「起死回生《フェイクエンド》」 (Kishikaisei “Feiku Endo”)
A tour de force of mind games, games theory, and betting it all for a chance to beat the world, punctuated with one of the most effectively unsettling endings to any episode this season. I still don’t feel like I can take a full breath, lest the world shatters.
Gap Moe & the Justifiably Angry Jii-san
Starting off on the lighter side of things, kemonomimi loli!! This episode we were introduced to Hatsuse Izuna (Sawashiro Miyuki), the foul-mouted (but trying to be polite? HAH!) kemonomimi miko loli who likes being patted by Sora & Shiro. But the most surprising thing for me was hearing Sawashiro Miyuki in a role where I didn’t immediately recognize her as Sawashiro Miyuki. Wait, she has range? I thought she only had the one voice! It’s a good voice, mind you, and I enjoy her work, but it’s always painfully obvious its her. First Hikasa Yoko, now this. Director Ishizuka-san is getting some really good performances out of her seiyuu.
Even funnier was the assistant ambassador and Izuna-tan’s grandfather, Hatsuse Ino (Mugihito). Super muscular, super vulgar, and super pissed jii-san was a riot! I’m always happy to see that No Game No Life can pack in the laughs even when the plot is going strong and everyone is acting badass. That’s a delicate trick to accomplish.
The Secret of the Warbeast
I’m on the record as hating mind control, and mind reading isn’t much higher on my list. It saps away everything interesting in a story if characters can casually read other’s deepest, darkest secrets. That’s why this is, by far, the best (or at least my favorite) application of mind reading I’ve seen in a long time.
I knew something was fishy last episode, when we learned that the Warbeasts kept beating the Elves (and Imanity) despite being third from last, and how they had such a game-breaking power like mind reading, which should have led to them baiting everyone into playing against them, but they weren’t doing that. If my nation had that kind of power, I would have kept it hidden and used it to destroy every single race at every single game, but that’s not what they did. Instead they used it as a deterrent. That made me think it was a bluff, not the least because that’s what I would do in their place. (Storyteller and marketer, remember? Lying is kind of my thing.) I kept that to myself though, because I’ve been wrong before, and because the reveals the show does are sooo much more fun than me pontificating on the answer.
Looks like that was right on the money. Turns out the Warbeasts can read a person’s body, and find out if they’re lying that way (except against a total sociopath, but that’s another matter entirely), which, combined with some decent intuition and maybe a bit of prudent spying, should be able to mimic mind control well enough to the incautious opponent. Unfortunately for the Eastern Federation, Sora & Shiro are far smarter than that.
Backed Into a Corner
I’m not going to go into all the ways Sora and Shiro were awesome this episode, because we’d be here all day. From extrapolating that the Warbeasts’ mind reading was a lie from the old king’s gambit to how they realized the Warbeasts were winning via video game because of their memory wiping + they’re the only ones technologically advanced enough to make the things + Jibril had forgotten about the monitors (that was especially impressive), it was a tour de force of awesome (and mostly reasonable) intuition.
But what took it to the next level was how they kept the Warbeasts from running away. Sora & Shiro backed the Warbeasts into a corner with a threat that, and then made it clear that the Eastern Federation had two options. 1) They could play Kuuhaku’s little game and, if they win, erase their memories (thereby preserving their secret), or 2) run away and claim that Sora & Shiro were lying. The problem is that, if they took the second option, Sora & Shiro could still tell the Elves everything and put the Warbeasts in a bad position, but then Imanity wouldn’t win. So they took away that option.
All or Nothing
All or nothing. Sora & Shiro bet their entire race, risking the enslavement or death of every single Imanity in exchange for conquering the Eastern Federation and getting one step closer to challenging Tet. In a world without death, its not all happy-happy, but if they lose, they’ll become as good as animals – they’ll lose their rights as Exceed, and they can be killed just like we humans of Earth can kill each other (only easier, because they probably don’t have laws against it). The other races would be able to war against them like the days of old. They’re risking everything in this battle, and they’re going to let the Warbeasts use their cheats too. Wow. Just wow.
I don’t think they plan to let the Warbeasts all die if they win and take their race piece, though. They’ve already hinted that there’s a way to “beat the world”, and I can’t imagine them letting the kemonomimi girls fend for themselves.
Then it all came crashing down. At what should have been the prelude to their next great triumph, it all came crashing down, even if by design. The screen began to tear as magic (I assume) ripped the world asunder and toyed with its very fabric. Some of you called it, and I’ll admit, I didn’t entirely want to see it happen – as much drama as can be mined from the separation of Sora and Shiro, I like these characters enough to want to see them keep winning, and keep being happy together. But the greater the pain, the greater the glory, and original creator Kamiya-sensei knows that a good author must be a sadist. As Kurt Vonnegut said:
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
So we’ll see what Shiro is made of. Many of you wanted to see Shiro really strut her stuff, after being overshadowed by her older brother (which I never minded, because his game playing strengths are more suited for this messy, political world). Well, here’s your chance. Until Sora comes back – from Elven Gard would be my guess, for something to do with Clammy and Feel, though that’s a total guess – it’s all Shiro.
Looking Ahead – Shiro Alone
Shiro alone, ripped away from her brother, with no one – not even Steph, who loves the guy! – remembering who he is. Director Ishizuka-san, creator Kamiya-san and their entire crew are once again to be commended on how effective their storytelling is. If we were getting more series told this well every season, anime would be on the upswing rather than fighting for its life. I’m just utterly floored.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – First it was comedy, then Kuuhaku being badass, only for it to be punctuated with a heartbreaking turn. Sora, nooo! #nogenora 08
- It looks like, no matter the world, humanity is the same. Getting into a construction pissing contest and losing…siiiigh.
- “Kininarimasu!” A+ for these references!
- Izuna-tan’s pantsu, Steph’s pantsu, Jibril’s pantsu, Shiro’s pantsu, or Sora’s pantsu? I-I’m glad they’re being egalitarian about this whole thing? (P.S. I pick Jibril’s :3)
- “I’ll protect your chastity, nii!” This has been Stilts’ Favorite Shiro Line of the episode. Thank you for your patronage. *bows*
- The races of Disboard have gotten too complacent, too risk-adverse to gamble everything on a chance. Apparently we Earthlings have no such qualms. Bring it on, bitches! Kuuhaku won’t lose!
- My love for a well-utilized OP & ED is well documented, and Ishizuka-san’s team has done it again. That ED was creepy, effective, and profoundly disturbing. It was sad as well…Sora never showed up. What a gut punch. Well done.