Outs’… as much as I love it, I do have to admit that Tokuchi is pretty much indestructible. He never slips up. If he IS slipping up, it’s an act. Since it is Kaitani though, the explanations he gives are actually pretty clever, but still, you have to wonder if this guy has any weaknesses. I’m also waiting for a backstory or SOMETHING that shows him vulnerable, but nope. I didn’t find anything from raws.

That’s why I think Kaitani did really really well with Akiyama. I mean, not only does his backstory show his vulnerabilities, but we see them appearing from time to time throughout the game.

Also, the artwork seems to be lacking, but that’s because the backgrounds are sparse and there doesn’t seem to be much soft shading. But the character expressions have so much subtlety to them, I never find myself thinking “Oh, you can’t see his eyes, that must mean he’s deep in thought or angry” as I do with other mangas. I had to re-read Liar Game at least twice to find those expressions that moved me a certain way. A lot of the times, Akiyama has those subtle expressions which make him seem more realistic, whereas other super geniuses have such a limited range of emotions. I mean, this last panel here:
http://www.onemanga.com/Liar_Game/52/18/
Who wasn’t affected by that? It genuinely frightened me, even though I was on his side!

To me, the term “humble” doesn’t mean “a type of person who won’t toot their own horn” (lol at the expression). It means to me “down-to-earth person who is capable of listening to others”. The biggest tendency of arrogant people is to deflect what other people tell them without any rhyme or reason, you know? Akiyama has never advertised himself as a genius….although doing so in the Liar Game would be problematic anyway.

26 08 2009
Jais

Yeah…thinking on it, Akiyama is one of the few ‘geniuses’ in manga that I can actually believe is a genius. Highly intelligent, which we know from how he acts (was there any doubt from his first appearance that his brain was functioning?), and not because he’s got the educational pedigree (which he does have, but we don’t find that out until after we’ve seen behavior that backs it up).

He also… I don’t know…between the desire to actually teach people and I guess…what gets me is that Akiyama seems to give off this air of being curious and well-read, even outside his area of expertise, like genuinely wanting to keep on learning no matter what the subject is. I don’t know if it ever showed up in the manga or if it’s just an impression.

Plus, Akiyama’s genius doesn’t stop him from having weaknesses or being human or heaven forbid, being moved by actual emotions, instead of only doing what is ‘rational’ (he’ll never admit that last part, but oh, it’s there). It doesn’t stop him from knowing that he’s done things he’s not proud of (do you really think he enjoys being a ‘genius swindler?’), and he doesn’t elevate himself morally above others, at least not to the same extent.

Like, I guess, Akiyama thinks it’s okay to trick people into doing things that are for their own good, while he definitely does not like being left out of the loop himself, but when it doesn’t work the way he intends, he doesn’t excuse it with the whole, ‘I’m a genius’ bit.

More random asides:

Favorite Akiyama expression:
http://www.onemanga.com/Liar_Game/45/14/

You can tell that he’s really, really trying NOT to lose is cool there, even though he’s livid.

Also: I’ve been reading/skimming another Kaitani series ‘Odagiri Kyoko’, which is more comedic and (as of 2 volumes) not as deep as Liar Game, but I do like the fact that Kyoko ends up being the butt of jokes almost as much as her hapless fanboy and she still manages to solve her cases.

Of course, I really think it helps Kaitani with the ‘psychological’ aspect that he doesn’t try to make all his mysteries involve death. Sometimes there’s a threat there in the background (suicide in Liar Game is one of those), or it’ll be in a character’s back story, but it’s not the ‘mystery’ they’re trying to solve, which makes the thought processes themselves more the focus. And gives room for more subtle development for both the heroes and the opposition.

30 03 2010
Keesie

I know what you mean. After finding Liar Game I tried out all sorts of psychological manga, but none of them were half as satisfying. Gamble Fish, Detective Conan (let’s not even go there – more than 700 chapters and no plot development as far as I can see), they all made me feel a bit like the mangaka was treating me like I was a complete ignoramus. Because I am totally falling for this guy’s oh so not very apparent genius. Not saying the other stuff out there is complete trash, but they really doesn’t measure to Liar Game at all. I’ve become a manga snob *_*

1 04 2010
Chuckie

I feel the same way. Most psychological manga are based on gambling and the concept of bluffing which I don’t like because of how much luck is relied on. None of them are like Liar Game which is purely a battle of wits.

28 08 2009
Ani

you forgot to add that he has gained huge eyebags.

28 08 2009
Jais

that’s true as well.

18 11 2012
tukang_makan

you’ve made your point. in the drama Liar Game 0 Akiyama had already been a mr.cool guy though he’s not quite as bitter as in the drama, but in Roots of A, his upright and kind-nature slightly resembles Nao imho, and this drastic change of characteristics is what makes Akiyama (manga) is far more interesting and huan compared to the over-emphasized coolness in the movie

18 11 2012
tukang_makan

/human

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