No Game No Life: Episode 02

挑戦者(チャレンジャー) – Challenger

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Gosh, who’d have ever thought that a game of janken (rock paper scissors) could turn out so complex?

Jankenpon saishou wa guu? It might have taken awhile and I was grasping so very hard to understand what went on in that game of rock paper scissors, but I finally managed to figure it out. And now, I shall happily explain the rules, and why Sora tied with Steph even though he played rock (which, based on the rules, would mean that he lost). I believe what led to the confusion was when Sora said that he could only play paper. However, that was a misinterpretation on my part. He could play any of the three, except that if he played rock or scissors, he would lose. I think this added to the confusion, because according to his rules, he would not have lost per se. Rather, his position under normal circumstances would simply be demoted by one. From what I managed to work out, the way to understand the rules is: if Sora plays paper, the points system follows the normal one. But if he plays rock/scissors, knock off a point for him. Illustration (assuming Sora plays rock in each scenario):

  1. Rock vs Paper: This is straightforward, Sora loses.
  2. Rock vs Scissors: If Sora played rock, he would under normal circumstances win. However, his win has to be ‘demoted’ and so, because he loses and Steph would lose, it would mean that they both lose and that would result in a tie.
  3. Rock vs Rock: This would normally result in a tie. However, since Sora cannot win if he does not play paper, a rock vs rock would mean that Sora loses.

(I decided to include this little explanatory paragraph because I was asked by fellow writer Tsurara to explain the rules. If you managed to figure it out, well done. If you still can’t understand after reading this paragraph, drop a comment and I’ll explain it in more detail. If you still can’t understand and can’t be bothered, then ohwells~)

Stephanie Dola aka Steph: This week’s episode introduced us to another character of the series – Stephanie Dola. Sora described her as being simple-minded, easily riled and too conservative to take risks. But is she really? From what I saw, his analysis was spot on. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing, because this character provided many LOL moments throughout the entire episode, with all her denial and internal struggles *cough Steph-Scope cough*. We know from last episode that she is the granddaughter of the foolish king and was desperately trying to play her way to retain the throne. She might have lost the match last week, but she has certainly ‘won’ herself two very valuable players this week (more on this later).

Siblingly Love: Alrighty, so we know that the siblings are close. Like, really close; literally can’t-be-more-than-a-certain-distance-apart close. Are they inappropriately close? Well, some might argue that they are, but I think they aren’t. Oddly close, yes. But not inappropriately so. I highly doubt anything untoward ever even crossed their minds. Seriously, watch this episode and see for yourself. After all, the siblings themselves addressed the issue of their closeness. What with Sora saying that he could not possibly go after his sister; and she is, like, 11 after all. And Shiro constantly egging Sora to pursue Steph, even congratulating him for having “graduated from being a virgin”. HAHAHA these two are so hilariously entertaining. I choose to believe that their closeness stems from being so incredibly inter-dependent. That, as well as the fact that they are simply very comfortable around each other.

More on the Story: This episode might have been full of laughs, but it was not without its serious moments. We learn that this alternate world has 16 sentient races and they are ranked according to their affinity for magic. Imanity (Humans in Elkia, the place that the siblings are currently in), are ranked the lowest due to their inability to use magic, or even sense that it is being used. This ranking system is important, as it provides the backdrop to the main story. As Steph explains, she is trying to become king so as to prove that her grandfather was right; the Imanity could beat the other races. With this, we appear to have delved into the politics of this show. It might steal the spotlight from the comedic moments.. not that I mind, as this would just add to the well-roundedness of the series.

World play: This episode featured even more of each sibling’s skills. Sora in his ever quick-witted glory, managing to think on his feet and talk his way out of ANYTHING. Goodness, I would never ever want to negotiate with this guy. It would be far too risky! And Shiro’s astonishing intellect – being able to learn Imanity (one of the languages of that world, which also refers to the Humans) in under a day. She also speaks 18 different languages, by the way. Sora is not far off, having learnt the language by the following day.

As per Steph’s little monologue: Those two.. with his negotiation in rock paper scissors… their genius-level intelligence… the teamwork that comes from complete trust in each other.. is it possible that these two could save Elkia?

Evidently, Steph loves her world. In contrast, the siblings do not love their world. However, we could see that the siblings were a tad jealous and put off that she was able to say so with such certainty. Rather, I think that their reaction implies that they really wish to properly belong; to have a place they could lovingly call home. I am very curious as to what will happen with these two – will they end up going back to their world or will they stay in Elkia? Will their ‘adventures’ abate their cynicism? They are such an interesting pair, that I am very intrigued by how their story will pan out.

Let the games begin: And so we see that Kurami (whom I suppose is the series’ antagonist, although this might be subject to change), the character Steph lost the game to in last week’s episode, is claiming her ‘right’ to the throne. In the last few minutes of this episode, Kurami provoked Steph; Steph almost had a breakdown; Sora set his sights on an even bigger scale; and the siblings decided to help Steph prove that her grandfather was correct.

Over the topHikasa Yoko, who voices Steph, had lots of screen time this week. And wow was she impressive – she was girly, crazy, calm, at a loss, confused.. it was a very fitting portrayal of the character! Of course, Kayano Ai and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu who voice Shiro and Sora respectively were also entertaining. Overall, I thought the acting, especially during the comedic scenes, was so outrageous, but it just fits the mood of the show perfectly. Look out for for the following: Matsuka Yoshitsugu’s desperate 13 second rambling at around 09:14 – beyond hilarious; Kayano Ai’s high-pitched squeal at 13:14 – beyond adorable; Hikasa Yoko’s frustrated denials at various times during the episode (09:50, 13:30, 14:00) – LOL.

Episode 1 was good, but this episode was better. Here’s hoping this rising trend keeps up! Till next week~

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One thought on “No Game No Life: Episode 02

  1. your opening statement was my exact sentiment. I couldn’t keep up with a game that had 9 possibilities and yet these siblings (especially Shiro) can compute so many possibilities in any game just in their heads! Thanks for breaking it down in your review :) The steph-scope is hilarious! I’m very impressed with Hikasa Yoko too! She and Matsuoka had to deliver such a diverse range of emotions in those lines and they surely did! Surely the show I look most forward to each week, might go watch episode 02 again just because.

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