Hello, Nitsuj here and welcome to another side blog the blogs between the blogs. Since we got done taking a look at a Madhouse production why don’t we take a look another one, No Game No Life. No Game No Life was definitely a game changer in anime. At a time when alternate world animes weren’t as big as they are today, this anime came along, presented us with a unique story and good characters that really helped boost popularity of alternate world animes. As you can imagine the anime was a big hit and just like Overlord people were crying out for a second season but since Madhouse has a habit of not doing more than one season for an anime it seemed like No Game No Life was doomed to only have one season and the anime ending on cliffhanger. But we got a bit of hope when it was announced that Madhouse was working on movie called No Game No Life Zero. Serving as a standalone prequel to the series, the movie takes us to a time when Disboard was a war zone and shows us how we got to where we are in the anime. The movie was released in 2017 where it did good in theatres and in DVD/Blu-ray sales and was praised by critics in and out of Japan. Let’s play the game and take at No Game No Life Zero.
The movie starts with Tet playing Izuna in a game of chess where he wins obviously (he’s the god of games after all). As they start to play again Tet begins to tell Izuna a story set 6,000 years into the past (before the rise of Aku) where war was rampant between the races of Disboard and the land a baron wasteland because of it. We see a young human named Riku (who looks a lot like Sora) lead a small team into an abandoned dwarf base where they find a detailed map of the world as well as plans of the dwarves planning to blow up chunks of the world in order to eliminate the other races. As they gather data another and more powerful race shows up and one of the humans sacrifices himself in order for Riku and the other one to escape with this information. They return to their village where Riku delivers the news to his little girl (and he doesn’t tip toe around the issue he just says her father is dead straight to her face) and once he’s in his room he has a meltdown blaming himself for his death as he was the one who ordered him to die (because you fear death). Using the map, he finds the capital of the elf race and goes inside in the hopes of gathering more information. While in there he gets jumped by a race known as the Ex-Machina (the inventors of the Dues Ex Machina) who are all machines and share a collective conscious with each other so whenever there’s one you can bet others are close by and ready to strike. The Ex-Machina (who looks like Shiro) analyzes Riku and then kisses him (freeze! You’re under arrest). The Ex-Machina says that she’s not connected to the collective conscious of the others and is on her own because of her special mission which is to understand the heart of humans (good luck with that). She challenges him to a game of chess where if she wins he has to take her back to his village and have sex with her (this horny loli machine is every man’s dream), and if he wins he has to take her back to his village and have sex with her (it’s a win-win either way for both parties. Scene here: https://youtu.be/QycaVsUrI-U). We then cut to them arriving at his village (I’m assuming he lost. He’s facing a machine who can calculate every possible move within seconds and counter them. How do you beat something like that?) and gives her the name Schwi (or Shuvi in another version I saw) telling her not to show her robotic body to anyone, stay close to him, and stop talking like a robot. Following these parameters, she becomes a shy girl who clings to Riku and makes him look like a lolicon in the eyes of everyone (they have lolicons in this world?).
After this, we get a number of scenes where they talk to each other about trying to understand the human heart, they play chess against each other which is how they develop a romantic connection so to speak, and Schwi tells Riku why the war started and how he can end it. Schwi reveals that the rulers of each race are after the Suniaster, a device that will give whoever possesses it absolute control over the entire world. The village soon comes under attack and Riku creates a spy division which will manipulate and control the other races from the shadows in order to get them to do what he wants them to do (in other words he’s cheating. This is like Game Genie level of cheating). He also proposes and marries Schwi even though this means he’s never going to have kids, is marrying a loli (arrest this man), and will technically be labeled a virgin for the rest of his life (scene here: https://youtu.be/It7VYkJQKnc?t=10s). Riku and Schwi quickly get to work manipulating the different races and moving their war with each other to another part of the continent where they all meet in one big decisive battle, use their secret weapons to shoot a hole to the center of their world where Suniaster is, and Riku will swipe in from under their noses.
As everything progresses as planned Riku’s body begins to fail on him as he’s exposed it to the hazardous atmosphere of the planet for far too long. His skin gets burned badly, he loses an arm and an eye, and I think he might be losing his mind a little bit. Wanting to take some of the stress off of him, Schwi goes out to hurry things up where she gets discovered by Jibril and the two fight each other in a very epic battle where Schwi unfortunately loses (scene here: https://youtu.be/8LQacPpYjLU). Once Riku wakes up and finds out his loli is dead (crying the tears of a clown Riku) he’s all but ready to give up until the Ex-Machinas show up who were moved by Schwi’s feelings and wish to help Riku accomplish his goal. So we get the final battle where everyone launches their secret weapons which gets intercepted by the Ex-Machinas and Riku fires that bad boy into the ground and arrives at Suniaster (it’s a lot smaller than I expected) where he’s unable to grab it but Tet is and he becomes the new god of Disboard (scene here: https://youtu.be/uUF1l8zO-l0) establishing the rules and everything (scene here: https://youtu.be/IK_CzUD_uVs). After Tet’s story, Izuna asks how much of it was real and how much of it was fake (all of it. Nah, I’m kidding it was all real) to which Tet refuses to answer. Once Sora and the others show up, Tet makes his exit (stage left) still waiting to continue his game with Riku all those years ago (scene here: https://youtu.be/YhlBUlBG6ZY).
Man, talk about powerful and epic. No Game No Life Zero gives us an excellent tale about the past, how things came to be, and shows us that the relationship between Sora, Shiro, and Tet goes much deeper then we realized. The story is good and told fantastically although it did feel rushed at a few parts. This really was a painful and disturbing war. The characters are basically reincarnations of our current characters although I do admit the Steph character is way better here then she is in the original and I did like how the relationship between Riku and Schwi developed through the movie. I also like how Riku and Schwi are different from Sora and Shiro. Riku is more grim, serious, has a heavy conscience, but is still a kind person despite all of this. While the Schwi story of a robot finding a heart has been done before I think they did a good job with her story here. She doesn’t become too human and still has traits of her robotic persona remain intact even when she starts to develop a heart which I think was good and important for her character.
The animation is incredible here. If you thought the animation in the anime was incredible then the animation in this movie will blow you away. I’m serious, this has got to be some of the best animation Madhouse has done to date. The soundtrack was good, it matched up perfectly with the animation and setting of the movie although none of them really wowed me. If I had to name my one complaint if you have to be the movie rushing near the end as I wish they would have dived more into the races excepting Tet’s new rules and how they responded to them. Did some of them try to fight it, were some more accepting then others, there’s a lot of questions I wish they would have explored and answer but other than that I really enjoyed this movie.
The final score for No Game No Life Zero is a 8.5/10. If you’re a fan of No Game No Life then definitely check out the movie. I recommend you watch the anime first as this movie assumes you’ve watched the anime and doesn’t give a lot of backstory. With the movie being a big hit, I hope that this motivates Madhouse to start working on another season. I mean if Overlord got a second season then surely No Game No Life can get one too. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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