We all want the underdog to win, but is victory a realistic expectation when the underdog has absolutely no advantages whatsoever? On some level, we all realize that life is inherently unfair, but we still wish to believe in a world where, ultimately, the downtrodden are rewarded, and the oppressors are punished.
It’s for that reason the movie “No Game, No Life Zero” uses the struggles of the underdog as a primary theme. We want to believe that even the most disadvantaged person can rise up and be successful, no matter what adversity they face. Because if that person can overcome everything standing in the way of their success, then surely the viewers can as well.
“No Game, No Life Zero” is a Story of Persevering Against the Worst Case Scenario
The situation for humans in “No Game, No Life Zero” is grim. In this prequel to the television series “No Game, No Life,” we face complete and utter annihilation. Humans are nothing but collateral damage in a cataclysmic war that simply doesn’t care about them. While the other races battle for dominion of the entire world, humans are forced to scavenge for survival in the ruins of civilization.
In this setting, humans don’t have the magical powers or the technological might of the other races. In the world of “No Game, No Life Zero,” humans are so insignificant that the other races don’t even consider us cannon fodder. And why would they? There are so many disadvantages to being human that, when the movie begins, even the environment itself is toxic to us and prolonged exposure means certain death.
This fact isn't lost on the protagonist, Riku, who is the leader of a dwindling band of humans. For him, every day is a struggle for survival. Yet, somehow, hope remains. It has never been the fate of humans to quietly become a tragic historical footnote. Despite the grim reality humanity finds itself in in the movie, we have found a way to survive when all logic dictates that violent war should have resulted in our extinction.
Despite being on the brink of despair, and despite wanting to give in to that despair sometimes, Riku. Will. Not. Give. Up. There has to be a way to win an impossible situation, even if no obvious solutions are apparent. As a result, he seeks out ancient ruins to acquire the knowledge his people need so that, one day, they might all live. This triumph over adversity even in the face of such bleak odds is absolutely inspiring to watch unfold.
“No Game, No Life Zero” Is a Story of an Unlikely Alliance
The human ability to defy the odds does not go unnoticed by Schwi, who belongs to a race of cybernetic beings known as the Ex-Machina. During one of Riku's excursions inside a ruin, Schwi suddenly initiates contact with him.
Normally, humans see Ex-Machina as a dangerous threat since they all share a hive mind. To anger one Ex-Machina is to anger all of them. Needless to say, an Ex-Machina is something an extinction-prone human should avoid at all costs.
Fortunately for Riku, Schwi is an exile and simply seeks to understand how humans have survived for so long when logic dictates their demise. She believes that humanity's tenacity has something to do with what she refers to as "the human heart," and she believes that once she finds her answer, the rest of the Ex-Machina will end her exile in exchange for such vital academic knowledge.
And so, a partnership is struck. In exchange for the help Schwi can provide as an Ex-Machina, Riku agrees to help her with the answers she seeks. In hindsight, this meeting is the catalyst that will change everything the two thought they knew about both their people and the entire war. Sometimes, the course of history can change with even the most seemingly inconsequential of acts, and the decisions that Riku and Schwi make from this moment forward fly in the face of the accepted conventional wisdom of the setting.
“No Game, No Life Zero” Is a Story of Humanity as the Ultimate Underdog
Two seemingly incompatible realities exist: Humans shouldn't be alive, and yet they somehow are. The other races may have written humanity off, but Schwi sees something that they have all missed: Humans are not to be underestimated. There's a very good reason they're still around.
If you love underdog stories, you simply cannot beat “No Game, No Life Zero.” In the face of extinction, giving up is simply not an option, even when there are times Riku wants to. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so carving out a better tomorrow requires sacrifices, cunning and alliances.
After all, "survival of the fittest" does not mean "survival of the strongest." It means "survival of the most adaptable." And humans are experts at adapting to their environment.
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