If you're here reading this then I will assume you had at least a passing affection for the first season of New Game and will try focusing on what is different from the first season. I will be giving my overall opinion too so if you want to skip straight to the second season of the show for some reason I will try presenting the anime as best as I can.
Right from the title the second season of New Game!! let's you know it means bussiness because it now has two exclamation points! Everything is going to be more intense! Drama, action, game development, furious blushing! You're in for a ride now!
Or perhaps it's just going to be more of the same with a few extra bits and bobs to change up the pace and make for an even better season than the previous one.
New Game's second outing is extremely similar to its first, so if you liked last year's season you are probably going to enjoy this one too. That being said there are several changes, some for the better, some for the weirder which make this season just a little bit better.
Right off the bat the anime shows us that it's grown up by throwing some mild fanservice our way. The first few episodes of the new series are full of either hardcore lesbian bait or shots of characters in cute and/or revealing outfits. It seems like a lot of experimenting went into these first episodes figuring out what identity this season is going to have, particularly since the main new changes have yet to be implemented. It had to differentiate itself somehow for the time being so the writers opted to go for some fanservice which at times flows well enough into what is happening while at other times is just shoved straight in your face (I'm looking at you Cowoba!). I don't particularly mind these scenes, but I will concede the fact that they are not very fitting of a „Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” show like this.
Some of the more minor changes in that are perhaps worth bringing up before moving onto the main course include shifting character dynamics. The returning cast is shaken up a bit by changes in management at Eagle Jump and must adapt to their new jobs. This makes it so that while the main casts personalities start off largely the same they do show some change as the season progresses, making it feel less like a rehash. The first season had some character progression too, mostly for Aoba, but this time the anime tries to give each character, or pair of characters, a chance in the spotlight to either further develop them or give them more screen time than they had in the first season. In fact, the latter half of this season is quite fond of giving almost entire episodes to characters besides Aoba, Hifumi and Yagami who ate up most of the screentime last season.
In terms of the plot we also get to see a game being made from scratch all designed and programmed by the characters we came to know and love. Because of this the anime does manage to establish a better connection to the overarching goal of the season and gives you more incentive to care. You want Aoba and the gang to succeed in making a good game because you've seen how hard they worked on even just coming up with ideas for it. However, as with the vast majority of Slice-of-Life shows focusing on an all female cast the plot is secondary here. The added depth is welcome, but it's nothing major and it doesn't need to be.
Arguably the biggest change to this season is the understandable and somewhat necessary addition of two new characters. I say understandable because the show needed to drastically shake itself up somehow to keep itself fresh and adding to the main cast is a good way to do that. Combine this with the previously mentioned changes and more focus on previously sidelined characters and this second season of New Game decently fresh.
The two newbies we get are Momiji the stone-faced and competitive artist and Narumi the prim and proper programmer. They largely fit into the already existing cast well and with both being students looking for a future hire after studies they bring a competitive air into the show and actually manage to create a little bit of discord between themselves and some of the other characters. I feel like this is where people may have a bit of an issue, up until now things have mostly been rose coloured with only the occasional tense moment which never really came from friction between characters. And here we get introduced two new characters whose first order of business is getting way too serious about their job. I can see how that might ruin the overall relaxing atmosphere of the show, but I personally didn't mind it at all.
Speaking of breaks in the rose coloured world of the show: season two manages to create some genuinely touching moments of character development, specifically between Yagami and Aoba though much of the crew get at least small moments like this. These scenes aren't anything ground-breaking, but they do their job well and one scene around the middle of the anime and one at the very end actually manged to get me emotional with an intensity I never thought the show was capable of.
Now mind you scenes like that are very few and far between and the anime will never compete with the likes of, say, Clannad, but again it was a nice change of pace and they were well executed.
The returning cast of the show also goes through some changes, some more than others. For example, Hifumi is put in charge of the team making her have to get over her fear of talking to people, Ahagon gets trainees which shows us a caring side of here we didn't really get to see before and Hajime gets a job designing mini-games where we get to see her being her usual self – I suppose she didn't really change. In fact, with the focus being shifted away from just the character team to the overall production team some characters are left in the dust which is kind of weird considering that they do get an adequate amount of screen time. The writers just don't seem to know what to do with them, Yun and Hajime are a good example of this. They both get segments of episodes dedicated entirely to them as they did previously, but curiously they stay largely unchanged for the show while everyone around seems to be moving on. Even weirder is how disconnected they feel from the rest of the cast in hindsight. They don't really interact in any meaningful way or change much of anything. They have their same old gags and side-stories that they had before.
I suppose with a cast as large as this something's got to give. Though overall I feel like the show did a good job sprucing things up, adding new elements and changing the old that new season didn't feel like a total repeat of the first which considering the overarching plot it absolutely could have.
The anime makes no effort distinguishing itself in the art or sound departament though. The art is style the same ultra-colourful, ultra-bright style that could blind you if you stared at it too long. It's generally pleasant to watch however, and doesn't have that many, if any, inconsistencies or faults. It does it's job at being a cute and fluffy Slice-of-Life show really nicely.
Now would be a good time to also mention the dub which is relatively well acted, with the exception of maybe the game director Hazuki, though I can't help but feel some roles were horribly miscast. English dubs aren't the best when it comes to moe, mostly due to the lower pitch of western women so when you hear a character who had a relatively high pitched voice in Japanese have a lower voice or other characters who sound like they have entirely different personalities it can be a bit jarring. A couple of the faces and personalities just don't mesh with the voice coming out of their mouths (But maybe you want to listen to the dub just to hear Aocchi mispronounced as Ouchie which was just hilarious).
All in all New Game's second season is what a sequel to this kind of show should be. It keeps much the same formula, but changes enough so that it doesn't feel like you're watching the first season again. It's a good effort, and one which could be met with a bit of resistance to the sheer amount of change happening, what with the first season being rather stale. I definitely enjoyed my time with New Game!! and would obviously recommend watching it if you liked the first season even a little bit. Maybe all the changes will make you like this season even more. And I did joke about how only weirdos would watch the second season first, and while that is still true, I also feel like this is self-contained enough that if you wanted to just watch this then you could though I would not recommend it.