Anime

Review: No Game No Life Episode 7: Despair Does Not Become Him and the King’s Biggest Gamble

Quick Summary

In No Game No Life episode 7, “Sacrifice,” Jibril was doing more than just tolerating her new masters Shiro and Sora. She seemed to positively relish in their antics — though she really didn’t think much of any other humans like Stephanie Dola. Expecting deep insights into the War Beasts’ gaming skills, Sora asked Jibril for a complete debrief. He was shocked to learn she’d lost to the Eastern Federation — and had her memories of that loss erased! That was their last hope. Sora knew of no other source of information. Since the games were won with information, there was no path to victory. Can Shiro lift Sora out of his despair? Will Stephanie forgive him for how he spoke of her grandfather? And just how many times did her grandfather lose to the Eastern Federation — costing how much land?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Sora’s Mean When He Despairs

I tell you what — Sora is mean when he falls into despair. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

For the first six episodes — especially the sixth! — we’ve seen how intelligent and relentless Blank can be. That especially goes for Sora who’s had the lion’s share of the action so far. At least, he’s had the most obvious contributions. He’s based almost every move on a single principle: Know everything before the game even starts.

So. What happens if that seems impossible?

Stephanie brought a plate of donuts to the library as a treat for Blank. He and Shiro were interrogating Jibril. Sora had thought that by gaining access to both the library and Jibril, he’d learn everything he needed to begin his campaign against the Eastern Federation. instead, he learned several unwelcome facts in rapid succession. First, he found out that a representative from the Eastern Federation had defeated even Jibril. Second, he learned that a consequence of her loss is that all memory of the event had been erased, depriving him of insights into the game. Then he learned that no one had beaten the Eastern Federation — even the Elves, who lost multiple times. In fact, only a single country had been foolish enough to challenge the Warbeasts in recent times, and that country was Elkia.

With his plan in ruins and all no obvious prospects to resurrect it, Sora’s spirits crashed. His empathy crashed with his spirits. He began saying how terrible and foolish the previous king was, right in front of Stephanie. When she tried to protest, he said (10:46), “He threw away half the country’s territory for no reason! How am I supposed to defend that?” As tears welled up in Stephanie’s eyes, Sora pressed on, explaining just why the king’s decision had been so stupid. As she pressed her defense, Sora escalated, finally saying, “Humanity’s past saving, seriously. Every last one of them.”

One of the problems with despair (and there are many) is that it can blind you to the spiritual and psychological shrapnel you’re producing. And sometimes you hit a dear heart like Stephanie. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The resulting silence was so loud he actually heard her tears hit the table. What started out as her demands that he stop insulting her grandfather and his beliefs degenerated into a plea. Weeping uncontrollably, she ran from the room.

Sora knew he’d screwed up. Shiro told him as much, and his self-defense was less than half hearted. Shiro handed him one of the donuts Stephanie had baked. His admission that they were delicious seemed to aggravate his conscience. In fact, I almost think the plate of donuts was judging him, if a plate of donuts can do such a thing. I admire a show that can give us such authentic characters, especially in a fantasy setting like this one.

Moment 2: Sora’s Abiding Belief

Despite all of his scorn for what he perceived as the king’s foolishness; despite all of the judgement and scorn he endured on Earth; Sora still had a core, unshakable belief. He shared that belief with Jibril. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Even in despair, the engine at the core of Sora’s mind didn’t stop. Or maybe the guilt of hurting Stephanie’s feelings goaded him on! Either way, he couldn’t drop the question of why the King of Elkia had challenged the Eastern Federation eight times. Then it hit him. It wasn’t that the king had tried eight times and had given up. It’s that he quit after eight times — because he’d achieved his goal (14:59). That kind of moment is awesome, and I almost chose it for my second favorite. But it was merely the setup.

Jibril thought he was giving an Imanity too much credit — that most weren’t like him and Shiro. This is where it got interesting. He explained to her that he knew of times when some people were like him, and there was no boasting or playfulness in his tone. He was somber. He said, “…most of the time, they’re misunderstood” (15:23), and I realized he had begun to feel a kinship to the king. He had come to see the king’s intelligence set him apart from everyone else. And those “everyone else” looked down on him and jeered. While all the while he labored on their behalf, thankless and alone.

That awareness seemed to buoy Sora. In a neutral tone, he explained to Jibril that he didn’t believe in humanity at all. He said that humans were all stupid creatures, himself included. Jibril was astonished.

Jibril couldn’t believe her ears. Did Sora really just say that he thought all humans — even himself — were stupid? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In this and in my first favorite moment, I could really see the effects our society had on Sora. It had clouded his view of himself, because let’s face it. I don’t care how independent you are, I don’t care how strong of a will you have. The vocabulary we use to describe ourselves is based on our culture. Even if we learn a new culture and gain a new perspective on ourselves, it’s tough to shake that initial formation. I’m not saying it’s impossible to ignore peer pressure or judgmental neighbors or co-workers. I’m saying it’s very, very hard. And it can hurt.

