No Game No Life Zero Anime Movie: The Origin of Everything

No Game No Life Zero

If you're new to the No Game No Life Zero franchise, let me provide a brief overview. For those already familiar with this anime, feel free to jump directly to the movie review.

No Game No Life gained immense popularity upon its release in 2014. The narrative is based on a series of light novels crafted by the Japanese-Brazilian artist Yuu Kamiya, with a total of 9 volumes published so far.

The anime adaptation, skillfully executed by the talented team at Madhouse, vividly brings to life the colorful sequences depicting the series' unique environment.

The tale unfolds with two siblings, Shiro and Sora, who harbor a disdain for the outside world and prefer isolation. Immersed in their own universe, they spend their time playing video games and effortlessly defeating anyone daring to challenge them.

Their routine takes an unexpected turn when a stranger challenges them to a game of chess, a challenge they triumphantly conquer. In return for their victory, this enigmatic figure, devoid of identity, offers them the opportunity to enter a new world centered around challenges and victories. Our protagonists, without much hesitation, accept the offer and find themselves transported to Disboard, a lively world inhabited by sentient beings of diverse races, governed by peculiar rules.

This world emerged from an ancient war that established certain commandments now dictating peace. Games serve as the focal point; to gain power, one must challenge others to games where rules can be imposed, and stakes range from mere coins to entire living races.

Naturally, our protagonists conquer all challenges, ultimately ascending to the throne of their race, known as 'Imanity.' Gradually, they assist this race, the weakest in this peculiar world, with the steadfast mission of challenging the mysterious entity that guided them into this new reality.

The anime comprehensively adapts the first three novels, making for an extraordinary introduction to this captivating franchise.


No Game No Life Zero Trailer

Now, let's delve into the movie.

For those familiar with the series, the anticipation for a second season has spanned over three years, eagerly awaiting a much-needed sequel to continue adapting the novels.

At the beginning of 2017, an announcement sparked excitement among fans of the franchise: a movie would adapt the sixth volume of the light novels into an anime. This film serves as a prequel to the entire story presented in the 2014 anime.

Yes, No Game No Life Zero doesn't offer a new adventure featuring the charismatic siblings Sora and Shiro. Instead, it unveils a story explaining the origin of this colorful world, likely why they chose the title 'Zero' for the movie.

The film retains the same cast that brought the characters to life in the series, and Madhouse returns to animate it with its distinctive style.

Let's begin with a recap of the No Game No Life Zero plot.

Tet, the god of Disboard who brought the siblings Shiro and Sora to this new world, engages in a game of chess with the little Izuna, the ambassador of the beastmen and the most recent victim of the well-known siblings.

As they play, Tet and Izuna discuss Tet's fondness for chess. When Izuna inquires further, Tet begins recounting the story that sets the stage for the movie's true plot—a one-and-a-half-hour flashback.

In this narrative, we meet Riku, who starts as a helpless child caught in the midst of a chaotic war. Despite losing everything, Riku clings to a small chess set, using it to find refuge. Along the way, he encounters a small robot girl who seems to be one of the culprits behind the destruction of the place. Riku avoids engaging with her, choosing instead to flee the scene.

In the following years, we witness Riku, now mature, leading a reconnaissance operation to find the most viable route for the surviving humans of his species to escape the deteriorating environment, a consequence of years of war.

During this mission, Riku loses a comrade who sacrifices themselves to ensure Riku's safe exit.

Upon reaching the fortress where humans seek refuge, Riku laments his inability to counter the threats posed to his species, and he grapples with the guilt of his comrade's sacrifice. This prompts him to embark on a solo mission to alleviate the myriad problems weighing on him.

During this journey, Riku encounters the robot girl he had seen in his childhood, identifying herself in a peculiar manner. This peculiar being, resembling a girl with robotic parts, belongs to a civilization known as the 'Ex-Machines,' dedicated to acquiring knowledge about other civilizations.

After a brief conversation, the robot girl challenges Riku to a game where the loser must abide by the winner's commands. Unfortunately, Riku proves to be an unworthy opponent and loses. The robot instructs Riku to adopt her and take her home, a demand he cannot refuse due to losing the bet.

Without a specific name in her race, Riku names her Shuvi.

Riku and Shuvi engage in discussions about the 'Ex-Machines' understanding of the human heart and their pursuit of world domination at the expense of other living beings. Eventually, Shuvi comprehends emotions and becomes Riku's partner.

They devise a strategy to become the new gods of the world, implementing rules devoid of murder, where everything is decided through games.

Their plans face interruptions, such as Riku's declining health, unable to endure the contaminated environment from war. To safeguard her partner, Shuvi continues the strategy alone. However, she is intercepted by Jibril, a Fleugel (Angel) from a powerful race, bored with her life in the village.

Descending to the surface to exterminate anything she encounters, Jibril becomes Shuvi's unfortunate prey.

In a power-to-power battle with Jibril, realizing she stands no chance, Shuvi strives to make long-distance contact with her abandoned race, the Ex-Machines.

Convincing her species, Shuvi manages to transfer all her information to a database before being destroyed. Her memories and everything learned from Riku are preserved forever. She ensures the Ex-Machines ally with Riku to fulfill their plan.

With Shuvi gone, Riku takes the lead, confronting all the species and deities in that world, following the strategy planned with his late partner.

In the end, Riku reaches a 'tie' with the gods, fulfilling his dream of a violence-free world, aligning with Tet's will. Tet, the ancient god, and Riku draw in a strategic game where the chaotic world serves as the board and pieces.

This marks the birth of new statutes, resolving all conflicts surrounding that world from that day forward.

The animation is excellent, despite the absence of the well-known color palette seen in the series. The dark tones in this film align exquisitely with the devastating and sorrowful narrative.

The dramatic music and sounds in the action scenes complement the viewing experience, making No Game No Life Zero a thoroughly captivating audiovisual journey.

In the narrative, humorous moments, an epic battle, and genuinely poignant scenes unfold, advising viewers not to become overly attached to any of the protagonists.

The adaptation leaves us yearning for more from the franchise, and if all goes well, a second season of the series will soon be on the horizon.

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