No Game No Life (ノーゲーム・ノーライフ in Japanese, also often abbreviated as NGNL) is a light novel series by Yuu Kamiya, following the genius gamer siblings Sora and Shiro as they miraculously deduce, calculate, and play their way to victory in one impossible game after another.
The light novel series published by Media Factory (MF Bunko J) began serialization in April 2012, and a 12-episode TV anime adaptation produced by Madhouse aired between April and June 2014. The series is listed under multiple genres including Game, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, and Supernatural, and is targeted at a Seinen (adolescent and adult) audience.
Shut-in siblings Sora and Shiro are good for nothing - except games. On the internet they are known as “Kuuhaku” (or “Blank”) - a mysterious group of legendary gamers who have never lost a single match. When it comes to games, Kuuhaku are unbeatable. The one game they dislike, however, is reality; for life has no meaning, no logic, no clear rules to follow, or method to win.
Their lives change when the God of Games, Tet, summons them to his world, Disboard - a world where all conflicts, from petty squabbles to the fate of entire countries, are determined by games. In a world where genius gamers Sora and Shiro can make full use of their potential, they quickly discover the ultimate goal of life in Disboard and show their wits in game after impossible game on their way to victory. By conquering the entire world of Disboard one country and game at a time, and ultimately defeating the God of Games himself, that is.
Main Characters, Relationships and Settings
Siblings not related by blood, Sora (voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) and Shiro (voiced by Ai Kayano) are a pair of genius gamers who game together under the handle name “Kuuhaku.” Kuuhaku has never lost a single match, and their true identity remains unknown, and so rumours of them spread and enlarged to the point that Kuuhaku had become an urban legend. Their alias Kuuhaku is actually a play on their names, as the kanji for Sora (空) and Shiro (白) put together is read as Kuuhaku (空白), meaning “blank.”
"The two of us, Sora and Shiro, form Blank together. Let’s see if there’s somebody who can beat us." – Sora (Episode 1)
In the first episode of the anime series, the older brother Sora is introduced as an 18 year old virgin and NEET, while the younger sister Shiro is an 11 year old NEET and hikikomori (shut-in), both of whom are unbelievably good at games. Sora is talented at “cold readings,” observing the opponent, their behavior, and deducing their play, while Shiro is a genius at numbers and logic and can beat any calculation-based game. However, both are also socially inept and refuse to attend school, preferring instead to devote their lives to gaming day and night inside their room. They are only comfortable, confident, and unbeatable when together, but once separated they break down and are no longer able to function normally.
Upon arriving in Disboard, the first ally that Sora and Shiro gain is Stephanie Dola (voiced by Yoko Hikasa), granddaughter of the former King of Elkia, a land inhabited by Imanity (a race similar to humanity). At the beginning of the series, Imanity finds itself in a dire position, with all but one of its territories lost. Amongst the Exceed (the 16 races of Disboard), Imanity is the weakest in strength and affinity to magic, leaving intelligence and wit their only weapon. Stephanie Dola (also known as Steph), while a graduate of the top academy in the land and genuinely passionate about saving her people, still lacks in the intelligence to do so. Sora and Shiro, with unwavering faith in the potential of humankind and the intelligence and courage to prove it, ally with Steph and take this task into their own hands.
When Sora and Shiro first arrive in Disboard, a gambling competition is underway, through which the next King of Elkia is to be decided. The winner of the gambling competition is Kurami Zell (voiced by Yuka Iguchi), who cheated her way to the throne with the help of the elf Fil Nilvalen (voiced by Mamiko Noto). While Kurami and Fil seized the throne also with the intention of rescuing Imanity, Sora disapproves of their methods, because Kurami belittles humanity by believing that they cannot succeed on their own without the help of other races. At the coronation, Sora and Shiro express their objections to Kurami’s coronation, and challenge her to a game, through which they win the throne from her and thus become the new rulers of Elkia.
Other characters include Jibril (voiced by Yukari Tamura), a flügel with a bottomless appetite for knowledge, and Izuna Hatsuse (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro), an 8-year-old child and ambassador of the Werebeast race, and more.
*NEET, or N.E.E.T., stands for "Not in Education, Employment, or Training," and commonly refers to a young person who does not go to school or work and lounges about at home instead.