OWLS Blog Tour July “Mentor” Post: What Sora and Shiro Can Teach Us About the Human Condition
Welcome to second ever OWLS blog post. I’ve only been apart of OWLS for a few weeks now, but it has been great getting to talk to a bunch of like-minded individuals who want to make the world a better place with writing, and I plan on doing just that with this post as well.
As you might have deduced from the title, today I’ll be focusing on two of my favorite characters, Sora and Shiro, and how they manage to bring a sort of hopefulness to the story of No Game No Life.
Before I get started though, a few more things. This month’s theme is Mentor, which you can read about directly below.
Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.
Also, I want to give a shoutout to the last OWLS post of this month, which came from Scott of Mechanical Anime Reviews. You can read his post about Gundam Unicorn here.
And now, without further Ado, my OWLS post for July:
There seems to be no end for the praise that the anime adaptation of Yuu Kamiya’s now famous light novel No Game No Life. Many talk about the story’s main characters, Sora and Shiro, and how there Neet personalities dropped against the very real fantasy world of Disboard makes the show almost like a parody. Others praise its unique color palette and the abundance of purple that ties the world together.
There is, however, one element of the show that does not often get a fair shake: the show’s many ideas about the human condition. Littered throughout the fun and exciting world of endless gaming that makes No Game No Life’s story so unique is a very real and powerful examination of what makes people, people.
The first example of this comes during Sora’s coronation speech during the fourth episode. After having beaten Kurami, who was being supported by an elf, Sora talks about the current condition of Elkia. Sora explains that in the world of Disboard that was created by the one true god Tet, those who previously relied on Brute strength to take down there enemies were now forced to rely on the wisdom they could gather and use to defeat other nations in games.
That knowledge, he explains, has given them an edge over humans, and that in order to regain the strength that Immanity once had, humans needed to realize something about themselves: that they are weak. Humans, in the world of Disboard, have no magic nor any ability to perceive its use. Sora concludes that by remembering their own weakness, Immanity can once again become a strong and powerful nation.
This core philosophy that drives not only Sora and Shiro personally but the way that they choose to govern and utilize Elkia is also exactly the kind of mindset that Steph’s grandfather, the former king, was looking for in the next king. To him, it was always more important to have someone that believed the potential of Immanity as well as being able to act on that potential
While the mindset of remembering your own weakness in this case likely comes from their neglected past and NEET status back in Japan, the overall philosophy makes a lot of sense. It has always been important to recognize what you cannot do and make good use of the assets that you do have. Without a grounded sense of what is possible and what is not, many would go on to think they cannot do anything.
Another much more obvious thematic element involved in the story of No Game No Life is the act of escaping into is Disboard in the first place. It is completely fair to say that the Isekai trope in anime has more than overstayed its welcome, but in No Game No Life’s case, it speaks to a much more harsh reality.
The show alludes a number to time to the fact that at the very least Sora and Shiro were very often neglected by their parents, and in the case of Shiro, was sent off to a facility somewhere because of her unique level of intellect and basically forgotten about. When the two meet for the first time, Shiro says something to him even though she hadn’t spoken in a long time: “You really are empty.” Sora realizes that Shiro used his name as a double insult, and the two instantly formed a bond.
The flashbacks to a much worse time in both of their lives reveals a troubling reality: that, just like they explained at the beginning of the show, life can often times just be a crappy game. While many of those living in Disboard cannot remember a time where violence ever existed, Sora and Shiro come from a world where it is alive and well.
It is interesting to think about the sort of background that Sora and Shiro come from, one where robbery and murder are still plentiful, one where genocide still happens on a pretty consistent basis, and one where corrupt rulers take hold of power and turn countries into dictatorships in a matter of just a few months. To think about all that, and then to realize that many in Disboard know nothing about that, is kind of incredible.
What makes No Game No Life such a compelling story, on top of everything I mentioned at the beginning, is its very human themes and ability to communicate those ideas so well. Sora and Shiro could have very easily been uninteresting, underwritten, and overpowered, especially in the wake of the success of Sword Art Online, but it does not. It goes the extra step to remind us all about just how important it is to learn from our beings and to remember where we came from.
What do you guys think about No Game No Life? Is there something that I missed when talking about it this time? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!