The internet is home to countless urban legends, but the most prominent is the mysterious gamer known only as "Blank." Behind breaking records in hundreds of games, Blank is just two shut-in NEET siblings: the manipulative 18-year-old Sora and the 11-year-old detached genius, Shiro. Together, they are an unbeatable duo with zero losses to their name.
One day, the siblings receive an anonymous email challenging them to a chess game. Upon securing a flawless win, they are immediately summoned into a colorful alternate world. A playful boy named Tet, who introduces himself as the "One True God," tells them that the world of Disboard has a unique system for resolving disputes—any and all disagreements are resolved through simple games. Furthermore, of the 16 races inhabiting the realm, humanity is ranked the lowest and least powerful, barely scraping by with a kingdom consisting of a single city.
In a world that has yet to see war or bloodshed in centuries, Sora and Shiro quickly make a name for themselves as they set their eyes on an ambitious goal: to defeat Tet with their gaming wits and conquer this new world.
No Game No Life has been published in English by Yen Press under the Yen On imprint since April 21, 2015, in Brazilian Portuguese by New Pop since January 2015, in Polish by Waneko since July 25, 2016, and in Russian as Без игры жизни нет by XL Media since 2017.
Since there is basically nothing on it, I thought I'd make the effort to say a few words about the No Game No Life original light novels for once, as I am sure there are a lot of people out there asking themselves “If I liked the anime, is it worth picking up the LNs as well?”.
This will be a bit of a short special “review”, as for once given the circumstances I'm basically expecting that anyone interested in reading this will already have seen the anime, and in case you haven't and just want to get the basic gist of it, I'd advice you
to go read literally any review of the anime first and then come back here (although there will still be no spoilers)... or even better just go watch the damn thing.
Anyways I will here mainly talk about some key facts that you might be interested in knowing, and then also what differs between the novels and the anime.
- “How much content is there available past the end of anime?”
The anime covers up to the end of volume 3 of the LNs, and there are currently 6 volumes released in Japan. Every volume is released at roughly 5 month intervals, and at the moment 4 of them are translated, the latest one finished on June 29th 2014. The translation is going pretty fast however and will surely catch up to the Japanese releases before long.
- “Is it worth reading the whole thing from the beginning or just pick it up at volume 4 if I just want to know what happens past the end of the anime?”
I think as a general rule, as long as you have the time and willpower it is always better to read the whole thing from scratch (I did at least). However what the anime covers follows the original first three volumes very closely so you could skip them if you really wanted to. There are some minigames and similar that were skipped in the anime though, so you'd still miss out on some “new” stuff that definitely was worth reading.
- “Will already having seen the anime reduce my enjoyment value for the LNs if I read the whole thing from the start?”
I'd say yes and no. Of course knowing the outcome of all the major plot points up until a certain point as well as having heard most of the jokes before will hamper the experience the “second” time around. On the other hand I think having seen the anime already will make everything a lot easier to picture in your head, as knowing how everything looks and how everyone's voices sound will make everything feel a lot better in your head when reading, and definitely enhance the humorous parts if anything.
- “Does it get better or worse in the volumes taking place after the anime?”
I can't really answer that, there is only one volume translated past the anime's ending as of the time of writing this (which would be roughly 4 episodes with the anime's pacing).
- “What about the differences then? Does the novels have the same theme and atmosphere?”
Mostly yes, but not entirely I have to say. At least in my mind, I found the LNs to be significantly more ecchi a lot of the time, and the parts that were cut out from the first three volumes for the anime mostly consisted of the most perverted scenes of the story. Not that they're any worse in terms of quality, but it's something to take note of at least.
- “Are the games really as good in a text-based format?”
I think normally anyone would reckon that it'd be easier to explain clever and complicated flows of events in large amounts of text compared to what it would be animated, but in this case I'm actually going to say no. I think the more forceful approach and over-the-top animation techniques utilized in the anime were actually easier to understand than the more “normal” (..sort of) feeling the novels have. Mostly as a result I don't think the LNs feel quite as epic in comparison.
- “Overall then, which is better of the novels and the anime?”
Obviously this is not really a fair question as the anime covers only a portion of the story, but just comparing the content it covered from the source material then I would still have to say that the anime is probably better in the end. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy reading this immensely but it doesn't get me quite as excited as I got when watching the anime. Now I'm a huge fan of the franchise and thus even so I'd still give the novels a 10 as well, but if I had to choose one or the other then I'd still go with the anime. The animation, soundtrack and voice acting just enhances the concepts of the series too much to be able to overlook.
