Anime

Review: No Game No Life Episode 8: Betting the Race Piece and an Ultimate Act of Trust

Quick Summary

In No Game No Life episode 8, “Fake End,” Shiro and Sora have decided to take the fight to the Eastern Federation, so they visit the Warbeasts’ embassy along with Stephanie Dola and Jibril. They challenge the Warbeasts to a game. Step by step, they show Ino Hatsuse, the assistant ambassador, and his granddaughter, the ambassador Izuna Hatsuse, that they know the Warbeast’s mind-reading ability is just a myth. What’s more, they reveal that Blank has figured out exactly what the Warbeast’s super secret game is — and that Blank knows exactly and precisely what’s needed to beat it. When Ino shows signs of hesitation, Sora reveals the ultimate lure: Imanity’s race piece. Will that convince the Warbeasts to participate? Will Sora and Shiro’s subjects allow them to bet their race piece — knowing that if they lose, Imanity leaves the rank of the Exceed and become animals with no rights? Finally, why is Sora telling Shiro how much he believes in her — as if he’s about to perish?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Stephanie Can be Taught

Stephanie’s finally adjusting to the change in mental landscape — she’s starting to see the world (albeit dimly) like Shiro and Sora see it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

My first favorite moment almost got lost in Jibril’s joke about the height of the embassy being a compensation for the Warbeasts’ feelings of weakness (no doubt in comparison to the Flügel). As she was laughing at her own joke, Stephanie asked (in a complaining voice) why she had to come along.

Stephanie was all confused, and even as the assistant ambassador Ino greeted them, she kept trying to ask questions — and Sora kept cutting her off. As Ino led the group towards the entrance, Stephanie paused. She wondered how Sora, standing in the Elkian palace, could possibly see Ino, who had been standing half way up the embassy’s tower.

Suddenly, everything seemed to coalesce in her mind. Turning to watch the others walk away, she thought (1:30), “The game’s already begun, hasn’t it?”

Sora and Shiro poke fun at Stephanie, but that doesn’t change the fact she’s a bright young woman. She’s dealing with stakes and strategies and tactics unlike any she’s seen before, so she’s been completely on the mental defensive. But now, finally, in episode 8, she’s starting to catch up.

Moment 2: Sora Schools The Warbeasts on Cold Reading

Not a lot scares me anymore. But the idea of being on the receiving end of this smile makes me slightly apprehensive! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Sora wanted to make a point. He wanted to make the point not only to Ino and Izuna, but also to Jibril and Stephanie (Shiro was already completely clued in). So he started off by making a ridiculous statement: He wanted to play a game with the stakes being Ino’s granddaughter’s panties versus Stephanie’s panties.

Ino was enraged. He actually glowed and emitted a purple red flame.

Sora intentionally dissembled, pretending to misunderstand what Ino was angry about. So he offered Jibril’s panties instead. To her credit, she was ready to peel them off right then and there.

You have to love Jibril’s utter lack of inhibition.

Sora continued to push the misunderstanding until he asked, in a disbelieving voice, if Ino could possible want Sora’s own underwear. Shiro promised to protect her brother’s chastity.

I was greatly relieved when Shiro promised to protect Sora’s chastity. It’s good to have family support! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Still furious, reeling from such ridiculous ideas, Ino said that if Sora wasn’t going to say what he really wanted, then he should leave (08:20).

That’s when it got seriously cool. Sora’s voice became harsh and commanding. He said that if Ino could really read his mind, he would take the bet and play for panties. If not, he should play for the chance to erase Sora’s memory — because he’d figured out the game.

“Cold reading,” he said (08:45). Even better? After saying he himself was an expert, Sora let Ino look him over, then asked if the Warbeast was done using his super sensitive senses to verify Sora wasn’t lying. He’d known exactly what Ino was doing.

In the space of just a few minutes, Sora had put the Warbeasts on notice while at the same time bolstering Jibril and Stephanie’s confidence . I don’t generally like arrogance, but like my grandma (on my mother’s side) used to say, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” And Sora can most decidedly do it (well, in this context; he’s a NEET, after all…).

Moment 3: If You’re Going to Break the fourth Wall…

Sora’s gone — his existence erased even from the ED! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Generally speaking, I don’t like it when shows break the fourth wall. Deadpool is one exception; the American Kitsune series by Brandon Varnell is another. In cases other than these, the practice can come off as a gimmick that cheapens the narrative.

