The inaugural year of the Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF) started with a bang of an opener, hosting the world premiere of the English dubbed “No Game No Life Zero.”

“Zero” threw its audience into a land that was unknown but familiar at the same time. From the pages of Volume Six of the NGNL light novel by Yuu Kamiya, viewers saw the realm of Disboard six thousand years before the gamers Sora and his step-sister Shiro entered the playing field. It was a desolate and war torn place for the battles between the race destroyed so much, even to the point that poisonous ash constantly rained down. While those able to use the spiritual energy thrived, the remaining humans struggled under the leadership of Riku. Everything seemed bleak for him and those he cared for until he stumbled into several secrets including Shuvi an abandoned “Ex-machina”, a robotic being of great power. Their fateful meeting will change his life and the course of the world.

Fans of the anime series might be shocked at the dark tone of the movie. Granted, while there were some lighthearted and comedic moments, heavy portions of drama and tragedy surrounded them. The suffering of the main cast really pulled on the audience’s hearts as some would want to see them find a happy ending, but the movie showed how the odds stacked against them. The film packed a lot of world building and in high amounts of detail ranging from the various race’s written languages to the mechanical parts of Shuvi’s largest form. Though it set a foundation on the lore of the land, moviegoers who haven’t seen much or any of the NGNL anime would not have to watch it beforehand because “Zero”‘s story was nearly self-contained.

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After the film, LA-AFF treated the audience with a Q&A with Producer Sho Tanaka, ADR Director Kyle Colby Jones, Riku’s voice actor Scott Gibbs and Shuvi’s voice actress Caitlynn French. Fans sent their inquiries beforehand and one directed to Tanaka asked how was it reuniting with his old staff from the anime. He said that it was good having them back though they went back and forth on presenting their ideas. Gibbs and French spoke how they had little material to learn about their roles compared to who they were in the anime series. They said that their movie characters had more somber qualities with less of their previous giddy personalities. Jones revealed that the voice actors recorded blind having no chance to see the script and it gave him much pleasure to see their shock at some of the movie’s twists. Jones mentioned the difficulties the Sentai Filmworks team had while making the dub. He said that during the production of the anime series most of the voice actors lived near their studio located in Houston. When the film’s dubbing began, some moved out of the area including places like New York and Atlanta. Hurricane Harvey also hit the city as they were making. Even with such obstacles, the team were able to release a dub that blended well with the film. Sentai created a gofundme page in order to help raise funds for their employees’ hurricane recovery.

For those that missed their chance to check out “No Game No Life Zero” will have another later on October 5th and 8th. Fathom Events partnered with Azoland Pictures who presented the festival with Rydgen Inc. will be hosting this upcoming two-night event within selected theaters in the U.S. October 5th will be showing the original Japanese voices with English subtitles and October 8th will show the English dubbed version. Check out Fathom Events’s site for more information. For those that want to check out Yuu Kamiya’s original material, Yen Press has many translated volumes of “No Game No Life” while Crunchyroll has the anime available for streaming.

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