"Give people bright colors and fan service and they go crazy and lose any logic"
No game No Life is a curious anime to me. I Consider myself to be a not so cruel scorer always giving anime a chance and always looking for positives but this is not the case for No Game No Life with me. Considered to be the next best thing since canned bread everybody seems to love this and I'm the only one who cant see what is so good about it. I will try to give my vision on the show in the next couple of sections so please bare
The story without giving away too much its about 2 overly intelligent pair of step brothers Sora and Shiro who are portrayed as neets. They are bored with normal life and just love to play videogames. One day they get the opportunity to join a game world where 16 races rule. In the game world extreme and weird games exist with rules varying per agreement of the players so everything is at stake. All seems peaches and cream for an interesting anime with some good story movement except that the story progression is really slow.
To sum it all up its really nice neon colors. Very fluid and detailed animation especially the background. I have to say that despite not enjoying the anime this is its strongest asset and its really pleasing to the eye. Madhouse really did a good job with the art and I think its top 2 of the season along with Bokura Wa mina Kawaisou.
I don't think it was over the top or memorable that you want to buy the OST's or anything. Nothing really negative else to say by my part except that it was solid.
Characters (Only will be covering 3)
a) Sora - Main character, 18 year old neet who lives with his loli stepsister Shiro. Overly intelligent and with many sexual needs (according to the show). Sora quickly became an apparent icon this season for best character this season and all I can say is why? One of Sora's biggest strengths is also his downfall as a character and this is his super intelligence. Nothing is ever a challenge in this supposed challenging game world to him and he always seems to have a plan for everything. He tries to be too cool for my liking. I never found any of his jokes or references to be funny or entertaining only just kinda corny.
b) Shiro - The other main character, 11 year old step sister of Sora. More intelligent than Sora apparently and has a brother complex. With Shiro its another case of overuse of Lolis for roles that can be fulfilled with normal characters along with Black Bullet. I don't get the semi naked scenes of Shiro which in this case is a minor throughout the show and it feels a bit disturbing. Shiro's downfall as a character to me is that she is just there to pull Sora back together and do some crazy deus ex machima to pull him out of the rare stuff that he cant (going according to plan if we follow the show's logic) do.
c) Stephanie Dola - The other main character who's purpose is nothing but be exposed half naked every 4 minutes and be mocked off because of her stupidity. I have gotten slander here on MAL because apparently her role is much deeper in motivating Sora and what not if you go all philosophical with the fan boys. In reality its not and her contribution to the progression of the plot is about 0.
Where is the enjoyment supposed to come from this show? If its the games it did a poor job. You never get the sensation that the games are a challenge for any of the main characters because everything goes according to plan and they are never really under any concern due to Sora and Shiro's super Einstein like intellect. There is always something that saves them from defeat or something which gets really annoying by episode 3 or 4.
Let me say that chess game in episode the span of episodes 4-5? (I maybe wrong) Is probably the worst thing you can ever watch since there is absolutely no logic behind it all and its just a complete out of thin air invention to win the game. The only game I really enjoyed where the last 2 episodes because the main characters where actually in a pinch it goes in the most predictable way of having the most useless character in the show do something. It all went according to the same generic running theme throughout the show that everything is going according to the super master plan that we won the game before we even start. How do people get any joy out of this is beyond me.
The core of the plot is really slow and its pretty much overshadowed by the fan service and stupidity of Stephanie who is pretty much just a guinea pig to try out stuff throughout the show.
In the end I was really disappointed since I was looking forward to the show and all I got was just a slap in the face of how overrated, flawed and boring this show is some weeks in. The fan service outshines the plot and that is already a red flag. The plot already weak to begin with and all you get is boobs and stupidity with slow progression its not really ideal.
Does it mean the show is necessarily bad? No a lot of people like it and its good at what it does but my main concern is that I dont think its worthy of a near top 10 rank on MAL and such a high score overall of almost a 9.
This is misleading to anybody who comes here for suggestions of what I assume is quality when there are far more superior shows rated below it.
【1】 All bloodshed, war, and pillage is forbidden throughout the world.
【2】 All disputes are to be resolved through the outcome of games.
【3】 In games, wagers will be made on what both parties decide to be of equal value.
【4】 Unless contrary to "Three", the game content and the things wagered do not matter.
【5】 The challenged party has the right to decide the contents of the game.
【6】 "As per the Oath", the wager will be unconditionally adhered to.
【7】 All matters for group conflicts will be decided by a representative.
【8】 If cheating is detected during a game, it will be regarded as a defeat.
【9】 The above rules are
unconditionally everlasting, upheld in the name of God.
【10】—— Everyone should get along while playing games.
So reads the Ten Commandments which make up the laws of the incredible world of No Game No Life.
If there is one anime that once and for all showcases that the end well and truly justifies the means when it comes to entertainment value, then it's got to be this one. Originally a light novel written by Kamiya Yuu, No Game No Life (or NGNL for short) is a series not quite like any other, mixing together numerous ordinary concepts into a not-so-ordinary and very refreshing story. It is not just about originality though, but the provided execution is absolutely fantastic as well, as this is one of the most addictive and over-the-top anime you'll ever come across.
How can anything seemingly so dumb be so damn smart?
In recent years there has been a fair share of anime following the concept of "being trapped inside a video game with no way to escape it", and it has been very successful. No Game No Life however takes the exact same idea and flips it upside down. This story is not about being trapped inside a game world, but rather instead it's about voluntarily being in a fantasy world which has its very foundation oriented around the concept of games. The only other anime I can think of that uses a somewhat similar idea is Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo, but NGNL takes it one or two steps further, and more importantly does it around nine or ten levels better.
There was a legendary player team in the online gaming community named "[ ]" (pronounced "Kūhaku", or "Blank" in English) which was known for never ever losing to anyone, no matter which game they were playing. Their real-life identities however were unknown to the world, but as it turned out it consisted of a pair of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) gamer siblings: 18 year old Sora and his 11 year old little sister Shiro. These two geniuses were completely fed up with the real world and didn't think of it as anything more than a shitty game, and therefore spent all their time in their room owning others in online games. That is to say before they got challenged online by a mysterious chess player who brought them to the very limits of their abilities before they could eventually manage to win. As a result, they got contacted by someone named Tet; the God of another world called Disboard, the ultimate paradise for gamers of Sora's and Shiro's caliber and he therefore invited them to come live in his world instead. And thus, the games began.
In the world of Disboard, there are a total of sixteen different races that have been granted the protection of the Ten Commandments, and are therefore the only ones worth mentioning. These races are seeded in order of magical strength, and at the very bottom of the ranking we find the race of Imanity, which is Disboard's equivalent to the human race (clearly a spinoff of the word "humanity"). However as shameful as being at the bottom of the food chain might be, that ranking was made before Sora and Shiro arrived as reinforcements.
In a nutshell, the story of No Game No Life is about the siblings' long-term plans of conquering the world by challenging others at games and using the Ten Commandments' wagers as winnings while (hopefully) maintaining [ ]'s 100% win record. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it's not.
The catch is that since the Ten Commandments make up the very structure of the world itself, combined with the fact that it's a supernatural world containing magic to begin with; what the games are, how they are played and what their consequences are is *completely* limitless. This anime can and will do anything and everything as long as the author can think it up in his head beforehand, and let me tell you: what he has managed to cook up is nothing short of spectacular. Seriously, the amount of creativity and pure awesomeness poured into the various game sessions throughout this anime should most definitely *not* be understated, and as a result NGNL has some of the best single individual episodes I've ever seen in my anime career.
Of course that is not to say the grander, overarching story is any less impressive. Actually it manages to maintain the individual episode quality while still staying on track for the long-term plot in a very smooth manner of fashion, and as a result the anime never ever gets boring. It has a very high "lowest level” so to speak, but it does still get a bit spiky as some episodes are a lot better than others, however that is a jump ranging from "good" to "amazing" rather than ever dipping down very much. You'll constantly be starved for more.
Whoever would have thought NEETs would be so neat?
As the 2-man protagonist team of the series, undoubtedly the vast majority of the focus in the character department is on Sora and Shiro themselves, and they're certainly not disappointing.
Sora is extremely charismatic and cunning. He uses tons of deceitful tactics and strategies planned out way in advance in order to direct the flow of events much more so than meets the eye at first glance. As he likes to say, no matter how the game turns out, his victory is already assured from the very beginning. Of course this does not mean he's the second coming of Light or Lelouch, as Sora has no sinister ulterior motives (other than perverted ones every so often) and instead is really a very humorous and enthusiastic person that just likes to have fun.
Shiro on the other hand looks like nothing more than a moe fanservice loli at first glance, and to some extent I cannot say that part is wrong per se. In case you didn't realize it this is an ecchi anime in the end. We're talking about very light ecchi here and nothing that ever feels forced but rather used for comedy instead, however you still shouldn't be shocked if you find some nudity and boob groping every once in a while. Now as far as Shiro herself is concerned, that does however not change the fact that there is a hell of a lot more to her than that. For one she's quite fun to listen to with her almost completely expressionless voice, yet very blunt choice of words. Also, in reality her level of genius is way above that one of her brother, but in a very different way. Shiro's mind works sort of like a supercomputer, capable of unmatched amounts of logical thinking and data storage at any given point. On the other hand this makes her less adaptable than Sora, however what this means is that the pair of them perfectly complement each other's weaknesses. Thus even if they might be defeatable on their own, when they play together they are almost invulnerable, hence why [ ] is always together as one... actually whenever they are out of each other's line of sight they start panicking and get seizures and god knows what else.
The supporting cast primarily consists of Stephanie Dola (or Dora, either works) whom at first also looks like the obligatory fanservice character but before long you'll realize that she's much more of a comic relief character... or rather the butt of everyone else's jokes. Now normally I might be a bit skeptical to that idea but this girl fills that role absolutely *perfectly*. Huge props to her voice actress I also have to add, she really did an awesome job expressing Stephanie's impulsive behaviour. There is also the ever so popular Jibril who is just all around awesome in every way, but I'll avoid talking about her as she is introduced later on in the story.
No you're not on drugs, it actually looks like that
The word "colorful" doesn't even begin to scratch the surface on this one. Animated by Madhouse, NGNL probably has the most vivid color scheme I've yet to come across in an anime and it is hard to put into words just what exactly it looks like. It has tons of purple and red everywhere and tends to use colors even for distinguishing details like shadows, outlines and similar. It's really the kind of thing you need to see for yourself to understand but it sure as hell stands out from the crowd.
As always when it comes to artwork, it is entirely a subjective matter and whether you like it or not is up to every viewer individually. Personally I really liked it though, it somehow fit the over-the-top environments and atmosphere of the series very well, but I would still have to say that had it been for any other anime it would probably just have come off as being really weird.
Can you feel that beat? Beating everyone at everything that is
On its own this was definitely the part which I thought about the least while I was actually watching the series, but when looking at it in retroperspective it's actually really solid.
Here's the thing, the OP of NGNL never particularly blew me away but to be fair I mostly ended up skipping it all the time because I was so eager to get into the new episode every week so I could never really pay too much attention to it. The ED is better albeit still not amazing, although when the full version came out I found it a lot more enjoyable than I did during the anime itself.
That part asides though, the OST for the anime itself is one or two levels above that. Especially the music playing during some of the games themselves as well as the occasional epic speeches that occurs every once in a while during this anime have some very epic background tracks along with them.
As far as voice acting goes, many people will recognize the main seiyuu combi of Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Kayano Ai making up Sora's and Shiro's respective roles. The first thing I noticed with this was that this is the exact same MC seiyuu coupling as that one of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, and just like Shiina in said anime, Shiro's voice is insanely husky and is almost like a whisper most of the time... in an adorable way of course. As far as Sora goes, more people will probably familiarize him with the fact that he has the same voice actor as Kirito from Sword Art Online, which might give some people the impression that NGNL is yet another anime which goes down the same route SAO did... which is definitely not the case.
They both make an absolutely solid performance in this case anyway, however to me the best voice acting in No Game No Life is the one done by Hikasa Yoko in her role as Stephanie. The role she has as the character constantly getting abused by the two siblings simply for their enjoyment (combined with the tsukkomi character she has to play for whenever their inner NEETs surface) results in her having numerous different comedy roles at the same time, yet Yoko absolutely nails them all every single time in an absolutely hilarious fashion.
