It’s finally here. On Wednesday, Oct. 4 and Thursday, Oct. 5 at the AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 theater, the thing all of us had been waiting for — or, at least, the good few of us had. With the popularity of anime and Asian culture seeming to rise here in the United States, it would be a surprise to me if the announcement of the film “No Game No Life: Zero” didn’t strike a few chords.
Anime can be viewed by native English speakers in two ways: dub, which is when English voice actors speak in English and voice over the original Japanese, and sub, which is when the Japanese voice actors remain but there are English subtitles. For many dedicated anime fans, subs are the only way to go, as it pulls the viewer closer to the raw Japanese experience, so my friends and I made sure to book sub viewing.
Though there are some nods to the original anime show itself — the movie starts by introducing Tat and Izana, two key characters from the show — the storyline is based on the history behind the world of “No Game No Life.” We are introduced to Riku, the main protagonist of the story and the leader of the surviving human race. His story takes place during the Great War, long before Sora and Shiro (the main characters from the original anime) come to the world. During this time, all the races are fighting in order to achieve the status as god over all the others. Unlike the other races — Ex Machina, which is an army of droids, dwarves, elves and so many more — the human race (known in the anime as Imanity) has no notable source of power. In order to survive, Imanity hides deep underground, rarely daring to break the surface.
Riku, the leader of the Imanity colony, winds up meeting Schwi. Schwi is a rogue Ex Machina, rejected from her people because of her uncalculated obsession with understanding the human heart. Together, they lead the viewers on an adventure to save the human race.
Something that I have always appreciated about “No Game No Life” is the art style. The colorization techniques and fluid movements are extraordinary, and rarely encountered in anime. It relies less on hard lines and detail and more on soft, vibrant colors, making it a beautiful experience to see on the big screen.
In contrast to the original anime, it was also quite refreshing to see a new take on a lead character in the movie’s version, as the original main characters had not yet existed at the time this movie took place. Sora, the show’s protagonist, is a comical character and is based more on a humorous presentation alongside his quiet, solemn, yet undoubtedly adorable stepsister, Shiro. When we are introduced to the movie’s protagonist Riku, our first impression is the complete opposite; he is a cold, almost broken character, who took the burden of leader and let it turn him into nothing but a vessel whose sole purpose is to survive. After some time with Schwi, however, Riku begins to open up and show some qualities more similar to that of Sora.
The movie was, overall, an amazing watch. I was thrilled to see how many people went to see the movie. The place was packed with high school to college-aged students, and surrounded by their friends, each of them equally stoked to see anime on the big screen. The available time window for viewing the movie is short, as it is for all anime movies — the “Sword Art Online” movie was out for only a day, and “Your Name” was also out for a short while. With the rising popularity of anime in America, the theater industry should definitely consider extending that short, usually one or two week window to watch anime, as it will likely be a huge financial gain. Fans of “No Game No Life,” and fans of anime in general, are definitely enthusiastic when it comes to new releases. And, like every other fan there, I’m secretly hoping that this new movie means what every anime nerd loves to hear: a new season.