No Game No Life Vol. 2

By Yuu Kamiya. Released in Japan by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On.

I am starting to come to terms with No Game No Life. All the problems I had with the first volume are still there, with underage nudity, pointless ecchi fetishes, and another token loli added towards the end. But all the strengths are still there as well, this being a world with two strong lead characters, a fascinating premise, and enough humor that doesn’t revolve around panties that I found myself laughing quite a bit. More to the point, all the questions I had at the end of my first review are actually answered, always a plus for a light novel series. And unlike the first book, this one ends on a nasty, if rather sudden, cliffhanger that will leave you wondering what disaster has befallen Shiro and… um, was there someone else?


The girl staring saucily at us from the cover is Jibril, who is essentially an Angel, and probably the best addition to the cast this volume. She has a lust for knowledge (pretty much literally), a surprisingly vicious streak (the angels used to do mass slaughter till the ‘game board rules’ were enforced, and she misses killing), and a truly flaky personality that leads to the funniest section of the book, where she greets our heroes in broken gratuitous English. (The translation, by the way, gives this as broken gratuitous Japanese, which works, as well as a Kyoto dialect (Southern US) and ‘l33t-speak’ to convey just how silly and irritating Jibril is being.) The shiritori battle which follows is jaw-dropping, once again showing how smart and forward-thinking [ ] are (Here the translator is forced to simply give the Japanese word right after the translation, as it simply can’t be translated).

Stephanie, as you might expect, is mostly used as a figure of humiliation and humor, though she does get a few chances to shine, as she’s basically running the entire country while Sora and Shiro research how to possibly win against any other race. Speaking of which, we’re introduced to the first big challenge, the Werebeasts, who supposedly can read minds and also have animal attributes that make them scary, but to someone like Sora, that means only one thing – cute girls with animal ears and tails. And that’s exactly what he and Shiro get, as they meet the ‘ambassador’ of the Werebeasts, an 8-year-old with a tendency to swear copiously as she’s not used to the human language and doesn’t know better. She’s such a fetish figure that I almost have to shake my head and laugh, but I hope she gets character development later as the others here do.

I said in my first review that I wish the series could just drop the service and get on with it, but I suspect that part of the reason why No Game No Life is so successful is its ability to balance the two sides equally. The game theory is interesting, the plot twists usually surprising and well-thought out, and Sora as a large ham is fun. Shiro has less to do, but she’s far more introverted, and given the cliffhanger, I suspect a lot of Book 3 will have to feature her taking charge. And the fanservice is truly ridiculous (the chance of something pornographic happening, as with most Japanese ecchi series, is below zero), clearly not taking itself seriously – Sora even gives the naked girls Barbie Doll Anatomy at one point. If it weren’t for the fanservice, I’d happily recommend this to anyone. As it is, I recommend it to people who already know the series.

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