Film review – No Game No Life: Zero – a great adaptation for fans and a puzzle for everyone else

This feature-length anime stays true to the original manga storyline, but unless you are a diehard fan of author Yuu Kamiya’s series, you will have no idea what is happening

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 3:31pm

2.5/5 stars

Readers of Brazilian-Japanese author Yuu Kamiya’s (real name Thiago Furukawa Lucas) light novel series will likely be big fans of this film adaptation. Directed by Japanese animator Atsuko Ishizuka and produced by leading animation studio Madhouse, it stays true to the original plot. But general audiences who have seen neither the anime nor read the books will be utterly confused by what is going on.

The world of No Game No Life: Zero is one in which all disputes are settled by games and winners can take it all. Different races – including elves, dwarves, dragonia, fairies and more – are embroiled in a war to fight for the status of the One True God, wreaking havoc on the planet. Humans, as the weakest race and not even recognised by other races, struggle to survive under the falling ashes and live in underground caves.

The smart and strong-willed Riku (voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) leads the human survival, but is wracked by guilt as his comrades die one by one in sacrifice. It all changes one day, when he meets an “Ex-Machina”, a war robot that has disconnected from the rest of its cluster to search for the meaning of the human heart.

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Riku takes it home, disguising it as a human girl and name her Shuvi (Ai Kayano). Hilarity ensues as Shuvi adapts to life in a human settlement. And she soon begins to develop feelings – which her computer analysis diagnoses as “error! error! error!” – for Riku.

Riku’s wits plus Shuvi’s power give the human race a better chance of surviving, but will the two be able to win the game?

Fans will be glad to find that the film gives the background story to how the world of the Disboard in the anime series came to be, even if certain critical scenes, such as the fight between the Ex-Machinas and the Flügels, are missing. But given the film is adapted from the sixth book of the series, most premises of the story are not sufficiently explained.

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It also means that anyone who wants to thoroughly enjoy the film will have to do some homework beforehand.

No Game No Life: Zero opens on October 26

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