It’s not uncommon for one to wish themselves out of a certain situation. Whether it be from an instinctual desire for a grander lifestyle or the pursuit of happiness, one’s desires vary from person to person. This may also be what appeals to many who are fans of roleplaying or out of body experiences. The desire for what one cannot have has driven many to madness, and this topic has been used by many forms of entertainment over the years. What No Game No Life does with this topic is shows what can be accomplished when the main character takes what he has learned and applies it to a world devoid of impossibilities. And when it comes to a world of impossibilities, there’s no one better qualified to conquer it than those who follow their head instead of their heart. Actually, it probably wouldn’t matter either way.
To accurately pinpoint exactly what No Game No Life is, one could describe it as two siblings trying to overthrow the god of a fantasy world after beating him in a game of chess. But overthrowing a god is no easy task. Firstly, they must overthrow the entire world. Whether taking over the fantasy world will even accomplish their goal is based on a presumption the main character conceived. But he’s never been wrong once since entering the fantasy world, so it’d be better to go along with it. The presumptions of anything logically possible play into this world of impossibilities. No Game No Life makes it clear early on that anything worth thinking about doesn’t belong in the games played in the fantasy world. Games can be won through ridiculous means. The games that are played are all conveniently geared towards the main characters’ strengths. With each and every game, the characters inch closer and closer to their goal of overtaking a god. Despite everything, No Game No Life’s progression is very straightforward. It doesn’t try to take itself beyond the stars and it doesn’t try to meddle in any unnecessary sub-plots. Most attention is dedicated to one singular mission, as stated above.
As one of the rules of the fantasy world, the denizens of said world must have fun and play games together. At its core, No Game No Life is just fun and games. When the characters aren’t plotting for world domination, they’re making jokes and pop culture references. The attempts at comedy during the course of the series are mostly reliant on exaggerated reactions and gratuitous fan service. While they can produce a snicker at times, it mostly feels like a cheap trick more than anything. The fan service usually comes at the expense of the female members of the cast, as a majority of the cast is, indeed, female. Whether it be from the results of a game or a part of the games themselves, it’s safe to say that clothing will be removed in some fashion or another. The balance between silly and serious tends to lean more towards silly more often than not. This doesn’t harm the validity of the plot much, as the plot is hard to take seriously regardless.
It doesn’t take a veteran to be able to recognize the faults within the characters. With almost each and every character, there’s something off about either their presentation or personality, something that goes deeper than how it appears. With a character such as Sora, the main character and only male among the main cast, you get a lanky, angsty kid who’s supposedly too smart to appreciate his own world, so he does whatever he can to entertain himself. Once in the fantasy world, he quickly applies the rules to his situation and takes full advantage of them with one fell swoop. With every challenge, he dominates the opponent with the arrogance of a true king. By being nothing special socially, he acquires the admiration of all of his suitors without even trying, yet was unpopular in the real world. This implies that he could be the world’s greatest human being, he just didn’t care to put in the effort in his original life. Every quality of his character screams of a self-insert and moans of wish fulfillment. They combat this by giving him faults, like being a pervert or being unable to handle the outside world. But by doing this, they’re making him all the more perfect. No one is perfect, so let’s make him pseudo-perfect. It’s perfectly despicable.
Other members of the major cast aren’t as loathsome as Sora, but still fall under the category of cliche or fan service, especially Sora’s sister, Shiro. She’s small, cute, quiet, and has an abnormal hair color. She also has an insatiable appetite for her brother’s affection. All of these traits were manufactured especially for moe. And the icing on the cake is that she’s adopted, so her desire for her brother’s affection is excused, but still unwelcome. Shiro is essentially walking fan service. Stephanie Dola, the klutz, is one of two major characters born in the fantasy world. She is constantly teased for lacking the intelligence that all other characters share, despite being fairly intelligent in other matters. She is the source of most of the comedy and the fan service in the show, which makes her role within the show feel more shallow. As a character, she contributes little and goes nowhere in terms of growth, making her little more than a stock character. The last of the major characters is Jibril, a fairy-like creature who’s thirst for knowledge is as creepy as Sora’s expressions. She’s more useful than Stephanie, and has a more likable personality, too. Of all the characters, she feels the most human, despite not being human. And as a member of the female race, she’s subject to more fan service than one could ask for. Whether this matters is strictly based on the individual viewer’s taste.
The first thing that was apparent with No Game No Life was its style of presentation. The artwork is reminiscent of Kamisami no Anai Nichiyoubi, whose creamy atmosphere created an effect of dreary depression and bubbly optimism. No Game No Life’s art style is similar to a degree, as the brightness is on par with the sun’s rays. The palette of color seemed to favor those with a calming, yet alluring power. Purple, maroon, light blue, and dark red are the colors that stand out most while watching this title, and their combination makes for a stunning outcome. Unfortunately, this type of presentation can be a little overbearing at times, as the lighting can sometimes make the characters blend in with the background or appear a tad too bright. The animation itself is one to be praised. It’s charming, efficient, and bold; three things that can make an average anime look fantastic.
If anything, No Game No Life is interesting. The plot isn’t anything as spectacular as it presents it and the characters are atrociously written, but it at least looks like a modern epic. The characters may be flat, but their interactions are humorous at times, granted they aren’t playing games. Regardless of all of the flaws, it’s entertaining to the highest degree, granted those who view it aren’t too cynical. It has the qualities to succeed, it just uses them through means of popularity rather than quality. If anything, if one doesn’t care to continue viewing No Game No Life, they can imagine themselves in a world outside of their grasp, similar to those within the series. It wouldn’t hurt.