Review of No Game No Life


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.

11 thoughts on “Review of No Game No Life

  1. “Jibril is the anime’s best girl by the way, because she has a massive pair of breas… um wings.”
    -The Otaku Judge
    I see what you did there lol.
    It’s really a pain to wait for the sequel of NGNL, especially because of the cliffhanger of the last episode. I doubt this anime will get a second season, but a second season is a must.

  2. I was wondering if you could recommend this.
    NGNL is my son’s life philosophy. He started watching this one on Crunchyroll without me, and also makes me play the mp3 of the theme on the way to school.

    If indeed this series does not have a meaningful conclusion, then I probably will not watch it myself.

    Also: You have a point about the under age panties. However, what if panty-shots of a minor are only viewed by another minor? The little guy could warn me: “Not appropriate for old dudes, Dad.” — but for 7th graders –WOO-HOO

  3. I need to review this at some point, but I’ve been hesitating for a while now, because this is a very weird series for me… I love it, but I have very little positive things to say about it. The music is awful, the color scheme is over-saturated to the point of inducing migraines, and while I love the brother/sister dynamic, the levels of sexism and underaged sexualization in this show are absolutely skin-crawling. I haven’t seen this many bath scenes involving a little girl since Popotan.

    I’ll eventually get around to writing down my full thoughts on it, but there are other titles on my list right now.

  4. I started watching this series, then Anime Network on Demand disappeared on me. I’ve just been too lazy to finish it on Crunchyroll, but part of that is that I know it doesn’t have a real ending. The light novels are in my backlog, so I’ll get around to them sometime.

  5. I knew you’d like this one more than I did. <_< As I said in my review, there is a decent concept driving this show but the poor execution and focus on the prurient side ruined it for me.

  6. I didn’t finish watching this anime, sadly, but I agree, the premise was outstanding and the level of weird insane strategies always reminded me of Phi Brain, though this series was much much much more consistent in tone and style than Phi Brain ever was.

  7. I’m glad you seemed to resolute yourself with a 4/5, because right after I finished that last episode, I was not so colorful. This is another powerful example of “We need more, dammit!” I guess I could go find the LNs, but reading, really?

  8. A movie was announced, but it will be a prequel during the age of the great war. I recall reading an interview with Yu Kamiya where they mentioned that there’s no actual intent to create a follow-up sequel (because he wants you to buy his books). But market forces always dictate whether or not the source material is worth taking a stab at for a follow-up season. The mere fact that Mad House is willing to make a prequel movie might just be the preamble towards a full blown second season.

    Let’s pray.

    • I would rather have another season, but I will take a movie if that is all we can get. It’s a shame that many anime shows are glorified adverts designed to make people check out the novels/manga. It sucks when a series ends on an open note because the source material is still ongoing. It’s doubly frustrating if the books have not been translated for non-Japanese readers.

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