First Look: No Game, No Life

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Light Novel adaptation by Madhouse
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Our story follows two siblings who are so good at gaming they have become an urban legend. They receive an invitation from the god of another world and unwittingly accept. They soon find themselves trapped in a world where everything is decided by playing games. Is this heaven or hell for our sibling pair? Will they even want to go home?

Lifesong’s Verdict: Fun Wish Fulfillment Fantasy

There is something to be said for gamers when playing games becomes not only a past time, but being a “gamer” accurately defines their lifestyle. I would know, I fit into that lifestyle pretty well myself. The ideas presented by a world where everything is openly and obviously a game is interesting to me. Anyone who has watched enough anime with gamer type characters in them is probably familiar with the phrase “the real world is just a shitty game” I’m not sure which anime said it first, but at this point it’s a recurring cliche. One that I personally believe accurately reflects the way some part of gaming culture really thinks. It is an idea that has been on display for a long time, but rarely explored in any depth. Does No Game, No Life break that mold? The answer is not yet, but it does hint at interesting ideas. The protagonist mentions having no part in the real world and questions the value of going home.

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Our protagonist’s smug attitude and lolicon pandering are likely to turn some people off, but I found neither bothered me that much. The attitude, while exaggerated, feels real. The things I hear him saying are things I would expect to hear from real gamers. The lolicon thing… That attitude is also real and one I wish I could ignore. One major complaint I’ve seen so far is that the protagonist hasn’t actually been shown in competition with anyone yet. It is a given that he will win and that is what he does. Judging from the smug attitude of the first episode I wonder if he will ever be challenged by a game. Instead what I expect to see is some sort of development between our gamer protagonist and the people of this world. The daughter of the old king for one. If our protagonist does continue to live up to his urban legend gamer status than it will be the inhabitants of this world ruled by gaming that make the story interesting. Who knows this story might even challenge the idea that life is just a shitty game? That might be too much to ask for. For now I am expecting this to be a fun fulfillment fantasy for gamers who can relate with the protagonist. I hope it will have something to say about the culture as well.

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Marlin’s Verdict: Continue?

At first I thought I was going to automatically hate this show. Nothing screams wish fulfillment like a couple NEETs getting transported to a fantasy game world. The first second panty shot of an 11 year old girl (what is it with sexualizing 11 year olds this season?) didn’t do much to dissuade my gut feelings, but as the show transitioned into the game world I actually started kinda liking it. While the sibling’s weird overpowered skill sets were par for the norm on wish fulfillment, it was the world itself that broke the mold. I kind of like this laissez fair mood the world takes on, where while cheating is strictly forbidden, its only when you’re caught. Just like in real life, if that’s the case you might as well cheat as often as you can. I’d like to see this turn more into showing battles of wit in out cheating the other opponent, or trying to chip away at a foe’s poker face to figure out his strategy. Unfortunately I’m not sure if the proper narrative tension can be made considering how overpowered our main characters are already shown to be. As for now, I think I’ll put in just one extra quarter.

2 thoughts on “First Look: No Game, No Life

  1. At the very least, the animation is exceptional. Literally all of the landscape shots were pieces of art. The protagonists though need to be something more than being overpowered, though in such a meta-setting that could be a commentary too.

    • The backgrounds were gorgeous I agree. Madhouse seems to be dressed to impress this season. Both Mahouka and No Game No Life had well animated first episodes.

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