What They Say:
On the internet, they’re legends: the tag-team duo known as BLANK, famed for their incredible game-playing skills. In the real world, however, the lives of 18-year-old Sora and his 11-year-old stepsister Shiro have been spiraling out of control. Now existing as shut-ins, they rarely leave their house and are unable to be separated without suffering panic attacks. Games, for them, are the safest retreat from reality. Until they win a chess match against a mysterious opponent known as Tet and find themselves pulled into a game bigger than any they could have ever imagined.
Now, in a world where the outcome of games determines the fates of both civilizations and species, they must defend Humanity in the ultimate challenge, vying against a host of otherworldly competitors for the right to rule them all! But if they fail, it means slavery or destruction for all mankind. No pressure, of course! Can two misfits who can barely handle their own lives somehow rise to the occasion and save the human race?
Both the English and Japanese audio tracks for this release are presented in DTS-HD 2.0. So, suffice it to say, the audio quality is top notch for anime release and even supports surround sound. No drop outs or moments of lower quality were experienced across both discs. Volume equalization was perfect and even the fight scenes (Which there are a lot of) didn’t “Ride the red” at any moment. As far as audio goes, you aren’t going to get much better than what’s packed in here.
Madhouse Studios’ latest visual spectacle is presented this time in an obvious 1080p with a 16×9 aspect ratio. Even though this may be the brightest show you ever watch (In terms of color), colors have been balanced in a way that allows you to watch all 12 episodes without your eyes burning out of their sockets. The framerate remained steady for the entire series and even the OP/ED sequences were fluid and seamless. The overall aesthetic of No Game No Life might take an episode to get used to, but the second your eyes figure out what they’re taking it, this becomes one of the most attractive shows out there.
Being the standard edition, there isn’t much to report in terms of packaging. There is no slipcover for this release. The front of the box has a vibrant portrait of BLANK surrounded by depictions of several other characters while sporting two floral-esque corner designs that oppose each other on the top and bottom portions of the cover. The back of the case gives a brief synopsis of the show, accompanied by additional attention-grabbing text presented in the video-gamey font that NGNL loves oh so much. There are several thumbnails containing screen grabs from the series. Out of the eight thumbnails, seven contain a cute girl.
We get more of the standard Sentai Filmworks menu screen here with the episodes displayed on one side and a character portrait displayed on the next. Highlighting an episode easily sets it apart from the others and shouldn’t give you the need to strain your eyes at any point. The menu is simplistic, which makes it easier to navigate to what you desire within a moments notice. There is none of that, “How do I get to settings?” struggle that we have all witnessed at least one person fight at some point in life.
Special features on this disc include Japanese commentary/commercial/promos, as well as the No Game No Life shorts and previews of some of their upcoming titles. In addition to that, there are clean versions of both the opening and ending. All special features are contained on the second disc, seeing as disc 1 is occupied of 75% of the series itself, making it easier to watch all the special features at once without having to switch discs.
If there is anything out there that I have been infatuated with longer than anime, it’s video games. So when you crossbreed those with anime itself and throw in a loli imouto as well as a panicky girl with red hair, the result seems like it will come out in my favor. The only issue being that I have already watched this show before in Problem Children Are Coming From Another World. With its own twist on a world where everything is solved through gaming, No Game No Life follows the brother/sister duo of Sora and Shiro, as well as their counterpart (And best-girl), Stephanie Dola, as they play games to determine the fate of humanity…err, Imanity…
I think it’s safe to say that Madhouse Studios is one of the most underrated companies in the industry. Being the main force behind animating this series, Madhouse delivers a quality product that highly exceeds expectations. With an extremely bright and unique color palate, No Game No Life looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before. In a good way, I promise. The title adds to the recently impressive list of series directed by Atsuko Ishizuka (The Pet Girl Of Sakurasou/Hanayamata) and plays a huge role in terms of future projects for the young director. Based on the light novel series by Yuu Kamiya, the No Game No Life anime series breathes life into yet another popular Japanese series that Americans hadn’t had to fortune of experiencing yet.
