No Game, No Life – Anime review

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In the past few year’s we’ve had a bit of a boom in titles that are set around gamers being transported to a video game world or trapped within a video game (See Sword Art Online as the best recent example), but No Game, No Life takes this to a different level in an attempt to stand out from the crowd.

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The story sets out by introducing us to brother and sister Sora and Shiro, who make up an ultimate team known as ‘Blank’. The two can complete any video game that crosses their path with amazing scores and are known as the best gamer in Japan, if not the world. One day a chess challenge is posed to them via email and upon completion the two are transported to a brand new world known as Disboard. In this world everything is decided by games, something which the two take great joy in partaking in.


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Not long after arriving in Disboard, Blank end up taking part in a game which will see them become the King and Queen of Imanity. The Imanity are the only human race of the 16 races that inhabit the world. As the rulers of Imanity, Blank then set out to battle against the other races and reclaim Disboard for Imanity so that they can then take on the god of the world, Tat, and be able to call themselves the one true god.

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Overall the idea behind the world and games are extremely well written. It reminds me a lot of last year’s Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They? which featured a world that ran by a similar idea to Disboard. That said, No Game, No Life has a much more solid world than Problem Children did. For example, Disboard has ten laws, known as pledges, that must always be followed when games are played. Said rules are as follows:

  1. All violence, war, and robbery is forbidden.
  2. All conflicts will be resolved through games.
  3. In games, each party will bet something that both sides agree is of equal value.
  4. As long as it doesn’t go against the 3rd Oath, the things that are wagered and the rules of the game will not be questioned.
  5. The challenged party has the right to decide the rules of the game.
  6. Any bets made in accordance with the Oaths must be upheld.
  7. Conflicts between groups will be conducted by designated representatives with absolute authority.
  8. Being caught cheating during a game is grounds for an instant loss.
  9. In the name of God, the previous rules may never be changed.
  10. Let’s get along and play together!

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The games played can be very, very simple like betting on a flip of a coin, or they can be an out of this world game of chess. Whatever the game, everything we see in the anime is well thought out which is a credit to the series. Sora and Shiro are very close siblings and because of this the anime can take some of the jokes too far down the fanservice line, but for the most part they’re strong characters. No Game, No Life handles characters really well overall, although a lot of the females are reduced down to fanservice now and again. Most of this is for comedic effect, but every now and then the jokes went over my head and I resented the fanservice a bit for being so prominent in an otherwise solid show (although with the same director as Pet Girl of Sakurasou, I’m not sure what I expected). Again though No Game, No Life makes its mark with the fact the games and laws of the world are so thought out. Although I wasn’t a big fan of a lot of the fanservice I still kept watching due to how interesting the setting was. Overall I can’t fault the anime for the fanservice as the original light novel and manga also play home to a fair bit of this as well. The anime manages to pack in a great deal of references to various video games such as the Ace Attorney series and Skyrim. It’s packed full of little quirks that will make a lot of video game fans very happy.

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No Game, No Life fell to Madhouse to handle the anime and as ever they did a very impressive job with both the animation and the soundtrack. The animation is bright and colourful in an effort to push the fact this is a completely different world to modern day Tokyo. Character designs for the most part are very bright and colourful, with bold outlines and a strong presence it’s hard to ignore the show when it pushes itself so much. Visually it’s a very impressive show and the studio are definitely pushing the limits of what they can do, which is never a bad thing. The soundtrack is made up of bouncy, striking tunes, but also homes some rather peaceful piano tracks which feel refreshing and well suited to where they’re placed.

Overall No Game, No Life offers a smart and interesting entry to a very popular genre. It’s a fun title that makes sense amongst the rules it sets itself. It can be overbearing with its fan service at times but for the most part it makes up for that elsewhere leaving a genuinely entertaining piece of work that is perfect for a summer viewing.

Scores:

  • Overall 7
  • Animation 8.5
  • Story 7
  • Soundtrack 6
  • Characters 5

No Game, No Life can be streamed on Crunchyroll in the US and UK right here.