Itsuwaribito Vol. 1 (Manga)
Publisher: Viz Media
Release Date: December 2010
Price: $9.99
Creator: Yuuki Iinuma
Format: 192 pgs.; B&W; Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4215-3756-6
Age Rating: Teen+
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This manga is both enjoyable and frustrating.  An "itsuwaribito" is a liar, in this context a thief without scruples, who cheats and steals by any means necessary.  The central character, traumatized as a child, has decided never to tell the truth if at all possible, because he blames telling the truth for his trauma.

After yet another set of traumatic experiences, he sets out to be a liar fighting liars, using the skills he has taught himself to do good rather than harm.  Think of a freelance ninja who lies all the time, and that’s approximately what he has become.

The difficulty is that he quickly becomes an even less likeable version of Naruto, because of his compulsion to lie at all times.  His repeated “I lied about lying” line was amusing the first time, but it becomes tiresome as a running gag.  As the reader, you want him to win, but may not care all that much if he loses eventually.

The other characters and the plot are stronger, and make the story worth reading.  This first volume ends very abruptly, apparently in the middle of a scene, which creates a painful cliffhanger.

--Nick Smith: Librarian Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.