A new season of anime started around the start of April, and as your resident anime reviewer, I scanned the big list to find my new favorite show. Turns out, I’m getting pretty jaded in my old age though. Most of the shows that interested me by title, cover photo and synopsis had lost my interest by the time I was 10 minutes in. Two shows made it to the third episode before I gave up in frustration. They were all things I felt like I’d seen before, characters I’d seen before… and they’d been done better by their predecessors.
So I went back to the list and picked one whose plot sounded like 20 anime before it – two unlikely heroes are thrown into an alternate dimension and have to survive and thrive yadda yadda yadda.
I shouldn’t have been so cynical. No Game No Life is the most interesting anime I’ve seen in ages.
The heroes are Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister pair who are NEET (not in Education, Employment or Training) and hikikomori – shut-ins who play games and never leave the house (now so common in Japan they need a word to define them). They’re both incredibly intelligent and two of the best gamers in the world, but socially inept and almost incapable of functioning in the real world, which they consider a crappy game – “seven billion players are moving plans around as they please. There’s no rules or objective. You get penalized if you win or lose too much, you’re pressured if you stay quiet, shunned if you talk too much.”
They are sucked into a fantasy world where fighting is forbidden and everything is decided by games – in other words, their perfect world. A playful boy god enforces 10 absolute rules, and Sora and Shiro have to use these rules and bet everything in games to keep humanity alive against 15 other more powerful races.
Humor is subjective, but I’ve laughed out loud at the dialogue many times. The plot is deeply absorbing, and I have no idea what will happen from one episode to the next – it’s unpredictable, and that adds to the humor. The games they play, the tricks and cheats and twists, are exciting. The art is pretty, the opening theme a lovely piano piece, characters aren’t just one-dimensional but clearly have depth and history and don’t conform to any played-out anime stereotypes…. yet. I’m loving it… and it’s only 5 episodes in.
So if, like me, you’re looking for something you haven’t seen twenty times before, give No Game No Life a try… and let me know if you like it in the comments!