The Isekai genre in anime revolves around the main character who gets transported to a different world, an ambiguous world of fantasy, mystery, science fiction, & culture that tends to be different from our own. The Isekai genre itself may have a standard definition. But, authors tend to bend the concept of this genre to deliver their stories.
Isekais like Sword Art Online, Overlord, The Devil Is A Part-Timer, Log Horizon & Shield Hero have changed what to consider an isekai. Like so, No Game No Life is also a unique craft of the Isekai genre. No Game No Life was initially publicized as a light novel by Yuu Kamiya in April 2012, and not long after, the manga was serialized in November 2013 with the English release in October of the same year.
Finally, the anime adaptation for which No Game No Life is popularly known began airing from April 2014 to June 2014 and was produced by the infamous studio, Madhouse. No Game No Life is a story that follows 2 siblings, Sora & Shiro, an unbeatable gamer duo with the username “Blank.” The siblings consider the life they live on earth a ‘crappy game’ with a philosophical take on how the world works.
But things change real quick when the sibling duo receives a challenge from a god from another world (Tet). Upon beating the challenge, they were transported to Disboard, a colorful world of fantasy with rules that are different from what we have on earth, where everything is decided by playing games. A world is full of challenges, perfect for our favorite sibling duo.
Here we have 20 facts about No Game No Life that would blow your mind!
1. The Link Is Real!
In the first episode of No Game No Life, Sora & Shiro was sent an email with an attached website link by an unknown user. Upon Shiro’s investigation, the link led them to a game of chess that was meant to be a challenge from the god of another world.
The website showcased in the episode was a functional link that took you to a trivia page with ten questions on Japanese history, video games, and other general knowledge. But as of now, the link only takes you to the home page of the Kadokawa website, a media company.
2. Immanity-go, A New Found Language
It’s clear there was dedication put behind the making of No Game No Life, be it the light novel or the anime. Yuu Kamiya focused on the world building quite a lot. One that Kamiya and the team focused on was making a new language for the Immanity race in the world of Disboard.
Immanity is written differently but spoken the same as in Japanese. A reason why it took only 20 minutes for Shiro to learn the whole language. Immanity-go’s writing is inspired by Latin grammar and ancient Chinese format.
3. No Game, No Life Crisis
Mangakas with bad health issues are a common trope in the manga industry. Due to the challenges, mangakas have to go through to keep up with the schedule for the release. They don’t tend to consider the health risks that could cause their downfall.
Unfortunately, Yuu Kamiya had fallen victim to the very same curse. Initially, Kamiya intended to illustrate No Game No Life into a Manga series, but due to an unknown illness, he just couldn’t keep up with the workload. While he was hospitalized, he thought of novelizing the series instead.
In the middle of the 2nd volume’s illustration, Kamiya had to move to Brazil for further treatment, leaving Kamiya’s wife, Mashiro Hiiragi as the illustrator to meet the deadline. But, in the end, this worked out for the best for Kamiya and the team, with 11 volumes released, while the 12th and 13th volume is speculated to release sometime next year.
4. Yuu Kamiya’s Not Japanese
Thiago Furukawa Lucas is a Brazilian that was born on 10th October 1984, an artist and a novelist that goes by the pen name Yuu Kamiya. Kamiya immigrated to Japan at the age of 7. But, his status as a foreigner was a reason why he was picked on & bullied in elementary school. Also, Kamiya skipped school in junior high to play video games.
Yuu Kamiya got through that phase and followed his dreams. But this isolated feeling bottled up inside Kamiya could be a reason for the creation of our lovable protagonists, Sora & Shiro.
5. Sora & Shiro Looked Different
Sora’s shade of red hair and red eyes, and Shiro’s eye color with a mix of purple hue and bright yellow, make for an iconic character design, for which the siblings are easily recognizable in the anime. But that wasn’t the case in the light novel.
When Yuu Kamiya illustrated volume 1, Shiro’s eyes were depicted to be red, as red as rubies. Likewise, Sora’s design was described as having “messy black hair” and black eyes. The changes made in anime were mainly done for 2 reasons-
- They wanted Sora to look different from other generic Isekai protagonists, that usually have spiky black hair.
- The color of Sora’s design complemented the art style and the world around them.
6. Sora & Shiro Aren’t Siblings?
In No Game No Life episode 2, we notice a scene when Shiro and Sora show post-traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD) the moment they are separated. This shows how much they need each other. That being said, Sora & Shiro aren’t blood-related siblings.
Sora’s father married Shiro’s mother, which means there was no relation between Sora & Shiro prior to the marriage, which makes Shiro & Sora step-siblings. They lived together as a family after the marriage. Since Sora was abandoned by his former parents at a very young age, this was a new experience for him.
