Additional Thoughts: My Experience Watching No Game No Life Zero

So, as mentioned in my review of the film, I actually went out to the theater to watch it with a friend. I thought it’d be interesting to document how our experience at the theater that night went down. This was my second time going out to a theater to watch an anime movie, my first being The Boy and the Beast.

Going to see The Boy and the Beast in theaters was really cool, because the theater was packed with anime fans who were probably all watching this for the first time. There was a lot of emotion; laughter during the funny parts, and “awws” during the more sweet part. It was exciting and a lot of fun.

My experience here, though, was pretty different.

Of course, I watched The Boy and the Beast at a theater at an anime convention, rather than at some theater in my hometown. There’s bound to be a lot of anime fans interested in the film at an anime convention; meanwhile, No Game No Life Zero was playing at the theater here without any bigger event tied to it, and no physical marketing or even mentioning of it excepting for on the showtimes board inside the theater itself.

I went over this in my review, but my friend and I had gone and pre-purchased our tickets to the movie online. My friend had a bit of a weird snafu because she ended up getting charged for like 4 tickets or something? So that was something that needed to be resolved when we actually arrived at the theater. It was only maybe 45 seconds of waiting at the front counter (it’s interesting how slowly time seems to move while you’re standing and waiting for something), and then we were all good.

Anyway, we go and grab some food (I almost never get popcorn because I’m just not much of a popcorn guy, honestly), and then head off to the theater where the film will be showing.

It was around 35 to 40 minutes before the film was to start, so we weren’t exactly expecting the place to be filled when we walked in, but still! No one was in the theater at all. We sat down in the seats that seemed just right for us (everyone has their preferences), and just… sat there. There was nothing on the screen, so my friend decided to whip out her phone and began playing “This Game”, the OP from the TV anime.

A few minutes in, a man suddenly appeared on the screen, and his voice boomed over the speakers. He said something to the effect of “Welcome to this film sponsored by Fathom Events. It’s 30 minutes to show time, so get comfortable!” and then the screen went blank again. This just scared the ever-living daylight out of me (I’m so easily startled), so my friend started laughing. It was about then that – finally – the next two people appeared in the theater.

They were two guys from a local technical college, and because there was nothing else to do, we began talking a bit. One of the guys was a big fan of the TV anime, and so he decided to drag along his friend, whom had never even watched it, so they could enjoy the movie together. We gave this friend a short crash course on what No Game No Life is like, thanks in part due to a video by Gigguk.

We saw maybe two or three more small groups walk in during this time, but even by 6:50 – 10 minutes before the show was to start – the theater was still mostly empty. Around 6:45 or something, the screen turned on again, the same guy greeted us, and then this rotating slideshow of images and short ads began playing; one of the slides was this Q&A question, and despite it being labeled “Q1”, we didn’t ever see a “Q2” or anything else… they only showed Q1 over and over. (It was something related to the snack Shiro ate in the beginning of episode 1.) While this slideshow was playing, there was this crowd-murmur sound that’d play in the background; it kind of creeped us all out, but luckily the YouTube video did well to fill the soundscape instead.

At around 6:52 or so, I decided to get back out and grab some more food (they sell these pretzel nugget bite things and I love them!). By this point, long lines had formed though – something I should’ve expected, but totally didn’t. So I got into a line and resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t make it back by 7.

Finally, though, I got my pretzel bites, and quickly zipped my way back to the theater. As I come back in, I notice the special “pre-show presentation by actors and staff” that was promoted for the event playing on the screen. I sit down and my friend whispers, “Don’t worry; you only missed the recap.” Something I didn’t need since I rewatched the TV anime recently.

This presentation went on for twenty. five. minutes. (Including the time I wasn’t there.)

(I should also mention that by the time I came back, the theater had quite a bit more people in it. Certainly wasn’t a full house by any means, but I’d say about half the seats were filled.)

I came in as the interview with Sentai’s ADR director began, saying things like “I’m excited I was able to come back to work on the film” and things like you’d expect him to say. A tiny bit of his southern twang came in at times which definitely amused me (Sentai Filmworks is based in Texas, after all).

They then progressed into small interviews with each of the main English voice actors, being the ones for Riku, Schwi, Jibril, Tet, and Izuna. (Izuna barely made an appearance in the movie, by the way, so having her voice actor come in was kind of amusing.) These interviews were structured pretty similarly; the first part of each one focused on each voice actor’s role in the original TV anime (Riku and Schwi share the same VAs as Sora and Shiro, respectively) and the second part focused on their role in the movie.

Looking at these interviews wholly on their own, I’d say they’re probably okay.

However… the thing is, they played before the movie started. For what seemed like forever, we’re sitting here and watching people talk about the movie rather than watching the movie itself. And not only that, but each of the voice actors were also open about their roles and the world they’re in; I’d say at least half of the entire movie was spoiled by these interviews before the thing itself even started. Half of the entire movie.

The only voice actors who didn’t spoil anything were Tet’s (who said something to the effect of “I won’t say when he makes his appearance, but when Tet makes his appearance, it’s super cool”) and Izuna’s (whose character was only in the film for two scenes). Both of these characters barely made any impact on the film, and so their voice actors didn’t spoil much because there wasn’t much to spoil about them.

