New Game! – Review
Original Air Dates: Jul 5, 2016 to September 19th, 2016
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!
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: New Game! is less comedy, or even seinen and almost squarely moe slice of life. What comedic stylings New Game! offers are often subdued, producing little more than a chuckle or a smile most of the time. The tone normally associated with seinen is entirely absent, but it’s tag as a slice of life is spot on. Aoba herself is simply adorable, although rather one note like much of the cast. She’s a hard worker, devoted to her job, and a real go-getter. While she does grow into her position within Eagle Jump, the game development company she works for, she never really evolves as a character, remaining the same plucky girl we met early on. It’s like that with pretty much the entire cast. Characters like Yagami the character designer, Aoba’s friend Nenecchi, or character motion artist Hajime get plenty of screentime, while others such as Shizuku, the game’s director or Yun, another character artist, are used less frequently. But outside of their screen time, no one really evolves, except ‘maybe’ Nenecchi. And even that assertion is a huge stretch.
Linny: New Game! is great news for moe lovers as the cast is literally bursting with every kind of moe cliche and you’ll easily find a favourite if you fall in the above category. From the starry eyed protagonist who is so cute that even her own cast members can’t stop drooling over her, to her best friend who can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble for longer than five minutes, there’s something for every kind of moe fan. However, this dedication to moe attributes also dooms the cast into being one note and makes the show a struggle to get into for other kinds of viewers.
Tom: That’s not to say there isn’t any character building at all. Surprisingly, Yagami-san ends up getting a story/arc that carries us all the way into the final episode. But even then the series doesn’t like to dwell on any of that, and most of these revelations sit at the back half of the series. Instead New Game! is more concerned with the average everyday ‘struggle’ Aoba and the rest face in their efforts to complete Eagle Jump’s latest game.
Linny: Not surprisingly, a lot of the show is dedicated to seeing our cast members struggle with daily life or making silly mistakes that translate into cute hijinks. There’s a strong emphasis on the quirkier characteristics of the cast and at times, it feels like they spend more time goofing around than actually working on their game. Nenecchi in particular is an extreme case of this complaint. While she is occasionally shown to be doing her best as a part timer, most times she seems a lot more interested in just hanging out with her friend or committing mistakes that will make more straight laced viewers question why she hasn’t been fired already. The show’s overall arc and theme is about this group of employees working to finish the third installment of a popular game series, However, it spends negligible minutes on actual game making aspects and instead spends almost all of its run time showcasing how cute and adorable its cast is. This isn’t necessarily a criticism or a flaw but it’s definitely a warning to those who might have been thinking of picking up this show for the game development angle.
Tom: New Game!, as I mentioned earlier is tagged as a seinen, which usually means it comes with more ‘adult’ content. And while that can sometimes mean sexual humor, it can also be topics that are typically more adult by nature, or more risque humor. But New Game! just doesn’t service that tag very well, much more keen to show us the fluffy and light daily lives of Aoba and the rest. Most of the series revolves around the trouble Nenecchi causes for the crew, or a fun after work outing everyone ends up going on. Some plots do revolve around the regular work day, and even the struggle to complete their game on time, but the atmosphere never turns dark or stressful. New Game! really downplays the sheer stress and work load normally associated with game development, but even then New Game! isn’t always that great at making it’s fluffy tone all that interesting. In its effort to remain laid back, New Game! can become outright boring as conflict feels almost non-existent. Your appreciation for New Game! is going to be entirely dependent on just how invested in the Slice of Life drama you are, and I don’t think the series has much appeal outside that core genre’s fan base.
Linny: As I have already mentioned before, this show is NOT for you if you wanted to use it as a means to learn about the ins and outs of the game development industry. The show barely ever addresses the nitty gritty and the whole process is more like a backdrop for the girls to exist in. There is one episode early on where the show sounds like it might be discussing how game developers often have to sleep and stay in their offices to work on the game, unable to afford even the basic luxury of being able to go home and rest properly for the night. However it’s addressed with one sentence and when the girls do seem to pull some extra hours, it just turns into an excuse for them to go to a spa instead. That’s the kind of show New Game is. It’s always going to be all fluffy and happy so if you need a show to keep you cheerful, you might have found it.
Tom: It cannot be stressed enough how unconcerned New Game! is with offering any substantial insight into the profession. New Game! just isn’t concerned with providing Shirobako levels of information. That said, New game! does give a casual understanding of the lengths game developers have to go to complete their work, their daily job life and a modest understanding of how the game development process unfolds, but that fluffy atmosphere and focus on the moe day to day life overshadows what knowledge lies within the proceedings. Having now completed the series, I feel like I did learn at least something, but there’s still a lot that remains a mystery and it’s definitely not advised anyone watch New Game! hoping to get dramatic insight into the life of a game developer.
Linny: However, New Game does put a lot of love and effort into its moe content. It has an eye catching and bright colour palette, one that makes every scene a visual delight. It uses imagery and scenery that brings the moe factor/appeal to the max and one can confidently say that the show spared no expenses in highlighting its cute cast. Heck, it even went so far as to make an actual trailer for the game the girls worked on, which is both cute and impressive.
Tom: New Game! keeps the sexy fan service to a minimum and only really comes about during a doctor’s visit (and even then it’s not really all that sexy.) Outside of a few cosplay moments, the series is otherwise far and away focused on providing endless workplace moe. Every character is designed to be cute and adorable, rather than sexy, helping to solidify that light and fluffy atmosphere.
Linny: If you’re still on the fence about watching this show, take a look at the girls and the gifs and if you feel like you could enjoy a fluffy, light hearted show about them doing nothing much other than being clumsy and cute and awkward for 12 episodes, I would say dive right in. If you’re still hellbent on the gaming angle, walk away. If you do walk away, the most you will be missing are some colourful, cutesy visuals and a few good jokes. For those who do watch it all the way to the end, the finale ends on one hell of a hilarious after credit scene that should not be missed.
Tom: New Game!’s based upon a 4-koma Manga, but like other 4-koma adaptations has managed to expand itself away from that 4-koma feeling and tells a more fleshed out version of its source material’s story. But New Game! simply isn’t the best Slice of Life I’ve ever seen. The comedy is too subdued, the seinen elements are practically non-existent, begging the question as to why it was ever marked with that tag and it’s Slice of Life tone is dangerously mellow. That said, fans of the Slice of Life genre will find New Game! to be enjoyable none the less, but if you aren’t already big into Slice of Life there isn’t much of a need to dive into this one.
New Game! is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.