Summer 2016 Preview: New Game!

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With the number of “cute girls doing cute things” anime released with every new season, I suppose it was inevitable that creators would start branching out and finding new settings other than Generic Anime High School #427 at which to unfold their moeblob fantasies. One environment that has remained relatively untrodden by moe anime so far is the workplace. But I’m here today to deliver some breaking news: moe has grown up and gotten a job! Don’t believe me? Check out New Game!

New Game! (yes, that exclamation point is part of the title–I’m not that excited about it) is a show about a girl named Aoba Suzukaze, who joins the fictional game company Eagle Jump as a character artist after graduating from high school. There, she meets a quirky and somewhat unconventional cast of coworkers, including the lead character designer for the game that inspired Aoba to work at Eagle Jump in the first place. The story revolves around Aoba’s day to day interactions with her coworkers in the office as they work on the next title in her favorite series.

The plot of New Game! being fairly standard slice-of-life stuff, and the show’s key visuals having all the trappings of the usual moeblob comedy series, I honestly wasn’t expecting much at all from this show. But in the process of transplanting moe from high school to the office, New Game! actually picked up some fresh ideas. For one thing, the writers wisely chose to keep the generic moe antics to a minimum, instead relying on a set of fairly universal office experiences for the show’s comedic scenes. Much of the humor in the first episode is drawn from Aoba’s attempts to impress her coworkers with her professionalism, only to find that (like most people in cubeworld) they simply do not care about being professional. So much of this was instantly relatable to me, having had eerily similar experiences as a new hire at my first professional job. For example, the moment Aoba started to adapt to her coworkers’ casual interactions, I just knew that she was going to say something inappropriately informal to her supervisor, because I did that exact thing during my first week in the office. While some of the humor is based on some far-fetched circumstances (in real life, finding a coworker sleeping under her desk in her panties would be grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit), most of the show keeps things real enough that the sense of relatability established by the setting is never really diminished, in spite of the show’s moe trappings.

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Speaking of moe trappings, the show’s visuals are pretty much exactly what one would expect from a moe comedy with a reasonable budget. The colors are bright, the character designs endearing and distinctive, and the environments detailed and awash in pastels. The voice acting is appropriately enthusiastic and expressive for a moe show, and the sound design and music in general enhances the atmosphere of whimsical cuteness. Pretty much everything about the show is cute without being too saccharine, making it unusually palatable even for those who do not otherwise tend to enjoy moe anime.

All in all, New Game! is surprisingly good. I really expected nothing more than another moe-fluff piece, and as a result I almost passed up on even watching the premiere. However, I’m glad I checked it out, and if it continues to be this smart about integrating the comedic opportunities offered by its setting with its moe trappings, it should be an entertaining diversion this summer season.

Verdict: It’s good. Actually has the potential to be one of the better shows this season.

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