Working at a video game company has been Aoba’s dream since she fell in love with the character designs in “Fairies Story”. Now that she’s graduated high school she’s landed a job at Eagle Jump and has the opportunity to fulfill her dreams by working on “Fairies Story 3” – but is Aoba ready for adult life?
New Game! was one of my favorites of the summer season in the opening weeks. With shows like Re:Zero and Orange slathering on the drama, New Game‘s light atmosphere was a welcome relief from the darkness and drudgery of the heavier shows this season. It executed comedy well, while doing its best to preserve an overarching plot surrounding the development and release of a new video game: Fairies Story 3.
While the show was entertaining, after episode 5 or 6 I found myself expecting more from the series. The episodes were essentially loosely-strung together situations within the office that often bordered on the mundane. Battles over the air conditioning, shopping for a stylus, what to do when everyone in the office brings in donuts…these were the scenarios that drove the show forward. Admittedly, the episode surrounding Aoba’s first paycheck was endearing, and an example of the type of storytelling I would have loved to see more of.
The paycheck episode was one of my favorites because it gave some great insight on all of the secondary characters and served as an excellent medium for development. You begin to appreciate Ko and Rin’s very close relationship, Hajime’s love of rare toys and figures, Yun’s addiction to clothes, etc. Meanwhile, Aoba demonstrates her youthful naïveté by essentially asking how getting paid works. At the same time, she also gets an opportunity to shine with a touching tribute to her parents at the end. It was a well-rounded episode – and unfortunately it wasn’t going to last.
Throughout the remainder of the series, New Game! seemed unable to build up a solid foundation. To start, the development of the game was hardly ever in jeopardy. Sure, it was mentioned in passing that the game may be canceled if X or Y didn’t happen, but there was no real threat to the release of the game. If New Game! just wanted to use the setting of a game development company as a premise for a slice of life show, that would be fine. However, New Game! can’t seem to make up its mind as it fluctuates between giving you in-the-trenches level detail of game development to spending the majority of an episode having the characters chastised for talking too loudly in the office. It’s these little corrections and chastisements that New Game! spends way too much time on, especially in the final few episodes once Aoba’s friend Nenecchi joins Eagle Jump.
New Game! could have offered so much more. I wanted to hear more about Yun, Hajime and Hifumi’s career paths. I wanted to know what motivated them to make games. It would have been interesting to see a confrontation with someone calling into question the quality of their work because they’re women. New Game! avoids that situation completely by having no men whatsoever. There were just so many ways that the story could’ve panned out, and the fact that in the end a lot of the drama revolved around Aoba getting scolded really diminished the value of their work. At the end of the day, there’s no “there” there.
With all that being said, New Game! still offers an entertaining watch. With a strong cast, it pulls off comedy very well from start to finish. When New Game! does want to share an inside look at game development, it’s enlightening and educational. If you didn’t get a chance to watch it this last season, I’d give it a pass if you have some time to fill between your usual shows. If you’re looking for a show more in line for the type of series I was hoping for, make sure to check out Shirabako.
What did you think of New Game? Rate it yourself below!