As far as I’m concerned, in this episode, No Game No Life set the standard for how to break the fourth wall. And truth be told, I don’t know how anyone will top it.

Toward the end of this episode, as Shiro, Sora, Jibril, and Stephanie were hanging out in their throne room waiting for the Eastern Federation’s answer, Sora started talking to someone in the corner. Someone no one else could see. They were all a bit confused. When Sora starting telling Shiro how much he believed in her, she — along with me! — started to feel alarmed. Why was he talking like he was about to die?

Then he turned and began to walk away. Shiro grabbed for his shirt. Her hand closed on empty air (21:04).

Shiro’s fingers closed on air. Sora was just gone. And Shiro was all alone. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

All while Sora was talking to the unseen entity, I could hear and see random video or audio glitches. When I first watched this episode, I thought that Crunchyroll was having problems. But then the ED started, and it became clear.

Wonderfully, delightfully clear.

You know how the ED is usually this uplifting glimpse into the first time Shiro and Sora met? Well, this time, the video glitches followed us into the ED. And Sora was gone. As in completely erased from the ED.

If you’re going to break the fourth wall, grabbing the viewer by the shirt and pulling them face first into the world is a great way to do it. As I watched it, I had this amazing feeling of disorientation, as if the show really was infringing on my reality. The ED doesn’t react to the show. Sure, the scenes can change, but for it to be an extension of those scenes? That’s cool. Not only that, but the glitches began to feel like the two realities were fighting each other for supremacy. Okay, maybe I’ve read too much science fiction (as if that’s possible!), but that’s the way it seemed to me.

I felt chills at the way they ended the ED — with the singer’s voice trailing off and echoing. These kinds of moments are why I watch anime. They’re why I started this site, and I’m glad I can share them with you!

Thoughts

Seeing Shiro huddled and shivering in the corner of the bed (22:58), begging Sora to come out, was just heart-breaking. “Don’t leave me alone,” she sobbed.

One measure of how successful a series has been at character building is how the viewers react when the characters are hurting. I just wanted to give her a sustaining hug. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I came across a fascinating idea in the Reddit threat (see Other Anime Sites, below). I haven’t read any of the light novel series, so I have no idea if this idea is right or not. But I thought it might be interesting to you.

You know how Imanity reacted when Sora and Shiro bet the race piece? They freaked out. They were terrified and furious. Stephanie found the move horrifying. Jibril interpreted it as a bold attempt to slay their enemies. Shiro and Sora were both surprised.

“Wait,” Sora said (18:53). “You mean you guys haven’t figured it out?”

“The way to beat this world,” Shiro added.

At Stephanie and Jibril’s mutual confusion, Sora said he wasn’t surprised god was bored. No matter how many times I watched this, I couldn’t figure out what he meant. In my defense, Sora and Shiro’s verbal rapid fire attack on Ino earlier in the episode was so amazing that I was temporarily blinded; then that ending washed everything else from my mind. But the question remained.

Shiro and Sora finally figured out why Tet was so bored. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

User TopicCreator floated the idea here in the Reddit thread. The post uses colorful language that I don’t generally use on my site. It’s not that I have anything against it; it’s that some language just doesn’t support the vibe I’m going for here. The post said something along the lines that the poster had finally figured out what the race pieces were for. Each race’s race piece was a rook, a knight, or other piece from chess. Shiro and Sora should capture all of them!

Reddit user 5il3nc3r added something that put it all together. “Tet already has his own 16, and the other races have one piece each. Whoever defeats them all will earn the right to challenge Tet to a game of chess.”

Is that what Shiro and Sora have figured out? That the whole world isn’t just governed by games. The world itself is the game, with the end goal being to assemble a chess set to take on Tet.

See, this is why I love re-watching a beloved series with a goal of reviewing it. Not only do I catch things I didn’t the first dozen or so times I watched it. I get to discover other perspectives I never knew existed. Sure, maybe I should have been able to figure it out. But I’ll point out that the god killing Flügel hadn’t figured it out, either, so I don’t feel so bad.

What did you think of the reality distortion at the end? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Review: No Game No Life Episode 8: Betting the Race Piece and an Ultimate Act of Trust

    1. It really was — and a little more complex than previous games. I’m looking forward to how it plays out in the next episode!

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