Reviews: No Game No Life
Not For Everyone
No Game No Life is the story of two adoptive siblings, Sora and Shiro, who are NEET Shut Ins in the real world, but the gaming legends known as "Blank" online. After meeting and playing against Tet, who calls himself the god of games, the siblings are transported to Disboard, where everything is decided through games, and "Imanty," the equivalent of humanity, is on the brink of extinction. They set out to lead Imanity to victory against other races and ultimately challenge Tet again. The series is primarily based on games, since in Disboard, all conflicts are settled with games that have magically binding wagers(not just money or possessions, but also intangible things, like memories and promises). As such, you'll see many well-known games with special twist, such as chess with pieces that have wills of their own. Since the new rules invalidate many traditional strategies, the siblings must often come up with unconventional strategies to win, as they generally do. This brings us to the main characters themselves, as in even a charitable analysis, they toe the line of being Mary Sues. They have their various flaws, but not only are those limited in their significance and usually portrayed comedically rather than something they'll have to overcome or live with, they also possess the one skill that matters in Disboard. They generally win by the skin of their teeth, but they win nevertheless. They're too eccentric and out there to be like normal people and too talented to be This Loser Is You material. That said, some of the side characters are significantly more interesting. While the siblings often treat Steph, the princess of Imanity, like a joke, she has talents that they don't initially notice, and her goal- leading her kingdom well and proving that her late grandfather wasn't a "foolish king"- is a good one, so perhaps she'd be good protagonist material if she had more gaming skill. Kurami, the duo's first major opponent, has an interesting backstory and undergoes a fair amount of Character Development later on, even if the latter requires not one, but two, humiliating losses to the protagonists. Most of the main characters' opponents are also portrayed sympathetically, simply trying to advance their races' interests in a dog-eat-dog world, so it makes sense that they often eventually ally with the protagonists. The series doesn't always take itself seriously, and there's a good amount of humor to be had, especially unabashed and thinly censored references to popular works, as well as the protagonists referencing and discussing various anime and video game tropes. Unfortunately, the Fanservice, while sometimes parodied and Played for Laughs, does get a bit excessive at times. All in all, No Game No Life is enjoyable, but not for those who would like to see their protagonists fail, whether from time to time or in the end, or would like main characters to whom they can relate.
Wish fulfillment at its worst.
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 goes to another world and turns out to be a total badass who wins at everything and never loses? That's No Game No Life. Every single time the main characters Sora and Shiro play a game, they always win, even if it's a game which is based purely on luck. Of course, in shows like Death Note or Code Geass, or Kaiji, we already know that the main character is going to succeed, and the fun is seeing how they do so. But at least in those shows, there is actual tension. In NGNL, there is almost no tension. 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 their catchphrase "Blank never loses." This makes the show boring to watch, why should I care about whether the characters win or lose if there is no tension because they never lose? As for the characters: Sora is your typical cocky-as-fuck and smug-as-shit lead character. Shiro is the borderline-emotionless younger sister character with white hair and wants Sora's dick. Stephanie is the 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 same characters 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. As for my next point: the fanservice. I don't mind fanservice that much if it's in small doses, but this show went way overboard! It has constant fanservice, from everything to pantyshots to humiliation to furo scenes. Even the excuse I've seen some people make for the fanservice being sarcastic doesn't cover this. They say that it's meant to be satirical, to make fun of all the other shows in this genre for having pointless fanservice, yet it still has pointless fanservice. That would be like if I made fun of terrorists by blowing up a building: it defeats its own purpose. In conclusion, I think that No Game No Life fails at practically every aspect. 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 unfunny humor.
Absolutely revels in Crazy Awesome (anime S1)
I'm not sure where to start with this, so let's do from the beginning: Shiro and Sora are NEET siblings extraordinaire. (In)famous gamers and shrouded in legend under the name "『 』" (blank), they get challenged by the Physical God of Gaming from another reality named "Disboard" to Chess and WIN. That happens in the first 10 or so minutes of the show. After that they get teleported to said alternate reality, make a name for themselves, become the rulers of the local human race named "Imanity" and start to battle the other races (all in all 16 total including Imanity) by playing progressively more awesome, risky and, let's be honest, BATSHIT INSANE games from Chess' RTS brother to word games that make stuff (dis)appear at will (they start with a Hydrogen Bomb!) and finally engage a race of Little Bit Beastly people who developed a Video Game in a kind-of Medieval European Fantasy. Make no mistake, they always have to give absolutely everything and pull all tricks of the book to win this while using their cunning and absolutely excellent teamwork to make it do. That alone compels me to recommend the series because it just all works so great. Shiro is presented as a lonely Child Prodigy whose one and only bright spot in life was meeting her older brother Sora, who himself is just as smart (in a different way) and both form a perfect team. Again, they really need to because the series makes the dangers of the world they found themselves in crystal-clear. Failure cannot be accepted. The series is, in a word, breathtaking. It's incredibly well animated (as expected of Madhouse), no scene is pointless and even the few instances of Fanservice are well played (generally for laughs and never just "there") and I have to add I don't really like Fanservice to begin with. The audio is also great; the voice actors of everyone just fit so well. So does the music. Need proof? Just watch the opening. What actually bothers me is... I don't know, I can't come up with anything, really. Maybe the fact the parents of the protagonists apparently didn't care about them, not that this matters once they are in Disboard. Ok, one thing does bother me: lack of a 2nd Season so please Madhouse, do us the favour. One of the best anime of recent memory if not decade? I totaly agree.