NEW GAME! is an anime adaptation of the four-panel manga of the same name, written by Shōtaro Tokunō. The anime was produced by Doga Kobo, written by Fumihiko Shimo and directed by Yoshiyuki Fujiwara.
The series runs for twelve episodes and can be watched on Crunchyroll.
NEW GAME! focuses on high school graduate Aoba Suzukaze as she starts working at the Eagle Jump; the game company that produced her favourite video game, Fairies Story. Aoba joins Eagle Jump as a character designer.
Despite the cute aesthetic, NEW GAME! portrays a light-hearted yet realistic view of the video game industry. Of course, as it is adapted from a four-panel manga, there’s plenty of laughs to be found here too.
Though the development of Fairies Story 3 – in particular, character designs – is what ties all of the episodes together, it is the characters that make NEW GAME! what it is.
Main character Aoba Suzukaze is older than she looks; in fact, her appearance often has people mistaking her for a middle school student. Adding to her cute factor is the way in which she can be a little ditzy at times – there’s a couple of occasions where she forgets her ID, and is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to working out the inspiration for one of the characters she has designed.
However, Aoba can also have a tendency to tease those she is close to just to get a rise out of them; this becomes more evident when her childhood friend starts playing a bigger role later on in the series.
The Lead Character Designer is Ko Yagami. She is first introduced sleeping in the office, wearing only a shirt and underwear – it takes no time to at all to establish that she will be providing a fair amount of fanservice.
Ko can be brutally honest, though she softens that by acting funny. Despite her personality, she is very capable hence her role of Lead Character Designer.
Rin Toyama serves as the Art Director for Fairies Story 3. She may just be the nicest character in the cast, often lending a hand to the various employees when they run into any problems. It is also heavily suggested that she is in love with Ko.
There are two other Character Designers who work alongside Aoba for Fairies Story 3. They are Hifumi Takimoto and Yun Iijima. Hifumi is a very shy lass, though the staff of Eagle Jump overcome that by using the company’s instant messaging system to communicate with her. Aoba’s influence allows her to start getting better with it.
Yun tends to dress in elegant clothing and worries about her weight. She joined Eagle Jump on a whim, and is very much a girly girl when compared to Hajime.
Hajime Shinoda is not part of the character design team; instead she is a Motion Designer. She works with the character designers because there was no room for her elsewhere. She’s very much a tomboy, and she tends to spend her money on toys and figurines. A large collection can be found in her work area.
The Lead Programmer for Fairies’ Story 3 is Umiko Ahagon. Her work space houses a large collection of airsoft gun replicas. She can also tend to be harsh, though this often results in her fretting about being too hard on people.
The Producer and Director of the Fairies Stories series is Shizuku Hazuki. She’s quite eccentric; she admits she prefers to hire cute girls. She is also supportive of the relationship between Ko and Rin, and isn’t above teasing the latter about it.
A character who isn’t part of the Eagle Jump staff, at least early on, is Aoba’s childhood friend Nene Sakura. Earlier on she’s only really seen during phone conversations with Aoba, but she plays a bigger role later on. Much like Aoba, people get her age wrong, and she also shares similar interests to Hajime. Nene may not be the most focused character, but she still manages to perform exceptionally well.
The anime focuses on the interactions within the character design team, in particular with how Ko takes Aoba under her wing and pushes her to do her best. It’s quite enjoyable to watch Aoba develop as a character designer under Ko’s guidance, and the quirks of the other characters do often result in some very funny moments.
Talking of other characters, the fact that Rin’s love for Ko is only hinted at is somewhat disappointing. It would have been nice to have it explicitly stated that Ko and Rin are in a relationship; though there is strong evidence for it there, it’s never outright confirmed.
There’s also plenty of moments between the other characters; Aoba’s first encounter with Ko definitely has shades of this, Hifumi opening up to due Aoba’s influence results in some sweet moments between the two and Hajime and Yun joined Eagle Jump together. Even Umiko joins in on this when she takes a certain other character under her wing.
The light-hearted take on the video game industry does mean that there isn’t really too much drama for the staff of Eagle Jump to overcome. It’s pretty much plain sailing throughout the series for the development of Fairies’ Story 3 – there’s no delays to deal with, and even though it’s stated that cancellations are a common occurrence, there’s never any threat of that happening.
Of course, the lack of drama does mean that there’s a greater focus on comedy. Fortunately, the humour is very good; it helps that the staff of Eagle Jump all possess their own unique eccentricities.
NEW GAME! is definitely at its best when its dealing with the stuff directly related to Eagle Jump. There’s at least one occasion where the characters have a day off; the stuff that happens here is pretty much standard cute girls doing cute things fare that is arguably weaker then the office antics. Still enjoyable, though; it just doesn’t quite have the same appeal as the office-based stuff, the company health check-up or the gaming events.
There’s a fair amount of fanservice to be found here as well; Ko’s tendency to dress down has already been mentioned, but there are also shower scenes featuring the staff of Eagle Jump, and on a couple of occasions Aoba is shown stripping down to her underwear whilst changing clothes. The fanservice is there, though whether it adds anything to the anime or detracts from it probably varies from individual to individual. It does tend to lead to some rather funny moments; Rin imitating Ko being one example, and a shared bath being another one.
NEW GAME! presents a light-hearted take on game development, using a varied and interesting cast of characters whilst throwing in plenty of comedy.
A very enjoyable light-hearted take on the video game industry. Sure, it lacks drama and would be even better if Ko and Rin’s relationship was outright confirmed, but NEW GAME! provides plenty of laughs and is well worth watching if you’re into office comedies or just cute (and in some cases sexy) girls doing cute things.