Sora and Shiro are known as Blank a duo of siblings that can never be defeated at any game when working together. One day they are challenged to an online chess match, and upon winning, are teleported to another universe by Tet, the god of that universe. There, they find a world ruled by the 10 Pledges, that essentially dictate that all conflicts must be resolved through games. These range from small conflicts, such as high way robbery, to high scale conflicts, between the 16 races of Disboard. For them, this is heaven. They end up encountering Stephanie, the granddaughter of the previous King, competing in a poker competition for the throne being held as per the late King’s wishes. She loses badly however, as the opponent is using Elven magic to cheat. They come to realize that of the 16 races, humans, or imanitians as they are called in that world, are the weakest. They can’t use magic, nor do they have any other powers, which gives them a serious disadvantage in games, which is why Imanity has slowly been declining. And hence the Blank comes in. They decide to help Stephanie, resolve to take the throne, prove that humanity is not to be underestimated, defeat all the other, and ultimately challenge the god that brought them there.
This was incredible in so many ways. First off, the entire premise is great. A world dictated by games can be made fun and interesting in so many ways, and the creators have done a great job of doing that so far with having a very diverse set of games using very different mechanics for each arc resulting. The closest point of comparison I can think of is pre-duelist Yu-Gi-Oh. But what’s also amazing is the over arching, and often unexpected, depth to these games. In Yu-Gi-Oh each game was always relatively simple. In No Game No Life, there are always many extra layers that get exploited by Sora. His approach is comparable to Light from Deathnote or Lelouch from Code Geass, and that being applied within the limitless field of open gaming leads to games, and especially meta-games, that play out magnificently. Second, the overarching plot is great as well. The goal of proving the worth of an entire race by doing what hasn’t ever been done before through complete world domination, and then challenging God himself is an amazing story that you want to see reach its end, and it is good in its own right as opposed to just being something to support the games as is often done.
Next, the characters are amazing. Sora and Shiro are overpowered, but them showing off how ridiculous they are is always interesting, and while some people have problems with overpowered characters in general I love overpowered characters done right, and as Sora and Shiro were definitely done right they rank among my favorites. The bond they share is amazing and adorable as well. The other main character, Stephanie is incredibly earnest, and often serves as a good contrast with Sora and Shiro due to how naive and clumsy she is, but she is incredibly determined and that gives her a lot of value. The rest of the cast, Jibril, Izuna, Zell, etc. are established as great, and then continue to be so. There aren’t really any villains in No Game No Life. The standard structure so far involves them being antagonists for a while, where their motivations are well established, at which point Sora and Shiro defeat them soundly, convey that their victory is actually better for what their motivations were, and then have them essentially join their side. Its a very lighthearted way to structure things, but it works.
On that note, the atmosphere and style of the anime is amazing. It’s very lighthearted but intense at the same time. It is especially good at highlighting just how amazing Sora and Shiro are when it counts. But it also keeps up steady comedy routine going that keeps everything lighthearted, and strongly convey that in the end this is all a game. There was a lot of humor, including a lot of parody, that was overall quite excellent. As for the production values, they too were great. The art style was very vibrant and bright. At some points I felt like it was too bright, but it certainly gave a it a very strong sense of style and identity as well as strongly contributed to the previously mentioned tone. The OP and ED were pretty good. The soundtrack too was excellent, with a good amount of diversity, but still very iconic.
A light hearted but very intense anime with a great sense of style that’s all around a lot of fun.