Many times, in the “slice of life” genre, we see a very streamlined approach to making anime. Lots of shows are set with high schoolers dealing with grades, love interests, or whatever dumb maid café idea they have for their school festival. Perhaps a light music club that instead of making music, they make tea instead? (looking at you K-On!) Others have more outlandish settings and characters, but ultimately follow these same few rules. This show is a lovely departure from the norm into, what seems to be becoming a trend (a very good one might I add); the working woman’s world.
New Game! and its sequel series New Game!! follows recent high school graduate, Aoba Suzukaze, in her journey as a new character designer at the game development studio, Eagle Jump. Here she meets, in quite a surprising encounter, Kou Yagami, the lead character designer for Eagle Jump’s next game. The coworkers around Aoba are a fun quartet of Hifumi Takimoto, a very shy character designer, Yun Iijima, a monster designer, Hajime Shinoda, an animator with innumerable anime figures and weapons surrounding her workspace, and Rin Tooyama, the art director. These characters largely lead the show while they develop the third installment of Aoba’s favorite game series, Fairies Story 3!
Fully expecting this show to be nothing actually about video game development, I assumed it would be a show about cute girls doing cute things with them making Dark Souls IV in the background. Thankfully, I can say I was wrong. This show is about cute girls, working, doing cute things, and working. It deals with bugs in game development, beta testing, paychecks, deadlines, and all the other boring work stuff of an office job, but it still manages to be fun and interesting with a delightful cast of characters. It can also go into more adult situations, being that the employees at Eagle Jump are in fact adults, bringing alcohol into the mix.
This leads to scenarios like them complaining about their weight, wondering why none of them have boyfriends, and asking exactly why no men work in their office (and yes, it’s explained). Having more adults around Aoba really shows the differences between her just-out-of-high-school worldview, and the new, scary adult world she’s come into. There is no façade of adults having it all together. Even though the show is light in tone, the characters do deal with real problems and insecurities. This gives the show a reliability to an adult audience that we don’t normally see. While high school shows relate to an adult’s past self, or to modern high schoolers, New Game! is relatable for an older crowd of working stiff otaku while still remaining fun and light.
Shows like New Game!, Sakura Quest, and Shirobako show us a fun take on the working world, New Game! especially. It shows us the struggles and the successes of game development, without the viewer experiencing too much stress. It is a show about work, that relieves the stress of work. If this show took a more traditional path of perhaps a game development club in a high school, I am not certain that it would fly as well as it does. With an excellent english dub from Funimation, this show is easy to get into and easy to stick around with. With two seasons of 12 episodes per season, it has a good length while still providing the opportunity to continue if the studio feels they would like to go further. While it does have a slight bit more fanservice than I would like to see in the second season, it is not a huge problem.
New Game! is what I wanted it to be, and certainly not what I expected it to be.
New Game! and New Game!!: 8/10