No Game No Life volume 1, a light novel review

Have you ever wanted to just… leave this world… your in? Go to a world where you were welcomed? A world where you can live how you always wanted to? Welcome, lets begin.

No Game No Life is a series of light novels that, unfortunately is currently on hiatus, was created by Yuu Kamiya. He is known for his impact as an original character designer for shows like: the dark rabbit has seven lies, Haganai: NEXT, and the anime adaptation of this light novel series. This light novel series has an assorted genres ranging from ecchi fantasy to comedy. There are currently 4 volumes translated to English with all 6 volumes currently out in Japan. Another cool tidbit, he did not have an illustrator for this novel series, he did all the illustrations and writing himself.


The story revolves around Sora and Shiro, a 17 year old virgin and an 11 year old socially inept genius respectively. Oh, and they are a brother and sister duo (NOT bound by blood of course). The story starts with the two of them in their small apartment playing a number of video games at one time. Together they are known throughout gaming forums and leader boards as ” “(blank). No name, just a blank character. They are essentially believed to be an urban legend or a group of extremely skilled gamers and hackers because… they don’t lose. The social awkwardness that make up our main duo have never lost a game. They have lost to each other a number of times but never to someone else.

After they finish winning the game they are currently playing, just as they are both about to pass out due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation, they receive an email. One that challenges them to a game of chess. Now, Shiro has beaten several computer programs at chess. This should be easy right? well, it took 6 hours to beat this person. After Shiro succeeds in beating the opponent, they are asked one simple question, “Surely you must find it hard to live in this world?” After that another email was sent to the pair, “what if there was a world where everything was decided by simple games.” They responded with, “Yeah, if there is such a world, we sure were born in the wrong one.”

They clean up well for a couple of shut-ins

Upon sending this email, a godlike pair of hands came out of the computer screen and sucked the two into it. Sora and Shiro, once transported to this new world, start falling from the heavens. During this time they have a conversation with the god of this world, later named Tet. They safely land on the ground, but they have a long journey ahead of them in this new world. Once they arrive at the nearest town, they learn the laws of this world. The Ten covenants which govern this world. One is that everything, even country borders, is decided by a game.

This light novel is very interesting, I enjoy the premise even though so much gaming and MMORPG centered anime/manga/light novels have been coming out recently. I enjoy the world the author has created as well. I personally love chess (even though I’m god awful at it). The way the world is built and how things work and progress are rather fluid. What really struck me as nice was how easy this novel was to read and understand. This novel is read like one big monologue. Even when others are talking, it feels like the reader knows more about what is going on in each others heads than the actual characters. Which is odd but rather refreshing. I have never read a novel that is so fluid and well centered. Now, it may be because of the translation but there were times where I was actually confused because of how wordy and overly complex certain things were portrayed. This caused me to get pulled out of the story on more than one occasion.

The characters are pretty rough around the edges. There are plenty of common anime tropes in this light novel. Including a bath scene, accidental boob grab, and a skimpy maid outfit. I’ve become used to these types of things but what made these a little more bearable was the author breaking the fourth wall with some of these tropes. The first non-main character we meet is Stephanie, a princess who just lost everything in a game of poker in a tournament to crown the new monarch of Immanity (human race).  She unfortunately is the fan service personified and also the authors scapegoat when explaining things so the reader doesn’t feel belittled. I always determine how good a series is, be it anime/manga or otherwise, based on how the characters are treated and characterized. Currently, not much backstory is given for the two main characters other than they were abandoned by their family and society and are the only family each other have. Hopefully with the next volume more backstory and development is given to them. Sora, Shiro, and Stephanie are really the only characters that are talked about in this volume, everyone else is strictly tertiary characters with minimal page time.

Best girl? yes

This upset me, more so because you pretty much already know after the first two chapters that these two, Sora and Shiro, won’t lose. No matter what. So even though it is incredibly entertaining to read about each match and how they won, it still leaves a bit to be desired.

overall, this wasn’t a terrible light novel. I for sure enjoyed it but there are some things here and there that could have been handled better in my eyes. So, with all that into consideration, I give No Game No Life Volume 1 a score of 7 out of 10. It was not as groundbreaking as many forums like to make it out to be but it is still worth reading nevertheless.

I Hope you all enjoyed! Have a wonderful day!

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