If these interviews had either played after the movie, or simply have been edited down for time and to remove so much of these spoilers, it would’ve been a lot better. The thing finally ended with the ADR director and all the voice actors on the screen, saying “Hope you enjoy the film!”, and then they all raised their hand and said “Aschente!” before a cut to black. It was super cheesy; my friend and I just looked at each other and were like “… really?”

(It also amused me that despite us going to see the subtitled showing of the film, it showed the English ADR director, voice actors, and played clips of the TV anime and film with English audio. I wouldn’t have expected Sentai to have gone and interviewed the Japanese staff/cast, but still, it amused me.)

So finally, at 7:25, the film began playing.

My thoughts about the film are all in the review I posted alongside this piece, so if you’re looking at a spoiler-free look at the film, go there. From this point onward, I’m going to be talking about events in the film itself, without regard for spoilers. So consider yourself warned!

The theater was pretty much entirely silent throughout the whole film. The amusing moments in the early part of the film (while Couronne was misunderstanding Riku and Schwi about to “get it on”) got a few chuckles from the audience, but that was about it. The romantic heartfelt scene in the middle got no reaction, none of the big dramatic stuff that happened afterwards got no reaction. There was just nothing.

Like I said in my review, my friend got up and left during that romance scene. It went on and on as Riku was like “I want us to get married” and Schwi just kept rejecting the idea. Finally, she revealed to Riku that she alone was the one that destroyed the village the human colony had started in, effectively killing off half of the entire human race. She looked right up at him and said “you probably think poorly of me now, don’t you?”. Riku, this stupid guy, looks back at her and essentially says “Yeah, that sucks, but I don’t care. Let’s get married anyway.” This was about when my friend left.

Really? Really?

Half of your entire race just died to the actions of this one person standing right in front of you, and you – the one that was beating yourself down earlier for how many people you had indirectly gotten killed – just brushed it off like it was nothing? REALLY?

I’ll admit that I had a pretty “meh” reaction to this movie thus far. At this point, though, that’s probably when I really started to dislike it.

After a long enough time, the movie finally moved on to the climax, which is where Jibril made her appearance and began fighting Schwi. My friend, who is a super huge fan of Jibril, walked back in after this battle already started; she ended up kicking herself in the back later because she missed Jibril’s entrance.

I talked about the battle in my review. I’ll just move on to the last scene of the film.

This very last scene jumped back to present time; Sora and Shiro appeared, with Steph and present-day Jibril, and they talked for a tiny bit about how much the people of present day remember the events of that time – which is to say not much. I will admit it’s a tad emotional to see that these two people (Riku and Schwi) which played a huge role in ensuring humanity’s survival and making Disboard what it is today, are both just forgotten to time. Even Tet, who was actually narrating this story, says that he doesn’t know what happens with certainty.

Anyway, Sora and Shiro proudly declare something to the effect of “it’s time for the next phase.” We see them move to some cliff, standing proudly on the edge of it with all of the TV anime’s characters, and saying “Let the game begin!”

And then it cut to black.

During that moment of blackness, I turn to my friend and whisper, “I hope there’s a teaser or something for a season 2”. Instead, nope, the credits began rolling. The Japanese credits, I should clarify, including the ending song, “There is a Reason”, and some relatively simple animation of water ripples and the wedding ring.

While the credits played, the TV anime fan whom I mentioned well earlier in this piece loudly chanted “Where’s Season 2?” and got the rest of the theater to mutter in agreement. However, the credits finished, they replayed a section of that marriage scene (ughhhhh) and then it faded to black again. You could feel the entire audience exhale as their anticipation just evaporated.

There were yet again a few more moments to blackness… and then suddenly, more words began appearing. It was now the credits in English. I just laughed; I turned to my friend and said “Okay, let’s go, there’s nothing more.”

The fan guy responded to me, “You never know, they could’ve put something more after these credits.”

“These are the Sentai credits. There’s nothing more,” I laughed.

Sentai Filmworks, about 95% of the time, doesn’t modify/translate the ending credits for their anime DVDs, like Funimation and NIS America do, and instead just put the credits after each episode’s included credits run: white text on a black background, repeating everything the Japanese credits did (and adding the English staff), but with no ending animation or audio whatsoever. It’s cheap and kind of boring, but for Sentai, it’s par for the course.

I was not expecting, however, Sentai to do the same exact treatment to the films they show in theaters. I knew once the Sentai credits started rolling, though, that was the end.

Regardless, my friend and I found ourselves staying to the end of the Sentai credits as well, as did most of the people in the theater. When they finally finished and the screen went black again for the final time, I just shook my head, stood up, and said “we’re outta here”.

My friend and I drove back home, complaining about the film the whole way. One of our other friends was planning to watch the dubbed showing on the 8th, and we decided to tell him that it wasn’t worth his time to go.

I went home, made a disappointed tweet, and just moved on with the rest of my night.

So that’s my experience. Did you go to see the film? Or are you still interested in watching it at all? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing A Silent Voice; I’m hoping that’ll be more worth my time and money than this was.

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