No Game No Life

No Game No Life

20140525-231931-83971039.jpgNo Game No Life is the story of brother and sister combo Sora and Shiro. In real life they are NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) hikikomori gaming addicts, but across the internet they are the urban legends known as the Undefeatable Blank. The two of them are so apathetic about life in the real world that they consider reality to be just another ‘crappy game’. One day, they are suddenly summoned to an alternate world after winning a chess game against a boy who calls himself ‘God’.

In this God’s world there is no war, but that doesn’t mean that it’s peaceful. Everything is decided on game challenges – from the smallest of wagers to the exchange of national borders. Humanity are the weakest of several races in this world, and they have been driven back by their stronger enemies until all they have left is just one city. Enter Blank, heralded here as “Saviours of Humanity”, and their determination to bring humanity back from the brink, conquer the world, and ultimately challenge God himself.

20140525-232351-84231107.jpgNo Game No Life kicked off with the plot as son as it began. It’s a typical ‘protagonists stuck in a virtual world’ theme with a twist: Sora and Shiro aren’t your usual ‘good guys determined to defeat the game and get back home’ archetypes. This virtual world is just a new challenge for them and they just want to prove that they’re the best – they don’t seem to have any particular attachments to their world and seem perfectly happy to spend the rest of their lives where they are, if that is the way their fate takes them. Also they don’t fight with swords or magic, it’s just their astuteness and wits alone.

The character designs are courtesy of Koji Odate, animation director for High School of the Dead. The animation style and visuals are very unique with an interesting colour palette that gives the anime a warm, hazy quality that is oddly suited to the storyline. That being said, the backgrounds tend to be quite limited and lacking and sometimes even looking a little blocky. This wasn’t something that I noticed at the beginning, but as the story wore on and Sora and Shiro began to actively ‘move about’ this became a lot more noticeable. The scenes are also filled with some seriously dodgy fanservice stuff that’s getting weirder the further the anime progresses.

20140525-232350-84230530.jpgSo far, I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with No Game No Life. The way Blank continue to win challenges is fantastically clever and different every time – I always look forward to their next conquest. Their word-play fight against Jibril being my particular favourite. However, I’m not quite okay with all the general silliness that goes on between these challenges, accomplishing absolutely nothing. This usually involves Sora and Shiro relentlessly torturing the nice-but-dim granddaughter of the King of Humanity, Stephanie Dola, getting her to strip down, dress up, or generally make a fool of herself.

20140525-232350-84230157.jpgAs a result, I am still left wondering: does No Game No Life still have that potential? Or is it happy being a skin-flaunting, panty-shotting, Steph-subjugating piece for fetish appeal? (Poor Steph).