Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No Game No Life: 0 -- Anime Movie Review

I just got back from watching No Game No Life 0 and I knew I had to type up this review right away while the movie is still fresh in my mind. So with that said, here are some of my ramblings on several aspects of this movie. Also, I was one of only two people inside the movie theatre -- not counting  Mai Waifu, Nagi Doll who travels with me everywhere :).


The story revolves around two core characters, a human named Rikku and an Ex-Machina (basically a killer machine) in the shape of a little girl who is eventually named Shuvi.

Rikku is a boy who was born in Disboard at the time when the various races were still conducting a great big war thanks to their Gods and their obsession with an item known as the Suniaster which would be manifested to the one true god.

Rikku's village was devastated by a group of Ex-Machinas when he was a child. He eventually grows up to become the general of a group of surviving humans who manage to stay alive through subterfuge as the other races fight each other on the frontlines.

As is to be expected, Rikku grows up to be desperate and somewhat jaded individual with an intense dislike for the other races who have caused the world to be plunged into chaos.

It is at to the point when he is most desperate after having sacrificed another one of his comrades just so he could escape that he stumbles upon a cave lair where an estranged Ex-Machina who has been separated permanently from her cluster (Ex-Machinas work as hive minds) is investigating. Upon meeting each other, the Ex-Machina, who would eventually be named Shuvi, insists that Rikku take her with him as she is curious about the what a "heart" is all about. Her hypothesis is that it is what has allowed humans to keep from being extinct despite the state of the world.

Although Rikku seems annoyed with her at first, the two eventually settle their differences, fall in love, and work together in order put an end to the war and to give Tet, the god of games a chance to become the one true God. It is also an origin story of how the covenants were formed and how the current system of games was established.

A Love Story To The Core

At its core, NGNL0 is a love story between the two main characters. Basically, it explores the age-old anime theme of love between a human and a robot -- which is basically what Shuvi is.

This is where the movie truly shines. The development of their love story is extremely satisfying and it also allows the movie to be extremely cathartic despite being based on a less serious anime series (not familiar with the contents of the light novels -- I'm just aware they exist.)

At first, Rikku only sees Shuvi as a convenient tool whom he may be able to use in order to help the surviving humans in his camp. Little by little however, he is taken in by the innocent charm of Shuvi's ways and starts to see her as more of a reliable partner rather than just a tool. It is at the climax of the movie wherein he finally bares it all and confesses his love for Shuvi through a ring with a marriage proposal.

On Shuvi's part, she initially claims that she is interested in being together with Rikku so that she may find out what a heart is all about. However, she does show a strong attachment for Rikku and always does her best to shield him from harm. Furthermore, when Rikku reveals his hatred for other races and beings -- including the Ex-Machinas, Shuvi offers to allow Rikku to stab her in the chest and end her life (or shut her down completely in an irreparable state as she states) so that he may be appeased.

Her initial reaction to Rikku's proposal is a rejection -- which is quite a surprise considering how attached she is shown to be to him all throughout the movie. Of course, the revelation makes logical sense. She was the unit that actually devastated Rikku's village when he was a child, so therefore, she felt unworthy of him.

Fortunately, instead of being angry at her, Rikku reveals that he had an inkling that this was the case all along, but he tells her that it doesn't matter because he made the proposal to her while fully considering this possibility in the first place.

It is a love story tested by many trials and one that pays off in the end. And of course, the best part for me would be that both characters expressly proclaim their love for each other several times throughout the movie. It's really a wonderful emotional pay-off and I can't help but root for the two of them.

It is also a reminder of the different concept of love that the Japanese have. By her own admission Shuvi cannot reproduce -- in short, she cannot have sex. In fact, she outright states that she does not have a hole.

In fact, there is no so-called "romantic development" in both characters in that they do not actually see each other as a girl and a boy in terms of sex. Yet, you can call it platonic or whatever inane phrase all you want, but by the express admission of both characters, it is very clearly romantic love. This movie is a very strong refutation of the sentiment that sex or even sexual attraction is at the core of romantic love.

Nods To No Game No Life

Fortunately, even if you have never seen No Game No Life before, prior knowledge of the series is unnecessary. There are definitely nods and strong ties to No Game No Life, but they are in no way necessary in order to enjoy this movie.

For one, Rikku and Shuvi share the same seiyuu as Sora and Shiro and even their personalities are somewhat similar. Also, if you were waiting for Sora and Shiro and their friends to show up, let's just say that you won't be too disappointed.

Basically, just imagine Sora and Shiro in a more serious setting with their lives actually on the line.

Also, Corone Dola (actually Steph's ancestor from 6000 years ago), the only consistently shown supporting character, who may or may not be Rikku's blood-related elder sister is a strong nod to Stephanie Dola and also has the same seiyuu and personality as her -- minus the comedy relief moments.

The Characters Aren't Invincible

Part of the charm of No Game No Life is that Blank (Sora and Shiro) are basically invincible throughout the entire series. They may be tested from time to time, but we all know that they always come out on top.

On the other hand, Rikku is someone who has clearly suffered nothing but defeat all his life -- this despite being a very clever individual himself with traces of Sora's ingenuity. Shuvi herself is a very powerful machine, but she is not the most powerful being in the movie and not even amongst her own kind. This is clearly demonstrated in her final battle with Jibril.

So yes, this is not the invincible pair that you may have grown attached to in the series, but for the purpose of this movie, the very real flaws in Rikku and Shuvi really add a sense of humanity to both of them -- this despite one of them not actually being human.

Over-All Impressions

That was a wonderful movie wasn't it, Nagi?

I believe I have said enough for anyone to guess my over-all impression of this film. In short: I loved it. While the plot and the mumbo jumbo over Disboard is a bit hard to take in (probably easier if you have read the novels), the love story of Rikku and Shuvi is one to witness. Also, if you ship Sora and Shiro, this movie is great big win for your ship -- through implication. (But hey, that's how Hayate x Nagi won the race)

Watch it if you are fan of No Game No Life. Watch it if you are not a fan of No Game No Life. Unfortunately, it's probably ending its run in Philippine theatres by tomorrow -- but if you can get your hands on this movie - do give it a try. 

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