|A beautiful show with surprisingly deeper characterization and emotions than one might expect.||There hasn't been any word on a second season!|
Figuring out where to begin with writing this review has been something of a challenge. For one thing I’ve never actually done this before (the individual episode reviews are something of a different beast), but for another… I really liked this series. I liked it so much, and so much of everything about it, that it feels like I could sum up everything that needs to be said by just saying “It’s great. Go watch it. The end.” However, I imagine you folks came here for slightly more than just that, so bear with me as I… well… basically just try to say that, but in a much more verbose fashion.
When I first began watching this series, I had not read the manga for it. I knew from various discussions around the internet that it was a Manga Time Kirara series, which, given that their standard fare is cute girls doing cute things, was enough to convince me that it would be worth watching, but I knew very little else about it. However, merely watching the first episode was enough to draw me into the series, and quickly resulted in me seeking out the manga to read it.
The experience of Aoba as a new employee struck home with me, because I’ve been there: being the newbie at a workplace is a very familiar experience. Aoba’s case is shaded with just enough cute girls doing cute things that it doesn’t turn out anywhere near as unpleasant as it easily could be. Eagle Jump is staffed by nice people, who are friendly and helpful, once she gets to know them. I’ve often felt that the quality of one’s co-workers can make or break a workplace experience, and in Aoba’s case it definitely made hers.
Having then read through the manga and gone on the review the series as it continued to air, I was struck by the quality of this adaptation. It is not merely that the studio, Doga Kobo, took the published material and conveyed it well in an animated form. They truly adapted the series, making changes that turn the anime into a unique experience compared to the manga. Many anime viewers dread adaptation changes and anime-original content, because they can so often be handled poorly, but Doga Kobo proved to be extremely deft with this, making changes that enhance the atmosphere and feeling of the source material rather than harm it.
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews occasions when certain scenes would pack an emotional punch: that sort of thing comes from expert improvements to short scenes from the source manga. Whether the issue was something truly insignificant (Nene’s panic over her accidental pudding theft, for example) or something more serious (Ko’s ongoing self-confidence issues due to the trauma from her “failure” as a leader in the past), it all felt significant to the characters at the time, and I felt their emotions along with them. I can’t help but be impressed by that, especially coming from a series that was designed as a 4-koma gag manga.
The characters in New Game! are a fascinating and eclectic bunch. Aoba herself is the eager newcomer: the young new arrival full of dreams and expectations at her first job straight out of high school. A lot of our perspective into this world comes from her. Her closest co-workers are an almost constant presence: Hajime, a genki otaku girl; Yun, a Kansai-ben speaking girl who loves fancy clothes but is generally friendly and sensible… unless she’s talking to Hajime; and Hifumi, a shy girl who becomes gregarious when chatting through instant messages, and who loves to cosplay. Yet despite their proximity to Aoba, they didn’t really receive the most development.
In fact, aside from Aoba herself, I would say it was her managers: Ko, and by extension Rin, who got the most attention throughout the series. For most of the characters, they simply are who they are now. Their backstories don’t play a particularly big role in who they are and what they’re doing in the present. However for Aoba and Ko, and Rin through her connection to Ko, this is not true. Aoba is the main character: we expect it from her. But Ko… Ko is Aoba’s idol. She’s the success-story, the person who accomplished what Aoba wishes she could do. Yet from Ko’s perspective, her story is one of pain and failure. New Game! leads us through this slowly, showing us pieces of information, step by step, to let us build the full picture on our own, and in doing so I think it made characters that are deeper and much more relatable than one would have expected from it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take at least a little time to talk about the art and animation for this series. I admit, this sort of thing is not my specialty, so if there are moments where it isn’t so great I may miss them because, hey, I’m just watching the show. On the other hand, when it looks absolutely beautiful, I tend to notice. This series doesn’t specialize in landscapes or environments (although there are a few shots with Aoba walking too or from work that we see which look pretty nice) since it spends most of its time inside an office, but when the creators went to spend a moment to make something or (usually) someone look pretty, it really comes across well.
Moreover the animation is also done quite well, and there are some lovely scenes with fluid hair movement and other such things. The fanservice scenes in particular seem to have received a lot of attention in both art and animation. Someone apparently decided that the girls should look good while they’re… well… looking good.
Anyway. This is a series that I enjoyed a lot. It’s a wonderful cute girls doing cute things cutely kind of series, and can be a wonderful thing to watch to help you relax. While it has its moments of emotions that feel moderately serious with a couple of characters, everything is always resolved for maximum happiness at the end. Because really, that’s the sort of thing we want with this kind of series. Looking at these girls living their lives and being happy as friends makes us happier by extension, and that’s what we come here for.
Simply put, this is a great series. It does what these kinds of series do very well. To anyone who hasn’t watched it, it’s well worth your time. And to everyone who’s been following these reviews with me, thank you very much for your patience as I’ve stumbled into figuring out what I’m doing. I hope you’ve been able to enjoy them. 🙂
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