12x23 minutes never felt so short
I'm just going to straight-up say that this is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable anime I've seen to date. Normally I don't like to watch series while they're currently airing very much, however I did it with this one and let me tell you waiting a full week for every new episode of this anime was painful. Excruciatingly so. This is not due to aspects such as constant cliffhangers or anything (although that also happens a few times) but simply due to how much fun every single episode is to watch. The concept of the anime as a whole is extremely appealing and interesting to follow, and due to the unlimited potential of the games themselves, every episode is completely different from the last one despite following the same ideals.
There's just so much charisma poured into the characters' over-the-top settings and it never fails to keep you hooked. Every single character is likable yet drastically different from one another. On top of all that the actual comedy part of NGNL is brilliant as well, including countless references to other anime series. I'm not sure exactly how it manages but somehow no matter which side of the show is present at any given moment, it delivers flawlessly every single time.
So why aren't there any games like this in real life?
Ever since I first read the synopsis of this anime several months before it started airing, I immediately thought to myself: "Hey, this sounds pretty awesome, wincest plus video games?". Now as it turned out there wasn't very much in the way of wincest as this is solely sibling love, however what we got instead simply blew away pretty much all expectations I ever had. I did have a feeling that it would be something I would really like, but I don't think anyone who hadn't read the light novels ever imagined it to turn out this damn awesome.
I love pretty much everything about this show, and that's not something I can say very often. From start to finish I don't think there was a single moment which I didn't enjoy, and that is something almost unheard of in anime. It's so versatile in the way that it's funny, original, charismatic, intelligent and just plain epic and awesome, all working in tandem. As a result, everything ends up being immensely satisfying.
Now this first season covers up to the end of volume three of the original light novels, and at the current time (the anime just finished airing), there are six volumes released in Japan, so there's already plenty of content to adapt and hopefully season two won't be too far around the corner, although as always it will come down to sales numbers in the end.
Regardless, it sure as hell needs a second season sooner rather than later, as we're all going to suffer from abstinence until then.
Make no mistake, No Game No Life is built to be a blockbuster. Madhouse adapting "one of those" wildly successful isekai light novel series made sense considering their generally poor commercial performance as of late. And NGNL, a blitzkrieg of dastardly clever action and outrageous gags, as unsettling as it is original, certain delivers a worthy blockbuster, but not without significant shortcomings.
The anime centers around the Blank siblings - Sora and Shiro: brother and sister, two shut-in NEETs on Earth, but certain victors in a new absurdist world, whose ambitions and exploits, leave their adversaries confounded and awed at the same damn time. Ostensibly,
the pair could be written off as a simple gary stu/mary sue pairing. By technicality they are, but they’re far from boring or cliche characters like many that fit that designation due to how the series presents their NEET qualities. Both brother and sister come off as legitimately fun leads, with flashy traits that resemble iconic characters from other well-known anime, novels, or games without feeling like standard self-inserts.
In the first episode, our pair of gaming prodigies are whisked into a new isekai world, Disboard, by its enigmatic God, Tet and by the fourth, they are the rulers of Elkia, the last kingdom of Imanity, the human race. NGNL hits the ground running and doesn’t let up for a second. The worldbuilding and plot development resembles the progression of an RPG: minor games precede major ones with interludes in between. Nearly the entirely of the seasons’ 276 minute runtime can be neatly categorized into plotting, games, or "breaks in action" - which generally involve harassing Steph or all the females taking baths while Sora sits back on the partition as hilarity ensues. This oversexualization and fanservice is responsible for some of the funniest moments of the season and serves to enhance the over-the-top, volatile energy of the show.
NGNL’s framework makes it easy to overstate the otaku and gamer escapism and gratification, which itself is offputting for those who have anathema to the common isekai mainstays of "wish fulfillment" and "fanservice" while indiscriminately associating these to inherently tasteless anime without a second thought. This line of logic downplays not only downplays the consistent insanity of the action, but also the nuance of the overarching premise behind the parodical, ludicrous nature of the series.
There is a certain poetic justice captured by NGNL in its portrayal of how NEETs and hikikomori, who Japanese society would deem outcasts or losers regardless of their gaming talent, become monarchs, harem ringleaders, and ultimately winners. Much of NGNL’s charm is more readily appreciated by seasoned otaku, who embrace, and even long for, the taboos that could potentially come with an isekai power trip. After all, it’s a show for them. There are many NEET isekai series, some tone-deaf edgefests and others indiscernible carbon copies of each other, but NGNL separates itself with minutae that captures the essence of what it means to be a NEET. The jokes, including the hypersexual ones, border on gut-wrenchingly hilarious for them and uncomfortable for almost everyone else. The chemistry between cast members generates at least a few memorable one-liners and interactions every episode. The constant stream of clever allusions ranging from Skyrim to Laputa to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to ICO are bound to elicit grins when noticed.
Despite being an underdog story about NEETs in disguise, but from the beginning it’s evident that all Blank does is win (no DJ Khaled) in this new world - because after all, to beat a RPG you gotta win against every boss. Thus the goal of the series develops into a making the viewer hooked on HOW they win each and every game. While there are brilliant highs, towards the end of the season, the state of the games have gotten to the point where the constant victory really does begin to dull the suspense to the point where the result of the final game itself came of as anticlimactic, bordering on deus ex machina. Nonetheless, it would be ingenuous to not expect gaps of logic, plot armor, and minor plot holes, but none of them are particularly questionable or bothersome enough to reduce the quality of the series at large.
On the other side, the highlight is the sudden Shiratori game with Jibril, unsurprisingly the only character who can keep up with the Blank siblings' craziness, where the intensity and cleverness of each response ratcheting up to another level. It was the first and only moment where it felt like our heroes could actually LOSE while we watch hydrogen bombs and stars explode because of a fucking simple children's word game - all while laughing (hysterically, I might add) at the sheer preposterousness of it all. Blank’s other challengers haven’t had the same spark as Jibril (who, in classic RPG fashion, later becomes an ally) - and it makes one think they really could use an equally insane foil or antagonist to bring out their best.
The substance of NGNL itself is its style, and it works wonders thanks to its burlesque tone. The balance is extreme, but not much of a departure from Imaishi and Masaaki-directed works. What makes NGNL is different is how specific it is, how every stratagem is explained and everything happens for a reason. Which is why for NGNL to truly connect on an emotional level, it has to specifically dedicate time towards making the viewer care about the characters and the world they find themselves in. It struggles in this regard. Much of the direct characterization throughout these first twelve episodes of NGNL suffers from ubiquitous lack of meaningful development. To an extent, this was to be be expected due to the nature of the series, but some of the attempted subplots fall flat because of this.
Steph is the most prominent contributor, because she serves as a foil for Sora and Shiro and should be an easiest character to relate to on a basic level (basically she's a fucking normie). However, her sobbing about her grandfather, the disgraced former king of who gambled his land away in hopes of future prosperity, is sappy at best and annoying at worst. Her inner back-and-forth of whether to trust Sora as a leader or not was painfully half-baked, contrived, and thoughtless. Moreover, it’s difficult to care too much about Izuna’s inner struggle about her sense of duty or Fiel’s bond to Kurami when they’re explored for a few scenes and pass by like a floating piece of debris in a hurricane. This can even apply to NGNL's more compelling and fun characters: take Jibril for example, a deserved fan favorite who shifts between (literally) drooling over the prospect of gaining precious knowledge to reminiscing about the days where she could indulge in her psychopathic tendencies of slaughtering anyone in her way. Sora and Shiro themselves have a quirk where their usually badass, composed personalities become useless and complete wrecks when they’re away from each other.
This tendency to just throw schizoid personality traits out there and hope they stick is the most telling sign that thus far, NGNL has abandoned even barebones exposition. Random behavior is dismissed with the notion that every character acts with some form of inherent spontaneity instead of possessing a fluid train of thought. These developmental aspects are double-edged swords that inject off the wall personality to the series that adds to the fantasy, while also hinder the viewer from taking NGNL's actual narrative or the aforementioned subplots too seriously. We’re left in the dark about relationships, individual vulnerabilities, and motivations. By consequence, a lot of the details dull the quality for this individual season but set up for reveals and more backstory later on.
Much of the worldbuilding and characterization itself is represented through the heightened sense of verticality, with rapidfire cut changes. This, along with Madhouse’s high-contrast neon color palette and quirky artwork distinguishes Disboard as one of the most picturesque, eccentric, and effervescent isekai settings I've ever seen animated. Often, right after heavy action sequences full of zooming movements and aerial shots, the cinematography shifts to juxtapose our larger-than-life characters to an even more larger-than-life world. This imbalance creates a lingering sense that the characters are small and caged, giving the viewers the sense that someone (remember Tet?) is constantly watching, and there is much much more to the game that is yet to come. Furthermore, the voice acting especially for Sora, Shiro, and Jibril is bonkers and felt incredibly fitting for their characters. The BGM itself isn’t a highlight, but it’s solid throughout - playful or intense when it needs to be, whereas Konomi Suzuki’s opening, This Game, with twinkling pianos and soaring vocals sets the mood, and I’m definitely going to try to learn (and fail) how to play it.
It’s undeniable that NGNL has the scope and potential to be truly massive in every sense of the word. Seriously, the setup has every indication that this world-building could lead to a inordinately expansive and nuanced universe, much like other long-running light novel series such as Index, Spice and Wolf, or Mondaiji (similar premise also withstanding). Sora and Shiro are bent on challenging god, and you have every reason to believe they will. Still, it's disappointing that the season peaked at episode six, the shiratori match with Jibril and by the twelfth episode, much of the novelty has already begun wearing off. Yet despite the minor speed bump, the sense that there is so much potential with the world of Disboard never fizzles out and we’re reminded of that with how the first season ends - with a cliffhanger materializing from thin air. Zero fucking warning on that, by the way. With many more volumes to adapt, things can only get bigger; whether they get better has yet to be seen.
TL;DR: read the whole review pussy btw it’s a ostentatiously fun/bizzare show that’s probably not for everyone if they just don’t get the gratification/fanservice/always winning/self-parody/otaku power fantasy stuff. still, mostly it’s functionally a prologue and maybe the first few bosses of this bigger NGNL rpg that sets the script for following seasons/volumes so don't expect it to have any real juicy plot meat if you know what I'm sayin because it's served up undercooked here. but i can’t say this enough: the shiratori game with Jibril was fucking awesome.
I don't normally write reviews, mainly cause I don't think that many people will be interested in my totally subjective opinion, but this time I decided to make an exception. Mainly cause I can't stand to see so many people slamming this series with the same repeating arguments, completely ignoring the positives.
As I've said, I have very much subjective and in many ways probably biased love for the series. I assume it's mainly because it saved me from the rot of meaningless flashy series, where fan service replaces story and various "grabs" are there instead of plot twists. But isn't this virtually the
same? I have to strongly disagree.
Firstly, lets get the initial impressions out of the way. Art here has a nice modern touch, clean graphics, tight animations and it's nice to see designers using after processing to add a style, not to obscure shabby production quality. Although I think style overall suits modern day setting more than fantasy world, making opening scene and city battle at the end of season most visually impressive.
Character design is the only complaint I can rise here, mainly among humans. Not that it's bad, but somewhat samey. Good thing we have 15 more races to look at.
Now, regarding the setting itself, I kinda love it. On surface it looks uninspired: yet another parallel world where main character gets wisped away to, fantasy races, magic, dragons and villains. Oh and there's a princess also, who falls in love with main character, but she's kind of tsundere. Oh and they live in her castle.
But that's what makes this one of my favorite series: the ability to take the most overused and boring setting, so dull, that Le Blanc de La Vallière, Louise Françoise might confuse it for her homeworld, and twist it in to something crazy and interesting.
Yes, we had anime about games before, be it SAO, Log Horison, Ragnarok or //hack, but they all tried to bring real life in to game, while NGNL does the opposite: it brings the game back in to life. If anything, it's closer to Kaiji, just less depressing and unfair.
But what I really like about the subject, is that unlike majority of game related or themed anime, this one manages to appeal to gamers as a whole, instead of pandering to or focusing on Asian aspects of gaming, specifically their mmos and VNs. Yes, tehre's still influence, but it's not so absolute. I don't mind watching things like SAO and Log Horizon to better understand tropes and intricacies of Asian gaming, but for once I want something I can just enjoy and relate to.
It saddens me how few gamers I see around here, or at least it seems so, cause how else would one explain such widespread misunderstanding of setting and main focuses of the series. For me it's an amazing, impossible world, for once created by gamers, not just for gamers. It's as MCs said in the first episode: real world has no clearly defined rules or objectives and everyone makes whatever moves they want, i.e. just a shitty game.
