I titled this a “review”, simply because I didn’t know what else to call it. Honestly, the film felt pretty convoluted, enough so that I don’t believe I developed a strong enough grasp of it—after one viewing—to give a more critical opinion. This movie is definitely something I want to watch again and again, and maybe even a fourth time. Until then, here are my thoughts after watching No Game No Life Zero.
The characters of this feature-length film are purposefully designed (and voiced) as the precursors to Sora and Shiro—the protagonists of the original TV series. This is the story of Riku and Schwi, in a time before the great reinvention of the world. Disboard is not yet a land ruled by games, a land where death is of no real concern due to the new laws of reality put in place by none other than a god. Right now, the time of which Riku and Schwi live in, devastation is all that humanity knows as the gods above them rage war and ravage the planet. Humans are weak, unable to even hold a side in this fight, and so hope amongst them is almost entirely bereft—though the fact that they manage to survive at all is seen as the ultimate anomaly.
Riku and Schwi resemble Sora and Shiro in a naturally toned-down way. The worlds of which they exist in are of night and day, so of course Riku and Schwi will lack the spunk and general happiness that their future incarnations possess. Still, they have moments of this braveness and optimism, and continue to slowly develop into characters more like Sora and Shiro. Gags about sexuality thankfully pop up, as to further define their humanness and reflection of the future. This all comes in small waves of course, and never goes so far as to feel like it no longer fits within the grim situation that has befallen them.
Their relationship came off as immensely endearing for me, though I must admit that it will take maybe a couple more viewings before I can determine whether the progression of this love was logically sound. Not to seem overly cold and calculating, but logic is at the core of anything involving Artificial Intelligence, and so I expect it in even a romance—which is one of the most illogical things humanity has ever created. Human-AI affairs are always weird like this, and will always require a certain level of suspension of disbelief. As we all know, machines are built to lack emotion. Robots are supposed to be incapable of feeling these things, and so these kinds of “what if?” narratives always tend to bridge over from sci-fi into fantasy. This isn’t a bad thing, and actually fits extremely well in the world of No Game No Life, as it is built to be a combination of the two genres: The logical and precise progression of competition governed by the fantastical laws of a different reality that makes such scenarios possible.
Back to the relationship, I merely find there is a threshold that, when crossed, makes a romance such as this not make sense. Thankfully, I walked away feeling like it did…though I can’t quite pinpoint all the reasons why. This is why I’m eager to watch this movie again: because I can’t quite tell if No Game No Life Zero is utterly brilliant or just stupidly complex, and I would be surprised if the intention was for it to be both.
Whatever the case may be, I truly enjoyed this fantasy-war-drama-romance story. I don’t consider it to be perfect however, as the action scenes sadly fell flat. A reliance on subpar CG and a lack of interesting cinematography really made me feel quite un-enthralled during what should’ve been an epic fight. But it’s not like I was in it for the action, and it didn’t detract much from the overall experience…unlike the dude sitting next to me in the theater who took his shoes off and kept scratching his head loudly.
Anyway, I’ll be eagerly waiting for the Blu-Ray release, and maybe then I’ll do a follow up to this post. Until then, thanks for reading.