Welcome to Academy Island, a maritime complex owned by the stark and merciless Mr. Saionji, a Silicon Valley-type mogul who sits cross-legged on the top of a skyscraper, looking down on a web of boarding schools he has built. Every last schoolboy and schoolgirl on the island owns a phone created by his company and uses his apps. Among them is a ranking score system based on stars that you can earn by defeating those above you in a variety of games peppered with “abilities”, augmented reality, and drone control. Rank well, and your school goes up. One-star transfer student Hiroto Shinohara barely made it past the entrance test and didn’t read the manual, so he asks a beautiful, kind redhead for directions. But a misunderstanding leads to a challenge, and Hiroto wins the game. Sarasa Saionji, though, is the granddaughter of Mr. Saionji himself, and the director of the Academy tells Hiroto that there is only one way to prevent the mogul’s violent revenge. Hiroto must simulate being a “Seven Star” by using the Red Star, a cheat made for deceit (ouch), and pretend that he is an arrogant teen prodigy able to defeat any opponent so that Sarasa Saionji’s loss will seem honorable. And so it begins.
So, what about this one? You see, harem shows are a tough sell for me, as they have to strike a difficult balance to keep me invested without making the protagonist into an unlikable jerk, an impossibly oblivious blockhead, or a wish-fulfillment pastiche. Hiroto is… none of these so far, and so far he has been able to carry the show on his shoulders. Though sincere enough in his personal interactions, he puts on the suave Lerouch Lamperouge persona very well, all while trembling and cursing inside. I have to roll my eyes at him being assigned a personal maid, but since the maid in question is cunning and more of his strategic advisor, I can give that a pass. His relationship with Sarasa seems convincing and sincere to me, and the crazy situations he keeps getting himself into seem to have a slightly more serious undertone once we learn that he has a secret. The animation is good enough and sometimes even inventive, and the videogame-esque music is catchy. Will this continue to be engaging, or will it stumble? We’ll see!
Liar, Liar can be streamed on Crunchyroll.