New Game!! Episode 8
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 8 of
New Game!! (TV 2) ?
After last week's introductions, New Game begins the process of developing its new characters in this episode. Now going by their nicknames at the office, Naru and Momo are settling into their internships with mixed results. While Naru has no trouble bonding with Nene and Umiko in the programming team, things are off to a chilly start between Momo and the character team veterans. While Aoba, Hajime, and Yun get sidetracked trying to plan a welcome party, Hifumi tries to step up as the team leader. A frank conversation between Aoba and Momo allows the new girl to open up a little, but it also reinforces the idea that the two of them are on course to become rivals.
Even if it is vaguely relevant to the episode's overall narrative, the party planning scene is largely just an excuse for some maid costume fanservice. This is perhaps the most upfront Shizuku has ever been when it comes to obsessing over her cute coworkers, so your enjoyment of this sequence will hinge on whether or not that particular line of comedy works for you. New Game does at least manage to draw some humor out of the characters' personalities here. Hifumi's death glare is certainly worth a laugh, as is Umiko's inevitable intervention. I wouldn't call any of it hilarious, but at least there's enough humor to keep thing entertaining for viewers who aren't interested in the fanservice.
From a big-picture standpoint, the priority is on developing Naru and Momo as characters. As the more sociable of the two, Naru fits into the programming team easily and finds some comedic chemistry with Nene. This sets up an interesting contrast with the character team, where Momo takes longer to find her place. She has a serious “not here to make friends” vibe that clashes with the cubicle's laid-back atmosphere, and we start to learn more about her through the ways she relates (or doesn't relate) to the main characters. The most compelling of these interactions may actually be Hifumi's attempt at talking to Momo while the rest of the girls are out to lunch. The two of them face a similar problem in having trouble making friends, but there's a clear difference in their personalities. That makes for a fun dynamic, and I hope we get to see more of Hifumi and Momo trying to relate to one another as the season goes on.
It's perhaps appropriate that the episode ends on a direct acknowledgement of the rivalry between Momo and Aoba. Momo has been dancing to this tune since she first appeared in the show, so the more interesting side of this conversation is Aoba. Up until now, Aoba has always been the show's talented newcomer, and her main challenge has been catching up to the company's more established employees. Momo's arrival has flipped that dynamic around, and for the first time Aoba has to deal with a new hire who's trying to surpass her. As much as the two of them seem to reach an understanding in this episode, there's still plenty of room for this relationship to flare up into something more dramatic.
Aside from the maid café detour, this episode makes some decent progress toward integrating Naru and Momo into the cast. Naru is already blending in with her fellow programmers, so the next step will be giving her a more nuanced personality beyond just being “the friendly one.” Momo faces the opposite situation; we have a better sense of who she is as a person, so the priority is on finding her a more stable position within the character team. The series still has plenty of work to do in both cases, but the new girls continue to show enough potential to be worth the effort.
New Game!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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