It's a fantasy of any gamer to be unbeatable at everything, so it makes easy for me to relate to MCs. They also manage to avoid the oh so common trope that being transported in to a different world makes you slow and docile. MCs get right to business abusing the world for their own gain and enjoyment and it's a breath of fresh air from typical goody two shoes I will protect you OJSB of a MC that we have so often.
But the one thing that can make or break series for me is humor. Will it make me laugh or cringe? Will I be bored enough to check how much of an episode is left? Well, NGNL managed to do something anime has failed for me since Lucky Star: it made me literally laugh out loud every episode, to the point where my room mates would come over to check if I'm going insane or not.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what made me like it so much, probably the combination of verbal humor with spot on body humor, references , selfish attitude and in-jokes between the siblings. That, combined with the general gaming theme made it easy to digest and relate.
If one would take the plot and development at face value, it would on impress much, a rather generic battle to save humanity and prove that they are not the weakest. But you need to move away from typical anime tropes to realize that it's not about humanity, beating the god or any other vague "greater good". This anime is really just about two siblings, gamers, who are having fun in a world they understand very well. Everything they do is to advance their own agenda.
Something I do have to mention though. Sound, overall, was serviceable, but what annoyed me the most was soundtrack. It felt... uninspired. Both in terms of opening/ending and music during the show itself. One would think that by this time directors understand the advantages of memorable music, but here it was mostly generic fantasy/fighting anime scores, completely alien to the nature of the show. I strongly feel that having some metal/electronic (or better both!) mash-ups would of suited gaming theme a lot more. Not to mention that they have quite a few gadgets along with them, yet they rarely use them for anything than taking notes or reading books.
One final thing I need to cover is fan service. To be completely honest here, first time I've watched the series, I did not notice it at all. Considering that I'm not a fan of it normally, it was rather strange. It took me a second viewing to realize what was different. It fitted, which happens never. Both MCs lived in a world exposed to ungodly amounts of it, to the point where it became somewhat of a background thing. As a result they were using it for their own entertainment, as opposed of ham-fisted"accidents" that plague anime nowadays. It was also employed by them for their own need, be it to tease or to distract, as well as a nice addition the their, honestly, rather unhealthy relationship. I can only wish that, if we have to have fan service, it would be done in similar, organic way.
And there you have it, this is why I don't normally write reviews, I tend to get carried away. As a conclusion, I would say that NGNL is often misunderstood for mediocre anime riding on populat tropes, but I see it as an amazing melding of Asian and western cultures. We learned to enjoy Asian quirks and their way of life, but this one hits it close to home, to a closer culture.
It's a must see anime for anyone, but you might not understand what it's trying to do, but that's normal with anime, isn't it? And if you consider yourself a gamer, it's a wonderful treat, something that rarely happens outside of youtube.
Here's the obligatory premise of the show for this review because I'm assuming you can't read the Synopsis up there due to allergy or something: Sora and Shiro have tremendous gaming skills and are bored with the regular world. A message arrives for the siblings, and when they open their message, they are stunned to see the scenery around them change to a world they had never encountered before. They've been summoned by Tet to...
Yes, the premise is pretty much a carbon copy of Mondaiji-tachi. In fact, it's so similar that I had to actually check when the respective light novels were released. They're
both about incredibly talented kids getting sucked into a different world because they're too special for boring human world, and they play "games." Even the visuals are strikingly similar in that they're both incredibly colorful. But hey, you can't exactly be always original- Technically speaking, every show could be considered a carbon copy of some other show that came before, and being uncreative doesn't really detract from the quality of the show. That's not the problem here. The visuals and music are fine too, although it does overuse that one track a lot when the MC explains his plan.
But the visuals are the least of its problems- The two main characters, Sora and Shiro, are simply put, Stus. Everyone loves Stus as main characters, so why not? Izayoi from Problem Children was a huge Stu too, beating the shit out of everything with next to no effort, and these two are no different. They're just incredibly talented at everything and their only supposed weakness is that they have to be together at all times. Thankfully this weakness is actually never an issue except when it's relevant, and outside of that, it's played for comedic effects. And even if it ever would pose a serious problem, it's usually resolved by one of the two planning something out before the weakness actually happened in the first place, so it's just a pretend label. It doesn't make them any less of Stus. Unfortunately, many people seem to think this is actually a valid weakness, and therefore, doesn't make them Stus. It really isn't.
At least they're not Tatsuya, right?
They're not the only problem, of course. Stephanie Dora is this incredibly obnoxious character who pretty much exists for a comic relief. In fact, literally every episode involves making fun of this character for being stupid, and it never ends. So much that even the fanbase now associates her name with the term "stupidity." Making fun of a character for being stupid is funny the first time. Maybe the second and third. Not so much after when it becomes an established fact. "Ha, the sky is blue! So funny!"
And then there's Jibril. Her introduction to the series is just so terribly done that it's almost offensive. There's no foreshadowing whatsoever to her existence, and when it's brought up, it just turns into "Oh, Steph was stupid. Guess that's why she didn't tell us about this character that didn't exist until this point in plot." And after she's introduced, she's mostly written as an exposition character that just explains all the world building for the watchers instead of letting the viewers figure things out by themselves. This also serves to mediate Steph's complete uselessness as a character because the author realized it wouldn't be a nice idea to have a recurring side character whose only purpose was to be a comic relief.
I think simply claiming they're Stus isn't really enough to convince anyone, so I'll be more elaborate. But I can't exactly explain that in detail without explain this other thing. And that other thing is the title's namesake; Games!
Maybe the series was trying to be clever with its title "No Game No Life" because there hardly is anything that can be categorized as an actual "game" in this series. The biggest problem with these so-called games can be summarized like this: "Oops, I win."
Since most of the episodes have games in them, I'll just explain how each was handled-
First episode doesn't explain how Sora won the game. He just did, and you're supposed to accept it. Third episode is a chess game where the rules don't really exist. It's supposed to technically play like a chess, but there really are no established rules- If you're the main character and give a speech, apparently you're rigged to win. Am I supposed to be impressed yet? Fourth episode doesn't have a game, but it breaks character- Sora and Shiro are supposed to be scared of crowds, but in this episode, they get over it pretty quickly as if that was never a problem in the first place. Then they proceed to give an incredibly cliche speech about how the weak can become strong. A speech that's not even really reflective, since Sora and Shiro were never "weak" in terms of their gaming prowess, or inspiring since the speech was practically nothing. The entirety of fifth episode is Steph being called an idiot, and a sequence of games that just follows what the series did with the first episode. Sora just "wins" them all, and the few ones that he does explain how he won, is just completely out of some puzzle book. Brilliant.
Sixth episode is where Jibril is introduced, and it's sadly considered one of the "better" episodes in the series. The game here could have been well done, but it's really just a mess. The game's victory hinges on the fact that Jibril does not know about the planet's structure. How could have Sora known this? What if Tet's magic world planet had a different structure from Earth? This is even before Sora had access to Elkia's library, so he wouldn't have known that wasn't common knowledge. Furthermore, Elkia isn't exactly the most knowledgeable nation- He claims that he supposedly figured out in the middle of a game by seeing how she reacted, but she could've been just as easily pretending. But it just so happens that she doesn't know about his win condition. It's a victory that just happened with assumptions and guesses, and apparently this is supposed to make the MC look like a genius. Really?
Breaking off a bit from this pretend game nonsense, seventh episode manages to be the best episode in the series- Instead of Sora pretending he's smart over something he got completely lucky over, the audience get decently written characterization and not as forced exposition. That about sums up every compliment I had for this show. Everything afterwards just builds up to a very disappointing finale- Though, not before informing the watchers that Shiro is definitely helpless without Sora. Except not really, because Sora is still there, you see. What happens is that Shiro is supposed to play a piece on a board game that she can't see. This board game was being played by Sora and an another character. But apparently since she's a "genius," she can predict where he's going to place the pieces, and know exactly where to put it. Except that, the game wasn't called Solitaire. I'm sorry, but it's logically impossible to exactly predict the game state of Othello from knowing just half of the game. Of course the show doesn't explain how this was done. It's just brushed off as Shiro being a genius and knowing everything about Sora, and that was the key to victory. It's all the more offensive when you realize that the victory of this game is what also later helps Sora to win the final game in the series in a domino effect.
The finale attempts to make Steph seem relevant by having her pull the final trigger. Too bad she didn't actually do anything. Sora and Shiro planned her to do it! Genius! This last episode's supposed "moral lesson" is completely insensible too. It keeps repeating the line "when was the last time you had fun playing a game?" If people are putting something big like continents and people's lives at stake, it'd be borderline psychopathic to find fun from playing a game putting that at risk. I don't get the "moral lesson" here. Is this show telling me to completely disregard everything except having fun? I guess Russian Roulette was a popular party game too. Possible bullets to the head? YES! GOTY! 10/10 IGN. Why aren't you having fun? Are you stupid or something?
This particular game is also flawed in that their winning strategy also hinges on the fact that the enemy does not notice something that they later claim to be able to notice. Good thing they didn't the first time! Those stupid warbeasts! Even though an entire continent is at stake, they can't even put up that much of a caution! Again, this is not planning. It's luck. Sora gambles, and wins. You can't just win the lottery, make a smug face, and call yourself a genius. But this is what this show does. Every single time. It's not even pretentious in a sense that it's trying to do something remotely clever- Because it's not even fucking remotely clever.
I also don't understand why Sora/Shiro are separate characters. Shiro is just literally Sora, without the smug attitude, being a fanservice bait, and doesn't have much of a personality outside of being incredibly clingy. The show also plays out their relationship far too much to the point that it's creepy. But then again, that's what these shows seem to do these days: Incest is ok, because they're not actually blood-related siblings. This show also constantly hammers in the point about how "Blanks can never lose" and that both siblings make up Blanks to an extent that it's incredibly annoying. Of course they can never lose- They're the fucking MCs and the plot bends itself backwards to LET them win. Furthermore, you pretty much know that Sora and Shiro will win no matter what. They always bet something to the point that if they lose, the series would probably be over, so you know that they can't lose. There is no sense of anticipation or whatsoever. Then after winning through some poorly explained method which this show constantly nudges you about how clever it was being, Sora just makes that same fucking smug grin.
So yes. The biggest problems with the show supposedly about games is the games themselves, and the characters playing them. The series also constantly teases about how exciting things were before Tet became the absolute God. It's almost like it's self-aware. Lovely.
This series could've been better if they didn't constantly play these games where cheating is more encouraged than making actual strategies within the game's boundaries. See, games are fun to watch because you want to see what the characters can do within their own boundaries to actually win in a clever manner. It's also fun to watch because you don't really know who will win. But due to the whole retarded "Cheating is fine as long as it's not caught" rule in the show, the author is given the freedom to not write anything remotely intelligent. All he needs to do is just say Sora won because he did something that was outside of game's design and that just made him win despite the fact that it would be near impossible in practice. And hopefully it's just as impossible for this show to get a second season.
No Game No Life(NGNL) is a wish-fulfillment show in which the protagonists are given an entirely arbitrary world in which they are the best at what governs that world: games. Wish-fulfillment, you say? Yeah, I am grouping this one up there with SAO, and I don't think I'm in the wrong when doing so. I mean, Sora's backstory is literally him getting awful grades and not giving a shit about what his parents say. It's the classic angsty mentality "me vs. the world" or "nobody understands me" type of mentality that many adolescents feel they are driven into, and this show plays off of that.
It revels in its otaku culture, but what's interesting is that it's actually quite self-aware of what it's doing. The show constantly makes light-hearted jokes about otaku hikkimori NEET or whatever you want to call it culture, and so it is clearly very aware of the innate flaws these people face socially and mentally. HOWEVER, it fails to self reflect in every way possible. It clearly can identify problems in its vile nature, but it only wants to make a joke out of it. Sort of like "I don't care what society thinks, in fact, I don't even want to participate in your system." which is kind of what Sora's mentality towards his parents is anyways. What do I mean by self-reflect? Well, the only NEET/hikkimori show I even think is good is Welcome to the NHK, so that gives you an idea of what kind of catharsis I'm looking for.
Story-wise, it's supposed to grip you with intense games. It's supposedly even more exciting because you're allowed to cheat in these games. At first glance, this seems like it makes it even harder for our god-like protagonist, but when you think about it... not really. Because magic is allowed, many shortcuts can be taken in how exactly the author writes about how Sora/Shiro beat the enemy. The classic example is the chess game. That wasn't even about games. It looked to me like lazy writing. With magic, it becomes easier for the writer to come up with ways for the protagonists to win. The writer doesn't even have to know jack shit about game theory, as he can avoid the subject entirely. This show is the kind of show that actual manga/anime about game theory like Liar Game and Kaiji will laugh at and shit on. This links to another problem I had with his show...
