Image source: 映画『ノーゲーム・ノーライフ ゼロ』‏ on Twitter

No Game No Life Zero is a prequel set 6000 years before the No Game No Life TV anime. It tells the story of the end of the great war between the 16 races of fantasy world “Disboard” and shows how Tet, the god of games, became the One True God of the world. And while he’s barely in the movie, Tet is by far the most interesting character.

[This article contains major spoilers for No Game No Life Zero.]

We Saw New Anime Film No Game No Life Zero

The framing device of No Game No Life Zero involves Tet playing a game of chess with Izuna—who is clearly unaware of his identity. As they play he tells the young werebeast girl the story of how he won the great war.

Image source: KADOKAWAanime‏ on YouTube

Yet the flashback that comprises the majority of the film is not from Tet’s viewpoint. Rather it focuses on a young man named Riku. Like most humans, Riku was raised in small a town, hoping that his village would be overlooked by the battle between gods and mortals across the planet.

As a child, Riku found solace from the great war in a chess set. He would play against an indistinct translucent shadow of sorts who the young Riku believed to be the “God of Games.”

Of course, all that came to an end the day that Riku’s home was destroyed—leaving him the sole survivor of his family. From that point on, he never played chess like that again, though, in his heart of hearts he continued to believe in the God of Games.

Image source: 映画『ノーゲーム・ノーライフ ゼロ』‏ on Twitter

Much later, at the climax of the film, Riku’s machinations put him within literal arms reach of the artifact needed to become the One True God of Disboard and end the war—only to have his arm evaporate. In despair, Riku prays—prays for someone, anyone to come forth, and take it in his stead. At that moment, Tet appears, and does just that, becoming the One True God and setting forth the 10 pledges that end all violence.

What’s interesting about this is that there are two possible ways of interpreting the story.

Image source: 映画『ノーゲーム・ノーライフ ゼロ』‏ on Twitter

The first is that Tet never really existed before the climax of the film. Riku, a lonely boy, created an imaginary friend to play chess with—the “God of Games.” With the trauma of his childhood and later the stress stemming from the responsibilities of being the leader of his own small town, the innocent childhood memories of his imaginary friend became his personal religion. Surrounded by death on a daily basis, his only hope that he wasn’t alone—that someone was supporting him—came from the belief that the God of Games was out there. Finally, surrounded by the massive magics of the god-creating artifact, Riku’s prayer and belief turned his imaginary friend into a real being capable of taking the power of One True God.

The other possible way of viewing the story is that Tet existed all along—though he was so weak he couldn’t even manifest properly. However, he was able to find one true believer, Riku, and through him, Tet manipulated the entire world war into such a position that he could bring it to an end.

Either way, one fact is clear. Riku believed in his god and his god answered his prayers—recreating the world into what would be a paradise by Riku’s standards.

Image source: 映画『ノーゲーム・ノーライフ ゼロ』‏ on Twitter

But that’s not quite the end of it. In the film, Riku and Shuvi—Riku’s Ex Machina partner—not only look and act much like Sora and Shiro but are voiced by the same actors as well. (This is likewise true for several other character pairs between the TV show and film.) One interpretation of this is that Riku and Shuvi’s souls were reborn in Sora and Shiro. In the six millennia since he took over as God, the races have yet to understand the true meaning of the 10 rules. But he knows that there were two people who would understand; Riku and Shuvi’s god believes in the pair just as much as the pair did in him.

And so now the reborn pair has been brought into the paradise they helped him create to play one last game together. Only this time, they won’t just be playing against the other races, but him as well. Though, if nothing else, in this remade world, the conflict will be a lot more fun.

No Game No Life Zero was released in Japanese theaters on July 15, 2017. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for a North American release.

Comments (2)
  1. I want to see this movie so bad. Wish it would come to Aussie cinemas

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