New Game!!
Episode 6

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 6 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?

New Game enters some dramatic territory this week, as the characters grapple with the idea of showing their work to an audience. For Aoba, the thought of drawing promotional key art has her wondering if her skills are up to par. Nene faces her own moment of truth as she finally reveals her personal game project to Aoba and Hotaru. Back at the Eagle Jump office, Ko is furious when she learns that the publisher wants to pull Aoba off the key art project and give it to Ko instead. A compromise is reached in the form of another competition, so Aoba and Ko are once again forced to pit their artistic talents against one another.

Things get off to a relatively light start with the reveal of Nene's finished game. Compared to the episode's second half, this storyline leans more toward comedy than drama. As amusing as it is to watch Nene fuss and fret while her friends play the game, it's obvious from the start that Aoba's reaction will be positive. Hotaru continues to be a character in search of a purpose, as her presence here doesn't contribute much beyond allowing Nene to show off the two-player mode. I will give New Game points for thematic consistency, as this lighthearted sequence ties neatly into some of the ideas that drive the more dramatic second half.

Just as Nene worries about how Aoba will react to her game, Aoba continues to wonder if she's qualified to play such a major role in developing the newly titled PECO. The meeting scene zeroes in on that insecurity with a tough but understandable decision from the game's publisher. Ko's name carries more weight within the industry, so it's natural that the higher-ups would want to use her name to promote a new IP. As Aoba's chance to draw the key art starts to slip away, the meeting reaches a level of dramatic tension that we haven't seen since Ko's outburst in episode two. There's some good storytelling going on here, as New Game uses a believable turn of events to poke at its main characters' sore spots. Ko doesn't want to be the one to take a big opportunity away from Aoba, while Aoba needs to put all of her self-doubt aside in order to stand up to the publisher.

Once the compromise is reached and the competition begins, we get to see a different dynamic between Ko and Aoba than the one we saw in episode two. This time around, both characters seem more comfortable with the idea of going up against one another. Ko has settled back into her role as a mentor, and Aoba is able to put in her best effort without worrying about upstaging her more experienced coworker. This helps New Game build up to a powerful moment when Aoba sees Ko's design for the first time; both of them know immediately that Ko is going to win the competition, and their mixed emotions make for a very compelling scene. Having Ko win on merit is also a significant decision on the show's part, as it allows the characters to move on from the incident without any lingering grudges. The antagonist here isn't so much a specific character as it is the harsh reality of the industry.

New Game is still playing it relatively safe with its more dramatic content by sticking to story arcs that can be resolved cleanly within the space of a single episode, but that's not necessarily a bad approach for the series to take. This conflict is able to strike some strong emotional chords without disrupting the overall feel-good tone of the show, essentially allowing New Game to have its cake and eat it too. It's a good space for a slice of life series to be in, since that careful balance is something many shows in the genre struggle to achieve. This episode acts as a strong midpoint, allowing New Game to head into the second half of the season on full steam.

Rating: A-

New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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