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No Game No Life Anime Review

Aschente!  Could you imagine a world which decides EVERYTHING through games, even conflicts and the very right to Godhood?  Well, that is the reality of the world known as “Disboard”, ruled by Tet, the One True God.  However, how the hikikomori duo of Sora and Shiro entered into such a place is a whole different story within itself.
Sora and Shiro together form “Blank”, an inseparable duo whose combined individual talents make for a fearsome force which is said to be unbeatable.  Though, getting pulled into a world ruled by games with Imanity being the lowest, they will have to climb their race up from the depths and conquer everyone else to earn the right to challenge the One True God.  Check out if this gaming anime proves to be a Triple A title or is destined for the Bargin Bin.

  What is No Game No Life About?  
Sora and his little sister, Shiro, are advent gamers who are also considered “Hikikomori”(Recluse) in Japan.  Together they are a destructive duo known as “Blank”, setting unbeatable high scores and never losing within any game they played.  One day they receive a mysterious e-mail and realized what they believed to be a chess program turns out to be an actual person who has challenged them to a game.  After their victory, the two are transported into a magical world known as “Disboard”, a place ruled by games under the watchful eye of Tet, the “One True God”.  This is where their story begins.
Sora and Shiro must learn about the 16 Races of Disboard, known collectively as “The Exceed”.  They are tasked with bringing up the lowest of the 16 Races, “Imanity”, to the rank of #1 by conquering everyone else.  Seeing as they are up against Elves, Beasts, and even beings known as God-Killing Weapons…this may prove difficult.  Will Blank be able to unify all of Disboard and challenge Tet for the title of One True God?
  Story Review and Impressions  
One positive thing about the anime is that they move very quickly to the point of the anime within the very first episode, they even begin to display exactly how all of the rules work and the type of world that is established in record time.  Even with the initial speed of pulling Sora and Shiro within the world of Disboard, No Game No Life actually does not feel rushed.  Within the very beginning when they first into the world, you will be greeted with exactly how things work in small-scale manners that prove the uncanny wit and presence of mind that Blank has.  The selling point of the initial start is the fact that they ensnare you with the cunning of Sora, you want to see what he does next and exactly how he will accomplish the goal set before him.  In fact, throughout the entirety of the 12 episodes you will see the brilliance of the duo at work during each of the games that they play, and it is truly astounding to watch (Especially episode 6, which happens to be my favorite).
The back story to how the World of Disboard got into its current state is very well told.  In fact, it explains perfectly why the world is ruled by games and why Tet is currently known as the “One True God”.  While I will not elaborate and spoil any details, Tet designed the world as he did to protect The Exceed from themselves, and you cannot help but to agree with his point-of-view after you have heard the story of Disboard’s history.  Even more so, they do a good job in showing grudges that are still held throughout the series due to their character interaction as the plot advances, even to the point where you wonder exactly how powerful Tet is that everyone obeys his rules without question.  Though, the fact that Tet would even bring people into his world that have the potential to beat him shows that he may be bored with absolute power and wants to test the limits of his abilities.
Something else I want to address is the complexity found within the simplicity of Blank’s goal.  Sure, conquering the entire world of Disboard seems like an insane task at first, but once you realize exactly how skilled Sora and Shiro are at games you will soon begin to wonder why they do not challenge the representatives of each nation directly and defeat them with their superior skill.  As the story advances you begin to see why, despite the fact they have genius intellect, that all games created are not equal and that they must plot a way to achieve victory in the face of odds they seem destined to fall to.  Eventually, that simplicity which seemed so mundane at first grows into, “Exactly how the hell do they plan to win?!”, it is exhilarating to watch and ingenious in how plans come together.  The only problem is that sometimes you can feel as though not enough action is taking place because Sora and Shiro often have to set-up their schemes in order to make them effectively work, which makes you anxious and impatient, but that is also a testament to the type of suspense that the series can build.  One other thing that could bother someone is that they may not like the “modified” rules that some of the games hold, making it unable to be completely comparable to their real-world counterparts.
Another good point that the plot makes is Sora’s way of thinking.  Sora and Shiro know that they are weaker than all the other races and constantly preach about learning how to survive based on wit and intelligence, not power.  That mindset makes me think back to the Air Gear manga win which Agito said, “The Fly has her spleen and The Ant, her gall”, meaning that The Strong are constantly sharpening their fangs while The Weak are always quickening their wits.  This train of thinking monopolizes this series and makes for interesting plot devices, but it also shows exactly how important knowledge is and how even someone who is weak can defeat a large foe…with enough preparation and initiative.
All-in-all, I would say that the plot and the way it is executed is very good, and while it is a relatively simple task it is not at all simple to achieve.  The progression of the story was also good and while it felt a bit slow at times, it may have simply been my impatience with how eager I was to see the next showdown.  The anime ends with a cliff hanger which prompts me to believe that Season 2 is definitely on its way sometime into the future, and it is a welcomed addition if it lives up to half the grand-scale epicness of Season 1.
  Character Impressions and Development  
No Game No Life has one of the most diverse character selections that I have seen in a while in which I have enjoyed every character that has been introduced.  Sometimes characters are introduced to prove a vital role and sometimes they are meant to be disliked by the viewer to further the cause of the protagonist.  Within this series, I have not seen them introduce anyone whose sole purpose was to be brutally malevolent (Like Dio in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure), rather they acted as they did to try and make sure their intentions are met.  Because of this, it is possible to enjoy every single character introduced, though that probably falls in line with Oath #10 which reads, “Everyone must get along and play together”!  This probably means all characters introduced throughout the series will be, to a certain degree, redeemable no matter how cruel they are and easily succumb to Sora and Shiro’s will by understanding their character after their defeat.

