#1 A Game Dev Story
New Game! stars Aoba Suzukaze, an 18-year-old high school grad who has just landed her very first job at the game development studio Eagle Jump. Inspired by the fantastic art of their flagship fantasy series, Aoba is delighted when she discovers that she won’t just get to work with the lead designer behind that game, she’ll actually be joining the team working on its sequel.
New Game! isn’t exactly an accurate representation of what game development is like, but it touches on the subject with enough depth to be interesting while still presenting the wholesome, fun image many gamers and aspiring developers associate with it. We get to see Aoba create and model characters, fix problems they cause with the code, and work through nights and weekends just to finish work as the deadline begins to loom. It also helps that the two games we get to see being developed throughout the series are both very believable, complete with an announcement trailer that seriously looks like it belongs to the next JRPG hit.
Watching this show reminded me of how I used to imagine game design as a kid playing my first games on the Nintendo 64. It makes game-design look complicated, but not unapproachable, like if you work hard and set your mind to it, then you too can work on the kind of games that inspired you. It’s fun and kind of nostalgic, in a way. What really helps this feeling along is just how driven every character in the show is; everybody is passionate about their work and the games they make, even when that means sleeping in the office and living on energy drinks for several days.
#2 Lewd office fun
Most of New Game! takes place in the Eagle Jump office and by far the most entertaining aspect of the show is the comedy that takes place there. Aoba works in a little room alongside the elegant, but overly self-conscious monster designer Yun, the rather hyper animator Hajime, and Hifumi, who is so shy that she struggles to communicate with anybody outside of instant messenger tools.
Watching these characters work together and cooperate with the other people at Eagle Jump kept each episode reliably entertaining, and in a way it kind of made me reflect on all the fun times I have at my own office. Stuff like the lead programmer using the office’s roof as a private airsoft range or the overweight office cat give the place an identity of its own, and all the characters click together so well it really feels like watching a bunch of friends working together on their projects.
Another major source of fun in New Game! is the fan service. Now, this may seem out of place what with the office setting and all, and I absolutely caution against recreating scenes from the show at your own job, but hear me out here. Eagle Jump is exclusively staffed by young women and many of the jokes play in on this by having a not-so-subtle yuri undertone and pretty obvious fan-service. It’s lewd and honestly just really cracks me up because it always fits the characters well, such as a running gag where the lead designer often walks around without pants because she sleeps in the office every day to get more work in.
While you’ll often catch me complaining about fan-service in other shows, here it’s presented just so darn well I truly enjoyed it. I found the jokes to be fun and the fact that all these characters are adults took away some of the frustration I usually have with fan-service in anime.
#3 It gets surprisingly good by season 2
Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that season 1 is, by any means, a bad anime. Season 1 of New Game! is a pretty clear 7/10 for me, it’s an enjoyable comedy show with a good theme, but I didn’t really feel like we needed a season 2 of it until I actually started watching it.
What season 2 brings to the table is more of a focus on each character’s career, ambitions, and challenges. Season 1 is more of a gag-driven comedy whereas by season 2 I really began to appreciate characters for how they grow as people. Aoba’s ambition suddenly puts her in competition with old friends, the realities of running a business begin to strike the team, but there are also positive changes such as Hifumi working on becoming more self-confident. Suddenly it’s a story about the careers of these characters and I was really caught off-guard by the sudden shift in focus.
Season 2 still features a lot of comedy I enjoy, but it’s stories like Nene starting her own projects and Aoba struggling with an increase in responsibilities and expectations that elevated the show to a solid 8/10 for me.