by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 11 of
New Game! ?
What would the game development process be without a little pre-release hype? As their game approaches completion, Yagami sends Aoba and the rest of the team to a big gaming convention to check out the company's booth. Promoting the game also means doing interviews, and Toyama decides that Yagami needs a fashion intervention if she's going to be photographed for a magazine. Of course, there's still plenty of development work to be done, and Umiko's team in particular is pulling some big late night shifts. On the last day of her part-time job, Nene is tasked with buying food and energy drinks to help keep the full-time employees awake and alert.
The trip to the convention is a nice change of pace from New Game's usual office antics. For a few minutes, Aoba and the other girls get to take a break from their jobs and go back to being the excitable video game geeks that they all probably were before they started their careers. Having a teaser trailer for the game is a clever touch, as it lets the series poke fun at the kinds of characters and plot points that seem to appear in every single RPG. Hifumi's solo cosplay adventure provides some of the best comedic moments in the segment, particularly her nonchalant speedrun through the booth demo. In terms of bringing some visual and thematic variety to the episode, the convention trip works well.
This episode loses its way a bit in the middle, mostly because the interview scene is a dud. There are a couple of chuckle-worthy moments here and there (Aoba trying to stand guard at the door is worth a laugh), but not nearly enough to make it work as a comedy routine. Opportunities for some insightful commentary seem wasted when the show moves on to the next scene without having Yagami answer any questions from the interviewer. Shouldn't this have been a convenient excuse for Yagami to share her thoughts on character design? Even the perpetually implied romantic tension between Toyama and Yagami seems weaker than usual, with both characters just going through the motions of leaving hints for the audience to pick up. The scene isn't bad to the extent that it hurts the rest of the episode, it just seems like a poor use of screen time.
New Game doesn't go for a super-emotional farewell with Nene's last day as a part-timer, opting instead for the mild and sweet approach. She gets one last hurrah as the group's resident goofball during her shopping trip with Aoba, though I'm surprised her decision to buy an extra-strength energy drink for Umiko didn't yield more comedic material. Her farewell to the rest of the team plays up the cute angle well, and the train ride home gives her a chance to go back to her original role as Aoba's supportive friend. While it's somewhat predictable, the comedic reversal of having them fall asleep and completely miss their stop makes for a fun ending.
If anything, this episode almost seems too calm and controlled for the final push to finish the game. Part of that is down to the characters' roles in the company; Aoba and Yagami even comment on the strange feeling of being done with their jobs while the debugging crew is still working at full tilt. At least the calm and friendly tone matches up with the rest of the series. This episode would have felt very out of place in a more dramatic show, but it fits reasonably well in the context of a laid-back series like New Game.
New Game! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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