That’s why Sora’s next statement hit me right in the feels. After expounding on why he had no faith or believe in humanity, he told Jibril (16:07), “But I believe I the potential of humanity.”

Is that a statement of hope? Conviction? Whatever it was, I think in modern marketing parlance we’d call that a call to action! I love inspirational stuff like that, when it fits perfectly with the narrative.

Moment 3: Sora’s Genius Role Model

Jibril seemed to get what Sora was saying. Or, at least she was enjoying the experience of seeing the world from his perspective. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This episode is a lot like the previous six episodes in that I had a heck of a time choosing only 3 moments. My third moment, in fact, comes right on the heels of the second.

Back in my review of the second episode, I said how much I liked Shiro and Sora’s relationship. He’s no siscon; she’s no brocon. Sora proved it again in my third favorite moment, and, as is often the case with No Game No Life, he couldn’t just come out and say it. He had to add an interesting twist.

Just as he finished saying he believed in the potential of humanity, he knelt beside the sleeping Shiro and said (16:11), “She’s my proof.” As he stroked her hair, he told Jibril how Shiro was one of those people who were the real thing: wildly intelligent, talented, creative, and dauntless. He spoke to Jibril of the first time he met Shiro, back when she was three. She hit him with such an insightful insult that he couldn’t help but be elated. He had finally met someone he thought was exceptional.

Sora was almost embarrassingly candid about how much he looked up to Shiro. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Then he said that he knew it was impossible, but he wanted to be like her (17:00). I was momentarily taken aback. He and Shiro are the two halves of Blank. Did he really see her as someone who he not only wanted to emulate, but didn’t feel like he was capable of doing so?

That’s exactly what he thought, because he added (17:20), “It’s our job as normal people to ensure that the potential of those misunderstood ones is realized.”

He may be scarily good compared to the foes he’s defeated so far. But Sora sees himself as Shiro’s “normal” protector to her exceptional-ness. It wasn’t like he was depressed or envious. He wanted her to excel, and he wanted to help. From the perspective of Sora’s character development alone, this episode was a treat.

Funny side note: Remember very early in the episode where Jibril wants to wash Shiro’s back, and Sora warns her that Jibril’s very existence is 18+? Shiro takes such effective command of Jibril that Sora is wildly impressed. So much so that he’s in tears. According to the sub, the Japanese writing on the following image reads, “Your brother is very impressed! I wanna be like you!” In other words, it foreshadowed this moment, but in a comedic form.

I had no idea such a comedic moment foreshadowed Sora’s dedication to Shiro. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Like the Soundtrack?

You can get it from CD Japan!

Thoughts

The first several times I watched this episode, the three favorite moments were so emotionally powerful that it was hard for me to see anything else. But as is often the case, when I watch a series to review it, I saw stuff I didn’t see before. What did I see in this episode? I saw just how powerful was Jibril’s motivation to learn and understand new things.

We had a hint of that in the previous episode. Her expression when she learned she had lost to Blank was serenely joyful. That was when she thought they were “simply” more intelligent than she had expected. When she learned they were going to take on Tet Himself, she was blown away.

Jibril showed us on several occasions how intensely interested she was in Shiro and Sora. From her obscene desire to wash Shiro’s back to Jibril generally enjoying everything around Sora and Shiro (03:38), she made it very clear that a) she found Blank’s antics fascinating and b) that keen interested did not, in any way, shape, or form, extend to any other member of Imanity.

Jibril may be wildly interested in everything Blank. But that didn’t extend to the rest of Imanity. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This is where I think it gets seriously cool. Jibril looks like an athletic, vivacious, and very attractive woman. Sure, she has angel/demon wings, floppy ear-like things, and a spiky halo. But those just add spice.

Her offer to wash Shiro’s back, her suggestion that Stephanie come to the library — these things are all in keeping with a a Flügel who has become domesticated. But like a cat, her domestication is very, very shallow. It doesn’t take much to pierce that layer.

Remember when Jibril flew them to the building that had been an Imanity palace, but which was not under Eastern Federation control? She had used her powers to teleport them a long way. Unable to help himself, Sora wondered out loud how Imanity survived in the old times, when all of the factions were at open war — and the Flügel had been their enemy.

That triggered Jibril’s rapturous memories of combat against giants, dragons, and other races. Her jubilance disturbed all three of the humans. But she wasn’t phased at all. In fact, in the next second, she was back to showing them points of interest, like the old Imanity palace.

Jibril might be bubbly and happy with Shiro and Sora, but she’s still a Flügel. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What’s interesting about this? Jibril is now part of our cast. She’s helping Blank. But she’s not domesticated. She didn’t have to give up her essence to join the cast. She remains a dangerous, exciting, and amazing figure who’s true to her nature. That’s quite a contrast to Zero Two from the closing episodes of Darling in the Franxx. Never thought I’d see Zero Two as a matronly figure. What a disappointment…

But Jibril? Matronly just isn’t in her nature…

Did you like how Sora figured out the king’s plan? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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