Most people are looking at the reviews to see if No Game No Life novel is worth picking up, especially after watching the anime. Because of that, I'm going to direct my review towards "I liked the anime, should I read the novel series, or should I hope for a season 2?" instead of something like "Is NGNL light novel good?".
Well to start off, there are currently 8 volumes released, 6 which are translated. The anime only covered the first 3 volumes, so you can assume that you are expecting at least double the content.
- "Should I read from the beginning, or
should I just start reading volume 4?"
Personally, I don't know. Since I watched the anime, I skipped the first 3 volumes and started reading volume 4. The anime follows the novel very well so I didn't feel like I missed anything.
- "How good is the story after the end of the anime?"
Really good. Sometimes stories tend to start strong, stay long, and then get weaker and weaker throughout; examples would be Bleach, Naruto, SAO, and really many other anime. However, NGNL only gets better as the story unravels. The crew is bigger, more games (sophisticated ones too), more races to interact with, and a lot of insight on the background of this world and the races in general.
- "Light Novel vs. Anime?"
Well there are two aspects in this; Quantity and Quality. I'd say that the quality of the anime was better than the LN, even though I haven't read the first 3 volumes. The reason is because the anime did a very well job in explaining really confusing concepts and sophisticated games, plus it had good art and amazing sountracks. As for Quantity, obviously speaking the LN is better, it has a lot more content that is definitely worth reading if you liked the anime.
- "Quick summary with no spoilers?"
Usually sometimes when I want to read an LN I'm familiar with, I like to see how the LN does and what it covers, so here's a quick, as much spoiler-free as possible, summary:
- Volume 4: Follows the end of the anime, the crew continues to obtain more races to their side, and tries to do exactly that.
- Volume 5: Continues off the "problem/game" in Volume 4 to finish it, but also includes a lot of mini-games and a big insight on Jibril, the Flugels, and a little bit more about what happened during the Great War.
- Volume 6: This whole volume is Tet covering the Great War; how it was from the humans' perspective, how it ended, how Tet became the One true god, and a lot more about its secrets.
- "How much did you enjoy the LN?"
No Game No Life LN was the first light novel I read, combine that with the fact that NGNL has pretty sophisticated and potentially confusing games and you can pretty much guess that I had a little trouble reading some parts, but just reading those small parts again or waiting for a better explanation often helped me a lot. Overall, I did enjoy this LN as it was pretty good and the plot was well-written. I do give this LN about 8.9/10 - A very high 8 or a flat 9.
[This review will tackle the first 3 volume of the LN and the expected adaptation coverage of the anime]
I once saw a review on NGNL anime saying that it is a guilty pleasure. I won’t deny that as someone who tries both anime and LN because that seems true but it doesn’t mean that the content itself is terrible that there is nothing that can be considered “unique” or “refreshing” from it. NGNL is simply a story that hasa unique setting for a commonly abused theme.
Normally, when the story deals with people suddenly transferred to another world/dimension, the plot revolves on how they live
through the new world while trying to look for a way to return back to their original world. NGNL is other way around. The people who were thrown into another world decided to stay on it because they felt that staying there would be more meaningful instead of trying of a way to return back. The plot simply revolves on how they will live in that world but there is a twist on it. The character that got thrown into the another world is a duo of NEET named Sora and Shiro who holds an urban legend of being undefeated in every games they tried and the world they got thrown into is a world where every conflict is to be decided by games.
The fantasy world where everything is to be decided by games is called “Disboard”.It has 16 races/countries but since it is easier to recall each by races, I will mention them by races instead. As of 3 volumes, the story gives information about human, flugel, elf and werebeast race. Human as simply as its sounds, is a race consist of human. In the world of Disboard, they are in the bottom line in both magical ability and rank by country. Then we have the Flugel would be in the 6th place from the top and are being considered as angel but actually has the strength that can annihilate any opponent if they want to but due to the world rules, they can’t use their power to invade other countries. Due to that, this flugel race only play games where they will gain knowledge or books as they wanted knowledge. We also have the Werebeast race and well known undefeated for their games and already has a big country and technology development due to their unbeatable games. The knowledge about their games is zero as part of the pledges they suggest, the loser will forget the game content. And finally, we also have the elf race that has high affinity with magic. Considered in par with magic with flugel and has hatred to the flugel race due to their war destruction done to the elf’s nation before everything is to be decided by games.
