“No Game No Life” is an anime following step-siblings Sora and Shiro, a pair of undefeated gamers who go under the name “ “ (Blank). One day they receive a challenge to a game of chess from a mysterious e-mail. Upon winning, the challenger reveals themselves as Tet, the god of games, and transports Sora and Shiro to the world of Disboard. In Disboard, everything revolves around games: war, politics, minor disputes, etc. Ten Pledges magically enforce all bets, meaning even things such as memories or free will can be bet. The world of Disboard is filled with 16 races that are all fighting for power, (elves, beastmen, and angel-like creatures being a few) with the human kingdom of Elkia being one of the weakest. Sora and Shiro decide to use their skills and knowledge to beat all of the races in the world, and challenge Tet again.
Or at least, that’s how the anime would continue. As of right now, the anime has ended after one season and one movie (which I will get to), and the light novels it’s based on are currently updating at around one every year/year and a half. Before going into more of my thoughts, I would say that I would love to see this anime continue… but the anime ended back in 2014, so unless the movie that premiered last year is slowly getting the hype train rolling back in Japan, I doubt it will continue in anime form.
One of the first things that caught my attention in this show was the use of colors. It was made by Studio Madhouse, so the visuals, the action, and the colors are beautiful. Because of the surreal nature of the world that it takes place in, as well as how crazy some of the games can get, the visuals are given the ability to flourish.
Sora and Shiro are an interesting pair of leads. As far as their dynamic goes, I’d relate it most closely to Penn and Teller, with Sora being the “face” who is loud, in-your-face and generally trying to mind game you, while Shiro is generally quiet and reserved, but calculating and skilled. Both of them are very intelligent and skilled, and as a pair, seem to be pretty unstoppable. However, they are reeeeeeeally attached to one another. Being separated causes them both to go into panic attacks, while sometimes when they’re together, there are implied feelings of incest between them (WHICH I WILL GET INTO FOR THE MOVIE). This could also just be Sora’s perverted nature, but still. More so, there is a lot of fanservice of Shiro in this show. There is fanservice in general for female characters, but the fact that Shiro is 11-years-old makes it really weird.
The games played are really exciting to watch. It gives a Yu-Gi-Oh or Beyblades vibe when things as simple as a game of poker, a coin flip, or a game of chess can be presented as intense and exciting with really high stakes. Along with that, the music does well in accentuating the action and providing mood for the back and forth of the games. Specifically, the track called “The Kings Plan” or “All of You is All of Me” is amazing in providing the background to the “gotcha” moment when Sora reveals what happened, similar to Yu-Gi-Oh or Case Closed. That being said, the stakes of the games provide some issues. SPOILERS I mean, when you bet humanities rights as a species (including the right to play games) you’re kind of not allowed to lose, no matter how much you increase the tension. END SPOILERS
Despite certain issues, No Game No Life is a beautiful show with a fascinating concept. It takes the question from Yu-Gi-Oh of “Why are card games being used to decide the fate of the world?” and makes it so games are the ONLY way to decide the fate of the world. The visuals are stunning, and the intelligence and forethought of Sora and Shiro are awe-inspiring. As I said before, while this anime hasn’t gotten a second season yet, a film has been made, and I can only hope that that will allow future seasons to be made.