Sep 25, 2016
Veronin (All reviews)
New Game is a joy to watch, medicine for the mind, the perfect cure after a long day of work. It doesn't do anything too notable, but at the same time, never really needed to in the first place.

Where most slice-of-life anime fumble and stumble in an effort to figure out what they want to be, New Game knows from the very start what it is. It is a cutesy tale of the mundane, a cross of sorts between Shirobako's look into the world of production, and K-ON's more fluffy elements. It is heart-warming when it decides to take a more meaningful turn, and never ventures into the realm of melodrama. Even if it may not contain the same depth and insight into the industry as Shirobako did, it very much succeeds in being simple, yet well-crafted entertainment.

Cute slice-of-life anime are a dime a dozen, but ones like New Game are noticeably rarer. We do not often get anime with exclusively adult characters. It is something the industry needs more of, too, as high school and middle school club activities are inherently less interesting than those of a working adult. Rather than focusing on the video game industry from the eyes of a bunch of kids who play Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy after school, it takes an insider's perspective as a result of the setting, a glimpse into the art of game production. It just never really develops beyond that glimpse, with the vast majority of the anime focusing on Aoba and friends' daily adventures rather than their actual job as game developers. More often you'll see the girls fight over pudding or air conditioning rather than, y'know, developin'. It would have been nice to see New Game do something more substantial with the setting, as it can sometimes feel more like a stage than a real place. Even as incompetent as they all are, they still end up producing an excellent, finished product by the end. If New Game were an accurate representation of game development, their game would have gotten delayed so hard it would give The Last Guardian competition.

If there is one issue with regards to the characters, it is that they never truly behave like adults. Heck, most of them could even pass for primary schoolers, a fact that New Game does not hide away from, what with most of the cast dressing as kindergarteners in the ending sequence. If lolis are your thing, hey, enjoy! But if you are expecting ladies in their early-to-mid twenties to have an interest in the opposite sex and actually behave their age, you may find yourself a bit disappointed. I think, to some extent, it is justified, as the worries and the activities of the average adult are at odds with the light-hearted, relaxing nature of the genre. To ask for change would be to ask for change entirely. And I don't think New Game needs change.

I say this because New Game is more than just pudding fights and lolis-who-also-happen-to-be-adults. There are some honestly beautiful moments throughout the show - frequent enough to be notable, but never incessant to the point that it feels like it is beating you over the head with themes of friendship and healing, as some (many) slice-of-life anime do. What is there in New Game is subtle: in one early episode, Aoba is speaking to her friend about her recent experiences with game development, and the movements and crossing of her legs suggest that she is actually very excited about what's been going on, despite her casual tone over the phone. It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but subtle moments like these are effective and heart-warming all the less. It demonstrates a great deal of talent and effort on the animators' part, and makes the case for why the quiet often rings louder than the dramatic. You don't need crying and arguing and death and angst to make us care for the characters-- you only need to show that they are human beings like us. As idealised as New Game's characters are, they feel more human than the vast majority of anime characters today, even if they may all be lacking a wee bit in the brain cell department.

New Game has ample amounts of cuteness and sexiness, if that is your sorta thing. Occasionally there will be moments such as Aoba changing clothes in the bathroom, but rather than zoom in on butts and boobies to the point of blindness, it will focus on more tasteful (and less creepy) areas like the neck and the legs. The fanservice does not ever reach the point of feeling desperate, so I think, maybe, you can watch it without feeling too bad about yourself? Aoba is also, without a doubt in my mind, one of the cutest anime ladies my eyeballs have witnessed. Her adorable smile fills me with joy and sunshine. If it weren't for miss Yazawa Nico, well...

As I've gotten older and more experienced with anime, I've started to ask myself what it is I truly look for in an anime. There are some absolutely beautiful stories out there, and there are also fun little shows like New Game which provide a laugh and a smile after a long day. There are many anime fans who swear themselves to one or the other, or battle, much as I did, over which is more meaningful. I think the answer I've come to is a bit simpler: we need both in our lives.

Nay. I should rephrase that: I just need Aoba in my life.