The personalities of the characters range from brilliant and cunning to that of somewhat ditzy, but you have many character archetypes present within a single series without much emphasis on a particular one.  What I mean by this is you have Sora who is cunning to the point of it being reminiscent of thinkers like Yagami Light from Death Note and Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!, then have someone like Jibril who is extremely powerful but swears loyalty to those whom she could easily kill which is reminiscent of how Alucard in Hellsing Ultimate pledges his loyalty to Sir Integra.  Having different characters with their own unique way of thinking and acting helps to bring a more serious tone to the show or a welcomed sense of comic relief (Such as in Steph’s case), this balances things and keep it from feeling like too much of one particular “mood”.

The different manners of characters show and prove that you can harmoniously have people of very different origin (Some of them are different races) come together and be at peace as long as they are united by someone they all have a deep respect for.  For me, this conveys that peace was obtainable to The Exceed from the very beginning, however they are unable to successfully nab it because someone whom they all could admire was not at the reigns and so their personalities clashed instead of transfiguring themselves to adapt.  Needlessly to say, they did not want to adapt because they did not see how things could possibly work out for all parties involved.  The evolution of most character personalities tend to head towards the idea that The Exceed may be able to be unified by Sora’s and Shiro’s goal, thus changing their perception them and the world.  In-line with this is how some characters express doubt of Blank’s methods only to be impressed by their intellect and sure-fire way of thinking, choosing later to believe in them rather than doubt them, changing their faith and in turn, their outlook.

Last but not least, I am impressed by the aesthetics of each character.  I feel as though they designed them very well and their appearance fits with their personality, though I do admit that some of them are a bit plain looking (Such as Kurami), but they are often spiced up by the coloring style of the world and the unique aspects of the character (Such as Tet) .  While characters are not nearly as outlandish as Kill la Kill‘s, the races besides Imanity have designs which show off the imagination of the series creator while mixing in popular otaku culture (Such as the War Beasts).

I think No Game No Life did a good job in producing their characters, I do not think that anyone really evolved too much, even the protagonists, but they did not have to as the plot revolves around getting mutual respect while advancing their own cause.  I feel like everyone’s worries and problems were addressed as soon as they were brought up, even multiple times on the same issue when placed into a similar situation.  The evolution of the characters will prove just how well Sora and Shiro act as revolutionaries on the forefront to challenge “God”, since they will need the support of everyone for the right to challenge Tet.

  Other Mentions  

There are two other things that I would like to mention in regards to No Game No Life that I felt like would not be appropriate for the sections which talk about the story or character development; those things would be the perverted nature that it carries sometimes (Not that I am against fan service) and the beautiful way that this anime series is colored.  While they may seem like minor things, they happen to stand out within this particular anime.

Do not get me wrong, No Game No Life does not focus entirely upon perverted features and is in no way in line with anime like Agent Aika or Ikki-Tousen, but it does have its fair share of ecchi content and sexual innuendos.  You will have angles that show suggestive content if you are really paying attention (Like when Shiro is introduced playing an online computer game in episode 1, displaying her vaginal imprint in her panties.  Even more than that, she is wearing “Shimapan” which are striped panties, which are more-or-less the preferred type by panty fetishists).  You will also have more direct contact like when Sora accidentally grabbed a hold of Stephanie’s breasts or when Shiro grabbed her breasts on purpose!  Just like most other anime now-a-days (Seems like quite a bit, right?) sex sells, and they have bits and pieces strewn throughout No Game No Life but thankfully it is not its main selling point and it acts as more of comical relief than anything else.

The colors presented throughout the world is unlike anything I have ever seen before in an anime, the closest feeling I can get to describe the other-worldly appearance they give is the alternate realm of the anime series Black Rock Shooter.  Everything is so pretty and they set themselves apart from other series by focusing on gradient coloration of the scenery and characters while also having colored outlines instead of just black (Kind of similar to Seitenshi in Black Bullet).  I for one, happen to completely love pretty things so this anime was right up my alley; I normally prefer extremely obscure, high contrast macabre anime (Hellsing Ultimate) or really pretty light-hearted anime (Kyoukai no Kanata).  Though, this may be something not everyone will enjoy (My friend Bianca said the colors distracted her), but I happen to think it fits perfectly with the world and adds something new and entrancing I have not found before in other series.

  The Verdict  


  STRENGTHS   – Pretty coloration, Many lovable characters, Good plot progression, Detailed explanation of Disboard’s world and history, Very good cliff hanger possibly leading to a 2nd season.

  WEAKNESSES   – Can feel a bit slow at times, Most games played are altered beyond their original rules.

Bianca, one of my closest friends, introduced me to this series because she figured it was going to be something I enjoyed and I am surprised by how much she knows my tastes.  No Game No Life provided a ton of suspense, a beautifully colored world, and intellectual schemes that made you salute the thought that went into crafting that particular situation.  Having so many enjoyable characters makes each new encounter exciting and interesting, but the level of depth placed into the wagers provide enough emotional involvement from the watcher to still feel a sense of wanting to root for Blank.  There were not too many flaws included within this anime, the only real one is that this series did not go to 26 episodes but chose to stop at 12 (Probably wanting to make sure viewer reception was good).

Seriously, I have no had an anime I have been this into that was not sports related in a very long time, nor have I had an anime that seemed this keen on accepting their faults and crediting them with forcing a better path to success.  Sora is an amazing protagonist and his sister is the cutest little mascot ever.  I really hope it gets a Season 2 and I will be waiting with bated breath for it to be announced.  Thank you for reading my anime review for No Game No Life!

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About The Author

RoK the Reaper
A serious gamer & hardcore otaku who loves anything gaming, anime, or manga! I hope to bring you the best content for these subjects I love in the form of news, reviews, interviews, and in-depth editorials! さよなら!

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