New Game!! Episode 12
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 12 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?
The hard work of building their latest game may be over, but New Game still has one big hurdle for its characters to clear. Aoba is stunned when Ko calls her up to the stage during a promotional event, and she soon learns why her mentor is so keen to give her some time in the spotlight. It turns out that Ko is leaving Eagle Jump to work for a game company in France, which means Aoba will be on her own for the next project. Rin is the first to make her feelings clear by confronting Ko during the event's after-party, and Aoba ends up doing the same at the airport as Ko gets ready to leave.
Honestly, I expected New Game to backtrack on the idea of Ko's departure in this episode. It would have been easy enough to do; the show could have revealed that Rin simply misheard Ko in the previous episode, or Ko could have changed her mind at the last minute. Instead, the series steps up and owns this story development, and this episode is much better for it. Because we go into the stage scene knowing that Ko's departure is for real, it feels like she's making a point of publicly passing the torch to Aoba as Eagle Jump's lead character designer. It's an emotional moment that serves as a nice capstone for Aoba's journey over the past two seasons, and it also gives her a chance to finally receive the credit she deserves after the key art conflict from several weeks ago.
While Aoba's “graduation” at the promotional event certainly tugs at the heartstrings, the confrontation between Rin and Ko is perhaps the most emotionally intense scene in the episode. This is as close as New Game has come to properly acknowledging the relationship between these two characters, and the way it plays out really hits home. As Rin breaks down and admits that she doesn't want Ko to leave, the dynamic between them is briefly turned on its head. Ko acts as the calmer, more composed half of the pair, while Rin gets a rare opportunity to wear her heart on her sleeve. My only gripe is that the show is perhaps too quick to break the mood and move on to the next scene, but it's still a compelling exchange of emotions.
That brings us to the airport scene, which gets off to an interesting start. I was surprised to see Momo be the one to drag Aoba out of the office, but that decision begins to make more sense as the sequence plays out. Much like it did with Nene and Naru last week, New Game brings Aoba and Momo together in order to wrap up their rivalry on a satisfying note. The farewell between Aoba and Ko serves a similar purpose by giving us a sense of closure; both characters get a chance to say what's on their minds, and they part ways in a manner that feels significant without completely closing the book on the story. If the stage scene is Ko's chance to push the plot toward a natural stopping point, then this is Aoba's chance to declare that the story will continue one way or another.
This is a very strong ending, partly because it feels like New Game saved the best for last. Each major part of this episode addresses a storyline that has been progressing for at least one full season, if not two. Aoba takes another big step forward in her career, Rin finally makes her feelings clear, and Ko and Aoba move on from their mentor-student dynamic and start seeing one another as professional equals. If the story of New Game ends here, then this will make for a fine stopping point. If there's another season on the horizon, then there are several intriguing new paths for the plot to follow.
New Game deserves a lot of credit for the progress it's made in this second season. It's been a solid genre title from the beginning, but it took some major steps forward this time around. This season featured a more ambitious narrative, and the writing and direction delivered nicely on those initial promises. We saw significant growth from most of the cast, and the show's more dramatic moments hit the mark consistently. Even the new characters, who admittedly took a while to settle in, eventually justified their presence in the story. This is a textbook case of a good series going out of its way to get better, and it's been a fun and exciting process to watch.
New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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