Everything pans out too perfectly. Once again, at first glance, many of these games look as though they are won through wit, intellect, deduction, logic, etc. etc. etc. When you really think about it, there ARE actually quite a few loopsholes or unanswered explanations in this show when it comes to its games. However, the story always pans out to make Sora/Shiro look like gods. I have a problem with this but I can certainly see someone enjoying it.
Visually, I don't really have any complaints. I thought there was definitely too much fanservice, but it could differ. People will say things like "but every show some fanservice!". No, not really. Some shows don't need to use fanservice and moe to drive up their BD preorders. Some shows care about the story/characters alone. See: Mushishi, Tatami Galaxy, or Ping Pong, which aired in the same season as NGNL.
This show doesn't really put forward any clear themes, ok actually the only one it does is the angsty rebellious one I get from Sora/Shiro's backstory combined with the fact that this show is about how overpowered they are in this arbitrary world. It doesn't meaningfully resonate whatsoever, and normally the "dumb entertaining fun" shows get a 5, because they really are your average entertaining fun shows, but in this case the intrinsic problems I had with its setup and the fact that the games weren't all that great for me lead me to rate it a 4/10. I'll admit 2 or 3 episodes were decently entertaining, but other than that I'd much rather be watching a serious show just because that's more my taste.
No Game No Life is a clear example for the anime community of overconfidence. It's a story of Sora and Shiro, an expert gaming duo, sent to another world where everything is settled through games. While this may appear to be simply following the hype of Sword Art Online as other animes have done, this is actually a much more advanced and original premise than meets the eye.
Unfortunately, the shows only aspect in its favor is the story's usage of different and unique games in order to settle disputes. The rest of the anime leaves much to be desired, simply applying clear attempts to
gain popularity and providing poorly written characters to drag along the plot.
Considering there is not much to discuss as far as the story without providing spoilers, the most important reason as to why I do not recommend this anime would be due to its excuse for characters.
Starting off, we have our 1st protagonist, Sora. Sora is Shiro's older step-brother who is practically designed to be unlikable. While many anime characters are perverted in nature, Sora is just down right despicable. Using his skill as a gamer he forces a girl to fall in love with him and with the help of Shiro, proceeds to provide her with belittling comments and sexual harassment on a level that can never be justified. Furthermore, rather than actually establishing a unique and developed character for Sora, he's written as a clear Lelouch Lamperouge copy, mimicking the star of Code Geass' intellectual prowess without having the same charisma that makes a fan of Code Geass love the protagonist. It's this sloppy writing that exposes the empty characters we are seeing on screen.
Moving onto our next gaping flaw in No Game No Life we have Shiro, Sora's younger and impressively less likable sister. While Sora at least had some semblance of a character, Shiro is just a part of the show. She does things that help the plot sure, but she's not deep in the slightest. Her only noticeable trait aside from being a gamer is that she is overly protective of her brother. She constantly gets worked up when another female interacts with Sora, going as far as to take one girl's clothing, including underwear, and having her dress up as a dog before being tied to a pole in front of the townspeople. It's these types of moments that make No Name No Life so mediocre. It's having our main female character be abusive to another relevant member of the cast without any sort of reprimanding that makes her painful to even watch. Such actions on her part make her extremely unlikable and unfortunately this is her only aspect to her character with noting. Other than this, she's just a piece of cardboard that can somehow speak.
No Game No Life is not the greatest anime of all time; in fact its not even good. Quite honestly, this is one of the most overrated animes I've ever seen. If you want to see people have an engaging battle of the minds, watch either Death Note or Code Geass. If you want to watch overly unnecessary fan-service and some of the worst written characters in anime, only then can I ever recommend No Game No Life. While the games themselves are an engaging part of the overall experience, the rest is a train wreck that shows that a good concept still needs strong writing to be successful.
The entirety of the show exists to facilitate the main character, Sora, in his traverses through a graphene-thin plot-composite synthesized from recycled tropes, clichés, and genre-hangups that not only weigh down the show and story but comprise the majority of what little weight the show has.
In attempting to make Sora more than run-of-the-mill, the writers marginalised the remaining characters to make room for their protagonist's greatly inflated ego: Steph and Jibril are reduced to idiots (who were very boring), Clammy is relegated to a spot as half-baked rival (or something, she was even more boring), and Shiro plays the
co-starring role as a heroic/silent doormat (okay she did get one good episode, but otherwise you could replace her with a cardboard cut out), all for the purpose of time-wasting fan service and to make Sora look cool by comparison.
The rest of show is hardly worth talking about.
The animation is from last year (or what they'd be calling "last year" last year) and the background music and OP/ED are as forgettable as they are serviceable.
I've certainly seen worse shows (I'm looking at you Mirai Nikki) but that doesn't really mean much.
The worst part was that this was what I figured the shows was going to be like, but it would have been nice to have been wrong.
I thought the shows was actually clever at first, creatively turning well known games on their heads.
Unfortunately, the writers spent most of the time stroking their egos rather than chins.
It's not uncommon for one to wish themselves out of a certain situation. Whether it be from an instinctual desire for a grander lifestyle or the pursuit of happiness, one's desires vary from person to person. This may also be what appeals to many who are fans of roleplaying or out of body experiences. The desire for what one cannot have has driven many to madness, and this topic has been used by many forms of entertainment over the years. What No Game No Life does with this topic is shows what can be accomplished when the main character takes what he has learned and
applies it to a world devoid of impossibilities. And when it comes to a world of impossibilities, there's no one better qualified to conquer it than those who follow their head instead of their heart. Actually, it probably wouldn't matter either way.
To accurately pinpoint exactly what No Game No Life is, one could describe it as two siblings trying to overthrow the god of a fantasy world after beating him in a game of chess. But overthrowing a god is no easy task. Firstly, they must overthrow the entire world. Whether taking over the fantasy world will even accomplish their goal is based on a presumption the main character conceived. But he's never been wrong once since entering the fantasy world, so it'd be better to go along with it. The presumptions of anything logically possible play into this world of impossibilities. No Game No Life makes it clear early on that anything worth thinking about doesn't belong in the games played in the fantasy world. Games can be won through ridiculous means. The games that are played are all conveniently geared towards the main characters' strengths. With each and every game, the characters inch closer and closer to their goal of overtaking a god. Despite everything, No Game No Life's progression is very straightforward. It doesn't try to take itself beyond the stars and it doesn't try to meddle in any unnecessary sub-plots. Most attention is dedicated to one singular mission, as stated above.
As one of the rules of the fantasy world, the denizens of said world must have fun and play games together. At its core, No Game No Life is just fun and games. When the characters aren't plotting for world domination, they're making jokes and pop culture references. The attempts at comedy during the course of the series are mostly reliant on exaggerated reactions and gratuitous fan service. While they can produce a snicker at times, it mostly feels like a cheap trick more than anything. The fan service usually comes at the expense of the female members of the cast, as a majority of the cast is, indeed, female. Whether it be from the results of a game or a part of the games themselves, it's safe to say that clothing will be removed in some fashion or another. The balance between silly and serious tends to lean more towards silly more often than not. This doesn't harm the validity of the plot much, as the plot is hard to take seriously regardless.
It doesn't take a veteran to be able to recognize the faults within the characters. With almost each and every character, there's something off about either their presentation or personality, something that goes deeper than how it appears. With a character such as Sora, the main character and only male among the main cast, you get a lanky, angsty kid who's supposedly too smart to appreciate his own world, so he does whatever he can to entertain himself. Once in the fantasy world, he quickly applies the rules to his situation and takes full advantage of them with one fell swoop. With every challenge, he dominates the opponent with the arrogance of a true king. By being nothing special socially, he acquires the admiration of all of his suitors without even trying, yet was unpopular in the real world. This implies that he could be the world's greatest human being, he just didn't care to put in the effort in his original life. Every quality of his character screams of a self-insert and moans of wish fulfillment. They combat this by giving him faults, like being a pervert or being unable to handle the outside world. But by doing this, they're making him all the more perfect. No one is perfect, so let's make him pseudo-perfect. It's perfectly despicable.
Other members of the major cast aren't as loathsome as Sora, but still fall under the category of cliche or fan service, especially Sora's sister, Shiro. She's small, cute, quiet, and has an abnormal hair color. She also has an insatiable appetite for her brother's affection. All of these traits were manufactured especially for moe. And the icing on the cake is that she's adopted, so her desire for her brother's affection is excused, but still unwelcome. Shiro is essentially walking fan service. Stephanie Dola, the klutz, is one of two major characters born in the fantasy world. She is constantly teased for lacking the intelligence that all other characters share, despite being fairly intelligent in other matters. She is the source of most of the comedy and the fan service in the show, which makes her role within the show feel more shallow. As a character, she contributes little and goes nowhere in terms of growth, making her little more than a stock character. The last of the major characters is Jibril, a fairy-like creature who's thirst for knowledge is as creepy as Sora's expressions. She's more useful than Stephanie, and has a more likable personality, too. Of all the characters, she feels the most human, despite not being human. And as a member of the female race, she's subject to more fan service than one could ask for. Whether this matters is strictly based on the individual viewer's taste.
The first thing that was apparent with No Game No Life was its style of presentation. The artwork is reminiscent of Kamisami no Anai Nichiyoubi, whose creamy atmosphere created an effect of dreary depression and bubbly optimism. No Game No Life's art style is similar to a degree, as the brightness is on par with the sun's rays. The palette of color seemed to favor those with a calming, yet alluring power. Purple, maroon, light blue, and dark red are the colors that stand out most while watching this title, and their combination makes for a stunning outcome. Unfortunately, this type of presentation can be a little overbearing at times, as the lighting can sometimes make the characters blend in with the background or appear a tad too bright. The animation itself is one to be praised. It's charming, efficient, and bold; three things that can make an average anime look fantastic.
If anything, No Game No Life is interesting. The plot isn't anything as spectacular as it presents it and the characters are atrociously written, but it at least looks like a modern epic. The characters may be flat, but their interactions are humorous at times, granted they aren't playing games. Regardless of all of the flaws, it's entertaining to the highest degree, granted those who view it aren't too cynical. It has the qualities to succeed, it just uses them through means of popularity rather than quality. If anything, if one doesn't care to continue viewing No Game No Life, they can imagine themselves in a world outside of their grasp, similar to those within the series. It wouldn't hurt.
No Game No Life is one of those classic examples of "Over Hyped" anime. before I start pointing out everything wrong with the anime I will say the one good thing it has going for is the animation and the wide range of colors it has going on in many shots do make it nice to look at but it's not enough redeem it.
Story: It's rare to come across an anime that shares the same plot with another and No Game No life is the first time I came across this, now your wonder what anime I'm talking about? well It's Problem Children
are Coming from Another World Aren't they? NGNL has The same plot setup has Problem Children, Kids get invitation to travel to a world where everything is decided by games and help a struggling community survive.
Characters: Sora is unbearable to stand as a main character watching a loser trying to act cool gets extremely tiring. Shiro has almost no character besides that fact she has a brother complex otherwise shes there to be a Deus Ex Machina to get Sora out of any troubling situations.
Another thing that I find horrible about NGNL is the games and how most of them don't make any sense or are boring cause if the characters are in trouble they'll pull out some deus ex Machina knowledge out of their ass and win.
NGNL Get An 4/10 go watch Problem Children and what a GOOD anime can do with this same plot and setup.
"There's no way to know the rules or the goal, yet there are 7 billion players making whatever moves they want. There are no parameters and no way to even know the genre. This world is just a crappy game."
‒ Sora, No Game No Life
Is it really that bad? Real life is a wide open sandbox game with the most realistic physics and graphics in existence.
No Game No Life is a show that is full of games and tactics. Just one problem: they don't work. And I don't mean some small loopholes here and there. The very foundation of the tactics requires knowing
things that are beyond realistic human knowledge. As a result, there is zero tension in this show. This is not Kasparov vs Deep Blue, this is playing against a psychic who can list every move you will make before the game has even begun.
The premise is already ridiculous. A pair of NEET shut-in siblings, Sora and Shiro, are known online as invincible players who have never lost in any game whatsoever, no matter the genre or how luck-based the game is.
...Yes, really. That isn't an exaggeration; they are completely invincible.
