New Game!!
Episode 10

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 10 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?

It's crunch time at Eagle Jump, and even the new hires are facing deadline pressure this week. Naru gets teamed up with Hajime to design and program a minigame, but constant revisions add extra stress to the project. As Nene works her way through her first programming test, the challenge of trying to impress Umiko leads her to take on more than she can handle. A late walk home gives Aoba and Nene a chance to reflect on their goals, while Rin and Ko spend a night at the office talking about Ko's performance as the game's art director.

Naru and Hajime's minigame dilemma is interesting, since it highlights the clash between trying to get things right on the design front and trying to get things done on schedule from a programming standpoint. It also brings out the more combative side of Naru's personality, which we saw in her feud with Nene last week. Much like that confrontation, this sequence features Naru asserting herself in a situation where the other person holds a more senior position despite being inexperienced. This may cause Naru to seem overly abrasive, but it also gives her a clear role in the story. As a talented and ambitious intern, she can force the main characters to step up by pointing out their shortcomings. This is also a potentially compelling personal dilemma for Naru, as she's clearly torn between her ambitions and a fear that her harsh comments are pushing people away. In a series that normally goes out of its way to make everyone get along, that's an intriguing change of pace.

Nene's storyline mirrors Naru's in that it also involves trying to add new features with a deadline looming. In this case, we see an internal conflict between Nene's instinct to call her game “good enough” and her desire to impress both Naru and Umiko. In both of these storylines, Umiko is able to function as a solid mentor for the younger programmers. Her experience dealing with Shizuku's constant spec changes allow her to give Naru some advice on working with Hajime, and she's able to encourage Nene without giving up her status as an authority figure. The programmers may not get as much screen time as the character team, but there's some good chemistry within this group.

Two of New Game's leading duos get a chance to do some reflecting at the end of this episode, though the results are uneven. Aoba and Nene's conversation isn't terribly deep, and their walk home serves mainly as a relaxing break from the pressure of trying to get the game done on time. The late-night chat between Rin and Ko is arguably the more interesting of the two, as it does a good job of showcasing how Ko has grown as a character over the course of the series. She's usually depicted as being rough around the edges when it comes to dealing with other people, so having her give Rin the wristwatch shows that Ko is making an effort to pay more attention to the people around her. Even though the series continues to stop short of directly addressing the romantic tension between these two, this is still a solid scene from a character development perspective.

Now that Naru and Momo are starting to feel more like natural parts of the Eagle Jump crew, New Game should be able to return its focus to the overall narrative. The question now is where exactly that narrative is headed; with the end of the season approaching, the show needs to decide between giving the characters an easy run to the finish line or putting a final set of obstacles in their path. I'd like to see Aoba and company face at least one more major challenge, especially since it'd create an opportunity to emphasize how this cast has evolved over time. New Game has proven that it can handle a modest amount of drama, and it's time to put those strengths to work.

Rating: B

New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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