This is No Game No Life content review contains spoilers. I think you can still read it without ruining your first watch, but I still discourage this.
Anime Name: No Game No Life
In depth details: MyAnimeList
Genre: adventure, comedy, fantasy
My score: 7.5/10 – interesting
After a recent rewatch, I decided to review this anime! It has, indeed, some interesting content to talk about. As I assume you’ve already seen the anime, this time I’m going directly on my thoughts about the content. So, well, I’m… serving it!
For starters: Rationality & Feeling
The dicotomy of Shiro and Sora, switching to solve a problem seeing it from two different perspectives, is charming. Sora prefers winning game (so, solving problems) through lateral thinking, which is “looking for the easiest way to win”, while Shiro has wonderful rational skills, which allows her to apply logic and deductive reasoning.
This bond makes up for some charming moments. Games are usually won in unpredictable ways, which makes each match pretty interesting and the anime enjoyable. This is, though, not the theme that I like the most. I think it’s a simple way to layout two characters and to drive the story. More interesting content follows.
Main Course: Weakness is the Origin of Strength
Shiro and Sora take games seriously, but they always have fun. Keeping a positive perspective, they focus on possibility over constraints.
In his speech with Imanity population, he says that the human strength depends on their weakness. That Imanity should be proud to be weak, as this leads the race to mastership in every field. There is also the recurring metaphor of “flying without wings” to reinforce this concept.
Here’s an extract of Sora’s speech to humanity:
So I ask you now: is it because our last king failed us?
Because we’re the lowest rank of all the races?
Because we can’t use magic?
Because we’re fated to die helpless?
Not a chance. NO WAY!
[…] We were able to survive and to fight because we are weak.
[…] Now answer me this: what makes you bow your heads like that?
[…] The fear is giving us the insight to not only escape from magic, but to learn its secrets.
It has given us the wisdom of experience because we must predict the future to survive!
I say it once more: BE PROUD TO BE WEAK!
He then declares “war” to all the continents (which means he challenges them to a final game). It is one of the best anime scenes, in my opinion.
Putting all together, the message seems to be:
- Weakness is the motivation of strength arousal
- Each difficult/complex situation should be seen as a challenge/game
- Each challenge/game should be played having fun
This concept is kindred to the “train and never give up” driver of most shonens, but it’s not, of course, the same.
The focus here is not on “try until you win”. I think it is, instead:
Win, because you have the right cards in hand.
Do not contemplate failure / constraints, focus on success / options.
In case you can’t win, yours is not failure, it is fuel for your victories.
I see value on the change on perspective: focus on the win by contemplating possibilities. This is actually what “training” is, but you’re not thinking about training, you’re focused on winning.
Side Dish: Blind Tries Lead to Failure
This is another important evidence of the difference from the message of No Game No Life to the Shonen classic.
Sora says blind try is not good. Trying without using knowledge drives to loss.
‘Cause nothing’s decided by chance alone.
Rules, statistics, emotional states, any number of invisible factors can combine to produce an unpredictable but inevitable result.
So the victor’s decided before the game even begins.
Luck isn’t a thing.
So, again, it is important to keep the focus on the possible solutions that lie within the problem. Not to the problem itself, nor to the cumulated effort made to make you strong and overcome it. The idea is: you are already strong. You must use your cards.
Playing random cards from hands doesn’t make you better at card games, even if you play one hundred matches. Luck won’t make you strong, also. If you get lucky, you gain nothing but a single victory. If you learn method, you can increase your problem solving skills, therefore decreasing the difficulty of that class of problems permanently.
I find it, at least, interesting. Reassuring, also, as the mere repetition could be annoying for some things.
Dessert: Challenging God: “Why not?”
Another suggestion from the gamer duo is “Do not invent constraints for yourself”. They find themselves in a new world. They figure out that God can be challenged, so they decide to start their quest. Anyone never actually tried, it seems. They just do it naturally, step by step, facing all the challenges with unfailing precision. The keys here are:
- They: it’s not Shiro, nor Sora: it’s “Blank” (the couple’s nickname). Sora is well aware of his limits, as Shiro is. This is important: this anime doesn’t suggest that everyone is strong in everything. They both always get their best out of themselves and each others when facing challenges. Again, this is far away from “train and you’ll be strong” classic, and also suggests that we should well know our capacities before “shooting” them. The game is won if your party wins. Party is not necessarily (usually) only you.
This can be extended to the unification of races the anime hints to: Sora forms a party of allies that can help him and Shiro to succeed. They are always the core, they’re never delegating (well, they do on things that they see as boring), they always do their best BUT use all their pieces on their chessboard.
- Naturally: feeling that the task is hard makes it more difficult, and also, more importantly, worring. Feeling the task as a natural quest with high complexity makes it charming.
- Unfaling: it’s okay to not predict everything, and to go step by step. BUT! When we’re given a challenge, we must look it with a curious and analytical attitude. This makes things easier. Less luck, more tools.
That’s all on content! What do you think about th-
Drinks: Aesthetics and Fanservice
Oh, well. There is much to say about fanservice in this anime. If you see this as cosmetics, it’s good. I find it distracting from the main themes of the anime, though, which are very nice to think about. My first watch was indeed less focused on the content, distracted by the unexpected aestethics (which reflects also in its “colorful” colors (there’s really lots of red!).
So, well, maybe it could be a bit less full (both of fanservice and color), but, as we’re talking about aesthetics here, I think de gustibus non disputandum est.