Review: No Game No Life

No Game No Life is a comedy surrounding two game-obsessed siblings that view the real world as a lame game. Following a strange email, they meet the “god of...

No Game No Life is a comedy surrounding two game-obsessed siblings that view the real world as a lame game. Following a strange email, they meet the “god of play” named Tet. This god transports them into a new universe where everything is decided by games. Their genius-level intelligence mixed with their complete trust in each other creates an unbeatable team.

Sora is an eighteen-year-old NEET (not in education, employment, or training) with a communication disorder. He is extremely confident and negotiations are his specialty. His little sister is Shiro, an eleven-year old shut-in who never goes to school. She is a genius who has difficulty understanding emotions and often has a dry sense of humor. Shiro has beaten a program designed to defeat grandmasters 20 times in a row. If it’s a contest of skill, Shiro will never lose. They are known worldwide online with an empty username or online alias “Blank.” While Sora reads people’s behavior and can predict their next move, Shiro’s computing skills are uncanny. Their social anxiety is to an extreme because they can’t be more than a certain distance apart from each other. If separated, they have a conniption, almost seizing from anxiety. Shiro and Sora find the world to be an unexpected place with too many players and too many possibilities. Their world is just a crappy game.

During one of their normal gaming binges, they receive an email from an unknown sender that reads, “Have you two siblings ever felt like you were born in the wrong world?” After a difficult game of chess within the email, suddenly their monitors turn to static and they’re blasted out of the room and into another dimension. The gaming god, Tet, appears and introduces them to a new world. Tet explains that this world, Disboard, relies on simple games to decide everything from people’s lives to national borders. This is the ideal world they’ve always dreamed of.

In this world, everything is decided by ten pledges:

  1. All murder, war, and robbery is forbidden in this world.
  2. All conflict in this world will be resolved through games.
  3. In games, each player will bet something that they agree is of equal value.
  4. As long as it doesn’t go against number three, what they bet and the rules of the game will not be questioned.
  5. The challenged party has the right to decide the rules of the game.
  6. Any bets made in accordance with the pledges must be upheld.
  7. Conflicts between groups will be conducted by designated representatives with absolute authority.
  8. Being caught cheating during a game is grounds for an instant loss.
  9. In the name of God, the previous rules may never be changed.
  10. Let’s all have fun and play together!

In Disboard, there are 16 races that are ranked by affinity for magic. Imanity, the human race, only has one territory called Elkia due to many loses from other races. Sora and Shiro enter this town and realize they need shelter and currency. They come across a poker tournament that will decide the King of Elkia. This is where they meet Stephanie Dola, the granddaughter of the last king, who has to compete to win the throne. Steph is a very sensitive and expressive character who gives a lot of comedic material. She is highly educated but isn’t the best at playing games. Another character, Chlammy Zell or Kurami, is also partaking in this competition. Kurami allied with another race, the Elves, because she doubts the strength of the human race. This poker competition is just the start of this expanding story.

Sora wants to gain knowledge of the other kingdoms and discovers the National Library of Elkia is owned by a Flugel (another race) named Jibril. She can be very patronizing towards other races and her arrogance gets the best of her at times. As Sora and Shiro slowly discover the history of Disboard, they come up with their own plans to take over many aspects of this new land.

No Game No Life absolutely amazed me and also disappointed me for a few reasons. It offers so much more than its obvious entertainment value of comedy. There is an extreme amount of thought put into each episode as well as the entire anime that blew my mind. Every game they play is explained in grave detail to the point where sometimes I had to replay it just to understand it completely. It isn’t that they didn’t explain it well, it is just meticulous. They even have a simple match of rock, paper, scissors…that turns out to be unexpectedly strategic. The intellect of Sora and Shiro together is beyond extraordinary. Yes, sometimes their undefeated trait can get a little bothersome, but hey that is the whole point to “Blank.” Instead of focusing on how you expect them to win, how they get there is where the entertainment lies. Apart from the story, the visuals are so vibrant and the scenery is so detailed. It is truly a gorgeous anime.
The story line built up so much hype for a larger story line that I’m excited to see a second season coming in 2017.

My only major complaints are the amount of fan service and the lack of a second season. The fan service is almost excessive. A lot of the jokes were based on nudity and panty shots. A few here and there usually don’t bother me, but it kind of got repetitive and unnecessary. I think without the fan service this anime could have had way more potential as a whole.


12 episodes

Sentai Filmworks

Aired Fall of 2012

Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Game, Fantasy, Ecchi

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Similar Titles: Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, Problem Children are Coming from Another World, aren’t they?

Studio: Madhouse Productions

Series influenced by light novel series No Game No Life by Yuu Kamiya

No Game No Life
No Game No Life
The Good
  • Well thought out and detailed.
The Bad
  • Overt fan service.


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