In No Game No Life episode 9, “Sky Walk,” Shiro tried to come to terms with a world in which Sora no longer existed. It doesn’t help that neither Stephanie Dola nor Jibril remember Shiro ever having a brother. To Jibril’s credit, she doesn’t assume Shiro is insane. But perhaps worse, she assumes that Shiro had played a game, perhaps against the Eastern Federation, and had lost, with the price being her having false memories. With her own memories of Sora beginning to fade, and with her will to continue fading along with it, can Shiro rally herself to figure out what’s going on? Can she count on Stephanie or Jibril to help? And will Jibril’s idea for Shiro to bet her “false” memories in a game and loose — when Blank never loses — bear fruit?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: Blank Doesn’t Lose!
“Blank doesn’t lose!” Shiro declared in a shrill, cracking voice. Her retreat stopped in that instant. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
It was tough seeing his distraught Shiro felt without Sora. The use of black and white imagery provided a bleak visual presentation of the anguish that was so perfectly portrayed by Shiro’s voice actor, Ai Kayano. As emotionally painful as it was to watch — Shiro’s such a precious soul that I hate to see her in pain! — it made my first favorite moment all the more inspirational.
Jibril came up with a theory that it was Shiro who had had her memories altered, probably as the result of losing a game to the Eastern Federation. That made no sense to Shiro. Blank never lost! Her memories of Sora were disolving, though, and her confidence disolved with them.
Shiro’s very memories of Sora began to fade. She felt like she would lose even that little bit soon. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Jibril challenged her to a game, with the stakes being Shiro’s false memories (i.e., memories of her brother). Jibril asked Shiro to lose so her mind would be clear. As they played a game of chess, Shiro felt more and more clearly that this was wrong. Even still, her hand picked up a piece and began to put it down where it would result in her own King being checkmated.
Shiro had to make the decision — play the piece or not? She paused. Sora was real. This effort to make Blank lose intentionally was wrong. And those two truths superseded everything else.
Crying out loud that (06:21) “Blank doesn’t lose!” she slammed the piece down on a squared where it threatened Jibril’s king. The color that had drained away earlier began to come back. Shiro, by her own force of will, and begun clawing her way back to sanity. That was worth the anguish to see!
Moment 2: A Statement of Utter Confidence
Despite no physical evidence, despite not even being able to see Sora herself, Shiro still believed in him. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Shiro’s declaration started the ball rolling. Her realization that her last clear memories were from the 19th, when today was the 21st, helped Jibril and Stephanie understand that the problem was not in Shiro’s head — they’d all been affected.
Together, the three of them realized that magic alone could not have brought this to pass. Shiro realized that it had to be the result of a game. As she regained her confidence, some of her memories of Sora returned, further strengthening her resolved. She remembered him saying he believed in her and that the two of them were one.
Bolstered by these memories, she said (09:39), “Brother would never leave me alone.”
She could no longer perceive him. No subject in Elkia even remembered him. He was even invisible to Jibril, the god killing Flügel. In spite of all of that, Shiro still believed in Sora. In case you can’t tell, I really like moments of trust and loyalty. Authentic examples are kinda rare!
Moment 3: The Happiest Smile Ever
Can you tell from this shot that Shiro was happy to see Sora? She earned the right to be happy after that ordeal! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
It took Stephanie tripping over something she couldn’t see to show Shiro exactly where the game board was. Once located, Shiro could see three unplayed pieces. Based just on that evidence and her affinity for Sora, she knew. She knew what he had intended. She knew what Sora had planned. She knew what he expected of her and she knew why he played played until only three pieces remained.
“The parts of you that are contained in these last three stones,” Shiro said as she prepared to place the first on the board (18:04). “Three: the way to win the game.” As soon as she played the piece, she could see dozens of other pieces that had been black — their opponent’s color — became visible and flipped to white. The sound effects, by the way, were fantastic.
Shiro realized there were only two people in the world who could figure out what just happened — Sora and herself. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
“Two: your absolute trust in me.” She slapped down another piece, and dozens more discs became visible and flipped to white.
She hugged the last piece close, saying, “And one: everything I am.”
“Come back to me,” she said, playing the last piece. It was like the world had been contained in an Othello board. Pieces flipped and shattered until the false reality melted away, and Sora lay on the ground in front of Shiro. He took in a shuddering breath and looking at her — to see her wearing the happiest smile ever. She looked like she contained too much joy for her small frame, and it was beaming out through her smile. She’d earned it — the ordeal was really hard on her. As we found out later, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Sora, either! But their trust in each other got them through it.
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I have to say that I was wildly relieved to see Sora back in the ED. It was like all was right with the world again.
Also, I have to say that the final scenes, when the sobbing Sora collapsed into Shiro’s arms, just like the sobbing Kurami Zell collapsed into Fil Nilvaren’s embrace, was as cathartic for me as it was for them. It’s great to see Sora calmly and expertly navigating impossible odds, like when he and Shiro went head to head with Jibril back in episode 6. But seeing him finally crumble, even if for a little while, made him so much more human.
The show used a really effective visual motif to represent Shiro’s mental state. Remember near the beginning of this episode, when we got to see the first time Shiro and Sora met? The colors were muted, with the palette being more gray than blue. Shiro saw how Sora was kissing up to the adults, and she quietly chided him for it. But far from being angry, he was intrigued. In fact, he was so intrigued that his eyes took on the color we’re more used to. What’s more, when he gazed into Shiro’s eyes, hers lit up with color, too! That’s when their life together, and their identify as Blank, began.
Back in the “present,” where Shiro was all alone, she fought a losing battle against panic. When she watched her memories of Sora disappearing before her mental eyes, her scream broke my heart — and bled the color from the scene. Everything went black and white to give visual voice to Shiro’s despondency.
Shiro’s despondent scream was heart-breaking! It’s quite a contrast to the second screen capture in my third favorite moment. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The next scenes were emotionally bleak. Sora’s memories continued to fad. Shiro’s confidence ebbed. Jibril and Stephanie tried to help, but even with Stephanie’s intelligence (yes, the young woman is intelligent!) and Jibril’s brilliance, they could barely guess what was going on. Shiro was on her own.
For the first time in a long, long while.
This brings us to my first favorite moment. Shiro was about to make the move that would mean she had intentionally lost. But even as the last vestiges of spirit and character faded from her eyes, she saw a final, silent memory of Sora. She remembered that even if she were alone, she was Blank.
And Blank never lost.
Spreading out in a circle from the chess piece she slammed down — in a winning move — color returned to the entire world. The way No Game No Life used color to tell Shiro’s part of this story was beautiful. Yet another reason to love this series!
What did you think of Sora’s plan? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: [Spoilers] No Game No Life – Episode 9 [Discussion]
- Anime Corps: Review: No Game No Life Ep 9 – Existence
- Chikorita157’s Anime Blog: No Game No Life – Episode 9 – The Fight for Existence and Winning Trust
This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)
- No Game No Life Episode 1: Beginner
- No Game No Life Episode 2: Challenger
- No Game No Life Episode 3: Expert
- No Game No Life Episode 4: Grandmaster
- No Game No Life Episode 5: Weak Square
- No Game No life Episode 6: Interesting
- No Game No Life Episode 7: Sacrifice
- No Game No Life Episode 8: Fake End
- No Game No Life Episode 9: Sky Walk
- No Game No Life Episode 10: Blue Rose
- No Game No Life Episode 11: Killing Giant
- No Game No Life Episode 12: Rules Number 10