As for how the story goes, it is how Sora and Shiro wins each game they encounter. Starting from an invitation into the coronation game and finally with games that deals with how human race wins back what they lost from the previous king games. The strong point of the story is how the NEET duo wins every games where the games is similar to politics of every nation but the both of them simply think of it how to win each games. The method how they win each game makes the story interesting. After all, games itself are enjoyable but NGNL make it more interesting by adding “additional” elements to make each game worth it. Like how a game of chess can end up in a war between 3 groups when it supposed to be a war between 2 opposing sides.
Additionally, perhaps for the utilization of the ecchi genre, the story has ecchi here and there for explaining things outside the game, ecchi scene in game and even bath scene after every end game once per volume. Though that said, those didn’t happen in the first volume except the bath scene. Im not sure why but that’s probably deal with the story progress as volume 1 does not really have the win an ally plot.
Just like its story, the characters of NGNL are different from the usual stereotype. They are also outstanding on their own way. Some of them are:
Sora – one of the NEET duo. The tactician of the duo and the one who starts everything when it comes to games. If the name of Sora and Shiro is combined, it means “Kuuhaku” or blank which happens to be their name whenever they play against anyone.
Shiro – the little sister of Sora and the genius of the NEET duo. She is the one who understand Sora’s thinking the most. Also, she happens to be the one to be least surprise wheneverSoraproposes his crazy plans.
Jibrel – a flugel that been defeated by the NEET duo and someone who pledge loyalty to them. She also happens to be the one who hold possession of human’s national library something she obtained from defeating the previous human king in a game. Her personality is simply showing that she has a big obsession for knowledge and as long as it is something new for her, she would like to learn it.
Stephanie – the daughter of human race previous king and a character mostly used for comedy relief. Probably the weakest character of the title because she often treated as an idiot. Also, the one that can be treated as heroine in the story due to her love interest to Sora but that is made vague on the story.
Izuna – the representative of the werebeast that stays in the human country. She has a sharp tongue and similar to the NEET duo, someone who has a big interest in games.
Kurami – a human spy from the elf’s side. As of first 3 volume, what can describe her is way too limited to the story setting to the point that adding more than what I mentioned is simply assuming details.
If there is any possible issue for the characters, that is the lack of character development. Normally, that is a big minus to the rating but NGNL proven in the novel that development is unnecessary for the story. If NGNL character were given character development, it would destroy the main attracting element of this title, namely the duo of Sora and Shiro. If ever that they develop and ended up not wanting to take the risk a game, then that would lessen the value of their characters and so does the excitement the story offers.
I decided not to count the illustration on the rating as it didn’t affect my rating overall for the title. If there is anything to say, the colored illustration of the novel is way too colorful that sometimes it is hard to look at.
This is definitely enjoyable. I didn’t find any moment that would bore me and even it has many moments that leave me wanting for more. At some point, this seems to be similar to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha but instead for magical girls’ genre, it’s for the stories that deal with alternative world.
Any recommendation to NGNL? There are some titles for that. I think some would be the following.
Mondaijitachi ga Isekai kara kuru Sou desu yo? (Light Novel)– The problem children series is without a doubt the best recommendation to NGNL for both anime and light novel. Both are similar to the idea of people transferred into another dimension and the transferred characters were not interested on going back to their old world but simply wanted to enjoy the new world. Additionally, both title shares the idea of solving conflict through “games”. Games on NGNL are simply games with additional element like an FPS game has an additional element of tag but instead of touch, it would need to be hit by a bullet while games on Mondaijitachi are games because they are called that way by system but the content normally consists of war like situation. The big difference on the two is that, the problem children series manage to insert character development without destroying the concept and characters value.
Log Horizon (Light Novel) – concept wise, Log Horizon and NGNL are contradicting titles. So what make LH recommendable to NGNL? That would be the idea of living through on the new world they are with a main character of both tactician. In both story, the tactician is the reason why majority happened in the story progress for the better of their own.
Oda Nobuna no Yabou (Light Novel) – same case with Log Horizon but on this one, the MC for both story are gamers that use their game knowledge for their own benefit. Additionally, the game knowledge they use ended up on their benefit for the war situation they encounter though NGNL is more of game encounter.
Verdict: Be it the anime or the light novel, NGNL is overrated but unlike the usual overrated titles, it is one of the few that actually worth of a try. What most certain, it is very easy to enjoy.
