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So assuming both Akiyama and Harimoto have a plan, even Harimoto mentioned he has something up his sleeve, we can say that Harimoto has the upper hand for now? Abe might be able to change the flow of the game, to make it easier for Aki and Nao, though I believe Aki has things already planned to some stage, he might need Abe like he did in the previous game.
My non-serious answer is that Akiyama has massive amounts of plot armor, so no matter how bad the situation might look, he has the upper hand.
The more serious answer is that Harimoto's methods rely on the absolute loyalty of his followers and his ability to charm other players onto his side and that those generally lose in a battle of schemes to someone who uses cunning. Nao is also the X factor and aligned with Akiyama, so that is a point in his favor. (in a chapter or two, we'll see how Akiyama spent ten minutes intricately explaining his brilliant plan to Nao, even though we currently have had no indication that they talked at all. It is sad that I'm not sure if I'm serious about that or not.)
As for Abe, I'm going to predict her "betrayal" happens next game. It would be a waste to play that narrative card now, and unless Abe has to discard a card that another player on Harimoto's team needs, I'm not really sure what kind of backstabbing to help Nao she could accomplish.
Well she did have her betrayal in the previous arc, it is just a reminder that we are not done with her in the overall story, the real twist was in the previous arc. Though for such a thing to occur now, there has to be something similar to the ending of that arc, though this game is a bit more chaotic than the last one, that last one really was epic, the number of participants and everything, Kaitani really has to come up with something like that for it to happen.
Eh, she didn't betray Harimoto in the previous arc. Really, in the scheme of things, her presence was meaningless, except that it makes her more likely to aid Nao and betray Harimoto in the future in that the path has already been set.
The last arc might have been "epic" in terms of scope, but I think it suffered way too much from a clunky narrative (the constant largely unnecessary explanations from the observers and the flashbacks, the overly controlled release of information) and a too slow of a pace. At least it didn't suffer from an overly complicated set of rules (Contraband game) or be a series of games that has almost nothing to do with lying (3v3 revival game).
Actually, I think the biggest problem of this series is that everything in the game is too big - too many characters, too many rules, too large competitions. The first game, against the teacher, was the best for me because it was very very character driven and really got into the teacher's psychology. At most, with the bigger games, we'll get a few thoughts that show how tense the minor characters are. Also, despite the fact that every character design is unique (I love the character designs - they look so UNmanga) all the side characters merge into 'antagonist' 'ally' and 'I don't know who these people are'. It also happens with the rules of the various games - they get far too complicated and statistical for me to understand. If the entire thing were smaller and more based on actual lies and trickery, not just how much of a genius Akiyama is, then I think it would be a lot more interesting... and a completely different story.
But, this chapter, I wondered if Akiyama and Nao have already switched tablets in secret, so that when they switch again, they're back to their own. I'm not sure what good that would do Akiyama though, because if he uses his tablet, they'll think he and Nao have betrayed them, and they'll be worse off than before.
The teachers game was supposed to be the biggest. We just did not see it, that is when there were the most participants.
Yea, that panel that focused on them and the tablets gave it away a bit, that there is something fishy there.
In general I think the other players is really the problem here, we know who is leading this story, why does Kaitani bring in them in every game, we should focus on a more exciting Liar Game where the best duke it out. Sadly, it i such due to Nao's plan to save them all.
And then there is the question of what would be gained by him having his tablet. Akiyama/Nao's plan almost certainly revolves around the other players without any bidding by themselves.
I was the opposite, I never really got in to it until we reached the Contraband game and things started increasing in scope.
Also it seems incredibly silly to get mad over whether someone likes it or not.
If people accept and celebrate mediocrity, no one has any incentive to rise above that level.
Who cares though. People on the internet liking a single manga you don't personally care for isn't going to end the world.
Anyhow I don't think Harimoto will have the upper hand for long, though it would be nice if he surprised us and took control of the game. I think Kaitani just wants to wind this game down right now so I don't really expect anything major to happen until the next one.
My biggest problem with this game is that everything would be simple if they would simply put the tablets down on the ground.
I mean... you could have everyone except those that are supposed to vote to put their tablet down, and then, all suspicion would be gone...
No need to exchange tablets, or any other stupid stuff like that...
That's the biggest logic flaw of this game, IMO.