New Game!!
Episode 3

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 3 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?

While Aoba may be delighted over getting the chance to design characters for Eagle Jump's next game, the work ahead may be tougher than she imagined. The game is still in its early stages, and she's already worrying about her limited experience with 3D modeling. Hifumi is the first to notice Aoba's troubles, and she quickly steps up to offer her some encouragement. Meanwhile, Nene and Umiko have their hands full on the programming front: Shizuku's constant revisions force Umiko to work late, and Nene is struggling to make progress on her own project. Hey, no one ever said game design was easy!

Compared to last week's clash between Aoba and Ko, this episode dials back the drama a notch. Most of the tension here comes from Aoba's moment of self-doubt in the office, and this is resolved pretty quickly. Nevertheless, it's encouraging to see New Game!! continuing to place obstacles in front of its characters, since those challenges make the inevitably happy outcomes more satisfying. Having Hifumi be the one to help Aoba is a clever touch; the standard words of encouragement mean a little more when they come from a character who's grappling with her own social anxiety. There's a nice balance between advancing the main storyline and making space for the subplot of Hifumi's personal growth.

As the focus shifts to Nene and Umiko in the episode's second half, the tone moves back toward New Game's comfort zone of light comedy. The parallel action of the two characters fixing bugs in their respective projects is presented nicely, and the visual contrast between Umiko's professional work and Nene's amateur efforts enhances the humor. The chemistry between the two of them remains quite strong, and both characters seem to be growing as a result of their interactions. Nene is becoming more ambitious while Umiko is indulging her mischievous side more often, almost as if they're starting to adopt pieces of one another's personalities. That growth adds some variety to their basic comedic dynamic, cementing them as one of the show's more entertaining duos.

The weakest part of this episode is the lunch scene, which never quite figures out what it wants to focus on. The conversation between Shizuku and Umiko has its merits, particularly in how it allows Shizuku to compare Ko's current performance as the art director to her previous stint in that position. Unfortunately, that topic gets derailed once the rest of the characters show up. Hifumi's homemade lunch ends up stealing the spotlight, and all we get out of it is some mildly effective humor. On the positive side, at least Umiko finally gets a chance to unleash her dreaded forehead flick on Shizuku.

This episode is a generally solid effort, boasting two strong vignettes and one that's perfectly watchable. Most importantly, the writing continues the trend of New Game!! aiming higher on the dramatic front in its second season. We're only three episodes in, and it already feels like Aoba and company have faced as many challenges as they did throughout the first season. This makes for better storytelling, and it also opens up more chances to delve into the gritty details of making a video game from scratch. Keep it up, New Game!!, you're on the right track.

Rating: B+

New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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