New Game!!
Episode 4

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 4 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?

As work on the game prototype kicks into high gear, it's getting harder to find time to goof off at Eagle Jump. Hajime resorts to hiding in the office bathroom while she waits for tickets for a Moon Ranger concert to go on sale, but she's thwarted by overloaded servers. Luckily, Yun is on hand to save the day with an extra ticket. Meanwhile, Hifumi and Ko bond over their efforts to become more expressive, though their conversation invites plenty of suspicion from Rin. Hifumi will have to overcome her social anxieties in a hurry, because she's officially been promoted to leader of the character team.

Hajime's Moon Ranger odyssey is cute in the traditional slice of life way; it offers some mild comedic antics, then quickly brings things to a happy resolution without any hint of drama. If you're looking for plot advancement or character development, you won't find much here. The humor leans on established character traits and relationships, and the focus is on being fun and adorable rather than pushing the narrative forward. The good news is that it still has its moments, like Hajime's emotional roller coaster with the ticket website and Hifumi's horror at being discovered in full idol concert gear. If nothing else, it's an amusing diversion.

Another entertaining scene that doesn't really go anywhere is the conversation between Hifumi, Ko, and Rin. We haven't really seen Hifumi and Ko interact one on one before, so it's interesting to see how the two character design veterans relate to one another when the rest of the gang isn't around. The scene gains some more momentum once Rin shows up; the balance between her thinly veiled jealousy and Hifumi's panicked inner monologue provides some of the episode's strongest comedy. Unfortunately, this scene also serves as a reminder of one of New Game's bad habits. The series continues to walk reluctantly around the relationship between Rin and Ko, seemingly unable to move things forward in any meaningful way. The “will they or won't they” humor is starting to grow stale, and it would be nice if New Game could decide if these two are an item or not.

The one storyline that does see some forward progress is Hifumi's ongoing social awakening. Taking on a leadership role is a nice if obvious step forward for her. Yes, it's not exactly a big risk; she's already the most experienced employee out of the core cubicle quartet, and I don't think any of the other girls are likely to challenge her authority. Nevertheless, modest progress is still progress, and this should allow the series to throw some more challenges at Hifumi as the season goes on. That checks another item off the list as New Game continues to address the personal goals of all its major characters.

Even though this episode spends more time coasting than some of its predecessors, it does at least feel like the series is continuing to move forward. In some ways, the occasional detours from the main narrative are part of the show's charm, and they get plenty of mileage out of the established chemistry between the characters. It's also interesting to see the game itself starting to take shape; with the prototype version complete, we're getting a pretty good idea of what the team is working on. Heck, it even looks like it'd be fun to play!

Rating: B

New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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