Oh right, the rating I have on this review is not my final rating for the novel but only momentarily until I finish or decided that the novel is already good to the point of receiving a definite rating. There is still the possibility that I lower my rating for this one.
Opinion, suggestion, criticism and the likes? Please direct it to my wall.
No Game No Life (review up to volume 4 with later updates to happen)
Yanked into another world by a mysterious phenomenon, we follow the gamer siblings as they attempt to surmount what is deemed to be the BIGGEST game of all time!
What’s this novel about? I’ve always pondered about how one could express the term escapism which is universally different when trying to describe it to various people. This series is essentially that wish being fulfilled as our protagonists get teleported to another world called Disboard (clever name) due to the actions of an almighty loser.
We follow the exploits of the NEETS Sora and Shiro
who are known together as blank as they are presented with what seems like the most challenging thing they’ve encountered in their lifetime. A simple chess game goes wrong, which is ultimately the trigger pulled by the God of that world, Tet, who on paper just looks like an immature child.
The whole premise is set up so that our protagonists must conquer all the races that exist within that world called the Exceed which are totalling 16 in number before being able to challenge the ruler Tet. However, our unfortunate gamers are classed with the pitiful humans they are, that are ranked dead bottom called Imanity. Using them as their base for their grand operation we follow the trials and tribulations that our gamers are presented with, and as their motto says “(___) never loses” which means running away is not an option as they are always confident in their winning chances.
The games themselves are quite extraordinary as there is always great variation between them; from word connectors that can literally makes things appear and disappear with a click of a finger, all the way to the standard dating simulation game that may seem mundane at first but as it progresses, will only pose more difficulties for the players as they attempt to overcome those obstacles.
The way in which the games are narrated is probably the series strongest point if you don’t mind the overpowered characters that we have in the NEETS. The series is suited to those who want to see how the game turns out which includes all the individual processes that take place before we get the grand conclusion that is WHO WINS? So if you dislike the fact they win all time, then this may not be for you as it’s really all fun and games as they say.
The characters also add another dimension to my overall enjoyment as there are multiple personalities residing within the cast who are all of different background, from the cynical Wearbeasts that manipulate others to the knowledgeable Heavenly Winged that seem to possess an array of weapons and other magical abilities.
The cast however is mostly female and so this is essentially a harem as each female introduced seems to have some sort of affection for our sole male hikikimori Sora, much to the dismay of his step-sister Shiro who is assumed to have extremely poor communication skills on the outside but can be riled up when it comes to these sort of things.
The outside and inside are two totally different things and when it comes to gaming can be like oil and water, they don’t mix well which is seen in different online personas that contradict their real selves. Heck I’m beginning to doubt if the prologue for volume 1 was legitimate or not, as it’s been hinted several times they have experienced heaps of IRL problems. A lot can be expanded upon but then again it’s not the main point so there is not much that is required to clear my doubts.
Going back to the characters, you are bound to find many enjoyable which is the case for me as I particularly liked Steph (our deuteragonist maybe?) to an extent, who is our unfortunate dim-witted former princess that just gets manipulated many times by our sadistic main Sora who gets his enjoyment out of that. Well if that doesn’t crack you up, then I don’t know what does. Steph herself at times can be shown to reliable on certain occasion and is usually the trump card to settle things which is ironic as that’s not how she’s set up to be most of the time.
The series does have a lot of fanservice but it’s more just sexual teasing most of the time and doesn’t really hinder me as the reader except the repetitive bath scenes. We get the joke!
The harem is a very good harem which can be a recipe for disaster in other series but with NGNL they are following their character archetypes to the maximum and leaves nothing else to be desired personally. The characters are plentiful which for me is a necessary thing as it hits the sweet spot because too little can bore a reader whereas too many can confuse the reader unless it’s intentional which I have no problems with.
The last part is just me putting my final thoughts together and I wouldn’t say this a masterpiece or anything but it really uses its basic concept well. I’d highly recommend the novel for a fan of the anime but in my opinion is not that much better than the anime which is solid from what I remember. If you want to see some clever games being played that involve a battle of wits being applied, then look no further and this will entertain you surely.
No Game No Life follows two genius NEETs, Sora and Shiro, and their journey to the world of Disboard, where conflicts are resolved through games. So take a break, play a game, and enjoy these 20 Quotes from No Game No Life that Prove Sora and Shiro are the best of the best!