By Tyler Trosper / August 15th, 2016
Disclaimer: This review contains as little spoilers as possible. Furthermore, this review only covers the first six episodes.
Picture this: You just graduated high school. You even have a job lined up as a video game character designer. Not only that, the game you are working on happens to be from your favorite video game series. Furthermore, you are working directly under the character designer of your favorite video game! This is the life of New Game!’s Aoba Suzukaze, who I am very jealous of. Granted, working with my favorite character designer would probably make me anxious beyond belief, so Aoba deservers kudos for taking it (mostly) well.
Despite my jealousy of Aoba’s ridiculously convenient gig (I mean, really, straight out of high school?), New Game! is a pretty good show. Based on the manga by Shotaro Tokuno, New Game! follows Aoba as she gets used to working for the video game company Eagle Jump. Going into the series, I was afraid it would be nothing but slice of life and fan service everywhere, but there’s actually a really good balance going on here. Sure, you’ll see Ko Yagami, the lead character designer at Eagle Jump, in her underwear a lot, but it is often portrayed as humorous and in good taste.
The characters overall play well off each other, especially bouncing off of Aoba. The main character herself is passionate about her job and new to just about everything she runs into, which makes her come across a bit ditzy, but she is a likeable protagonist. Granted, six episodes in and we only really know the character design staff and one motion designer, but the cast so far is great. My personal favorite is Hifumi, the group’s recluse. Her inability to talk clearly and confidently without the use of email is endearing and sadly relatable. Her pet hedgehog, Sojiro, pretty much represents herself, and that’s both a good gag and good characterization. Ko comes across as both a mentor to Aoba and, at the same time, someone to not emulate at all, most of the humor surrounding her coming from this contradiction. You also have Hajime, the motion designer who is super into sentai, and Yun, the monster designer, who play off each other quite well.
The most interesting thing about New Game! that separates itself from other slice of life series is the office dynamic. The show could have glossed over the 3D character designing and modeling, but it doesn’t, and it makes the show much more enjoyable. When Aoba creates her first 3D character model, it isn’t a throw away sidestory; she has to adjust the model many times before Ko is satisfied. I mean, you aren’t going to learn how to be a 3D character designer just from watching the show, but the effort put into the work going on at Eagle Jump is impressive. Furthermore, the use of actual 3D models helps sell the credibility of designing a game, otherwise 2D models would have looked too similar to the show’s art style. Also, the way the show portrays the actual game Eagle Jump is creating, from the character movement to its GUI, increases the believability that Fairies Story 3 could be an actual game. I know I’d play it.
Beyond that though, the series portrays an interesting look at working in Japan in general. You have the episode with a team trip to a bar, Aoba getting her first paycheck, and then the strenuous amount of overtime one expects from a Japanese company. A good example of this occurs in episode six when overtime starts kicking in. With Aoba working at her first job ever, she not only feels obligated to perform overtime but learns the benefits of doing so. This later results in a humorous moment where she sleeps in the office in a bear sleeping bag and scares Ko. I wouldn’t dream of sleeping at my place of work, so it was interesting to see the different working conditions.
New Game! isn’t perfect. When outside Eagle Jump, the plot and characters fall into familiar tropes found in other anime. You constantly get reminded of how young Aoba looks and acts, which gets a bit tiresome. Also, even though each episode is pretty much split into two different stories, the pacing feels kind of sluggish. However, the show is taking its time introducing and warming us up to the characters, so I wouldn’t say the pacing is a bad thing. New Game! is a good slice of life comedy that has successfully grabbed my attention with its characters and office antics. With the series getting its own game (
I wonder if it will have a New Game new game plus), I’m hoping the series will continue to grow and stick around.
animecomedynew gameslice of life