Anime

Review: No Game No Life Episode 12: Dire Expectations and the Flip of a Coin

Quick Summary

In No Game No Life episode 12, “Rule Number 10,” Shiro and Sora were expecting Izuna Hatsuse to power up, but not to the extent that she had. Izuna seemed to move faster than the laws of physics, even the physics within the game, would allow. Sora even had to kick off his shoes to intercept a shot from Izuna! But her speed and ferocity finally seemed to overwhelm them. She banked a shot off of Sora’s defense to hit Shiro, and another shot hit Sora. As they went down, Ino Hatsuse began to celebrate. Had Imanity actually lost? Did Izuna’s Blood Destruction really overwhelm them? It’s hard to see how both Shiro and Sora going down is part of their plan…

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Well, That Was Unexpected…

Even the insanely fast Shiro was completely unable to keep up with Izuna’s moves. And Sora? He was wheezing and gasping more than I do walking up 10 flights of stairs. Okay, 2 flights of stairs… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

To file under you sometimes get more than you bargained for…

At the end of the previous episode, Izuna went full beast mode. In this episode, we learned what it’s called: “Blood Destruction.” It lets her go well beyond her normal abilities. Turns out among the Warbeasts, she’s one of the few who can invoke that mode. Sora was freaked out.

“I predicted this to a certain extent, but I never expected all this,” he said (02:18).

Knowing how much thought and preparation Shiro and Sora both put into their pre-game, and knowing how many contingencies they thought through, it was refreshing to see that even they could be taken by surprise. Makes me feel a little bit better when technology fails me — for the 10th time in as many minutes — despite me trying to have contingencies in place!

Moment 2: Stephanie to the Unwitting Rescue

There’s cutting it close, then there’s what these two just did! I have to believe that even Blank felt like this was a near disaster! But maybe that’s just how it is in their world… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Izuna’s speed and strength and ferocity were so overwhelming that it only took her a moment to shoot both Shiro and Sora with her love-love gun. The two lay on the ground, hopelessly in love with Izuna.

Izuna’s ability seemed to put an enormous strain on her small frame. She seemed to be in agony as she returned to normal. But then, elation replaced the pain. She looked at the fallen figures of her foes (little hearts still silently rising from their bodies) and could hardly believe it.

“I did it!” she said joyously (03:42).

She was completely unprepared for the single shot that hit her in the middle of the back.

There was silence in the arena where Imanity and the Warbeasts watched. There was silence in the game.

As Izuna fell, we could see who fired the shot. At first, what I saw didn’t make sense. Then I realized it was Stephanie, wearing only her underwear, riding piggyback on a Non-Player Character (NPC). She asked Sora her her shot was okay, because her eyes were closed.

There’s something sadly funny about Stephanie’s best shot being taken with her eyes closed. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Released from Izuna’s shot since she was now their party’s love slave, Shiro and Sora regained consciousness.

“Looks like it worked, ” Shiro said (04:08).

They had a complex explanation for how it happened, and it seems to check out (to the extent I could follow it, even after rewatching it a few times). But what I really liked about it was that Stephanie was the one who saved their collective bacon. Plus, Sora took advantage of the moment to announce how Ino had been cheating, in part by listening to their heartbeats, so he could tell Izuna where they were. And they took advantage of it!

That’s vintage No Game No Life, that is!

Moment 3: Animal Girl Paradise Preserved!

Was Sora interested in exerting his authority as ruler to deprive the Warbeasts of their rights? No, he’d much prefer to preserve his “animal girl paradise.” How much better would the world be if… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Miko, the Shrine Priestess who seemed to rule the Eastern Federation, was of course devastated at Izuna’s loss. I give her full credit for not blaming Izuna or Ino for the situation. She was the epitome of grace and refinement; of culture and gentility.

Until she let her facade slip to make a point.

She was overseeing what she thought was the last days of her people. She thought that with Blank’s victory came destitution. She thought that with the secret of their game now known to the Elves, it was only a matter of a very, very short time before the Elves and the Flügel and the others destroyed the Eastern Federation. And before that, she wanted revenge.

She let her anger show just for a second as she explosively closed the twenty or so meters between herself and Sora.

Sora accepted her challenge. He chose the game: a coin toss. If Elkia won, they get the continent and several islands; if the Eastern Federation won, they get self-rule and protections.

Want an example of a strong female character? Look no farther. Miko is amazing. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In what was almost enough to make me select it as my third favorite moment, Sora noted that Miko, despite all her talk of revenge, was honestly trying to be a good leader. She was trying to make sure that her people were protected in the face of what she saw as a catastrophic loss.

Sora flipped the coin. Not surprisingly, Miko, the Shrine Priestess, had Blood Destruction. She calculated how the coin would land and called tails. But Sora was ready for her. He kicked the paving stones so they caught the coin on its edge.

