This is one fabulous show. “No Game, No Life” is a variant on the ‘stranger in a strange land’ approach, but does with far more intelligence and viewer involvement than you normally get or see in most animes.
You are an MMORPG player. You have a pretty good guild and you do well in your game. Then, you come up against Blank. You are dead. Sign out now and avoid the humiliation.
Blank is a team that has NEVER lost a game. They speed, their skill, their dexterity is phenomenal. How these four people work this well as a team lead some to think that they employ some kind of cheat. Well, it doesn’t matter; you are rabbit pellets when they are done with you.
Here’s what you don’t know: it’s only two people! The brother-and-sister team of Sora & Shiro, are classic NEETs. The only time they see the sun is if they are playing on the Sunny Field level. This is how good they are: not only can they play two characters at a time, they even have the ability to have one member play all four characters, using hands and feet with amazing deftness. Me? I can’t even cross the room without stubbing my toe on the table. (And why is it ALWAYS the baby toe?)
One day, they get an email from someone who calls Himself God. They play Him in chess and they clobber Him. God is happy and then magically transports them to His land, where war does not exist.
Well, it does, but everything is solved by playing games, so no one dies. This is a strange and weird land, almost more than one can handle. Now, usually in this kind of story line, when people are placed in this situation, they cannot wait to get home. They will do whatever it takes to get back home quickly. S & S not only have no desire to return, they feel they can really make a name for themselves in this land.
The King of Elkin has died, so succession to the crown does not go to his heir (or heiress, in this case), but whomsoever wins the games. Stephanie Dola (redhead up there) should be the next ruler, but she is a crappy game player and also gets cheated out by some Elfin gal, Kurami Zell, who wants to rule (or subjugate) this land.
S & S know Kurami is cheating, but want Steph to prove it. She can’t, Kurami wins and is about to be crowned, when S&S challenge her for the title. They play a game that not only uses conventional rules, but unconventional ones. S & S are geniuses off the scale and figure out how to turn things to their favor and become co-rulers of the land of Elkin. Their next goal: become ruler of this world to challenge God for supremacy.
What I liked about this show is that there is a lot going on in the game playing. One game needed rather complicated logistics to manipulate the play so S&S end up winning it in stunning fashion. The fact that Blank has never lost any game at any time puts a lot of strain on them, but they adapt well, despite S & S’s emotional problems (they cannot be physically separated or they go nuts, And if they happen to find themselves outside, in the sun and wide open spaces, it is a nervous breakdown.)
The first season has ended with just the beginnings of the quest attained, so expect at least two more seasons. If the writing and action unfold like it did in the first season, you may very well be seeing a classic anime show in the making.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Too many cat girls for me, though)
Plot 9 (Good, solid story)
Pacing 8 (Edge-of-your-seat thrills)
Effectiveness 8 (Takes time to get rolling)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would be “Magikano”)
Overall 8 (Strong game play)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. We never lose.