Flourishing aesthetics come a long way in holding a show up from just being average or forgettable. Sometimes loving a show just for its high energetic personality can be a blessing and a curse. Then again, it all comes down to the show’s purposeful existence to help distinguish how it should be viewed. Whether it wants to be a fun and stupid show with the only intention of being provocative, or a thought-provoking show with a deep narrative. Now that shouldn’t be said to excuse it fully on the numerous faults it might have, but with a show like No Game No Life, it is one of the instances where you can’t help but admire its silliness.
With that all said, No Game No Life is not what you would call a “masterpiece” as many would love to build this up to be. While entertainment factor definitely pulls through the most out of any experience from it, it cannot be forgiven for how low-quality it tries to implement a story. That in turn comes from the fact that there’s not much of a story to digest in No Game No Life. It is literally just a plot that follows two NEET MMO players that are thrown into a virtual reality where they just play games in order to become rulers of this virtual world. There is hardly any suspenseful pull you have in getting invigorated in it because it is insanely predictable in every game outcome. I know from the beginning that Sora and Shiro are going to win all the way through, so why should I be invigorated in it to begin with?
It is a real shame that it does not bother to create a cohesive narrative to follow from point A to point B. Especially with the amount of creativity it brings to the overall cast. Granted they are not, what I would call, “magnificent” in development, but what makes up for it is their big energy and charm. This all comes from their witty dialogue and fantastic designs that have really unique styles to whatever emotion they are portraying. It would be easier to dissect the main cast individually because it will put my argument into context into my feelings of them.
Our main protagonists Sora and Shiro are inseparable siblings who the writers are obviously pulling the brother and sister relationship card on. I will argue that, by themselves, they are extremely bland and atypical in their archetypes. When they are together, however, they are quite an entertaining duo thanks to their chemistry and hilarious interludes between one another. It helps more on Sora’s side that he does pack in great charisma thanks in part to Yoshitsugu Matsuoka’s fabulous voice acting. Shiro, on the other hand, has Ai Kayano on her side who is essentially just playing her as Shiina 2.0; nothing special in the slightest.
Then we get to Stephanie Dora and it may be controversial to say this, but she is by far the most entertaining of the cast. The main reason being from Yoko Hikasa’s voice acting, who is having such a freaking ball with voicing for this character. Her great ability of showing great dignity to her voice and all of the sudden become a raving maniac in the next second just shows her talent in full throttle. A lot of people may have the point in criticizing Steph for being both an intelligent girl and a stupid one in other scenarios. My response would be how No Game No Life has so many silly elements to its comedy that it fits perfectly to the tone. This makes her archetype more forgiving since we often see female characters of this magnitude several times but because of these two great qualities, it makes her all the more lovable. Also she dresses up as a puppy and we get to hear Yoko Hikasa bark like one, need I say more?
Finally there is Jibril, who was hard to get into at first glance. But once she went on and more funny moments came along, she lately became on-par with Steph in terms of entertaining qualities. This is Yukari Tamura at her best, largely because we don’t ever get to see her voice females with perverted personalities. When she does, she is just heavenly every time. What also eventually led me to liking her more was how she seemed to possess the same fun qualities that Steph had in personality shifts from time to time.
What does standout for No Game No Life’s credit to make it more interesting than most shows of its caliber is its art and animation. The extreme usage of over-saturated colors give it its look from original creator and character designer, Yuu Kamiya. His name under the cast and crew had me hesitant at first, seeing he was also involved with Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi, which is one of my most hated shows. Luckily this was not anything of that level of awful and the artwork definitely stood on its own. However, it could’ve worked better if the color palette was emphasized a little less and made it more consistent for a better viewing experience.
Now, do you like fun entertainment as much as I do? If yes, then No Game No Life is one show that seems to only care about being a fun show from beginning to end. Is it perfect in being able to bring forth these fun moments on full display? Not necessarily, but if anything, No Game No Life is at that level of entertainment to where it can be respectable in giving forth good effort. It manages to incorporate fun action sequences with flashy animation and also delivers incredibly hysterical comedy in one package. Not many anime can achieve the difficulty of balancing both aspects to great effect, to which No Game No Life accomplishes this feat. Though the action and games can be predictable as to who’ll win in the long run, the journey is at least fun for the ride.
With the advent of VRMMO anime being at full force at the moment, it is likely we won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for this phase in anime history. The popularity of No Game No Life clearly shows this. While its qualities do not really come in-par with the impact it apparently has, it is by no means bad by its very nature. Once you can find some great substance in entertainment, that in-of-itself justifies it as being good entertainment. If it comes to showing off these same instances of cliches without any substance in the future, then I would be greatly worried.