RogerBW's Blog

No Game No Life 15 September 2014

2014, 12 episodes: AniDB

Two shut-ins, a brother and sister game-playing team, are arbitrarily transplanted into a magical world where all conflict is resolved by games. They take to it well.

In the wake of the "thrown into a fantasy world, arbitrarily become a great hero" anime series of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, and the later "thrown into a videogame world, arbitrarily become a great hero" series of the later 2000s, here's a transplanted-protagonist show where becoming a great hero isn't arbitrary at all. Sora and Shiro have trained hard to become expert gamers, something they can be good at without ever having to leave their home, and they use both their game skills and their intelligence to solve the various problems they come up against, from a chess match with live pieces to an immersive videogame.

Indeed, the show's much more about being smart and setting up the game so that you can win it, or exploiting loopholes, than about the actual conventional gameplay, a concept that's welcome in any medium. There are sixteen races on this world, including elves, beast-men, and angels; humanity is the weakest of them, reduced to a single city and (everyone assumes) soon to lose even that. So our heroes are starting from a position of profound weakness, quite apart from their not knowing the way things are generally done in this world (though sometimes that works to their advantage).

Backgrounds are utterly gorgeous, lushly oversaturated and glowing. Character design is fairly generic, and some of the minor characters are sometimes hard to distinguish. While there's some ecchi content, it's not a major part of the show. Decent comedy content against a fairly serious background, though there are some concerns about mental intrusion and memory editing that are dismissed a bit lightly for my taste; you just have to assume that the heroes are good guys.

In spite of that, one of my favourite series of the Spring 2014 season.

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