No Game No Life, Vol. 8

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

It’s a No Game No Life volume, so you sort of know what you’re going to get by now. A lot of faffing around and being stupid and/or appalling while Steph (and the reader) tries to figure out what Sora and Shiro are thinking. Sora being reprehensibly perverted, and honestly I think him being a cowardly virgin deep down makes it MORE annoying. The fact that this is a writer who writes awkward prose in Japanese being translated awkwardly into English, meaning sometimes you have to go reread the previous paragraph to figure out what was just said. In amongst this, however, there are the usual good things lurking near the bottom, including a good discussion of war games vs. actual war, and the “villain” of the book, whose road towards becoming more emotional in her constant inquisitiveness is a good one in the end. And Steph. Steph is always good, though you have to put up with her being constantly belittled by everyone in the world.

We pick up where we left off last time, with Sora and Shiro (and Steph) being forced to replicate the last War and understand how it was resolved. This is, of course, impossible, mostly as, despite the obvious attempts by the narrator to make us think it in Book 6, Sora and Shiro are not Riku and Schwi, nor can they be. More to the point, as Sora point out, there’s a big difference between a game of war and war in reality: a game ends. When you “win” in war, you have to think about what happens next, unlike your typical game of Axis and Allies. Moreover, while this is going on on Old Deus’ gaming board, the remaining players are all trying to betray each other in the real world, which doesn’t go well. For anyone. And then there’s the matter of the traitor who was mentioned before, which is actually one of the subplots I felt was handled quite well.

In any case, by the end of the book we have what appears to be a new regular, and we also have some old “friends”, Chlammy and Fiel, who are also going to be hanging around now that Sora has, in effect, ruined their lives. Steph helped, and possibly my favorite moment in the book was when she looked away guiltily – but not that guiltily. Steph may dislike Sora’s perversions – I do as well – but she gets how he thinks, and was the first to point out a major aspect of [ ]’s gaming strategy, as well as Tet’s, which is to have fun. A lesson that everyone else in the cast, as well as many “serious” gamers in real life, could use. Of course, now that we’ve resolved this plot another is coming, as we appear to be gearing up for another invasion by …German robots?

As ever, No Game No Life remains intensely frustrating and annoying (everything about the elves in the war game was appalling and awful, and I don’t care that it was deliberately so), and it’s genuinely difficult to read at times. But there are moments when you can see the talent of the author shine though, and they’re excellent. Mildly recommended.

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