7. Yuu Kamiya Is A Doujin Artist?
Back when Yuu Kamiya was in high school, he was an aspiring Doujinshi artist even before he wanted to be a novelist, with his first Doujin featured in Melty Blood Anthology. Yuu Kamiya originally wanted to illustrate No Game No Life as a hentai doujin but didn’t go through with it for unspecified reasons. But Kamiya did end up surprising the fans with a 3-page hentai doujin between Sora & Shiro. But thankfully, this was considered non-canon.
8. Races Inspired By Reality
There are 16 races in Disboard that are ranked based on their magical affinity, with Old Deus said to have the highest and Immanity with the lowest or none at all. Though all the races except for Immanity(Humanity) are very different from our own, the names of most races in Disboard are inspired by our languages, folklore, myth & mythologies.
Ex-Machina was designed after humanoid androids, Old Deus in Latin means god, Seirens are named after Mermaids (Mythology), Dhampir is inspired by Vampires, Dragonia is named after Dragons & Flügel from Engel Flügel in German means Angel Wings. Other than these, there are a few obvious ones, such as Immanity (Humanity), ghosts, Fairies, Elves & Giants.
9. The 10 Pledges
The One True God, Tet, Identifies himself as someone that doesn’t belong to any of the 16 known races. So as the acting god of Disboard, he takes it upon himself to create the 10 pledges that are to be unconditionally followed by every race regardless of their status.
The 10 Pledges stop wars from happening, discord between the races, and crimes, and rather solve any and every dispute through games. This is the kind of world Tet wanted. Before the 10 pledges were even a thing in Disboard, Riku Dola and Schwi Dola from No Game No Life The Movie: Zero had created 6 pledges before the end of the great war to mark the victory for humanity.
10. 16 Races and 16 chess pieces
Except for Immanity, which existed even before the appearance of Old Dues, every other race is created by gods. Though most of the gods are unknown, there is a reason why there are exactly 16 races.
It is no coincidence that Disboard is designed with overarching chess pieces scattered all across the world, making the world look like a spherical chess board from afar. The world design is metaphorical since each of the 16 race represent a chess piece.
- Old Dues, Ghosts, Elementals, Dragonia, Giants, Fairies, Demonias & Warbeasts represent the Pawn pieces.
- Elves & Lunamanas represent the Tower Pieces.
- Sirens & Dhampirs represent the Horse Pieces.
- Dwarfs & Ex-Machinas represent the Bishop pieces.
- Flügels represent the Queen Piece.
- Immanity represents the King piece.
Each of the 16 races has one person as their representative, and each of the representatives holds their corresponding chess piece. The chess piece signifies that they come under the protection of the 10 pledges created by Tet. Though this has never happened in the anime or the light novel, if a race happens to lose their respective chess piece in a bet, they will no longer be protected by the pledges.
11. How Is Tet The One True God?
The Star Grail, also known as the Suniaster, is an ancient relic that can grant the user the title One True God. As the title suggests, the user receives the absolute power to reign supreme over all races of Disboard. Since the Suniaster would only manifest in front of an ‘absolute power,’ this was a reason for the great war, a struggle for who shall be worthy of this great power.
During the events of No Game No Life movie: Zero, Riku Dola played a substantial role during the end of the great war. Riku managed to manipulate the Old Dues Artosh and use Ex-machina’s technology to destroy the planet’s core, which resulted in manifesting Suniaster right in front of Riku.
Riku considered himself to be unworthy of wielding such absolute power, as he proceeded to cry and pray for someone to use the Suniaster to end the war. An imaginary friend of Riku that he used to play chess with began to manifest a physical form and claim ownership of the Suniaster, becoming The One True God.
This imaginary friend that we now come to know as Tet. After attaining the title of One True God, Tet named the human race, whom we now refer to them as the Immanity. A name inspired by the word immunity. Do you think Tet is the embodiment of Riku himself?
12. Why Blank?
We know Shiro and Sora aren’t blood-related. Even so, Yuu Kamiya stated that Shiro & Sora share the same surname, “Nai.” Which means ‘nothing’ in Japanese. Additionally, Sora is written as 空 which means ‘sky’ & Shiro is written as 白 which means ‘white.’ When the kanji are together as 空白, they translate to the word “Blank.”
This shows a clear connection to how the legendary nickname came to be, a name that has struck all kinds of emotions across all players.
13. References in No Game No Life
The concept of references in anime was popularized in the 21st century, and around the time season 1 of No Game No Life aired, they were pretty much a trend with some of the popular animes at that time like Lucky Star, Pokemon, Food Wars, Assassination Classroom & the most popular one Gintama doing it.
No Game No Life is certainly not a parody anime & the same can be said about the source material. But this didn’t stop the director and the producers from adding some easter eggs and references to other well-known anime & games. After taking the idea to Kamiya, he gave the green light for them to do so.
Some of the most popular references that you might have missed are Ace Attorney(Judge), Neon Genesis Evangelion(Gendo Ikari), Hyouka(Eru Chitanda), Detective Conan(Jimmy Kudo), Yu-Gi-Oh, Persona 4, Akiba’s Trip, Steins; Gate and a lot of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure references.
