New Game, animated by the studio Doga Kobo and based on a manga/ novel by Shōtarō Tokunō is a comedy anime about a girl graduating from school and getting a job with Eagle Jump, a gaming company, as a character designer. It's a cutesy romp with plenty of interesting moments, a vibrant art style and characters that are actually interesting despite their clichés but we'll look at that later.
Aoba, the main character, is the responsible and hardworking newbie giving her all to the job and trying to fit in. She joins a group of character designers who worked on her favourite childhood game, Fairies Story. The premise is simple and elegant as well as being a really nice way to create motivation. The first episode has her learning how to make 3d models and it also introduces the rest of the team:
- Yagami Kou - The lead designer with a hardworking yet aloof attitude
- Shinoda Hajime - The motion designer who is energetic and collects memorabilia
- IIjima Yun - The pretty and slightly insecure character designer
- Takemoto Hifume - The last of the character designers who is very timid and socially awkward
While each of these characters have obvious anime tropes that they fit into, the writing often takes them to places outside their comfort zone and provides some character discovery to the show, this keeps it interesting and is paramount to the pacing. They also all have nice designs, the animation style in general suits the 'cutesy' look. Every character is unique in their design and in their mannerisms with lots of subtle animations making them come to life. For example in some episodes Hajime can be seen messing around with her 'lightsaber' looking for pose inspiration and that kind of thing is a positive in my book.
It's a slice-of-life anime that focuses heavily on 'comedy' moments, the first episode dsets the tone very well. There isn't too much of an overarching plot but the goal is for the 5 character team to finish the game they're working on. It's lighthearted and easy to follow even if you're not 100% focused on watching it. Each episode has a single focus like overtime, the bonds between the characters, being late for work among other things. Some of the stories are more based in reality which is a nice offset from the idealistic working environment the characters are in.
Choosing a game development angle when writing the show was a great choice because they do actually have some important points about development and characterization in games. From creating a detailed npc with a back story, to how important it is to show every asset a degree of care as they are the lifeblood of a game. This aspect is not just shown as a background element as some episodes devote good chunks to program operation, brainstorming and character developing (although not so much that you should jump on the show if that's all you want to see :p )
Tha animation and visuals are very pretty with some really smooth movement and detail loaded environments. They fit the cute style of the characters, the nature of the show and it's all very consistent throughout. The music accompanying the visuals helps the show maintain it's fun atmosphere and puts some really good emphasis on certain moments while never really intruding or becoming the focus. It also has a cracking OP and ED that are fun to both watch and listen to as well as being surprisingly light on fan-service which wouldn't have fitted the show well at all.
New Game has been a blast to watch. It's tone and pacing keep it an easy to follow and the characters are great with plenty of variations in their personalities bar the cuteness factor. I also found myself getting motivated by it probably due to the way it constantly shows people giving their job their all. The main character Aoba's attitude towards work is refreshing and the team have some fantastic moments that shows how they actually compliment each other despite being totally different. There is a lot here for everyone to enjoy unless they really hate the slice-of-life show style show.
Surprisingly this anime looks like it'll be my favourite of this season! It has the perfect balance of realism, comedy, cuteness and style that made it super enjoyable. Unusually, I marathoned every episode that was available and felt really motivated, happy and impressed at the show. I can't recommend it to everyone, it's hardly the Bakuman of gaming, but for anyone who enjoys some lightheartedness and gaming you should find something to like in New Game.