The number of lives extinguished by the ravages of war is well and truly tragic. I would always advocate diplomacy over violence, when settling a conflict, but that is easier said than done when you consider that rival factions often have diametrically opposed viewpoints. Perhaps humanity should adopt the legal system followed by the residents of Disboard, a fantasy realm where all grievances are resolved through playing games. Umm… on second thought, maybe that isn’t such a swell idea. If gaming were used to determine territorial disputes I suspect that South Korea would conquer the globe, by challenging Earth’s various nations to a Starcraft duel!
No Game No Life is a twelve-episode anime based on the bestselling light novels penned by Yu Kamiya. The series follows the adventures of an unbeatable gaming duo who play under the moniker of Blank (UK readers I am sorry to report that filling in that blank will not earn you a chequebook and pen… rest in peace Terry Wogan.) Blank is actually a brother/sister team of shut-ins who have a reputation for dominating online competitions, be they arena shooters or matches of digital chess. The anonymous pair is made up of Shiro (a book smart eleven year old) and her older sibling Sora (a perverted teenager who excels at bluffing.)
After the events of episode one Shiro and Sora find themselves in Disboard. The talented twosome was transported away from their Japanese abode after answering the challenge of Disboard’s deity Tet. It was agreed that Blank’s members could inherit godlike power by besting Tet in a game, but in order to reach the bugger they are first expected to unite Disboard’s sixteen warring races. In line with Disboard’s ten holy pledges, which forbid the use of force, subjugating the world’s kingdoms will require that Blank beat the head of each land in a game of their own choosing. Things kick off with a Texas Holdem tournament (or should that be Strip Poker, given all the fan service on show) that is being held to crown Elkia’s new monarch.
Over the course of the series Shiro and Sora play a multitude of games including Othello, Blackjack, Rock-Paper-Scissors and a virtual reality Gal*Gun clone. On the line is ownership of a library, sovereignty over some neighbouring islands and even Sora’s very existence. Blank’s gaming prowess is put to the test, as their opponents possess supernatural abilities that put the human protagonists at a severe disadvantage. Examples of the foes Blank are pitted against include Warbeast ambassador Izuna Hatsuse (who has superhuman dexterity) and Jibril a magic casting angel, who has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Jibril is the anime’s best girl by the way, because she has a massive pair of breas… um wings.
My rating for No Game No Life is four stars. Although the series fails to fully capitalize on its intriguing premise, it’s an enjoyable enough piece of light entertainment. The artwork is a visual treat boasting a smorgasbord of colours and watching how Blank managed to outwit their nemeses was always fun. Viewers who cannot suspend their disbelief may however dislike the series. The outcome of certain games did after all rely on the type of flimsy logic that one would find in a Yu-Gi-Oh cartoon. I also expect that the overabundance of eye candy will scare off some audiences. Gawking at the well-endowed ladies is okay, but I must question why some of the fan service featured Shiro. Panty shots involving a minor are unwelcome, although Rolf Harris may argue otherwise.
It’s a shame that No Game No Life’s anime adaptation only spanned for a dozen episodes. Fans are now playing the waiting “game” to see if the second season teased at the end of episode twelve will ever see the light of day. Madhouse has yet to deliver sequels for Btooom or Highschool of the Dead, so I doubt the outcome of that game will be a positive one.