The CGDCT (cute girls doing cute things) genre is something most people should be quite familiar with by now. It has been one of the most time-tested and consistently successful types of anime in recent years, very rarely leading to disappointment. In particular the most popular ones tend to be those adapted from series published in some edition of Manga Time Kirara, and once again this trend has been upheld with New Game. In fact this anime isn’t just very good by CGDCT standards, but it’s possibly the best slice of life anime I’ve seen in the last year.
First and foremost, what really separates New Game from most series of its genre is that it takes place in adult society. Specifically it takes place at a fictional video game company called Eagle Jump, where 18-year-old Suzukaze Aoba seeks employment as a character designer after having just graduated high school. The show follows Aoba and her senior coworkers in their daily lives at the office where they’re currently working on the third installment of one of Aoba’s favorite childhood games.
Of course seeing as this is a CGDCT anime, naturally all the employees at the company just so happen to be female. Does that seem a bit overly convenient somehow? Maybe, but who cares. New Game never tries to be an accurate representation of what working in the multimedia industry is like. If that’s what you’re looking for, go watch Shirobako instead. New Game is simply about a group of lovable characters interacting with each other in a somewhat unusual setting in order to keep things a bit refreshing, and it accomplishes that goal almost flawlessly.
Aoba is extremely cute and fun to watch with her bubbly and enthusiastic personality. She’s perfect in the protagonist role for a show of this nature as she’s naturally able to generate amusing interaction between the girls, even if she’s not the one doing the talking all the time. In other words she helps the other characters shine as well, and it really shows. As far as the other girls go, there’s Aoba’s mentor Yagami Kou, who acts somewhat boy-ish a lot of the time, sleeping half-naked in the office instead of going home after work and always poking fun at others whenever possible. Then there’s her counterpart: the art director Tooyama Rin, who is a very sweet and caring person who also has a rather blatant crush on Kou. We also have the quiet girl Takimoto Hifumi who always feels uncomfortable talking face-to-face with other people, but instead is surprisingly talkative in chats, spamming emojis whenever possible, as well as a couple other girls. All-in-all, it’s a pretty diverse but wholly enjoyable character cast who pretty much never fail to entertain.
Another thing that tends to happen almost unavoidably with shows like this is subtle yuri shipping between its characters, and New Game is no exception. The most obvious example is, as briefly mentioned earlier, the relationship between Kou and Rin. While they’re supposed to be best friends who joined the company at basically the same time, the way they act around each other always seems to suggest something... more. Especially Rin always gets incredibly jealous and/or upset at little things that make it pretty clear that she isn’t looking at Kou the same way as she does the other girls. The show also provides quite a few scenes with a rather lovey dovey atmosphere just for the two of them. There are also a few other potential couplings with how Hifumi and especially Nene tend to act around Aoba for example, but these reactions feel a lot more friendly than romantic in comparison.
Something that definitely surprised me with New Game though was the unexpected amount of fanservice it has. I’m not talking about the typical moe-type fanservice you’re used to in CGDCT shows, but rather the ecchi type. These girls actually aren’t afraid to show some skin on camera. However, while I’m usually against the idea of throwing in ecchi scenes in anime where it doesn’t feel like it belongs, in New Game’s case it actually only makes the show even better, because this is honestly some of the best usage of ecchi I’ve seen in a long time. First of all it’s not very explicit (most of the time), but most importantly it actually feels natural. You never get to see a service shot when it doesn’t make sense. It’s only going one step further than they normally do in CGDCT anime by actually putting the camera inside the shower or the dressing room etcetera instead of outside it. So it never interrupts the story progression or feels forced, it just provides some eye candy along the way, and it does so without devaluating the characters at all. It doesn’t make them appear like sluts or cheap cash-ins, all it does is show off the fact that these girls are actually quite attractive physically speaking on top of being likable in person. That’s never a bad thing. Also, though this is more of a personal matter, I’m pretty sick of seeing so many physics-defying watermelon boobs flying everywhere in your average ecchi anime, so getting to see some skin on girls that actually look like normal people is actually pretty refreshing. That’s a bit of a sad realization when you think about it but oh well.
Speaking of which, another factor that makes the fanservice scenes so enjoyable to watch is how good the art is. Doga Kobo has in my mind always been one of the absolute best studios at drawing cute girls, as they’ve shown in the past with shows like Yuru Yuri, Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, Plastic Memories and Himouto, and they’ve done a great job with New Game as well. Their art always looks so clean and shiny, truly emphasizing both the cute and sexy sides of all the characters at the same time. On top of that we also get easily the catchiest OP of the season and the only one from Summer I never skipped once, so there’s an overwhelming amount of good points for this anime all-in-all.
It’s hard for me to label a CGDCT show as a masterpiece given the simplistic concepts of the genre, but New Game comes close enough. Or at least there really isn’t a whole lot left to ask for from an anime of its kind. It has a fairly original setting, an overall great character cast, fantastic art, catchy music, and some surprisingly impressive usage of fanservice. I guess you could argue that it isn’t very realistic and provides a rather skewed image of what working in the video game industry is like, but honestly I can’t think of that as valid criticism because the anime was never about that at all, nor should there have been any reason to believe it would be given the manga’s origins. So ultimately I can only give this anime a full recommendation for fans of slice of life, comedy and/or moe... and who knows, maybe even ecchi.
PS: That ass shot of Kou in episode 6 is still one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, holy- O///O