By Yuu Kamiya. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Richard Tobin.
It has been a rough couple years for No Game No Life. The author has had health issues, which has led to a long hiatus in Japan (though the 11th volume is due out there next month). As with Re: Zero and Index, Yen licensed this side story volume out of order, so a lot of it is setting up a 10th volume that we read a year and a half ago. And of course the entire series has been banned, in print and digital form, by Amazon… except for this new volume, which they are quite happy to sell because no one can guess how they actually decide anything. That said, it is good to finally see this book which goes back to the events of the 6th volume and shows us things from the POV of Think, the elven legend. Unfortunately, this flashback is only a little more than a third of this book, which is otherwise padded out with short stories that originally came with the DVD releases in Japan. Yep, it’s a short story volume.
Practical War Game itself starts off with Sora and Shiro playing Feel and Chlammy in a game of chess, which Feel is trying to deliberately lose once she hears what the prize is (molesting Chlammy). Jibril then tells the siblings about Feel’s ancestor, and about her acolyte Nina, who takes over after Think supposedly “disappears”. After this, we get a story showing off a desperate Steph, running low on sleep and sanity, challenging the siblings to game after game, even it means more humiliation. Par for the course, in other words. We then get a story about Feel and Chlammy’s past, and how and why they set up what happens at the start of the series. Finally, we get a two-parter focused on Jibril, just why she’s so special, and her determination to do the impossible simply because everyone else says it can’t be done.
As always with this series, I love Steph, even when it’s making her the fanservice queen or having her be the chump for the sake of humor. She almost manages to speak out a win here, and is basically told “try this again when you’ve slept and are calm”. The story with Feel and Chlammy was also fun, showing them as a lot more of a loving couple than the main books do, as well as exactly how they got that way. The bulk of the book are the stories with Think and Jibril, which are flawed but good. I can do without the author’s “is this LGBT representation or shameless trolling fanservice!”, mostly because by now we know it’s both. The sections of Jibril’s story dealing with the dragon are fantastic, but Azril is simply FAR too annoying to make it 100% enjoyable, and the canon explanation as to why really doesn’t work for me.
Still, overall it’s a better volume than some of the recent books have been, and should make fans of the series happy. Oh yes, and there’s a new translator. I think the books read a bit smoother than before, though Kamiya’s writing is always hard to parse.