“No Game No Life: Zero” is a prequel film to the base series, telling the story from 6000 years ago about how Tet came into power and the Ten Pledges were made. Also this was an interesting experience in that I saw this film in theaters, because a couple local theaters were showing the film for two days (one for sub, one for dub).
During the main series, we’re told that in the past there was a great war to determine the One True God, with all of the races and gods involved. At the end of the bloodshed, the only god to remain was Tet, who assumed the throne as the One True God and created the Ten Pledges to prevent future wars. While that’s all technically true, this movie shows that there was much more to it. During the war, humans were driven to the brink of extinction and were forced to live underground because of the continuous toxic ash that was falling from the sky (which somehow only affected humans and no other race as far as I remember), and the constant dangerous fighting of the other races. Humans are on their last colony, and their leader, Riku, journeys to an elven hideout, searching for anything that could help. While there, he discovers an Ex-Machina (basically an android, but with more upgrades and connected to a hive-mind of sorts) who wishes to understand the human heart. While initially confused, Riku agrees to take the Ex-Machina with him, naming her Schwi. By working together, they make a plan to activate the Sunaister, a device that can someone the power of One True God. As this happens, the two fall in love and get married. (I’ll stop here to avoid more spoilers and this is all the information you need to know for my next topics)
Just like the show, the animation is beautiful, and seeing the vibrant colors and smooth action on the big screen made it look even better. The pacing of the film is better than the show, most likely because of time constraints, forcing it to move from point to point without unnecessary humor or fanservice. The plot, at times, can be confusing, mostly because while the world may be the same as the base show, it follows its own set of rules that are very different. However, at the same time, aspects of this film require knowledge of the base show in order to make sense. To me, the relation to the base show is also this movie’s biggest flaw.
On its own, this film is a story about how a human and an android have to work together to save the last bits of humanity, and, along the way, fall in love. The reason I say the base show is this film’s flaw is Riku and Schwi. It is very VERY obvious that Riku and Schwi are supposed to be Sora and Shiro. Their designs look almost the same and in both English and Japanese, Riku and Schwi are played by the same voice actors who play Sora and Shiro. (and it’s noted by a character in the film how similar the story of Riku and Schwi is to Sora and Shiro) Now, as I mentioned in my post about the series, Sora and Shiro give off HEAVY incest vibes (as well as pedo vibes because Sora is 18 years old and Shiro is 11). In this film, Riku and Schwi (who are basically proxies for Sora and Shiro) fall in love and get married. Do you see where my problem is with this? To me, an aspect of this film feels like fanfiction, where the writer went “Well, what if we wrote something where Sora and Shiro got married, but they’re not related and Shiro is a robot so that makes it ok.” As a whole, this aspect of the film really rubbed me the wrong way and prevented me from liking it as much as some of my friends.
“No Game, No Life: Zero” is a beautiful looking film establishing the background and backstory for the world that the base series takes place in. There is good action and animation, and the story between Riku and Schwi is honestly touching, even despite the vibes I was getting. I can’t recommend this if you haven’t seen “No Game, No Life”, but if you have and you enjoyed it, you’ll probably like this film as well.