Review: No Game No Life DVD

Release Date
29th February 2016 (CE) 28th March 2016 (BD, DVD)
Format
Double Play CE / Blu-ray / DVD
Studio / Publisher
Madhouse / MVM Entertainment
Certificate
15
Language / Subtitles
English, Japanese / English
Episodes
1-12
Discs
7 (CE), 2 (BD), 2 (DVD)
Run Time
300 Minutes

Given all the praise surrounding No Game No Life, I’ll admit that I wasn’t as impressed upon my first viewing of the series. I liked what I had seen but not to the level that others clearly had. Upon second viewing I still feel the series isn’t as great as it’s made out to be but certainly a very enjoyable and entertaining series.

Based on the light novel series of the same name, by Yuu Kamiya, No Game No Life was certainly a big hit with fans when it first aired during the spring 2014 anime season. Its arrival in the UK has been hotly awaited since then and we now get three different versions from MVM Entertainment. A 7-disc Collector’s Edition, featuring Blu-ray, DVD and a three-disc CD soundtrack, and of course standard Blu-ray and DVD sets that will be released at the end of March.

“On the internet, they’re legends: the tag-team duo known as BLANK, famed for their incredible game-playing skills. In the real world, however, the lives of 18 year old Sora and his 11 year old stepsister Shiro have been spiralling out of control. Now existing as shut-ins, they rarely leave their house and are unable to be separated without suffering panic attacks. Games, for them, are the safest retreat from reality. Until they win a chess match against a mysterious opponent known as Tet and find themselves pulled into a game bigger than any they could have ever imagined. Now, in a world where the outcome of games determines the fates of both civilizations and species, they must defend Humanity in the ultimate challenge, vying against a host of otherworldly competitors for the right to rule them all! But if they fail, it means slavery or destruction for all mankind. No pressure, of course! Can two misfits who can barely handle their own lives somehow rise to the occasion and save the human race?” – MVM Entertainment

The concept for No Game No Life is very interesting, there’s no doubt about it, and while the series as a whole is good it does miss the mark on a few occasions. The first half of the series can be a mixed bag in terms of story quality per episode. Some episodes I enjoyed a lot while others I found to be rather weak. The second half of the series is easily the strongest, with a great storyline weaving through multiple episodes; it ended on a high note. Upon arriving at the finale, however, it’s clear that the story is far from finished and being adapted from a currently on-going light novel series this was always going to be the case. However, we have yet to see a second season released during the two years it took to get to the UK. Hopefully, we will see a continuation as the finale seems too played out with that in mind and you’ll definitely want more when you reach the end. Thankfully, Yen Press have been releasing the light novel series in English.

It has to be noted that the series does contain a rather large helping of fan service, much to some fans’ delight I’m sure. To those that dislike fan service, like myself, I’d say while it’s hard to ignore in its entirety it’s not all that the series has to offer. The story is good enough that you should try out the series, just be wary of the fan service. If there’s one thing that NGNL does well though, it’s the countless references to classic anime characters of the past and present that never fail to bring a smile to your face.

Animated by Madhouse, the series features some high-quality animation with a large emphasis on bright and vibrant colours, especially pink and purple. Character designs are nice, as is the world that has been created. With such an imaginative setting I’m glad a studio such as Madhouse are involved they always have my confidence that they will do right by the visuals.

This release of NGNL comes with a huge selection of extras including standard Japanese Commercials, Promos, Clean Opening and Ending Animation and a selection of trailers. The No Game No Life shorts are included as are six commentary episodes, interestingly though these feature the Japanese voice cast and not the English cast. The commentary episodes also don’t play out like your average commentary, they’re actually done in character which is a nice change and gives them a lot more reason to be checked out.

With the number of awesome extras available on this release it does appear that the overall visual quality on the DVD version has suffered slightly. Given that it is DVD however I’d say this is kind of forgivable due to it only being standard definition anyway but it wouldn’t have hurt to spread the DVD version across three discs. The Blu-ray version should not suffer the same fate given its higher storage capacity and lack of PAL conversion.

Verdict
No Game No Life already has a large following since its original airing in Japan and now it’s finally available to fans in the UK thanks to MVM Entertainment. The series itself certainly ended very strong; while it may have stumbled along the way, there’s no doubt that it all came together by the end and showcased a great finale. With three different editions available you’ll be spoilt for choice but whichever one you pick, you’ll be in for a treat.
7.5
GOOD