In the beginning of NGNL, we are introduced to the dynamic sibling duo of Sora and Shiro (Also known as BLANK) as they hide away in the depths of their bedroom, playing video games and eating junk food. These two NEETs have devoted so much of their time to the craft of gaming that they are literally unmatchable for anyone on Earth. So, when they receive a mysterious email asking them if they want to leave their world and go somewhere else, they jump on it right away. After a brief fall/getting sucked into another world sequence, the two are greeted by the god of their new world, Tet. Apparently, in this new world, physical fighting has been outlawed. Instead, the remaining 16 kingdoms must compete for land through various games. BLANK might have been the best gaming team on Earth, but how exactly is that supposed to measure up to a society that literally lives off of gaming? And that’s without even mentioning that the people they’ll be going up against can use magic.
Dropped into this world, BLANK must first find a means of survival — shelter of some sort. That comes easy though in meeting their soon to be dog-slave-squire, Stephanie Dola. Steph [reluctantly] takes the two into her home before revealing that she is the granddaughter of the previous king of Imanity (Which is just what humans are called in this new world). Sora and Shiro, being challenge-driven and game-thirsty, tell Steph that they will make humans the strongest race in the world, just like they were in the past. As you can figure, this is a lot easier said than done.
From that point on, it’s a tale of conquest as BLANK and Steph move from location to location, cunningly playing games along the way. The group encounters new friends (And enemies) and slowly starts building up their civilization once again. Who would have thought that two random humans from another world would just swoop in one day and repair an entire civilization? Not me, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is just how these repairs are done.
Perhaps the most interesting asset No Game No Life has to offer are the intricate and unique games that these civilizations wind up playing. Each one seems to have a gigantic twist on a game that would typically be played in real human society. In addition, each one winds up getting harder and harder and challenging these two characters who are thought to be immortal in terms of games. Each game is laced with a nonstop, suspenseful sensation that highly exceeds what I expected going into this. On top of that, the comedy is some of the best that I’ve seen in recent years. Thanks to how overly-attached our two protagonists are to each other, we get to witness tons of moments of sheer hilarity and adorableness packed together. This alongside Steph (Who is the comedic highlight of this show as far as I’m concerned), there is really never a dull moment in this show. And just when things are getting too fun, NGNL is able to pull a complete 180 and become something emotional and intense. It’s a contrast that is done so well that it turns the show into something more than just laughs.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this show is going to change the way you look at life or hit you with some lesson you’ve been dying to learn for years. This isn’t like that. Yes, there are some “Feels” moments, but at its core, No Game No Life is more comedy than anything. Good comedy, at that. Each character has their own quirks and various things that make them interesting; each one is memorable in their own way. Every single nation has a specific feel to it, and there aren’t any that seem to outweigh the rest in terms of how important or unique they are. Altogether, the world of NGNL is extremely balanced. The pacing is basically perfect as well and gives viewers the appropriate time to learn about each race that is encountered. I applaud the writers of this adaptation for not attempting to cram the entire series into 12 episodes and instead leaving room for more seasons (Which I can’t imagine them not airing due to the increasing popularity of this series).
No Game No Life is more accessible and newcomer-friendly than similar shows (Like the aforementioned Problem Children Are Coming From Another World). The pacing is phenomenal, the characters are memorable, and the English dub is actually pretty spectacular. Comedy in this series is top-tier and ridden with a plethora of memorable scenes that resonate within the genre. And even though this show is a comedy at its heart, it does not mean that there won’t be times where you reach for the tissues. Overall, No Game No Life is not only extremely well-balanced, but well-produced, well-acted, and perfect for binge-viewing.
Japanese DTS-HD Surround Sound Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Surround Sound Audio 2.0, English Subtitles, Clean OP/ED Songs, Japanese Commentary, No Game No Life Shorts, Japanese Promos, Sentai Filmworks Previews
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen