New Game! – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: Jul 5, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: Aoba Suzukaze is fresh out of high-school but still easily mistaken for a middle school student! Lucking out, Aoba gets a job at a nearby game company that produced her favorite game of all time: Fairy Story. Now Aoba must learn the ropes of 3D art design as she has to deal with her wacky and not quite normal co-workers!
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: New Game! has remained what is a fairly cute and altogether simple look into the everyday life of Aoba and her journey into the Video Game industry. As the series has progressed it’s become very apparent where it’s focus lies. The show isn’t too interested in familiarizing new people with the in and outs of the industry. In fact, there’s even a few places where it feels like things have been simplified in order to keep the focus away from the gritty details of game development. That said, keen viewers may still pick out a few fun details often untouched on when it comes to discussing Japanese video game development, but people hoping for a Shirobako type take on the game industry will walk away severely disappointed as that isn’t at all the show’s primary focus.
Linny: The show does discuss and deal with some of the ins and outs of making a game but its to a minimal degree that, like Thomas already pointed out, is going to disappoint anyone who picked this show up hoping for an indepth look. New Game! is mostly preoccupied with showcasing the cute and quirky personalities and everyday life of its moe cast in and out of the workplace. In fact, the show is so devoted to this purpose that there are actual scenes where the cast themselves keep harping on and on about how cute our young protagonist, Aoba is.
Tom: Aoba is just as adorable as she was in episode one, in part thanks to her can do, wanna be an adult attitude. It keeps her feeling charming and likable as she pushes through and learns the day to day work of character design. However, much of Aoba’s character development is derived simply from learning the trade, and her personality has expanded very little from the series’ introduction. At this point it’s clear New Game! has zero interest in really developing, or expanding on, its characters, but rather instead wants to provide a mishmash of cutesy, moe and funny moments with them as is. How well it succeeds at any of this hinges on how adorable you’ve come to find Aoba or anyone else in the gang.
Linny: At the beginning, Aoba had the potential role of being the lens through which New Game! taught newbies and viewers about the game development process. However, she now seems permanently reduced to being the adorable newbie that is constantly teased for her innocent nature and young age. It’s a little disappointing as seeing how she was so determined and serious about her job, one might have expected to see her going through the job in more detail. Even all the other characters seem to be getting more and more defined by their cute hijinks rather than their actual role in the game development process. From the animator who has now been firmly labelled as the nerdy collector to the character designer whose main highlight is her shyness and inability to have face to face vocal conversations or her obsession with her pet hedgehog, to the famously pants-less leader of the group. This is all fine and dandy for those who love a moe-tastic show but not for those who wanted something with more educational content and industry exploration.
Tom: As Linny’s pointed out each character has their own shtick or defined role. Like Aoba, no one progresses beyond this initial introduction. As comedy goes, each girl provides their own source of humor, but the show’s comedy is still fairly subdued and never really generates big laughs from any of the girls. Kou, the character design lead and Aoba’s mentor, perhaps gets the most attention and fleshing out of her character. We learn what she used to be like when she first joined the company and there’s a few instances where her management style is called into question and refined based on her interactions with Aoba. But even then New Game!’s interests are primarily focused on providing moe focused events for you to awe and swoon over as these girls are just so darn cute.
Linny: Initially, I was intrigued by the all female cast wondering if the show would use it as a selling point to explore the dynamics of an all female company. However, it seems like the show has an all female cast for the sole sake of reaping as much moe factor as it can and nothing beyond that (at least 6 episodes in). If you have any doubts, Kou’s butt shots will make it plenty obvious what this show is all about. It’s all about the moe fan service. Everything in this show is plated to come off as cute as possible, which limits its appeal exclusively to moe fans. It never goes into any dark territory despite the show itself making a passing comment about the darker side of working in game development. It’s a bit of a shame and while there’s nothing bad about a show being all about the moe, it’s a little disheartening that despite it’s cool game company premise, it ends up being yet another moe show that’s all about showcasing cute girls being cute and almost always only that. I’d also like to briefly address how the show felt a little unbelievable starting off as one could not help but wonder how a high school graduate gets such a fancy job right off the bat. The show does make a point of later on mentioning that the company has a habit of hiring ’em young so make of that what you will.
Tom: At its heart New Game! is just another slice of life focused on providing lots of moe, feel good day to day events with cute characters that maybe make you chuckle, but mostly just suck you in by being heartpoundingly adorable. Like Sweetness and Lightning, it’s a good option to unwind the day with, but won’t really offer up much substance for viewers seeking something that provides a bit more intellectual stimulation. Be warned that while New Game! often keeps its fan service fairly PG, episode six goes full in and provides one of the most direct fan service shots this season. It’s gratuitous and is bound to briefly offend viewers who’ve enjoyed how toned and, I suppose something resembling chaste, New Game!’s fan service has been.
Linny: The bottom line is New game is pure and unadulterated moe goodness meant for those who just can’t get enough of all things adorable. The girls in the show feature a lot of the classic moe characteristics and while nothing about the show is especially groundbreaking or amazing, it has enough cuteness in it to earn its fair share of fans. However, this is your last warning, if you thought this would be the Shirobako of game development, you are in for some crushing disappointment.
Tom: New Game! isn’t exactly amazing, lacking truly hard hitting comedy, information about the games industry, or any meaningful character development. But what it does set out to do it does well enough to provide plenty of moe slice of life that should satisfy viewers seeking a more light-hearted affair. I doubt New Game! will be remembered long after this season, it doesn’t have the quality of Non Non Biyori or other, more beloved slice of life but for now I feel it’s a worthy watch for anyone looking for more light and fluffy entertainment.
New Game! is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.