Admittedly, I hadn’t even heard of NEW GAME! until recently… something which surprised me, because of my penchant for both games and anime – what could be a better mix, right?
Exactly! And, now I’m sat here wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, why I hadn’t experienced its awesomeness months ago when it first aired last year.
New Game! – Putting Fun First
In some way or the other, I more or less start all these write-ups saying how much love slice-of-sife, and of course that still stands. And, I will argue with anyone who tells me NEW GAME! isn’t slice-of-life. Sure, it’s a workplace drama too, but it exclusively delves into the lives of the characters that are employed at Eagle Jump (the production company that is working on the anticipated third installment of Faires Story.)
The main character, Aoba, works in the character design department of the company, after recently graduating from high-school, and going straight into work. The entire main cast are female, in fact (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s not one voiced male character. Now, some of you might think this posits as a diversity problem within Eagle Jump. However, I’d argue this creates the unique dynamic that exists within NEW GAME! Of course, not to mention how it bolsters its relative genre.
A Wealth of Character
NEW GAME! is a great example of character design done right. Which, I suppose is apt considering how much of the show revolves around the workings of Eagle Jump’s character department.
Character is always what draws me in. I would take three-dimensional characters over a well-constructed plot without any nuance in its characters any day. Not that we should have to make such a compromise in a perfect world – but it is often what I find myself doing. This is one of the reasons I adore slice-of-life so much; because character is the number one focal point, plot and story being secondary. Though, in such a genre, that distinction fails to matter.
Simply put, the cast is… fun, starting with Aoba, the preppy girl out of her depth in a new dream job. Yagimi, the lead character designer, the workaholic who often spends more time in a sleeping bag under her desk, rather than at home. Hifumi, the hugely likeable ‘quiet girl’ who grabs all our hearts. The great cast doesn’t stop there: There’s the ‘older’ director Hazuki, and her adorable, rotund cat. Umiko, and her steely facade that covers a sweet interior. Rin, the organised art director. Shinoda, a member of the animation team who has an affinity for toys, and a lightsaber. Last but not least, Aoba’s childhood friend, the rather high-spirited and child-like, Nene.
It is not the characters themselves that shine, – though they are in no way dull – it is how they all fit together like a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle; how each of their personalities melt into something special. A concoction of feel-good comedy, and companionship. Learning where they belong in a world that can be so demanding, and for Aoba, one that is so dauntingly fresh.
Shining With Lightheartedness
One thing that makes NEW GAME! so brilliant, is how its tone manages to break through many of the grim realities that daily life brings us. How it lifts our spirits in a world that is far too dark, far too often. As every episode passed, I craved that feeling – of vicariously experiencing Eagle Jump! through Aoba. It’s a wonderful feeling, that. Getting to know the inner workings of the interesting people who surround her.
Interaction within the workplace is a talking point too. Now, of course NEW GAME! isn’t a realistic representation of this… shit, it would be boring if it were. And yet, this does not mean we are unable to relate to the experiences in front of us. Each of the characters have deadlines, some of which are tough on a newbie like Aoba, and some which put pressure on the whole group. Though, through this, each of them come to rely on each other, building upon the relationships that at the beginning are often thin. I feel this most strongly for the bond developed between Aoba and Hifumi – and how they come to understand each others’ comfort zones. It’s the small moments that really strike at the heart, a balance between heartfelt sincerity and warm humour.
Onto… NEW Games!!…
NEW GAME!’s second season is airing this season (summer 2017) and I look forward to what it will bring. To the new things that Aoba and the rest o the cast might discover in themselves, and the kind of obstacles they will have to overcome. I just hope that sense of friendships returns, and is developed even more. Also, for the laid-back humour to flow in droves. Most of all, for its character and warm heart to shine through.
Just make sure to watch season 1 first. Because, it offers far more than its 7.7 on MAL would have many believe (not that it’s a particularly bad rating, but I do thing it is deserving of more.) Especially if – like myself – you’re into character driven, slice-of-life, comedies. No big criticisms come directly to mind. If I had to say anything… I thought Aoba’s lack of knowledge regarding gaming in general was out of character for a person working in the industry. But that is a gripe that can be entirely overlooked.
What did you think of NEW GAME! ?
And, as always, thanks for reading.
- Chris (Follow me on Twitter, and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon)