No Game No Life Episode 1 [First Impression]
Madhouse’s second and final offering this season is No Game No Life, a fantasy story featuring two siblings, Sora and Shiro, who end up being transported to an alternate world by a strange boy claiming to be God. In the world of Disboard, simple games decide everything – from the national borders of a country to who the rulers of that country are. Immediate parallels can be drawn with Mondaiji, another series featuring the use of games in order to resolve conflicts – although of course, there’s a lot more potential with what games can be used for in No Game No Life. The gift games in Mondaiji had a heavy emphasis on physical fights and the supernatural, while here the focus seems to be on actual gaming – and that’s reflected in the capabilities of Sora and Shiro themselves, who aren’t as blatantly overpowered as someone like Izayoi is. They’re just expert gamers without any superpowers (so far, at least) and murder, violence and warfare are forbidden in Disboard anyway – and so how well someone can fare in that world is directly related to their skill at gaming. Wait… that does make them blatantly overpowered. Damn.
Still, both Sora and Shiro are amazing, and that applies both in their original world and in Disboard. Firstly, Shiro is the cutest thing ever. Loli of the season? It’s easy to tell that Sora cares for her a lot – he easily moved to break her fall at the end of their skydive. And secondly, they’ve gotta be incredible to build up an urban legend as [ ] (Kuuhaku) all by themselves – during that first game we saw, when they beat a clan of 1,200 people, I actually thought that Sora and Shiro were part of a group of four players. To think that they were just controlling two characters at once! Of course, while skills like that are understandably admirable amongst the online gaming community, that isn’t really the case in the real world, where staying up for five days straight or controlling computer mice with your feet aren’t really accomplishments. And the real world (and Japan in particular) very much frowns upon both hikikomoris and NEETs. It’s certainly strange to see an 11-year old going through life as both, but that issue (and the fact that no parents are around) can be answered by the statement “because anime”.
Anyway, it’s like Disboard was made for them – it really wouldn’t be wrong to say that they were born in the wrong world with the sorts of skills they have. I’m actually really enjoying how the pair of them are taking all this, not least of all the idea that they’re certainly not going to try and find their way back – there’s nothing for them back in the real world. While I mentioned before that they’re expert gamers, and will thus do really well in this world, it seems like there will be a considerable amount of emphasis on cheating in games. Which is sort of surprising, given how fair the rest of the pledges seem to be. Tet forbids murder and violence, and yet the most successful individuals in Disboard will be those who are best at cheating? Sora seems to adhere to the doctrine that it’s only cheating if you get caught, and the pledge on cheating seems to agree with him – it even seems to say that cheating only results in a loss if you’re called out on it during the game itself, which means that you’re safe even if someone says something afterwards. Sora’s going to do well with this – it’s helped by the fact that he’s both arrogant and confident, but also has the skill to back it up.
Finally, I’m loving the scenery porn – as expected of Madhouse! The way they’ve done it really makes Disboard seem like the epitome of all magical fantasy worlds, and there are even lots of different races inhabiting it (Sora and Shiro are probably going to go up against some of them soon). Not everyone will be fond of all the vibrant colours, especially if you don’t like pink and purple, but to me it really adds to the fantasy aspect of their world. For now, the story’s probably going to focus on that gambling tournament designed to choose the next king, as well as the princess girl who looks like she’s miserably failed to win – you can bet that I’ll be along for the ride.
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Stay tuned for Midnight and Omoikane’s impressions!