Over the course of the show, the viewer learns how they achieve this: by being omniscient. They know how anyone will react in any situation. They know what moves their opponent will make without seeing the game board. They know what words their opponent will use in a word game. They can figure out the inner workings of a video game the first time they are playing. They know how flipped coins will land.
"There is no such thing as luck in this world. Rules, prerequisites, psychological states... There are any number of invisible factors that combine to produce an unpredictable but inevitable result. The victor of a game is decided before it even begins. There is no chance."
‒ Sora explaining why his tactics work
...Hang on a second. If the result is "unpredictable," then that is what normal people usually mean by luck. When people say that e.g. poker has luck, they are not referring to some quantum fluctuations but simply the lack of knowledge of the order of the cards. So while it's a nice play on semantics, it does very little to actually justify Sora's tactics. For him there is nothing unpredictable.
How exactly are we supposed to emulate their tactics in real life? We can't, can we? The whole appeal in something like Liar Game is that the tactics actually work for actual human beings. Of course there is no limit to what you can do in a piece of fiction if the author makes a character omniscient, but where is the fun in watching something like that? Calling it wish fulfillment is an understatement.
So if it isn't about tactics, what is the show really about? Fanservice with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the skull. Bath scenes, breast grabs, tentacles, incest, animal girl fetishes, and obsession over a 11-year-old's panties should come as no surprise, but in addition we have nipple-erasing magic, boob-enlarging magic, and dragging a practically naked girl through the streets on a leash as "the dog for the day."
Needless to say, if you aren't into nonstop fanservice, it gets tedious really fast. Even in the middle of a game, the characters are just as interested in fanservice as winning. The jokes are all about boobs, panties, and the like. The dialogue includes such gems as "I'm a healthy young man, you know? I've got sexual needs, and sexual needs, and sexual needs! And even sexual needs!" The show is trying to appeal to the most primitive aspects in our savannah monkey brains, assuming that awkwardly shoving mammary glands at the viewer is enough to constitute a well-written show.
The show is also full of references. It could work in theory, but too often the references feel so arbitrary that they break the flow of the scenes. For example, what does Legend of the Galactic Heroes have to do with a harem-themed first-person shooter (now there's a natural combo to begin with)? Nothing, but they just couldn't find a way to shoehorn it in otherwise. We get an endless flood of these references, as if ticking boxes on some checklist. Where's the fun in that? It feels like a calculated effort rather than a natural creative product, as if the writers were reading marketing surveys and trend analysis charts while watching 5-second Youtube clips of famous games and anime.
Anyway, back to the plot. Sora and Shiro are cast into a fantasy world where everything is decided by games, courtesy of the local god, Tet. They quickly decide that they don't even want to return to Earth and instead want to become #1 in this world by beating everyone, Tet included.
Why? To help end oppression and suffering?
...No, of course not. What were you thinking? It's to increase their harem and satisfy their fetishes. This is why taking over the kingdom of animal girls is a top priority.
Any politics or social commentary is handled in the most superficial way possible, reduced to little more than a footnote. I assume there wouldn't have been enough time for bouncing boobs otherwise. Sure, they talk about the weak defeating the strong with their wisdom, but they just leave it at that. Now, guess what, it's easy to say you can beat the strong if you are omniscient. How about you demonstrate realistic means to achieve it?
And what was wrong with Earth anyway? In the quote I mentioned earlier, Sora called it a crappy game because there's no way to know the rules or the goal, but is it really any different for this fantasy world? It may revolve around games, but there is no truly universal or objective goal there either. It's just a place with different laws of physics.
By the way, the plot is also left severely unfinished, so don't expect any real conclusion.
The following subsections are part of the story, but they deserve their own categories.
Ah yes, the main selling point of the show. I honestly liked some of the smaller games, such as the modified rock-paper-scissors and "when will this bird take off," but the alleged main attractions not so much. Many of them aren't particularly tactical to begin with, and the remaining ones are won through simply knowing things you can't realistically know.
They can perfectly decipher the movement patterns of the NPCs the first time they are playing, as well as how their opponent will react. I mean, really: they predict both of these up to a few dozen pixels so that they can line a shot that they planned minutes in advance. Oh, and this FPS game is harem-themed, so much time and effort will be spent on trying to strip people by shooting their clothes. Predictably enough.
Hoping that the other player will use a specific word simply because you used it at one point... The show itself acknowledges that this was a gamble. So one question: if the success of the protagonists is built on luck, why are we supposed to believe they are geniuses? Oh, and it's completely natural that this fantasy world has similar laws of physics to ours, down to the subatomic level. After all, that's what fantasy worlds are known for.
The board becomes invisible, but a third party can join mid-game and figure out where all the pieces are by guessing all the moves taken so far. Sounds legit.
Chess is a game known for its deep strategy. Well, we can't have any of that, so instead it's played by giving the pieces motivational speeches. And by speeches, I mean lines like:
"The one true, unchanging righteousness in this world is cuteness! Cute makes right!"
"By my authority as king, anyone who fights valiantly in this battle will earn the right to bang any woman they like!"
Imagine if Lelouch was giving a speech to his revolutionary force, and instead of appealing to justice he would praise cuteness and promise women as war loot. Indeed, the problem here is not so much that the protagonists are omniscient but rather that the game isn't particularly strategic to begin with, if you can even call this a legit game. Sora, if you dislike the real world because the rules are vague, why is this chess game not a problem?
And did the soldiers even get their women afterwards? Sora, you cheap bastard.
...Yeah. There is actually a twist to this too, but it doesn't make it any more plausible.
The setting makes no sense even within its own rules. Tet has set in place ten pledges that supposedly tell everything about how the world and its games are governed. I'll just copy-paste them here:
1. All murder, war, and robbery is forbidden in this world.
2. All conflict in this world will be resolved through games.
3. In games, each player will bet something that they agree is of equal value.
4. As long as it doesn't violate pledge three, anything may be bet, and any game may be played.
5. The challenged party has the right to decide the rules of the game.
6. Any bets made in accordance with the pledges must be upheld.
7. Conflicts between groups will be conducted by designated representatives with absolute authority.
8. Being caught cheating during a game is grounds for an instant loss.
9. In the name of god, the previous rules may never be changed.
10. Let's all have fun and play together!
It's easy to guess that there's no way such a short and vague set of rules can work in practice. And indeed, it turns out the authors simply can't handle them with any kind of consistency or in-universe plausibility, and any attempts to explain these problems away simply result in ruining the whole point of the setting and making the world's inhabitants look like imbeciles. Let me be a rules lawyer here for a while because apparently nobody in this fantasy world is.
1) "Everything is decided by games"? Nah.
Nobody can force you to do anything unless you agreed to it in a game? Wrong. Guess what constitutes a group for rule 7 when it comes to countries? Race, as in species. Apparently you don't have to lose any game to be subject to the whims of this representative of absolute authority. He can bet all your land or even your life by betting the race piece. By the way, none of this is included in the pledges, so it's an implicit rule the author added to keep the story going.
This pretty efficiently ruins the setting, which is presented as a situation where the most talented can take charge of their own lives without having to fear violence or theft. But in reality, each race is living under authoritarian rule where you can lose your life on a whim due to no fault of your own. I know Tet made this system to replace genocidal wars, but was this the best he could come up with?
"But you can just challenge the representative to a game to take over!" Nope, he can just throw an impossible game at you. And everyone who is not the representative would face a massive risk, which would strain society's capacity to function.
Also, banning robbery doesn't sound fair after you realize how arbitrary ownership is. Some people start with no coins to their name and others are living comfortably in their palaces. Tet, have you ever heard of this guy called Karl Marx? Look him up. That being said, there's nothing forcing people to agree to any transactions or acknowledge any existing currency, so they could simply have the rich starve to death if they liked.
2) People are too often acting as if the pledges did not exist
People are too often acting normally, as if the rules did not exist. People go to work as usual and obey the law and the government as usual. We are presented with a society that by all sense shouldn't work the way it does. You can't have both "everything is decided by games" and normal society at the same time. If the representative can achieve this... well, then it just ruins the setting, like I was saying.
In this world there is even hereditary slavery. Why not run away? Of course not, they will beat you up... oh, wait. Also, it can't be that they have gambled away their freedom because it's hereditary. You might try to say, "The representative can just order them to be slaves." Not when the slaves are of another race, and it would destroy any shred of fairness these rules have left.
And some countries are apparently democracies. I suppose if the representative can be two people, it can also be an institution... I guess. I'm probably giving way too much credit here; it's more likely the writers forgot about the setting again.
3) Why do people agree to slanted games in the first place?
The biggest head-scratcher of all. Your country doesn't have to lose territory. Just don't agree to any slanted games. Are they all complete imbeciles? If you are challenged, you can likewise simply choose games where you are sure to win.
Why didn't the cabinet ministers refuse when Sora asked them to play a game where he wins by default? Yeah, just try to wrap your head around that one. Apparently you can just force people to lose by default. If this is something the representative can do, he could simply order them without playing a game, unless there is some kind of ridiculously specific implicit clause somewhere.
...Screw this, it's obvious the writers just didn't care.
Sora and Shiro: They are inseparable to the point that they freak out when they are placed in different rooms. And I mean that literally. So it's only fitting that I deal with them together.
Sora's main purpose in life, other than winning games, is extending his harem and witnessing as much fanservice as humanly possible. Kind of like the show itself. Judging by his portrayal, we are supposed to be proud too. Shiro is a supergenius, as evidenced by the totally legit random equations she writes sometimes. Oh, and she is in love with her brother to satisfy the obligatory "incest subplot" quota.
By the way, do you know why they were shut-ins? Because they were literally afraid of stepping through their front door. You see, Sora and Shiro are fine with any form of social interaction if they are in a game. In fact, they are genius negotiators. However, they become helpless the moment they step into the real world. But somehow they are fine in this game-filled fantasy world, even though the world itself is not a game. Basically:
Crowded streets of a fantasy world -> They're fine
Empty streets of the real world -> They fall into a catatonic state
Plausible human psychology, right? And it really is the streets, not the people. They try both of the mentioned combinations in the show. Sometimes it tries to assert they are really afraid of people, but this is very rare and inconsistent anyway, so it's literally the streets that are the problem.
Stephanie: Fanservice, and also standing there to be laughed at for her stupidity and to let Sora and Shiro provide exposition.
Jibril: More fanservice.
Tet: Barely appears. Has tons of free time, which he refuses to use to help the residents of his world because games are that much cooler than having a functional society. Why is he portrayed as benevolent again?
Other characters: Who cares? They only exist for fanservice or to lose to the protagonists, or are practically irrelevant.
A few words about the technical aspects:
Depends on how much you like fanservice and psychedelic neon colors.
Pretty standard. Nothing really stood out that much as far as the soundtrack and voices were concerned.
There is some enjoyment found in pointing out all the flaws in their tactics and the broader setting. Kind of like this review. You might think this show could be so bad it's good, but it's only barely. The show is too confident in its dysfunctional tactics, and many aspects of the show feel like a calculated ratings grab.
This show is a thoroughly artificial experience, a seemingly cynical attempt to cash in on the consumer. Their approach was simple enough: shove in as much wish fulfillment, references and fanservice as humanly possible and wait for the money to flow in.
Life is like a game, if you play your cards right, then you’ll win. Perhaps this is more if a metaphorical statement but it is how No Game No Life (NGNL) is constructed as such. Well, not initially but in the mysterious world of Disboard, everything is determined by game – including your life. But first, we need to trace back a bit. This is because NGNL is based off a light novel of the same name focusing on two main characters and siblings as they conquer through Disboard and become Gods of their world. It’s a game like they have never played before.
Japanese-Brazilian author Yu Kamiya, the show adapts itself as a fantasy adventure. But unlike a show that takes place in some open world environment, NGNL takes place in a virtual realm full of wonders. And from this world, we meet hikikomori siblings Sora and Shiro. The two are known for their abilities in the gaming world as part a legendary group known as “Blank” (『 』). Initially, they are considered unbeatable, so much that they are bored with their existence. Fate ties them one day after beating against a mysterious chess player earns them a trip to the Disboard world.
