This past Friday we were lucky enough to get invited to see Azoland and Sentai Filmworks english dub premiere of No Game No Life Zero at the Los Angeles Anime Film Festival. I had only recently started watching the series by the time that we got this invite, so I admit I had no idea what the movie would be about if there were any hints from the series.
Before I get to review of the movie, this year marks the 100th anniversary of anime. So as luck would have it, we got to see one of the first anime films that ever existed, Namakura Katana (The Dull Sword). Released in the summer of 1917, everyone believed it was lost forever. The anime world was lucky that this had been found in and recovered from an antique store in Osaka. While it was incredibly cringe worthy, had zero sound and next to no dialogue, it was still an incredible piece of history. And without it, we wouldn’t have anime that we know today. Anime like No Game No Life.
Moving on to the premiere, the movie focuses entirely upon the Eternal War. While alluded to in the series, the movie tells the story of a war that nearly destroyed the world of Disboard over six thousand years ago told to us by Tet, the True God of Disboard while playing a game of chess. The magic races and their gods battle to be the One True God of Disboard while the race of humans struggles to survive in a hidden colony. Living off minimal food in a mountain to protect themselves from the burning ashe by product of the war, we meet Riku the leader of the colony. While exploring, he comes across one of the robots of the race Ex machina, a sort of Borg like race that draws power from their collective. Named Shivu, she’s been removed from the collection due to her desire to learn the human heart. Which for some reason makes her want to procreate with Riku despite lacking orifices.
Riku brings her back to the colony and hides her true nature so that he can glean technology and information from her so he can help his colony survive by gambling with chess games. They explore together and uncover weapons of mass destruction being built by the elves and dwarves, as well that Shuvi and her race has the ability to absorb and redirect attacks at them. This eventually leads to a daring plan by Riku to place Ex machina devices around an artifact that when claimed will make one of the warring gods the True God. He plans to use the weapons of mass destruction of the other races, by forcing them to fire on each other near the artifact and use that power to unseal it from the earth and claim it for humanity.
Much like the original series, chess plays prominently in this movie. From the opening where Tet is telling the story over a game of chess, to how Riku and Shuvi initially interact over the game. Unlike the series which is very light hearted and focused on gaming, this movie steps away from that. Taking a look at a grim world consumed entirely in a massive global conflict. It shows the helplessness of those who had no part in it, but are still negatively impacted by those engaged in it. It calls back to a speech that Sora made during his speech when he became king in the fourth episode though, in which he says because humans are weak they are actually stronger than the other races. I found it clever as a slight nudge towards the main series, given that we don’t see much of the characters from the show in the movie.
Normally, I find the music in these movies to be epic and help enhance the scenes. While I’m not saying that the music was bad, it was pretty good, it can’t remember it adding to the movie. Sitting here writing this I’m actually trying to remember if there was any major score that I could remember, and I can’t. I think that’s only because the scenes just had so much going on between relationship building, to exposition and one large fight I can recall, nothing sticks out to me.
All in all, I did really enjoy the film. While I was going to finish watching the tv series the movie made me want to get back to it immediately. The VAs were incredibly talented, more so given that Shuvi’s character spoke German for her attacks. There was a QA session afterwards with two of the VAs as well as the director for the english dubbing. So be sure that you look out for when we get that uploaded to get inside booth stories, their thoughts and initial reactions tot he script. Aschente!