Gratuitous fanservice aside, No Game, No Life had a nice thing going for it with some of its characters, namely with Shino. And, yes, I’m very aware that this particular show clearly has no intentions of going against traditional, and very sexist, anime cliches as a whole. In fact, more than a few are used per episode. However there was one fact, near the end, that caught me off-guard.
Shino is a first rate first-person shooter gamer.
And, yes, I realize that both siblings are good at pretty much any game, but as the series goes on it does become clear that each has their own ways of playing and thus each have different skill sets. And this is where I was pretty shocked.
For most of the show, Shino is shown as being the ultimate set of brains between the two, while her brother, Sora, often has a bit more in the imagination department. We see Shino handle numerous chess matches, for example. Plus there’s her general personality, which is largely quiet with deadpan quips here and there. Simply put: she just doesn’t seem like the type to be a FPS gamer. Yet not only is she one indeed, she’s also extremely good at it, something I didn’t see coming for the simple fact that genius in strategy doesn’t mean one can pull off complicated hand-eye coordination moves with perfection. Intellect only serves so far. But that’s not the only thing that threw me off.
If you’re not a gamer yourself, let me lay down some facts. 1) Female FPS gamers are rare. Although this has changed slightly over the years, the fact remains that those kind of games are nearly exclusively targeted and played by men. The good side of this often ends up being that female players that stick it out despite all the sexual prejudices tend to be extremely skilled and very thick skinned. Although the situation sucks, at least those that get through it get some hardcore training in. Which leads to point two. 2) Although it isn’t necessarily true to life, most female FPS gamers are portrayed has a bit masculine and/or hyper violent/confrontational individuals, likely in response to all that prejudice, though some might reason they get through it all because they were already so hardened.
Although Shino is obviously skilled, she certainly doesn’t fit into the traditional mold of what a female FPS looks like. Or what most people think they look like. Which is the real key here. If you had asked me near the beginning of the show which of the siblings was best at FPS games, I would have picked Sora for sure. Not because I think women incapable. But simply due to the fact that those games are dominated by men, marketed to men and, let’s face it, I would expect Japan, with its narrower view of male and female gender roles, to stick to formula here. But, low and behold, it is a girl who is the FPS expert. And she’s not some man-hating, body-building, condescending and confrontational jerk either. She’s quiet, manipulative, sometime sweet, sometimes tricky and almost always cute. And while some might say it was just a play of the creators to have a cute girl run around with a gun (and they might be right about that), the fact that Sora explained his sister’s skills as pure fact and was not ashamed or compelled to defend himself, gives me hope. Too often are male characters (to say nothing of men in real life) quick to defend themselves when a female is seen to be better at a traditionally “male” activity. Yet No Game, No Life wonderfully skips over such tripe. Sora feels no competition with his sister, neither does he feel any shame at her being better at certain things.
No Game, No Life may not be anywhere close to being called “progressive.” But I take what little gems of hope I can get. So if this show can impress the reality that girls can like – and be very talented! – at whatever they wish, regardless of whether or not society finds it “masculine,” I’m all over it. Even if it is just one baby step at a time.
(I planned on talking about Ritsu, from Kawai Complex, as well, but ran out of time. Plus that anime review won’t be up until Monday anyway. So expect to hear about her next week ^^)