A journey into NGNL will feel a bit anomalous. Think of it as trying to beat a video game but that you are not the one playing but rather as the actual player. For Sora and Shiro, this should initially be a walk in the park for their skills. But all is not as simple with the mechanics and rules in the Diaboard world. There are many concepts such as the “Exceed” categorized by 16 different races. The Imanity, the most humanoid of all the races, become a source of prejudice for their weaknesses. As such, the show portrays them as underdogs. However, we have Sora and Shiro to bring back honor and glory to their race. Thus, the show crafts itself as a way of progressing and experimental journey. We witness the siblings’ ascension and rise to the top. Their ultimate goal is to beat Tet, the creator of the world in order to become the One True God. From a perspective point, it’s easy to tell what the show is trying to do with such a premise. There are vast potential development for the characters, world building, and dynamics of its rules. While it seems like one big challenge to tackle for gamers, the show portrays it more than that. Because for those rules, there’s a certain degree of ways to bypass such restrictions. The show depicts itself as more of an experimental product with Sora and Shiro being the professors. Only of course, they also come into this world as gamers, fight with a gaming image, and bring pride to what they fight for. It’s a journey beyond just saving some princess from a castle or win some fame.
It’s hard to judge the first episode since the show slowly draws itself out with its concepts and characters. But for starters, the main sibling duo of Sora and Shiro is not your usual or typical pair of brother and sister. They are gamers, and while not professional demonstrates a status of unparalleled levels. But what really makes them stand out is the way that they complement each other with their abilities making them nearly omniscient. And unlike most siblings, they have a very dynamic relationship. Neither of them treats each other as superior or inferior but instead on equal standing. Throughout the series, it’s clearly shown that they care deeply for one another. One instance shows Shiro’s deep concern when she finds out that Sora was not with her anymore. Similarly, whenever they are apart, they display the traditional or perhaps stereotypical attributes of a NEET. The focus on the sibling twins is not their development but rather their characters. It’s straight-forward but at the same time unconventional. The gap age difference between the duo might suggest that their skills differ. Yet, they show explicitly their skills individually and collectively to be able to carry the torch to victory.
Throughout their journey to become Gods, the siblings encounter a variety of characters that joins them in their crusade. Joining them includes humans such as Stephanie Dola, also simply known as “Steph”. The show depicts her as a scapegoat after losing to the twins. Her role becomes more like a servant as the siblings adds her on their list of conquered objectives, literally. Then, there’s a more playful Jibril that also becomes somewhat of a scapegoat. But unlike Steph, she’s portrayed as an energetic oddball. NGNL portrays all four of these characters like they are crusaders to fight through the Disboard world. Furthermore, the show often likes to make fun of its own characters by their image and characteristics. For instance, Steph becomes a meme in the show for her master/dog relationship with the siblings. After being a subject to an unexpected order, Steph can be viewed not such as a scapegoat but as a play toy. And really, that’s what their journey becomes like – a game where they play their way to victory whether it’d be utilizing their minds or through cheating; anything to win because that’s what it matters.
Despite the serious nature of the siblings’ goal to conquer God, the show often makes fun of itself with its characters, concepts, and even references/gags to deliver entertainment. Throughout the show, characters break through the boundaries of logic whether it’d be in chess, rock-paper-scissors, physics, or just gaming itself to unimaginative levels. They create the idea that ‘games with rules are meant to be broken’. And from my perspective, it’s fun and a blast to get out of. After all, it’s not usually fun to watch someone else play a game than playing it yourself. Yet, this show can deliver a way where you almost feel like you are part of their quest to conquer the world. Furthermore are the concepts and dialogues. Even the various references from other popular cultures can spawn some laughter if noticed. Then, there’s also iconic speeches, misleading dialogues, and gags all ties in to craft NGNL’s unconventional image. Through this execution, the show explicitly presents game formulas beyond just playing for fun. This should have been obvious anyways since the show likes to take daring risks. And although these risks can be appealing, it can also be controversial. The way some characters behave are borderline inappropriate, die-hard, and become a wish- fulfillment fantasy. Through its style, the show also desperately saturates characters and scenes with fan service. Some can feel a bit uncomfortable especially for characters such as Shiro or implied animal innuendos in the case of Steph. It feels irrational and unoriginal with circle of clichés most explicitly fueled by the dialogues with its characters and incest undertones. Even the plot/premise itself has some tastes of unoriginality when compared to recent shows such as Problem Children, Accel World, or Log Horizon. Only for NGNL, it’s more about just beating the game through unpredictable outcomes. Some other quirks about the show might involve its romance as at least two characters show interest in Shiro. But most times, the show borders on a harem-esque route as he makes impressions on the ladies. In retrospect, don’t expect any genuine romance development but rather teases without nothing more than a simple foreplay.
Madhouse does it again once again with its successful cultural and visual display. The world of Diaboard is illustrated with layers on top of layers of fantasy that destroys any sense of realism but creates that credible mood of being stuck in a virtual realm. The colorful palates are designed with abnormal touches of fantasy at every turn whether it’d be the games, the various landscapes, towns, and characters. Speaking of which, the characters also has credibility with physical appearances to portray them as heirs, gamers, and angels. On the other hand, fan service is explicit and never attempts to hide itself in any way or form with its distracting scenarios. At the same time, it also defiles logic with characters such as Shiro with white hair despite being 11 years old. Yet, every species has a distinctive look to create diversity as well. Hell, we even get to see Shiro wear a crown to show that she is a queen and Sora displaying his philanthropic traits by wearing a shirt with the iconic:
I ♥ Humans
Technical prowess also come with its soundtrack. Distinctively directed, each episode makes cleaver usage of its OST for tactical, emotional, and climatic scenes. Character voices are also dynamic with a figurative speech tone. The way characters speak doesn’t feel dull or like a monologue but rather filled with energy. In fact, the soundtrack has doses of hyperactivity when it comes to its presenting gameplay machinations. To meet the end of its style, the OP and ED song are also decorated with attractiveness and catchy tone. One particular episode even makes fun of itself (for plotline purposes) through distorted crediting. It’s needless to say but headphones are a must to get the satisfaction that you deserve.
As a show that deconstructs game tropes, NGNL also serves as an experimental way to deliver a fantasy adventure. The show often pokes fun at itself whether it’d be cultures, rules, or just in general anything it can get its hands on. While the show doesn’t escape its labyrinth of clichés, it also finds way to parody them through clever usage of humorous executions. It’s more than just mindless entertainment as NGNL delivers with energy and exclusive empowerment to appeal audiences by its concepts. The way to enjoy NGNL isn’t to follow the story like it’s some sort of instructional manual but rather as what it intended to be – gaming level of entertainment. Otherwise, you’ll be biting your gums of logic so much, it'll bleed.
NEETs are usually referred to as people who take a long break from society to do whatever they please, causing others to view them as “lazy” or envy them for having freedom. But if NEETs were born with superhuman intelligence and prove to be more noteworthy than your average student or professional, they deserve a lot more respect.
Meet No Game No Life, Madhouse’s new light and playful production, featuring NEETs with an objective to become God of a new world. It’s understandable that NGNL is a fantasy where you can use your wildest imagination and can’t possibly go wrong, but a common mistake that
fantasy anime like NGNL fail to do is abide by its principles. A fantasy still needs some sense of logic for slamming two geniuses who are capable of doing anything into its story. NGNL presents itself as a brilliant, captivating series but progresses to show little-by-little how it moves away from intelligence, proving how the protagonists are not as invincible as portrayed to be.
Blank, a brother-sister duo named Sora and Shiro, is quite peculiar. All of their wins are accomplished by teamwork, and one brain cannot function well without the other nearby. They make their debut as a couple who’s unbeatable and leaks intimidation. NGNL presents these protagonists with unexplained abilities, which makes their brilliance invalid. You learn nothing about Blank besides the fact they’re undefeatable and possess genius-level intelligence. They both suffer from a social disorder that causes them to freak out when separated and gives Sora enough reason to sit outside the girls’ bath to stay within a certain distance of Shiro. Besides a vague backstory of their first encounter, NGNL reveals nothing about their parents, their lives in Tokyo, or any kind of self-narration to back up their intelligence or social disorder. This results in NGNL’s inability to follow through on its brilliance. Despite being undefeatable, Blank faces dead ends, admits defeat, and gets miraculously saved at the last minute. Even if there were changes in games or situations entirely, you’d expect clever approaches from super intelligent protagonists besides raising the white flag. Like always, NGNL disguises such inconveniences with gag comedy references to please jaded views.
One of the aspects noteworthy in NGNL are the games ranging from as simple as rock-paper-scissors to majorly complex and fun like a simulation game. Blank’s immediate drawbacks and impressive comebacks make it more watchable. The explanations of game plans were interesting. This makes Stephanie Dola a great add to the series, because someone has to play the simple-minded character to dumb down the complex moves and game rules for everyone else to understand. The games have their flaws though. Blank arrives into a world decided by games, ran by 10 pledges, and ruled by a little boy who only became God by default because of incompetent adults. The 10 pledges are a nice gesture to keep world order, but it is just another excuse to make Blank seem intimidating. There’s a pledge that denounces cheating, giving gamers an automatic loss if caught. Most of the games consisted of someone cheating or trying to overcome a cheat. Still, this brings two conclusions. Either Blank is indeed genius, or everyone in the new world is incredibly stupid and uses cheats to hide the fact they lack wisdom and the appropriate skills to win. Blank faces every opponent with a confident attitude, expecting a 100% win. Then the show becomes predictable, because Blank is always right. None of their opponents are challenging enough to take them on. The pacing was just right, so 12 episodes was not enough to fulfill the primary objective and ends with a cliffhanger.
The majority of the cast is female, giving Sora several chances to play the dominate male and open pervert. This makes characters appear as airheads or suffer high risks for Blank's purposes. The characters vary in personalities and abilities, and NGNL did a great job dividing their abilities based upon their race. Some had their own fetishes as well. Each of them played a role in Blank’s overall objective, so each one has his or her own unique trait whether it’s attractive or vice versa. Since this is a comedy, characters freely act outrageous after a serious moment in an attempt to get a laugh. It is only regarded to a certain extent, because they do not always act appropriately to certain situations, making it hard to distinguish the comedy and seriousness. Their sudden reactions to surprises are mostly hilarious, especially Blank’s reaction when Stephanie says something bright for a change. Some of the characters share backstories and relationships that can possibly give viewers a different impression of them.
NGNL takes ecchi over the top with its fanservice. Awkward cliché scenes of falling and landing into boobs make it annoying and close to a harem. Most games consist of girls losing clothes or undergarments sometimes as an excuse for virgin Sora to get his feels. However, I disregard this a little considering that NGNL is clearly within the ecchi genre, so this is expected. I mainly mentioned it as a warning to those who despises the abuse of ecchi fanservice. The only flaw is how this makes every game predictable, because each one seems to need fanservice for strategic purposes or solutions.
The pastel colors are initially what makes NGNL so lively, and I applaud Madhouse for taking a different approach with unique artwork and animation. As someone who is not a big fan of ecchi, I found it to be tolerable because of the pastel colors. The settings and character design were unbelievably gorgeous, and it is greatly necessary to distinguish the vast races and their territories within the world, including the elves and warbeasts. Except NGNL seems to care more about their appeal than abiding by the law of gravity. Clearly, you cannot hold onto a floating cloth in the sky as if it’s an airplane wing or Aladdin's magic carpet. Characters hang upside down and their hair doesn't follow their lead. Even if gravitational failure is not a big deal, it makes NGNL misleading considering that an arc touched on the concepts of science a great deal, including gravity.
The background music was suitable for the game theme of NGNL, but there are music references from other games to make the OST seem unoriginal. Sometimes it was confusing. NGNL seemed to have a hard time differentiating between comedy and seriousness, and the music gives it away. Something unexpected happens, characters make a big deal out of it, and yet the music is just as cheerful as ever. The OP and ED were very good, and the lyrics fit the show’s theme and Blank’s relationship quite well. There are no complaints about the seiyuu either, because they all switched their tones appropriately during certain situations, especially Blank. They succeeded with the sound effects, too, and it brought out the comedy more.
NGNL was a fun show to watch, and I looked forward to seeing a new episode every week. Impressive strategic gameplay, clever comebacks from Blank, and the beautiful animation with pastel colors are a few things that intrigued me. Despite how much I loved it, NGNL doubtlessly lacked the maturity and logic it needed to achieve the pursuit for powerful, undefeatable characters. The fantasy genre can be imaginative, as long as the show supports their ideas with some kind of explanation like NGNL failed to do. If you want to introduce super intelligent NEETs with an objective to take over the world, perfect. But to make them into something overly invincible with unexplained abilities without any backstory or presentation of evidence? That’s a tough cookie to break. Since NGNL won as the hype of Spring 2014, there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a sequel awaiting us in the future.
