No Game No Life and The Philosophy of Disboard
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
In order to break up the seasonal excitement a bit, and also to give myself a buffer since school is starting this week, I thought I would dig up one of my original video ideas and publish the script here. I may still make this into a video at some point, but as for now I thought it would be fun to revisit one of my favorite series and discuss one of my favorite aspects: its setting. Enjoy!
Despite being a genre predicated on a change in scenery, It seems as if many of the recent entries into the Isekai genre have ignored one of the most important elements of a good story: the setting. Many of these said entries, such as In Another World with my Smartphone, seem to take for granted the fantasy setting in which their stories take place. As a result, they forgo world-building in favor of giving as much screen time possible to the usual blank slate MC and whatever Harem misadventures he is getting into that week.
However, one Isekai that actively builds on its world in an exciting and interesting way is No Game No Life. In fact, it might be fair to say that Disboard, the world where the show takes place, is itself the main character, with its own unique perspective.
Disboard, as it is known to Sora and Shiro, being a world governed by the ten covenants, was created long ago at the end of the Great War, a contest between the many gods of that world in order to attain the Suniaster and become the one true god. Tet, at the time known as the god of play, obtained it at the very end, recreating Disboard into a world without war and violence.
- All murder, war, and robbery is forbidden in this world.
- All conflict in this world will be resolved through games.
- In games, each player will bet something that they agree is of equal value.
- As long as it doesn’t violate pledge three, anything may be bet, and any game may be played.
- The challenged party has the right to decide the rules of the game.
- Any bets made in accordance with the pledges must be upheld.
- Conflicts between groups will be conducted by designated representatives with absolute authority.
- Being caught cheating during a game is grounds for an instant loss.
- In the name of god, the previous rules may never be changed.
- Let’s all have fun and play together!
The rules that govern Disboard, otherwise known as the ten covenants, are the guiding principles that were set in place by Tet in order to create his game world Utopia. These covenants, as they relate to No Game No Life, can best be understood in three separate sections.
Covenants two through eight layout the rules for conflict in the new world of Disboard. Those who wish to fight must do so through playing a game, with the person challenged deciding what game to play and each person betting something of equal value. These rules make it so that people have a way of settling conflicts that don’t devolve into total war and bloodshed. The rules also reflect Tets personality as the god of play, someone who loves games.
The first, “All murder, war, and robbery is forbidden in this world,” and the ninth, “In the name of god, the previous rules may never be changed,” represents Tets desire to see a world in absolute peace, after the many gods of the world spent millennia tearing it apart. This comes largely at the request of Riku, a human who fought to protect Immanity and becomes the main character of the sixth volume of the No Game No Life light novel series. At the end of No Game No Life Zero, an adaptation of the sixth volume, Sora almost succeeds at taking the Suniaster, but then prays to Tet to create a world without violence.
It is the tenth covenant, “Let’s all have fun and play together,” that leaves both Sora and Shiro, as well as the audience, extremely confused. After all, why include something that isn’t even technically a rule in a list of ten rules governing your whole world. Still, it is in this last covenant that Disboard is truly understood, and where Sora and Shiro are ahead of the curb.
In the eyes of Tet, Disboard was always meant to be a world in which people come together, a world in which the sixteen ixseeds leave aside their racial differences and live in harmony. That is why every race has a representative who holds their race piece, and why Sora and Shiro decide to start challenging the different races to games for their pieces.
Disboard, at its core, is a game, a game that nobody has yet to win, and one that had rules no one quite understood in the way Sora and Shiro do. However, Disboard also has a unique philosophy, one that wishes to set aside sociocultural and political differences in favor of a new world order, one built on peace, understanding, and the past time of sitting down and playing a fun game.
However, much like the real world, the world of Disboard is often governed by tribalism. Despite not being able to enact physical violence, many of the races on Disboard are suspect of one another, and work hard at learning strategies to use during games in order to ensure victory when playing against another race. This can be seen in the game between Sora, Shiro and Izuna.
The Eastern Union had previously forced the king of Elkia to agree to lose his memory upon losing the game, which was supposed to prevent the king from gathering data. The same rules applied to Sora and Shiro’s game. In addition, The Eastern Union chose a game in which the players had to rely on physical strength, an attribute Sora and Shiro lack and one that Izuna, the Werebeast representative, has in spades.
The political calculations of each of the races’ leaders, even after the ten covenants, likely contributed to the lack of unity and partnership between each of the races.
While the idea that a couple of random humans falling out of the sky and solving the mystery of an entire alternate universe feels a bit weird, it does make sense. Sora and Shiro not only know how to “win the game” of Disboard, but also embody its very existence. After all, the only reason they are there in the first place is because Tet invited them. Whether someone wants to call them savior, test subjects, it doesn’t matter. They are Blank, and they are there to win, but also have a good time, just as intended.
How do you feel about “No Game No Life?” Let me know in the comments.
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