Hey, how’s it going there? My last post was in… holy shit, it was back in June. Anyway, before I get to reviewing New Game, I think I owe you readers an explanation for my very long absence from the anime world in general. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might know already. But for those people who don’t even know I have a Facebook page, get over there and like it already.
So, I’ve decided to continue my studies in Singapore. It’s a one-year Master’s degree program, so things are quite jam-packed. I’ve been cooped up with lots of reading and work and to be honest, I just feel so bummed out. Thanks to this workload too, I can’t even keep up with all the new anime that continuously comes out. However, a lot of my friends recommended New Game as an anime that I should watch because
Aoba is a good girl reasons. So, since I finally got a well-deserved two-week break, I decided I might as well binge on it. And that I did.
Alright, on to the review then.
The story of New Game revolves around Suzukaze Aoba, a high-school grad that apparently got hired in a supposedly famous game company, Eaglejump. There, she pursues her dream of being a character designer. In the company, she meets with a bunch of weirdos who she works together with to finish the newest installation of Fairies Story, an RPG that’s tacky as fuck.
That’s basically it. It’s a slice-of-life anime, there’s not much to say about that. It could also be considered a “coming-of-age” anime, too, since it follows Aoba’s rather abrupt transition from being in school to working overtime for six months.
Alright, when I watched this anime, I did get some laughs. Maybe it’s just me being separated from anime for too long. But to be frank, a couple of LOLs here and there was the only strong point of the anime. As a slice-of-life anime, New Game does not particularly emphasise the “life” part. For me, a major part of New Game seems to be wish-fulfillment with an added moe icing on top of it. At worse, I could think of it as a propaganda anime to entice people to join the gaming industry.
Let me explain.
The first thing that I noticed after a couple of episodes was that New Game had a promising premise. Yet it lacked execution. The anime supposedly aims to tell the story of how game developers, particularly game artists, work. However, what we get is not detailed insight into the craft itself, as Shirobako did. I’m not talking about the elaboration of technical details, which Shirobako did impressively (and was accurate to some extent); what I’m talking about is the lack of persuasive drama to actually get me, as the viewer, to relate to them as being what they are: game developers. Instead, all I got was this feeling that these are just a bunch of young adults making a game in a school club. At certain points, I forgot that these people were actually working in a fucking company. Which leads me to this particular impression: this anime tries so hard to avoid discussing the hard stuff related to game development and instead, feeds us with this diet of moe icing that’s way too sugary yet devoid of nutrition.
New Game could have been better if they tried more to be like Shirobako in their execution.
Another thing that I noticed was how the anime often made light of overtime work. In the anime, Aoba and her team usually work until past 10 PM. Overtime in Japan is not something that should just be glossed over, or even worse, made light of. Karoshi, or death by overwork, is becoming more and more prevalent in Japanese society. Consider the recent case of a Dentsu employee who killed herself because she worked around 105 hours overtime per month.
To be fair, game developing is not an easy job. When deadlines come and a schedule needs to be kept, overtime is inevitable. But then again, the fact that overtime is somewhat glorified in this anime (look at Yagami, the lead artist) is kind of disturbing. Anyway, that’s just a personal observation.
I think New Game was a promising anime, however, I feel the moe factor got in the way. There were several moments in the anime which tried to look into the harder issues of game developing, but these were often sidelined for the sake of moe interaction. Nonetheless, for the aspiring game developer, this anime might be of some motivation for you, as the core message, just like any other slice-of-life anime out there, is to keep your dreams alive. However, for those looking a Shirobako-esque equivalent, New Game might not be the anime for you.
That’s all that I have to say about New Game. It was refreshing to watch anime again!