Sora pretended — badly — to be astonished. Izuna giggled, which was a sound that was so pure and happy that it could likely cure the common cold. Between herself, Ino, and Miko, Izuna best understood what Sora was trying to do. He would never have enslaved Miko’s people. He would not let Elven Garde destroy them. The effect of the coin toss was that they both won. The Warbeasts maintained the protections accorded to any of the Exceed, while they came under the rule and protection of Elkia.

Ino couldn’t believe it. He came out and asked, almost as a challenge, if Blank had intended to destroy the Warbeasts. Izuna giggled again and said (16:47), “That’s totally wrong!”

“Why would I destroy my animal girl paradise?” Sora asked. Miko wasn’t placated, though. She understood how thoroughly she’d been played — to her benefit, which was surprising to her — but she still expected Elkia and the Warbeasts to fall before the might of the Elves. It was only when Sora explained how he’d manipulated Fil Nilvaren’s memories to delude the elves that she relented. That was the moment Miko began to understand just who she had “lost” to. And her apprehension evaporated.

Thoughts

At first, it didn’t even occur to Miko that Shiro and Sora would treat the Warbeasts any more gently than she would have treated Elkia, if she’d “overthrown” them. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Miko was a wise leader. She wanted her people to prosper, and she protected the video game’s secrets so that she could hold the more powerful Exceed, like the Flügel and the Elves, at bay. She was terrified that they would learn the secret, and in doing so, devastate her people. She expected that mindset from Shiro and Sora.

She was amazed to the point of incredulity when she learned the truth.

A world where the currency of interaction wasn’t power? A world where the currency of interaction was other than a zero sum game?

I lose so you win — or I win so you lose?

That’s an ancient model. It’s engraved in our DNA. It drives so many of our decisions. And it’s dangerously, horrifyingly, irrelevant in our time. We could act like it’s extinct, if we just exert our wills.

Miko was in the right mental place for her people. She wanted them to thrive. But in terms of how she saw the rest of the world, she was an evolutionary amoeba. Not that it was all her fault… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

We live in a world of plenty. Even in the age of a pandemic, my concern isn’t where will I find my next drink of water. Despite people buying bottled water by the ton, the municipal and rural water supplies will be among the last things to fail. It’s wildly unlikely the pandemic will touch them.

We live in a world where a single man, Jeff Bezos, is worth around 150 billion dollars. If he liquidated his assets (and got the current market price for his stocks), he could pay cash for 600,000 decent homes in the United States at $250,000.00 each. Or he could pay the health insurance premiums (in the United States — those of you in more developed nations already collectively handle that) for 5 million people for a year.

Our problem isn’t resources. It our mindsets. Too many people still think in terms of a zero sum game. Look at the current US administration. The very idea that the can make international deals where everyone benefits is unfathomable. That same mindset seems prevalent in business leadership across the globe.

I’ve always loved the open source software movement. I still mourn the loss of Sun Microsystems! I bring this up because a lot of people in that movement get it. They see the value of putting effort into things that benefit everyone. Because when you make the cost of entry to advanced operating systems nearly zero, you enable the next generation of tinkerers to go beyond — to the next set of problems. If you craft the right rewards system — granting fame to top developers, for example — advances come quickly.

“Let’s all have fun and play together!” Can you imagine a world where that was one of the rules? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Compare the innovations in the open source database world to a closed source company like Oracle. Oracle is the poster child for wringing maximum capital out of its customers. Customers must lose for Oracle to win. How much innovation do you see in Oracle 12c? And I say this as someone who greatly respects that database. You see almost none. You didn’t see the huge NoSQL databases like Apache Hadoop and MongoDB come from Oracle. They came from the open source movement.

The trouble is, leadership at Oracle isn’t as wise or as quick to understand as Miko. They still define success in terms of win/lose. The implications go beyond mere commerce. The world’s response to the pandemic was hampered by win/lose concepts like just in time delivery. Its goal is to shave every last penny off supply chain management. Great for saving company money. Not so great for reacting to disasters. And saving lives.

I felt compelled to mention something like that because let’s face it: Asking folks to be nice to one another because it’s healthy doesn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. Making a case to be nice to one another because a huge percentage of us die otherwise is a more compelling case. Not air tight, certainly, but better.

What did you think of Miko’s reaction to Shiro and Sora? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Review: No Game No Life Episode 12: Dire Expectations and the Flip of a Coin

    1. Not soon enough!

      I haven’t even heard any rumors about why a second season hasn’t come out. It was popular enough; there’s enough original material.

      I’d probably preorder the Blu Ray set if they offered it!

      Please tell your friend to share any info!

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