Life Is Money (Manga Review)

Title - Life Is Money
Author - Asaniji Teru
Illustrator - Yaguraba Tekka

Story - Ten contestants agree to put their life on the line to have a chance of winning 100 million yen. To win, they must survive 10 days inside the prison. The story is centered around a guy named Meguru, he is a guy who is down on his luck. His sister is dying from a illness and she is in need of a transplant in order to survive. Meguru tried to raise money for the surgery using help from a fundraiser organization, but he was lie too and they took all the money he earned. Now with no hope in sight he is approach by a mysterious guy in the bar who overhears his story. He offers Meguru a chance to win the 100 Million Yen for his sister's operation. However he will have to gamble his life in order to do it. Meguru agrees to the join the game with ten other participants who were also tricked into this game. 

For ten days the players will be locked up in this prison constantly being monitored by the people who brought them there. There are two important key items in this game, the first item is a bracelet which monitors the heart rate and mental stability of each player. If a player goes over a certain level they will then be killed and their share of the money will go to everyone else still alive. The game is played on a mental level, you have to keep yourself calm and cool or you will have an emotional overload, however it's not as easy as it sounds because the second item will test you. The second item is the dice which will determine which of the five senses the player will lose. Each day players will have to roll the dice, and depending on what number they roll, they will either lose one of the senses or if they rolled 6 they will regain everything back. For instance if you rolled one you lose your sight and will be blindfolded, if you rolled two you lose your hearing and force to wear sound proof headphones and etc. This brought a very interesting concept to the story because being in a place you don't know locked away for ten days is stressful enough, but now you have to add the fact that you lose your five senses and your mind starts to panic. The game is a test on endurance and players try to explore each other's mental weakness for personal gain, some players will use friendship to get ahead, others will be very manipulative and some are just naive but deadly. 

The manga is well written and does a great job of giving detail characterizations on all the players. The player you will connect with the most is the protagonist Meguru and that is due to the fact he's in this game to save a life. His goal is noble and you will cheer for him to make it out this game for the sake of his sister. His opponents are just as compelling to read, each player deals with a social issue that you might relate too, such as bullying, financial issues, sexual identity issues, religion and more. I like how the writer depicts these issues and uses them to either make a statement, or exploit the characters weakness. The psychological aspect is used heavily not just on the players, but on the readers. There are actions, and things said that might rub you the wrong way especially when religious debate is involve. However I found this to be the best part of the manga. It made you feel like you're part of the game when certain actions are done. You start to question would you do the same thing if you're in this situation, and that's what I felt worked for the manga.

Art - The art is very well done. Artist Yaguraba Tekka does a great job of catching the emotional aspect of this manga. Since this manga main drive is psychological and emotional aspect the job of the artist is to capture that. Yaguraba Tekka hit a home run when it came down to the emotional breakdowns of the characters. The facial expressions, the tears and even the way they die is spot on related to the characters emotions.

Final Grade A-/9.0 - "Life Is Money" is a fun and compelling manga to read. It's filled with a great concept that is executed well, great characters with enough backstory so that you can relate too, and finally it makes you think. This is a manga you should check out.