14. Shiro, The Inhuman Genius
Sora is known to be an excellent strategist and a manipulative genius. To our surprise, even Sora doesn’t hold a candle against a natural-born genius such as Shiro. Shiro’s intellect has no bound. She was proven to have inhumane comprehension skills, much greater than Sora since it took only 20 minutes for Shiro to learn Immanity-go (language), while it took 3 times that amount for Sora to do the same.
Additionally, Shiro was said to have the ability to predict the trajectory of a bullet & predict the state of a chess board with over 10¹²⁰ possibilities. Using this, Shiro was able to beat an AI chess program that was designed to beat chess grandmasters 20 times in a row and not to mention even the One True God of Disboard (Tet) had experienced his first defeat against the sibling duo in a game of chess. These jaw-dropping feats of Shiro make her a class of her own
15. The Library Of Congress In No Game No Life?
A library is known to hold a sanctuary of knowledge. With knowledge being wealth for any nation, the Library Of Congress goes by the very same ideology. The Library Of Congress is known for being the oldest cultural institution located in the United States of Washington.
The Library Of Congress, to our surprise, has also made its mark on the anime No Game No Life. In episode 5, Sora was taken to the National Library of Elkia, and in volume 2 of the light novel, Sora says the exterior design of the library resembles the Library Of Congress.
16. An Interesting Connection
In No Game No Life movie: Zero, when Riku first encounters an Ex-Machina that we now know as Schiwi Dola, Riku asks the Ex-Machina its name, to which she responds with an ambiguous code name, “Üc207Pr4f57t9”. But, when Riku asks her for a more human name, she refers to herself as “Schwarzer.” Interestingly, there might be some meaning behind this.
Sora & Shiro may have a connection with our protagonists from the movie, as the names Sora & Shiro directly contrast with Riku and Schwarzer. Sora, as in the sky, is the exact opposite of Riku(Earth in Japanese).
Likewise, Shiro, as in white, is also the exact opposite of Schwarzer(Black in German). Even with such conflicting nature of their names, they thrive for humanity to prosper. What is the author trying to tell?
17. The Heavenly Smite
Among the 16 races in No Game No Life, Artosh is an Old Dues that created Flügels, the sixth strongest race in Disboard. The Flügels played a major role in the No Game No Life movie: Zero. Flügels used a movie called Heavenly Smite or Heavenly Strike in the movie and was referenced in the anime in episode 10 of No Game No Life season 1.
The Heavenly Smite is the strongest move a Flügel can use, a destructive blast strong enough to destroy cities, mountains, and even countries. But, just like most overpowered moves in anime, Flügels, too, have their fair share of drawbacks. When they use Heavenly Smite, their body gets regressed into a child-like form due to energy loss.
18. The Voice That Started It All
Like how Dragon Ball Z is considered the father of shōnen series, it’s only fair if other anime genres, too, have a representative series that defines their genre. Likewise, Berserk is commonly known as the father of Seinen.
The Japanese voice actor of Sora from No Game No Life is Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, the same voice actor that voiced Kirito from Sword art online, a series that revolutionized Isekai when season 1 aired. Making it the unofficial father of isekai.
Matsuoka also voiced some other recognizable characters like Izumi Masamune(Eromanga Sensei), Soma Yukihira(Food Wars), Bell Cranel(DanMachi), and surprisingly Riku Dola from No Game No Life movie: Zero, the two main characters from the same series sharing the same voice actor, coincidence?
19. A Ghibli Movie Reference
Laputa: Castle In The Sky is a popular Ghibli movie with an engaging story that revolves around Sheeta and Pazu on a journey to explore a floating castle while being chased by goons looking for some treasure. It was the most surprising moment when the movie that was lost to time was referenced out of the blue in episode 5 of No Game No Life season 1.
In the episode, as an addition to detail, Sora and Shiro magically change their attire to match Sheeta and Pazu when Avant Heim (a phantasma) appears, which resembles Laputa, the floating city. “BALSE” is an enchanting spell that is used in the movie to destroy the floating castle, but when Sora & Shiro chant “BALSE” as a joke to destroy Avant Heim, for obvious reasons, it doesn’t work.
20. No Game No Life Desu!
Many fans know the state of The No Game No Life light novel is pretty good, but the same can’t be said about the anime & the manga for the series. With season 2 not in sight and the slow production of the manga, fans are left with nothing to look forward to.
However, many fans may not know Yuu Kamiya has illustrated a manga series called No Game No Life Desu! or No Game No Life Please!, a spin-off version of the original series following Izuna Hatsuse. The story takes place between the events of volume 8 and volume 9 of the light novel series, which features a lot of reoccurring characters and some fanservice. A good read for someone craving more No Game No Life lore