Everywhere I go here on MAL I see people praising this show. 10s are almost the standard since this show aired. Almost impossible to escape to the hype surrounding this anime I found myself watching the first episode even though I am against fan-fiction like stories such as this one. So, what do I think of the show?
Well, it has been quite a bumpy road with No Game No Life for me. A surprisingly weak start with almost every cliché in just two or three episodes a pandering show like this could ever contain and more headshakes I ever did when watching anime since Sword
Art Online were part of this experience. It got gradually more bearable though as the series reached its end to say the least.
Well, let's take a look in what the alleged "Anime of the Season" has to offer.
When reading the synopsis I was already shaking my head in disbelief. Yet another fan-fiction premise, yet again super cool NEETs living the life 90% of the people here would gladly kill for? I am certain it is unnecessary to tell what No Game No Life is all about since most of you guys reading this are already watching it as well.
Let's rather talk about the problems I had with the story.
Also note, so far no second season has announced. I will treat the story section of No Game No Life as if no second season is announced when coming to the ending. Yes, I know there is a light novel of the show but we are reviewing the anime here. Not the light novel!
First of all, No Game No Life tried to achieve so much in just a twelve episode run-time it felt rushed at times just to squeeze in as much as possible. They want to take over the whole world but how much could they possibly get my just twelve episodes?
I guess it may be just me but the whole set up and how it was handled is way too convenient for me to overlook it. Yes, "Blank" consisting of Sora and his super-intelligent-NEET-hikikomori-loli imouto providing regular panty shots Shiro are unbeatable, literally unbeatable. The story part of No Game No Life felt like watching a newcomer play Dark Souls for the first time with god mode enabled because just as Blank (I guess I figured out why the name's "Blank". Which makes it easier for self-insertion!), he'd be undefeatable no matter how big the challenge may look or what there is at stake. There is no sense of tension because you can predict that Blank will win no matter what. All you do is wait for the resolution on how they did it which is unpredictable because the main characters are alleged geniuses which - for me - was nowhere near this fascinating. Not saying this is all bad, it really is entertaining and gets you by surprise being exposed to their kind of play for the first few times, but most of the explanations just felt like Deus Ex Machina which again could be excused by them being geniuses.
In terms of world building No Game No Life did an average at best job as well. Yes, humanity is now called "Imanity" and is on the bottom of the food chain amongst other beings inhabiting this world. But yet again this is hardly explained in detail to make me personally attached at all. Also the other species are as original as it gets with your average elf-like beings using their magic, the war beasts having super-human speed and agility, there is no originality to be found here either.
The games they play are also not seemingly flawless and even contain plot holes in how they were executed by the show, for example the game of Shiratori in episode 6 where every player had 30 seconds to make their next move. Because Blank is so perfect though it just takes them almost a whole minute just for one. How things like those get past a quality check seems incomprehensible to me.
The general pacing was also one of the things which bugged me. Most of the time there just wasn't anything meaningful going on and time got wasted for nonsensical reference humor or blatant fan service which is a thing I highly dislike in anime.
Regarding the visuals No Game No Life scored way better at me. I like it when studios try out new stuff and come out as daring especially at something crucial as the visuals. No Game No Life kept an overall decent standard of quality and used an interesting if even maybe unusual and surreal art style as well as fluid animation. To be honest watching the first few episodes it seemed way too surreal and almost unpleasing for me personally. As the time went by though I found myself getting attached to it as it fitted the show’s theme quite well. As said, credit where credit is due, the makers dared to stand out from the norm and delivered a more than solid job in my eyes even if I ended up hating how they made Shiro and her facial expressions with her tiny mouth. This surely is just me but I couldn't stand some of the character designs at all.
Coming to the acoustic performance of No Game No Life I just have positive things to say. Starting with a strong and catchy opening theme the series never failed to convey a certain feeling of tension during moments when Blank once again had triumphed over their mentally inferior enemies. The soundtrack is literally what kept me hoping for more to come, being composed very well and used even better in the right scenes. If I had one thing to complain about the soundtrack it would be that some of songs got used to often and lacked in overall variety. Considering their quality this is a thing I am willing to forgive.
The voice acting was also top-notch and leaves barely room to complain, except the characters which they voice acted.
The characters are actually my biggest complaint alongside the not really original and sometimes even rigged by plot holes part that is the story. Blank may be perfect but this is just the thing which won't sell me for No Game No Life. They are too perfect, every of their moves in unpredictable it almost comes off as a downright ass pull - speaking only of the main characters Sora and Shiro though. The rest of the cast is entirely female and besides one tear-jerking moment of Stephanie it gets completely downgraded to pure fan service which is a shame because since later on they threw some other races into the bunch as well which could have been used for great character and world building but was cut to the most essential things and once again fan service because since the "Flugel" is a flying race they have their erogenous zones on their wings. Ha-ha, so clever. Not. And of course every female which gets to meet a smelly and skinny NEET is most likely to want to explore his erogenous zones. Totally what would happen in real life! And besides the main cast there were barely important characters which could be used even if only as plot devices.
Despite the problems I had with the show, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy No Game No Life the slightest bit. The atmosphere was right during the moments it should have been to grab my attention even when just for a little moment longer than it managed before. The conclusions weren't always the most logical or the most likely ones but satisfying nevertheless if you take the show what it's supposed to be; an entertaining pseudo-intelligent comedy. Regarding the comedy No Game No Life consists of solely two parts of comedic "attempts". One would be referential humor and the other being fan service. What I personally missed where clever jokes and not just some sexual slurs or innuendos alongside some deadbeat jokes. The most entertaining parts for me where not the ones others would consider to be funny but for how Blank would manage to achieve the next goal. Not if they would but how - because Blank can't lose.
Summing this up No Game No Life was a decent entry of the wish-fulfillment-genre which must include beautiful women, a super cool and flawless main character, games, video-games, a world to escape to. It stood out using a rather unique art style and underlining it with a very good soundtrack but lacked in story and characterization. Too much time was wasted on fan service which could have been used on actual development of the over sexualized almost all-female cast. While I didn't expect much after reading the synopsis I wouldn't even say I got disappointed but the hype surrounding it seems similar to the one Sword Art Online experienced back in the day. Unlike Sword Art Online No Game No Life is self-aware most of the time and at least does not take itself seriously to a level where it comes off as forced drama. It knows what it wants to be and pulls that off quite nicely and confident, ending up being entertaining but nothing of outstanding quality.
Fiction exists as a distraction. There exists many kinds of fiction: comedy, adventure, drama, etc. And then there's shallow wish fulfillment shlock that only exists for the purpose of pandering. Thus, No Game No Life exists.
No Game No Life is the "story" of two NEET siblings, Sora (18 years old) and Shiro (11 years old) who form a team known as "Blank". One day, they get sucked into another world called Disboard, wherein every conflict is resolved through games, including political affairs. Thus, when Stephanie, the princess of Elchea, loses her inheritance to the throne after losing a game of poker, Sora and Shiro decide
to compete in order to claim the throne for themselves, and eventually conquer Disboard.
You know all those bad fanfics that are Mary Sue wish fulfillment stories, wherein the main character is a loser in this world, and then they go to another world like Hyrule, or Star Trek, or Middle-Earth, or Equestria, or Idontgiveashitland and turns out to be a total badass who wins at everything and never loses at anything? That's what No Game No Life is like. Every single time Sora and Shiro play a game, they always win, even if it's a game which is based purely on luck.
Of course, from other shows in this genre, like Death Note or Code Geass, or even Kaiji, we already know that the main character is going to succeed with their mind games, and the fun in that is seeing how the main character wins. But at least in those shows, there is actual dramatic tension. They actually have moments where we think the characters are going to lose, and even if they don't, their actions still have consequences. Even if they win, they lose something in doing so. In NGNL, there is little to no dramatic tension at any point. Even if the audience is reminded of how high the stakes are in the games they play, we already know that the characters are invincible from the get-go and will never have to cut their losses, the only reason for that being Sora and Shiro's catchphrase "Blank never loses." This makes the show completely and utterly boring to watch, because why should I care about whether the characters win or lose if there is no tension because they never lose? Late in the show, they bet the lives of everyone in Elchea, and at that point their victory is a foregone conclusion.
As for the characters: Sora is your typical cocky-as-fuck and smug-as-shit lead character. Shiro is the generic borderline-emotionless younger sister character with white hair and wants Sora's dick. Stephanie is the retarded-more-often-than-not love interest who is the former princess and wants Sora's dick. Jibril is the kooky yet knowledgeable one, who wants Sora's dick. Do any of those characters sound familiar? If so, that's because they're the exact same fucking characters that you would find in this type of anime. The only difference is that they have little-to-no positive or admirable traits about them to balance out.
Episode 5 in particular is a good example of this, consisting of Steph continuously challenging Sora and Shiro and predictably losing. Not only do our heroes make her walk around wearing dog ears and a tail and make her remove her clothes every time she loses out of spite for her having a better social life (and Shiro out of jealousy because Sora made Steph fall in love with him due to the pledges), but Steph is retarded enough to keep challenging them, even though she keeps losing. This makes the show further frustrating to watch, because the characters are so unlikable that I don't want them to win, making episode 9, wherein Sora disappears and Shiro has to find a way to bring him back, the only time where there is actual dramatic tension, unemotional. Why should I be sad about a character disappearing and excited about him reappearing if he is a jackass?
It also brings me to my next point: the fanservice. I don't mind fanservice that much if it's in small doses, but this show goes way overboard! Disregarding the aforementioned episode 5, the very first shot of Shiro is a panty-shot (keep in mind, she's 11). Every time the characters are falling, or flying around, there's panty-shots. Several times throughout the show, the characters go to the onsen, giving us yet more tasteful fanservice involving a shampoo bottle which sprouts tentacles. The final game in the anime depicts a video game where they have to hunt their opponent across a large city while avoiding enemy catgirls, and of course they use their guns to shoot off their clothes. Not to mention the OVAs, the third one consists of Steph getting tentacle-raped, and I am not even joking. I know this is an ecchi, but even other ecchi shows I've seen don't shove the fanservice in your face as much as this.
Even the excuse I've seen some people make for the fanservice being sarcastic doesn't cover this, the fanservice has about as much purpose here as in post-timeskip Fairy Tail. They say that it's meant to be satirical, to make fun of all the other shows in this genre for having pointless fanservice. So it makes fun of pointless fanservice by having pointless fanservice? That would be like if I made fun of terrorists by blowing up a building: it defeats its own purpose.
Regarding the animation, it looks pretty at times, and the show is very colorful. However, it is also too colorful, the color palette is oversaturated with pink, and the show in general uses colors so bright that it causes eyestrain. If you watched this show in the middle of the night with all the lights turned off, you'd probably have a seizure.
In conclusion, I think that No Game No Life fails at practically every aspect. There's no problem with a show that doesn't take itself seriously, but there's a difference between that and being so retarded that it becomes a chore to watch. I'd rather watch a bad show that takes itself seriously and ends up being boring than a show that doesn't take itself seriously but fails because of its unfunny humor. Having torticollis was more fun than watching this show.
If you don't have a problem or even like any of these aspects, then go ahead and watch it and you'll probably like it. If you're anything like me though, you most likely won't like it. I mean, I watch anime and play video games, but even I can see what masturbatory nonsense this is.
Speaking as a member of an anti-bad fanfiction community, this show is practically indistinguishable from a crappy self-insert wish fulfillment fanfic, so much so that it would make Dakari King Mykan blush. This could have been an okay show if the characters were actually likable, if there was actual dramatic tension and if there wasn't so much goddamn fanservice. As it is, though, this is the worst anime I've seen in a long-ass time.
No Game No Life, the anime everyone was talking about this season. Everywhere on MAL and the anime subreddit everyone was praising NGNL. I tried hard to like it but I just couldn't, there was almost nothing redeemable about this show. If the show is bad then why do people watch it? And how did it get so popular? Well I guess I'll try my best to describe, while not spoiling as much as I can.
First off I'll start by listing all of the positives about this show, the art and animation was beautiful, nothing less to be expected by MadHouse. The OST was
great music at the wrong times, so I'm not sure if I could count that as a positive, but the OST in general is above average. And a colorful and beautiful World with endless opportunities for creativity.
So the plot is about two NEETs who are brother and sister, win at any game with 0% chance of losing. Why did the author end up making the protagonists NEETS? Well because he wanted to make most of the community who watch anime feel good about themselves. You could pretty much describe every character in one word and know everything about them, for example Sora is a beautiful virgin NEET who is somehow a genius who wins any game possible that's set in front of him. Shiro, who is Sora's sister, does literally next to nothing in the show except act as fanservice for lolicons.
