New Game! – Season 1

New Game! – Season 1

img_4836.jpgAfter graduating high school, Suzukaze Aoba joins Eagle Jump, the game company that developed Fairies Story, the game she obsessed over as a kid. On her first day as a working member of society, Aoba heads to work swaying in a packed, morning rush hour train. She manages to get to the office building all right but hesitates, wondering if it was really okay for her to take that last step and go inside. That’s when a senior member of staff, Toyama Rin, shows up at work and safely leads Aoba inside the offices of Eagle Jump.

A young girl fresh out of high school with idealistic dreams about working in the gaming industry? You have my attention.

I was excited to watch this one as it looked like exactly the type of thing to fill the Shirobako-shaped hole in my life. The whole concept I knew was be tried-and-tested so I was looking forward to a familiar, enjoyable setting with a few new spins on the ‘young person finds out what it’s really like to work professionally in their chosen industry’ idea.

img_4837.jpgWe follow Aoba’s journey from her very first day at work and all the things that entails: meeting her new boss, interacting with her new colleagues and getting to grips with the equipment and software she will be using. Though I seem to have made things rather boring-sounding and normal, the devil is in the detail. Of course, we have a cast of all-female characters with their own memorable quirks and personalities which provide the humour to break up the actual work that Aoba does whilst at Eagle Jump. I think the reason this anime holds my interest is because, as a viewer, I’m effectively in the same situation as Aoba. I’m coming into an anime that shows an insight into the games development industry not knowing too much about the process or how video games are developed. We watch Aoba working on designing NPCs using professional tablets and software, we see her colleagues from design and motion working together to bring characters to life and we also see Aoba develop as a young professional throughout the transition. She has already developed her skills considerably and you can’t help but root for her.

img_4841.jpgWhat I like about New Game!, and what is also really liked about Shirobako, is that it provides a (pseudo) realistic insight into a unique creative industry. Whilst we get to see lots of female character working in the game industry (which is great, by the way), through this anime we also see how much work actually goes into creating a game, how long the hours can be (with Ko literally sleeping at the office a few nights a week because of how dedicated she is) and the level of detail that’s put into the overall production. In one episode, we know that Aoba spends nearly a week creating one NPC and giving them a level of detail that many people perhaps wouldn’t notice or appreciate whilst playing the game she is working on.

img_4848.jpgIt also has that coming-of-age element that I like to see, and it also shows that this part of your life just doesn’t end at high school. The fact that Aoba’s eighteen, has finished school and is now looking forward to working in the industry that she has dreamed of for years is a great start to something good. She is quite a naive, impressionable young lady, but she has good intentions and is willing to work hard in order to get what she wants out of her career.

img_4834.jpgThe artwork here is detailed, fun and colourful. As you can imagine, the main setting of this anime is in the Eagle Jump offices, and they are filled with characters’ props, personal elements and affects as well as the great gaming memorabilia that you would expect the see from a place that creates computer games. Doga Kobo practice what they preach, so we see lots of careful artwork in the characters, whilst they themselves are working on new games characters within Fairies Story 3.

img_4838.jpgIn future episodes I’m looking to see Aoba take on more responsibility and show more initiative as her confidence grows. The graphics in the game the team is designing are just beautiful so I hope to see more on-screen shots (animation within animation?) as the story progresses. I also want to learn more about the development process, and I hope New Game! continues in the successful fashion of Shirobako in the way it portrays industry within the real world and the challenges young people face as they adapt to the demands of their environment.