Anime Review: No Game, No Life: Zero

By Drew Hurley 03.12.2018

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No Game, No Life: Zero (UK Rating: PG)

Like many anime series these days, No Game, No Life started out as a Light Novel series. Equally as common, it's an Isekai. For those unfamiliar with the term, Isekai means quite literally "different world" and are series based on protagonist being transported to a whole different world - often the world of a videogame or a fantasy, usually as an overpowered character trying to adapt. Memorable and notable examples would be Overlord, Sword Art Online, and the like. No Game, No Life saw a pair of hikikomori, master gamer siblings dragged into a world known as Disboard. A world governed by games, now this prequel explores how the world of Disboard became the world of games fans came to love. Coming courtesy of MVM, this movie is available from 10th December.

The film opens with some of the most powerful people in the story playing a game of chess, as the god of Disboard, Tet, faces off with the future of the Werebeast people, Izuna. To help pass the time, Tet tells Izuna a story - a myth of the creation of the world. Tet's tale is of 6,000 years ago, a tale set during the time of the Great War; back before the rules of Disboard had been put in place. Set when each of the grand races was engaged in a war to elevate one of the leaders of the races to the grand throne for the whole world. The problem is that the lowest race is getting annihilated in the crossfire; these lowly beings scuttle the globe just trying to stay alive. At the head of the last remnants of the nameless folk is Riku, a man who has sacrificed his friends one after another to keep the majority of his people alive.

While trying to find a safe haven, Riku stumbles upon an Ex-Machina, a cybernetic species of unbelievable power that link their personalities together in something known as a "Cluster" - living as a collective mind. What Riku has stumbled on, though, is not part of a Cluster. She has removed herself and become an individual. She attaches herself to Riku in hopes of learning of the human heart. Riku agrees, and the pair becomes inseparable, with even a budding romance blossoming between Riku and the Ex-Machina he names Schwi.

Over the course of their time together, Riku learns many truths of the world, and in doing so he hatches a plan. The grand war that is tearing the planet apart is a contest to establish the strongest in the world. All of it based around a legendary item hidden in the world, known as the Suniaster that will give omnipotent power to the last god left standing. At the end of the war it will remake the world based on the winner's desires.

Riku plans to fake the deaths of all of his people, and then transforming them into guerrilla force, one that can work in the shadows manipulating the more powerful species of the world, gathering all of the grand weapons of the races in a single location to manifest the Suniaster. It's a surprisingly dark movie considering the original. The series' humour is still here, but very rarely, popping up for the odd moment between pretty dark scenes of war and destruction. While the mood is darker, thankfully, the stunning art-style that captured the interest of viewers is still here - including a few huge battles that are in the same luminescent and vibrant colours as the showdown between Jibril and Sora & Shiro. Speaking of which, fans will be happy to see all three of that trio in one form or another. Jabril appears, although very different to the ditz seen in the original series, and the sibling duo may not be part of this tale, but the similarities to Riku and Schwi make it seem like they are here.

This release comes with both the original Japanese dub and the English dub. Happily, all of the original cast returns. Not just to voice the characters from the original, but also to voice some of the new characters, helping to add a sense of continuity and cohesiveness to it all.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Fans of No Game, No Life have been left waiting since the anime adaptation concluded last year, and with no second season currently announced, only the novels are available to continue the story. This isn't an original tale, though; it's actually an adaptation of the sixth novel in the series and it shows. The story, the art, the characters - everything feels like a natural continuation of the story, even if it's a prequel. It's even an enjoyable entry for those yet to try out the franchise.

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