by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 1 of
New Game! ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
New Game! ?
The first day of a new job can be stressful, especially when all of your new coworkers assume that you're just a random teenager who wandered into the office by accident. High school graduate Aoba has just landed her dream job, working at the video game studio that made her favorite game of all time. Just in case she wasn't already nervous enough, she's working directly under the person who inspired her to pursue a career as a character designer. The only problem is that all the employees at Eagle Jump seem just a little odd. The director is a total space case who regularly brings her cat to work, one of the character artists can barely communicate outside of instant messaging, and even Aoba's hero Yagami has a habit of sleeping under her desk without any pants on. How's a girl supposed to get any work done in a place like this?
If you're hoping that New Game! will do for video game development what Shirobako did for anime production, these first couple of episodes will likely come as a slight disappointment. The show doesn't seem all that interested in examining the creative process or sharing industry trivia. There's some basic information to be found here and there, but it's nothing the average fan wouldn't already know. The details of the job are mostly just a means to an end, whether it's giving the characters something to talk about or helping to fill in the show's world.
The cast is large enough that most of the characters don't really settle into their personalities until the second episode. In her own little corner of the company, Aoba has three coworkers and a supervisor, who in turn has her own supervisor. On top of that, we're introduced to a couple of senior staff members, one of Aoba's friends from high school, a cat, and a hedgehog. That's a lot of characters to bring in at the same time, so it feels like New Game! is still in the process of figuring what to do with them all. Everyone is mildly eccentric in a harmless sort of way, which is about par for the course in a workplace comedy.
“Harmless” is also a fitting description for the comedy, as New Game! leans more toward being cheerful and pleasant than laugh-out-loud funny. That's not to say these episodes don't have any humorous moments; Aoba's first day at work is amusingly hectic, and the welcoming party that her coworkers organize takes some entertaining twists and turns. While most of the comedy follows a set formula of Aoba reacting (or overreacting) to another character's quirky personality, the delivery and timing are generally on point. New Game! does occasionally toss some fanservice into the equation, usually through Yagami's habit of not wearing pants, but it's mostly played as part of a joke and fits in reasonably well with the tone of the series.
On the visual front, New Game! turns in a respectable performance. The somewhat cutesy character designs are in keeping with the show's overall atmosphere, and the animation is pretty solid when the characters aren't just sitting around talking to one another. The background art might be the strongest element here, with each character's desk area offering some visual hints about her personality. The resident tomboy has a rack full of prop weapons, the fancy girl's desk has plenty of elaborate decorations, and so on. Considering how much time the series will likely be spending inside the Eagle Jump office, it certainly helps that the place is interesting to look at.
New Game! seems content to be an amusing workplace comedy in the style of Wagnaria!! or Servant X Service, and it's doing a pretty good job by the standards of the genre. These episodes offer an entertaining escape into a world where developing a video game isn't all that stressful, and it's possible for every single person in an office to be a friendly and attractive anime girl. As long as you don't go into it expecting something deeper or more ambitious, you'll find that it delivers what it promises.
New Game! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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