25 August 2014

[Anime Review] No Game No Life

There have been a sudden surge of postings on social media platforms as well as pop culture websites throughout the period of Spring 2014 about this certain Anime series known as No Game No Life. Being curious, I have decided to give this Anime series a try and find out what the hype is all about.

Screen Capture: No Game No Life title during the opening sequence.

No Story No Life

Screen Capture: NEETs isolating themselves in a room filled with loads of electronic devices and entertainment products.

The story of No Game, No Life centers around Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister whose reputations as brilliant NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) hikikomori (shut-in) gamers have spawned urban legends all over the Internet. These two gamers even consider the real world as just another "crappy game".

One day, they are summoned by a boy named "God" to an alternate world. There, God has prohibited war and declared this to be a world where "everything is decided by games"—even national borders. Humanity has been driven back into one remaining city by the other races. Will Sora and Shiro, the good-for-nothing brother and sister, become the "Saviors of Humanity" on this alternate world? "Well, let's start playing."

Source: ANN

Screen Capture: Mysterious hands appearing out of a computer monitor.

The story begins with two NEETs who hate their world so much that they have isolated themselves inside their room, clinging to computers, electronic devices, and games.

I used to be a NEET myself many many moons ago, hating the society, not knowing where I should go, or what I should do next. If I am to put myself in a counselor's position today, one can feel free to watch and enjoy this story but I would strongly discourage anyone from adopting this kind of unhealthy lifestyle! ^^;

Screen Capture: Both NEETs entering the atmosphere from outer space of a mysterious world.

When I first came across this Anime title, I was quick to dismiss this as yet another typical kind of cliche game world story similar to Sword Art Online, Accel World, Hyperdimension Neptunia, or Log Horizon until when a Certain Doujin Artisan encouraged me to watch this Anime series for its exceptionally unique concept.

Screen Capture: An anonymous person greets the NEETs while they continue to fall through the skies.

While other similar game world Anime series out there are about escaping from the game world, defeating the big bad bosses for rank and fame, or exposing a conspiracy, No Game No Life is about continuing to survive and have lots of fun in the game world without needing to find an 'escape route', a concept which closely resembles the Mondaiji-tachi series.

Screen Capture: The NEETs landed on the ground of the mysterious world unharmed.

An interesting factor in No Game No Life is how the creator blurred the lines between science fiction and magical fantasy, making it hard for anyone to distinguish the difference between a technological feat or magical ability.

Is this a magical fantasy or science fiction world? Why do smart devices co-exist alongside with spellcasters who can also get similar things done using magic? Watch this Anime series and discover the secrets of this game world known as 'Disboard'.

No Character No Life

Screen Capture: The Male Protagonist - Sora

One thing that I dislike about game world kind of stories are overpowered beaters who can never be defeated regardless of what kind of challenges and adversities were presented to them. However, the protagonist characters designed in this story do not have any special abilities, just ordinary cognitive capabilities and knowledge of games such as Poker and Chess.

Screen Capture: The Female Protagonist - Shiro

In the areas of character development, changes in behavior of the progatonist characters are noticeable as they learn more about the game world that they are living in and forging new friendships along the way. Instead of developing new magical abilities or picking up overpowered equipments, they fought harder battles with just the power knowledge and wisdom.

No Visual No Life

Screen Capture: Female characters playing card games and gambling.

The art style used in No Game No Life is very unlike many Shonen and Bishoujo Anime series. The colors are highly saturated, contrasted, and shadings are very flat to a point that it is very challenging to distinguish what is a round or flat object.

No Music No Life

Screen Capture: Opening Animation of No Game No Life - Credits for Theme Song Performance

The theme song performance for the opening animation is titled This game by singer Suzuki Konomi.
It has a very beautiful classical instumental introduction coupled modern musical instrumental music and high energy vocals as the song progresses towards the chorus and closing.

No Presentation No Life

Screen Capture: The protagonist characters won a game against thugs who live in the wilderness.

The story of No Game No Life is presented through the eyes and ears of the protagonist characters, with little to no narratives or interludes to reveal an evil plot by a certain dark and secretive organization.

Fan service is largely present in this Anime series from panty flashes to hot steamy bathing scenes coupled with humorous situations to help spice up, maintain a certain balance, and make the story much more enjoyable than just simply plain historical lectures that make the audience fall asleep.

The Verdict: No Game No Life

STORY 8 Great
The concept is good, the length is lovely, but the pace of storytelling is going a tad bit too fast, leaving very little air time for character development.
Fairly designed with not too much noticeable character development and growth apart from existing strengths and weaknesses.
VISUAL 5 Average
Highly saturated colors, contrasting images, and flat colors make it look like the audience is reading a children's picture book.
AUDIO 8 Great
Awesome opening theme song coupled with sound effects that fits in very nicely with the world setting.
Majority character perspective, minority narrative and interludes, making a good suspense for a not-very-sure-win story.
OVERALL 7.0 Good
This Anime series is worth your time watching with a great story and lots of humor to keep you laughing out loud but do not expect great visuals or highly progressive character development.

(out of 10 points maximum)

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