The side characters are sadly even more one dimensional if that is even possible. So why does Sora have 3000 favorites then? Well just like Lelouche from Code Geass, or Light from Death Note, Sora is incredibly over powered and every other character in the series is retarded compared to him, we could say he is the big fish in the extremely small pool. Actually we could say he is the big fish in the small fish tank all by himself since all the other characters are non existent compared to him.
Earlier I mentioned Sora was over powered and that he wins any game 100% of the time, in the series he even says he wins games before they are even played. So in this new magical land that they are brought to, there is no wars, any dispute is solved over games. Games decide everything, even who owns which land. So the games could have been really interesting but you could tell from the beginning, no matter what Sora would win any game so there wasn't much to care about. Although I will admit some of the games mechanics were pretty interesting and MadHouse did an amazing job animating them.
Whenever Sora won a game, the episode would end and we would get 2 or 3 episodes of SoL + fan service shoved down our throats. As someone who loves SoL, a genre that relies 100% on how good their characters are. Well the characters in NGNL are honestly the worst cast I have seen yet, The SoL elements were so horrible that they had to rely on ecchi and fanservice. Hell actually half of the side characters in Sora's harem were only made for fan service, for example an angel who acted as nothing but a slave. She turned a complete 180 from being an angel who had no respect for humans to a slave who is completely loyal in a matter of minutes.
Near the last couple of episodes you could tell that they were running out of ideas and it just started to feel stale. Also the ending was very dissatisfying and didn't come near to bringing the season to a close. I enjoyed watching the show a bit, but that was mostly because MadHouse did such a good job with the art and animation.
No Game No Life is yet another anime about games, but this one is different, and in a lot of good ways, the world created is a charming yet surprisingly deep land of politics and interesting characters all around.
Instead of writing an essay about this i'm going to create a list of Positives and Negatives, I know when you're just looking to see if an anime is worth watching you usually don't want to read all that much.
- The story always seems to be moving forwards and never seems to slow down always introducing new and interesting characters to meet.
- The art style is beautiful,
the world in general is extremely bright and colourful and everything is outline with more of a red tone than most anime's, this helps to differentiate its style from the crowd and really makes it a pleasure to view.
- The characters are all interesting and I always found myself wanting to learn more about them and their origins.
- The relationship between Sora and Shiro is great.
- The relationship between Sora and Shiro might turn off some viewers.
- The 'Blank Never Loses' dynamic is interesting in some areas but it does get rid of some of the tension from certain battles.
- The series ends on an extreme cliffhanger
- Sound was nothing special.
I would recommend No Game Life to most people if only because it is extremely short at this stage, it won't take you long to power through the 12 episodes, however if you don't like cliffhangers you should definitely hold off on watching No Game No Life.
Blank can unite this burning land and bring an end to all this Disboard!! (haha puns, Disboard, discord.)
No Game No Life is about 2 NEETs, Sora and Shiro, who are geniuses when it comes to games. They are transported to a world where games decide everything from national borders to theft. Because Sora and Shiro are amazing at games, this world, called Disboard, (haha discord, this board, disboard, hahahaha games haha) seems like their dream world. The art reflects this, with it's unique coloration and artstyle.
The voices are very well done, and the soundtrack is very fitting. The characters each have comedic elements associated with
them, so depending on the current interactions of characters, different jokes and comedy scenes can be made. This helps freshen up the comedy and keep it new. This show was my favorite this season, and the comedy and bad*ssery that Sora and Shiro did make me hope for a season 2. Personally, I think a season 2 is likely because the anime is receiving so much praise and recognition, and the light novel that the anime is based off of is progressing quickly.
Overall: 9.27. It's great.
More details down below.
The story of No Game No Life is well built. First off, the premise is well explained. There is a world where 10 pledges govern sentient beings, and games decide everything. Why this is is explained early on and the pledges are constantly stated to make sure the audience understands the setting. The story is entertaining and progresses quite naturally. Sora and Shiro must take small steps before they take the large ones, and that is reflected in the 12 episodes.
The art for No Game No Life is amazing. It's unique art style helps create a dreamy atmosphere, reflecting on the fact that Disboard really is Sora and Shiro's dream world. It always looks fantastic.
The voices are very well done, and sound very genuine. The music is very good as well, and goes well with the scenes.
The characters are lovable. Sora and Shiro are geniuses, and everyone likes geniuses. But they aren't incredibly intellectual, which most of us aren't, making them relatable. Sora is smart, but aside from when he's "being smart," he acts like a (for the most part) like a normal person. Same with Shiro. All the characters provide a comedic aspect unique to that character in the series, and depending on which characters currently have the spotlight, different jokes are made, spicing up the comedy quite a bit.
This is probably my favorite anime this season, and I always looked forward to watching this show. I'm sad too see it go, but excited for next season.
A lot of popular shows have plenty of problems that are often ignored because they pander to their intended audience and NGNL (No Game, No Life) is no exception. The impressions one would likely get from the hype surrounding NGNL are it’s “an amazing show with an original premise and spectacular story-telling.” Though this is mostly exaggeration, as this show is far from amazing, it’s also far from awful for plenty of good reasons. NGNL’s glory stems from how well it knows its audience and that is a point in its favor, but there are definitely issues with it that should be addressed.
It’s easy to
argue that a show with good characters is a good show and NGNL has this aspect covered, whether the former is true or not. A very serious person might laugh at that statement, but that laughter is coming from the ignorance of the characters’ purpose. Each of the characters do their apparent job well and that is to be distinct and interesting as well as appeal to the target audience. The excellence of the cast is thanks to the way the NGNL allows it’s intended audience to relate to it’s main characters and that is a sign of competence from the creators (or that they are lucky).
However, though the characters are a high point of NGNL for being interesting, and in a way fun, it’s hard to deny their flaws. For one, our two main characters, the siblings Sora and Shiro, are nearly perfect (ironically, considering I’m saying this is a flaw), and it sucks a lot of the anxiety you might have, and even some of the fun, out of the show. They do seem to be self-aware, but it hardly excuses this problem. In fact, their aptitude in nearly everything is ridiculous considering their circumstances. It’s clear that this probably only to give them “cool points” and cheat its main audience into thinking the characters are well designed (I use cheat loosely). All this is only compounded by how the other prominent members of NGNL’s cast of characters, such as Steph and Jibril, only help boost Sora and Shiro’s ego as they seem to only compliment their incredible skill, both indirectly and directly. Also, it’s unbecoming for the cast that most of the characters are there solely for “fanservice” and other appeal. As such, even though this anime’s characters are “fun and cool”, they aren’t nearly realistic and have exaggerated abilities (and personalities too).
With all that said about the overall above average cast, it’s unfortunate the premise isn’t as original as plenty claim because similar stories have definitely been conceived and written. That isn’t foretelling of an uninspired plot though, is it? The answer to that question is subjective, but it doesn’t matter that much. The story almost entirely focuses on the siblings, brother and sister, Sora and Shiro as they are brought to an alternate world after beating the god of said world in a game. In this world, everything is decided by games (not violence, debate, etc.) so you’d think this would allow for some creativity involving all the games they will likely be playing. Unfortunately, whoever authored NGNL seemingly always uses a likeness to a Deus Ex Machina as the solution for the siblings inevitably winning the games they play. The way the games are played are less intelligent than they are presented. To be honest, for a show about games, the games aren’t exciting at all because you know the outcome is always that the siblings will win. Also, the story itself isn’t very interesting anyway, as the things that mostly happen are playing games and cracking jokes so NGNL heavily relies on “fanservice” and references which isn’t a strong foothold. It’s good the forced drama is rare though.
This might put NGNL down a bit, but beneath the unpolished story is a nice setting that is not fully explored. Because Sora and Shiro decide to try defeating and uniting the intelligent races in the new world they arrive in, we get to explore many of the interesting places that said world contains. NGNL doesn’t feed us with a lot of adventure and exploration though, so this could be a missed opportunity.
Not only is the setting very nicely designed, the animation compliments it too. The animation quality is not top-notch, but it is unique. It’s nice to see something different as the art uses some uncommon colors and has a nice hue of orange.
Other than that, the voice acting is good as the voice actors do their jobs well. There aren’t any performances of immediate note though. Also, the music is fine, but there is better out there
Overall, even though NGNL will likely leave a positive impression on you, its also good to consider its undeniable flaws. It’s something you’ll definitely like if you land in its target audience range. That means you like random fanservice and the predictable outcome of the games. If you don’t like it, you’ll probably find this anime poor for trying to act smart and tripping like a fool. While NGNL may have an uninteresting premise, its characters and setting make up for a good portion of it. And though it’s not as good as some may claim it to be, it’s an exaggeration to say it’s bad. NGNL is a fun experience, but it’s not all it’s praised to be and not a must watch. You may want to watch it for that orange hue though.
Do you ever just have those series that you really want to love, but just can't for various reasons?
Well, No Game No Life, or NGNL for short, is that anime for me.
The premise starts out interestingly enough, with two genius gamer, hikko-NEET siblings who find themselves transported to an alternate fantasy world where everything is decided by games. There, they are caught up in humanity's struggle for survival, which is mostly based on politics and the relative strengths of the other races, since in the alternate world there is no war or killing. Since Sora and Shiro are already incredibly skilled at games due to
their talents in logical thinking and strategy, they have no trouble playing their way towards being the new rulers of Elkia, the human kingdom, and subsequently challenging the other races with the ultimate goal to defeat Tet, the god of the game world.
I'll admit, with the hype surrounding NGNL along with the bright and colorful poster art, I was really excited for this show. I really love genius characters in anime, and having two of them as protagonists seemed almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, Sora and Shiro didn't quite live up to my expectations. While they both turned out to be Gary Stu/Mary Sue-type characters, the biggest problem was NGNL actually takes itself, and by extension its characters, pretty seriously. Sure, there are numerous comedic moments in the show, but those were always brushed aside whenever the real plot kicked in, making the tone rather inconsistent and the characters wholly unbelievable. Plus, the quasi-incest relationship between Sora and Shiro was uncomfortable at best, and icky at worst. I have no moral issues with the subject of incest itself, but too often in anime and manga it's played off as a joke and for fanservice rather than handled well. But then again, I don't really know if there would have been a better way to portray the siblings' relationship, as NGNL constantly fluctuates from being entirely serious to silly and fanservice-laden.
The plot itself felt rather contrived, as it needlessly forces the "logic" behind the games down its viewers' throats one minute and has the main duo peeking at another character's panties the next. I don't mind fanservice occasionally, but NGNL's fanservice was neither tasteful nor funny. Sora's attempts at winning the trust of the female characters is usually just thinly-veiled sexual harassment. I know that's kind of the point, but I just didn't find it entertaining. Also, NGNL likes to trick its viewers into thinking that Sora and Shiro winning game after game is the product of intelligence and logic, when in reality most of the explanations they come up with are completely ridiculous and unrealistic. This would be fine if the show was trying to parody the whole "ALL ACCORDING TO PLAN" thing a lot of anime incorporate, except for the fact that NGNL also takes this very seriously, as if everything happening is totally plausible. And in my opinion, the contrast between the fanservice-heavy comedy parts and the relatively serious game/politics parts just doesn't really work too well.
One of the few redeeming factors of NGNL is its art style, which is quirky, vivid, and all around nice to look at. The animation and music weren't always top-notch, but at least the bright colors and cute character designs made me ignore some of those faults. The art was definitely also unique, as I haven't seen many anime series with that particular use of lighting and color palette.
All of that being said, I do have to admit that No Game No Life was fun at times. That is, it's the kind of dumb fun that you would enjoy at 2 AM with your brain turned off. And okay, Shiro was pretty cute. But that doesn't change my overall opinion of the series. I don't hate NGNL, but after reading a lot of other reviews and people's opinions on this show (not to mention the current MAL ratings for this show, holy shit) I just couldn't understand why it's so popular and highly regarded. Maybe for some people the idea of a world where everyone plays games to solve problems is their idea of paradise, or maybe the way the main characters defy logic and reason with their wins really gets people's blood pumping. I really don't know. But as for myself, I can only say that although I had some fun with No Game No Life at some points throughout its 12-episode run, it was ultimately not my cup of tea and had many flaws that detracted from what first seemed like an interesting concept.
[Note:] This review was originally written on my blog, and is technically rated a 6.5/10. I'm pretty generous when it comes to ratings, though.