No Game No Life
Episode 5: Weak Square
Following their resounding defeat of Kurami and ascension to the throne in the last episode, it appeared that Sora and Shiro were settling in nicely to the position of King. But appearances can be deceiving. After their brief stint of actual work, the siblings are back in their old routine of sleeping all day and playing games all night. However, there is one factor that did not exist in their old lives, one that isn’t too happy with their lax demeanour: Steph.
With neither Sora or Shiro around to perform the duties expected of the King, the responsibility to take care of business has fallen onto Steph. A fact that continues to aggrevate her as she is slowly overwhelmed by the volume of tasks she is left to complete. Having finally gotten fed up with her so called King, Steph decides to challenge Sora to a game…yep. In case you haven’t been paying attention to the series thus far, playing Sora in a game is not a smart idea. The dude (along with his sister) beat God in chess for crying out loud. Anyway, despite Steph’s confidence in her skills as a cheater and Sora’s desire to become a fulfilled human (the result that would occur should Steph win), the game ends with Sora as the victor. Big surprise there. Yet again we are treated to an explanation of Sora’s brilliance in gaming. It appears that this time around our protagonist decided to utilise card counting in order to cinch victory. Clever. Of course the fact that Steph had no idea such a technique existed didn’t exactly hurt the situation.
Not satisfied with losing just the once and being forced to become the sibling’s dog for a day, Steph continues to challenge Sora throughout the episode. Understanding that she can only best him through chance, Steph still finds herself losing each and every game…along with her pieces of clothing. Shiro can be rather spiteful it would seem. It is around her fifth loss that Sora kicks into serious exposition mode and explains to Steph the nature of the world. No matter what the situation, whether cards or people crossing the street, mathematics plays a major factor. It is only by taking into account every possibility, every fact, every deviance from the average that one can truly grasp the inner workings of the world. And it is within that understanding that humanity can prosper. We learn that whilst blowing off their daily duties as King, Sora and Shiro have been reading every book they can find. As each Exceed race possesses unique powers that exceed those of humanity (see what they did there?), making any move to regain their territory would be folly without information. The Warbeasts for example are able to read minds, eliminating games that require precise strategy or bluffing. It is for this reason that Sora chastises Steph for her “ends justify the means” attitude. With one wrong move standing between the prosperity or ruin of the Imanity, Sora and Shiro are at a loss for the first time in their lives. It’s honestly amazing how an anime centred on fun and games is anything but.
However, despite all of Sora and Shiro’s insults, as well as all information presented up until now, we learn that Steph is actually rather smart. After the siblings defeat some now Ex-Nobles, Steph reveals that she has carefully been dividing commercial rights between the lands and utilising successes to slowly split multiple regions apart and reduce the power of those who would oppose Elkia. Having used Steph as a word analogous to idiot up until now, Sora and Shiro are noticeably impressed by Steph’s tactics and wit. Enough for Shiro to demean her, thus the “dog for a day” punishment. Though Steph has been a fun and quirky character up until this point, it’s nice to see her finally contributing to the development of the plot in a major way. Plus, with Sora and Shiro as her friends, who knows what else she will learn and accomplish in the future. Perhaps she’ll even play a game of her own, against a foe of Elkia? That’d be cool.
Another point to note would be Tet’s discussion with his fellow Gods, who apparently still remain in the world of Disboard. Questioning Tet about his intentions regarding the Imanity, the Old Deus receive nothing but riddles and heresay. Though the God of Games does relay his belief that Sora and Shiro will gather the Race Pieces and challenge him again. However, the most interesting piece of this conversation would be Tet’s comment that the Old Deus can just keep playing their “idle games”. So not only are the top of the Exceed races still a force in Disboard, they’re planning something…this can only end well.
So with their schooling of Steph complete, our trio of intrepid heroes head towards the last repository of knowledge within the walls of Elkia: the library. However, this bastion of books is no longer public property. Having been won fair and square by a wandering Flugel, it would appear that Blank must rise to the challenge and best yet another opponent. But with a Phantasma looming overhead, time is of the essence. Also Sora really wants to win the land of sexy animal girls…so there’s that too.
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