Out of all the Manga I’ve read that take upon gambling as the main topic, Life Is Money is definitely the most intense one. Betting in this Manga means much more than merely losing money — here, characters gamble on their lives. Read on for more details.
Life Is Money Manga Review
I’m a major Anime addict, and it’s something I take great pride in. And I’ve seen so many Anime shows with different topics. The one topic I never thought I would actually enjoy watching is gambling. To be more specific, the negative view the Japanese have of gambling is something that is extremely evident in their Manga and Anime. The purpose of most of them is to warn you against all the horrible consequences betting can bring.
In general, Shonen Manga and Anime are never really too deep. Although they take up the majority of the most popular Anime, the center of the plot is mostly action. A protagonist is always a person who manages to win against all the odds. And even though Shonen’s work is the ultimate winner when it comes to popularity and fame, many people make jokes about it. Some will say that in Shonen’s work, the more the character screams, the stronger they are. There might be some truth to these claims, but nevertheless, Shonen only gives people what they truly want. They want action, and they want a hero who wins when the entire world is against them.
Now, it is true that most of the Shonen Manga and Anime really do cater to the mainstream, somewhat young audience. However, this studio does produce Manga with much darker topics and events. Sometimes, it even creates Manga with a completely different art style — this is genuinely why Shonen dominates the industry.
Life Is Money: Shonen’s Experiment Well Done
You could say that Life Is Money is an experiment because it is so different from what this studio tends to put on the market. Shonen’s work is almost never dark, other than a couple of more profound moments here and there. But even then, comedy or so-called “fan service” make a grand entrance to break down the atmosphere.
Life Is Money, on the other hand, presents a difficult life of our main hero, Fukurukoji Meguru, at the beginning. His sister, who is very ill, requires 100 million Yen for surgery — a money Meguru’s family doesn’t have. As her time is running out, Meguru does everything he possibly can to get the money. At one point, he teams up with a fundraising organization to help him raise the money. And believe it or not, they actually do manage to raise funds necessary for his sister’s surgery. This moment of happiness doesn’t last for very long though. The company and all the people in it are gone the next day. They take the money with them and disappear, which leaves Meguru broken. In the eyes of the media and the public, he is a fraud who has stolen their money with a fake story.
As Meguru is having drinks at the bar, the bartender won’t even let him have another glass if he can’t pay for it. That is when a very sketchy figure approaches Meguru, and this man claims he understands his suffering. He believes this world doesn’t treat everyone equally, and some are blessed with a lot less happiness than others.
This man offers an amazing offer to Meguru — he can take part in a very risky gambling game, and win 100 million Yen if he is lucky enough. To make things worse and even more difficult, if Meguru loses, it will cost him his life.
The Game Is Basically a Setup
The rules of the game are very confusing, to say the least — or so it seems at first. All of the 10 participants are to be locked in a room together, where they will spend a couple of days. Each participant needs to wear a bracelet, which will measure the level of mental stability with amazing accuracy. If any player becomes more unstable than the bracelet allows, they will be killed. Upon death, the winnings of that person will be split among other players. If exactly five players die, the other five can all walk away with 100 million Yen in their pockets. However, if more than half dies, then they all die.
Secondly, there is one more addition to the game — the players need to throw a dice every day. Their senses will get locked depending on which number the dice rolls on. For example, if the number is 1, the player loses their sight — so they will blindfold him. If the number is 4, they lose their hearing, so they will put soundproof headphones over their ears. However, if the dice rolls on number six, the participant will have all of the senses released. So you could say there is some fairness to this game.
The players receive enough food, drinks, and accommodation to last them for days — or at least until they die. The moment they reach a certain level of mental instability, they are terminated. This alone is immense pressure on all of the participants.
The group consists of people with all different types of backgrounds. Some of them are struggling with money issues, just like Meguru, while some are going through a sex change and need money for that. Either way, the Manga encompasses everyone, and it lets readers empathize with the characters easily.
Life Is Money Isn’t for the Faint-Hearted
If you’re a fan of typical Shonen-like Manga, where the protagonist always wins, then Life Is Money might not be the one for you. The bare nature of the story is entirely sadistic. Later on, we even find out that Meguru’s sister’s condition getting worse the day before he accepts to participate in the game was probably staged. Both him and us find out that the operators of the game did this to her. The aim was to push Meguru into the game as soon as possible.
Not to mention how this Manga is extremely graphic, so if you’re weak on your stomach, maybe try to avoid it. Additionally, the characters in the Manga all have fascinating back stories — but most of the times, they lie. As a reader, it is very often up to you to realize which character is lying. They mostly do it to trick other characters into giving it all up.
Also, considering how most of the characters are mentally unstable to a certain degree, the creators of this Manga really had a lot of space to play with the art style.
Either way, this is one more Manga where one can see all the possible consequences of gambling and just how far it can take you. I certainly enjoyed reading Life Is Money, and if you’re not the one to enjoy sugarcoating, I suggest you give it a try.