What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about “No Game, No Life”! This one just had to be up there on my list because you know I can’t get enough of the anime series where real people get dragged into a game world. Now I know what some are thinking, this is probably like all the others. I would have thought so too. However, almost everything about “No Game, No Life” is a refreshing experience. This one actually looked into the very meaning of a game.
It feels a bit odd that I am going to give an overview for an anime series that is also pretty old, surely enough there might be some out there like myself who are new to this. “No Game, No Life” follows Sora and his younger stepsister Shiro, two hikikomori who make up the identity of Blank, an undefeated group of gamers. One day, they are challenged by the god of games, Tet, to chess and are victorious. As a result, the god summons them to Disboard, a reality that revolves around games. Intent on maintaining their reputation as the undefeated gamers, Sora and Shiro plan to conquer the sixteen ruling species and to usurp the god of games.
Some out there will read this and quickly jump to the conclusion that Sora and Shiro are just another set of characters who get trapped in a game world and coast through it because they are that good. The truth is that they are that good, but that has nothing to do with what captivates you through taking this journey with them. Sora and Shiro are compelling for the fact that they remind you of everything genuine about gaming. It’s not just about being the best at games or always winning. There is an art to it, a rush to it, a level of satisfaction that you should be able to take from a game. When they play, there is nothing in front of them but the game itself. It was like looking in a mirror and questioning what you yourself look for when that is you. Beyond that, they are unique because they are an extreme cliche of gamers. Particularly the kind that when separated from each other, begin to suffer panic attacks. The codependency is absurd, yet at the same time entertaining.
What is actually best about Sora and Shiro is that they aren’t your typical characters either for the way that they interact with this world and the people in it. They know that this is a game world, but they do not treat the people as if they aren’t real. They don’t see the world as consequence-free. Within just the first episode you get this endearment from the characters and story when the star was the essence of what made this world tick. From there every opportunity is taken for them to see this as a real experience. All lives mattered even when something was on the line.
Aside from Sora and Shiro, the supporting cast was standout as well. Many of them were memorable for the way they shined a light on a different form of gaming. Others stood out for the exploration they offered into this world that is vast. Every territory had a rich history to them and something which had to be understood before interacting with them.
One of the best things “No Game, No Life” had going for it was the scope in games. This is essentially a fantasy world that they were dragged into, but there was no reliance on a simple RPG format. The first thing I questioned was what kind of game they would play since as Blank in the real world, they were major online players. Quickly I was taken back by the fact that there was no limitation to the kinds of games they played. These games ranged from card games, to more elaborate games, to something as straightforward as Rock, Paper, Scissor. I loved that fact that even the simplest of those games was made into something challenging and worthy of your attention. This might also have something to do with the animation as well. I was stunned by the art style they used for “No Game, No Life”. Madhouse went above and beyond to create this vibrant visual which immersed in a way that you couldn’t imagine seeing this anime any other way. I mean the colors alone were so unique, consistent, and in your face. Overall, it was gorgeous and you would say the same if you see their game with the Angelic Jibril at least.
The plot also isn’t hard to follow, which is a big plus. You know the endgame is to beat the game that is the world, and then beat Tet. Though everything else between is an easy-to-follow game of conquest. Personally I loved the sense of pacing the series took on after the first episode. After Sora and Shiro made their declaration to beat the game, they hit the ground running knocking out one thing step after the next that they needed to take in order to bring their plans to fruition.
After you watch those twelve episodes, that is when you should also give the movie a watch. “No Game, No Life: Zero” is set 6000 years before the events of the series, with most of the original cast portraying ancient characters related to their present counterparts. Being a prequel, still it is recommended that you watch the movie after. You will appreciate what happened back then more with an understanding of what it led to. If there is one thing you will know about the past, it is that life was chaotic and bleak. The difference between the main series and the movie is that this is a time where there was no games to settle disputes. There was war between the races, and the Gods, with the humans(Imanity) caught in the crossfire as collateral damage. When you watch this movie, it will get you in your feelings when there is a difference between knowing and seeing the struggle of the humans with your own eyes.
It should be said that at the end of the day, this series is only twelve episodes and a movie. There absolutely should have been more to this series considering the cliff-hanger this was left on, but you still have to love everything you got out of those twelve episodes nonetheless. “No Game, No Life” in my opinion is the bar for what you should expect from an anime or manga of the isekai variety.