Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anime review : NEW GAME!

New Game! Review
“A colorful and beautifully-animated comedy that is surely going to make you think twice before you say something about game”
What is New Game! ?
New Game! Follows the story of Suzukaze Aoba, a freshly-graduated girl from her high school, as she joins her favourite game company of Eagle Jump, where she will take part as one of the staff, working on a game called Fairy Stories 3.

Nick Creamer from the ANN once said that the genre slice of life has two central goals, which is either atmosphere and comedy. The atmosphere is the one where the focus is placed on creating a stable and normal world with the jokes and gags is less focused, while the comedy one focuses a lot on forcing the jokes and creating the world based purposely for jokes only.

That was something I once thought, but had no correct wording for, so I would like to thank him for creating that. And New Game, for me, falls on the slice of life one. The jokes are light, yet funny, but are not forced at the same time. From the way I see it, the focus is always placed on moving the atmosphere instead of placing jokes here and there.

Dogakobo helms the production of New Game!, and that happens a short time after they had just finished Sansha Sanyou. Oh, to be precise, Sansha Sanyou is a terrible anime and I did not enjoy my time watching it.
And with that in mind, of course my enthusiasm for New Game! Lessened. That is until I watched the first episode. Oh, keep in mind that this review is made after I rewatched the series, so there’s no point saying my first thoughts on the first episode.
The story starts with Aoba being introduced to us as a girl who is about to work in a game company. Then, Rin came in and asked her why is she here, since no kids should be around here. Of course, the gag of Aoba being mistaken as a kid is going to keep playing on in the series, but it’s always well done.

What caught me by surprise about this series is the focus on character development though. The plot is almost non-existent, but the character development is all over the place, you can see it almost in every episode. Well, the plot focuses on how Aoba and her co-workers work on the game, so when the game’s finally finished, you can expect the series to enter the final episode, that’s why I almost said that the plot is almost non-existent.

As the series progressed, I learned how the characters would react, how they would speak, how they would do something, and what is their personality. And I always enjoy a good character development, so that’s a plus for the series.

Suzukaze Aoba, the main heroine of the series, is a confident and an eager worker who always come to work early, save for one time she overslept, and is always willing to learn something new, even if it means to be working on the sideline. I like that characterization. Well, it’s going to take ages to explain every one of them here, since unlike Himouto Umaru-chan, New Game! Has a lot of characters, and each of them gets their characterization perfectly done.

But, if I would speak from personal taste, I think Takimoto Hifumi is the one who stole the show. Aside from her gorgeous appearance and great figure, her personality is what intrigues me. An introvert who isn’t capable of speaking normally, yet speak with so much emoticons in her text messages. Not to mention that her voice is also matched her perfectly. Yes, I did place Hifumi high on my 2016 anime review, and that is why. Her pet is also cute by the way.

Though there’s one particular character that I don’t like. At first, I didn’t like Sakura Nene because of her voice, but after I try to indulge myself into the anime, I learned that I actually don’t like Umiko. Umiko is from the programming team and has this love to Airsoft, which gets annoying when she started to talk about it. About her tendency of shooting people, I had no problem with it, but some people might get offended by it, but I’d rather not talk about something that I had no problem with. The problem I had with her , aside from her airsoft hobby, is her personality. She came off as a rude person everytime she finished speaking, and has this habit of pressing others into working during the work-hours. While it’s okay, some people, including myself, might brand her as the type of superior that you don’t want to have in your job.

And still in characters. One character here has an honorable mention, Hazuki Shizuki, the director and everyone’s boss. She appears sparringly, but everytime she appears, sometimes it’s not just for playing around, sometimes there’s a reason why she showed up. While showing her typical attitude of loving cute girls doing something things, she sometimes gives great advice to a character, and shows that she can be a devoted person.

Hazuki certainly did not fade with the crowd just like that. She stars in her own sproadic appearances.

A good slice of life comedy needs a good chemistry between characters. That’s something that I notice was missing from Dagashi Kashi, which prevented it from becoming a good comedy experience. On the other hand, New Game!’s pairing is always perfect, enough to state that almost everyone is good when paired with anyone. But, there’s a special chemistry that I enjoy seeing.

The first one is the chemistry between Aoba and Hifumi. The production might agree with me on this one. They appear almost always together and their interaction together is always either funny or cute. But this is because of Aoba, who is able to work with almost anyone on the character list though. It’s fun seeing them together.

he other one is, while I don’t like one, I like the chemistry that they show, which is Nene and Umiko. The ever-free Nene and the strict-superior Umiko matches each other like a matching shirt and pants. Aside from their funny interactions, there are several moments that made them special, unlike Aoba and Hifumi that is focused on being funny and cute, which is confiding with each other. Nene and Umiko had no problem confiding about each other problems towards each other, and most of the time, the listening one always give the best solution for it. Now that’s whay I’d call a good chemistry.

Kou and Rin’s relationship borders almost to the level of yuri. Being a someone who does not like a yuri-pairing that much, i’d rather focus on their relationship and chemistry, which is always good. Their relationship, while not explicit, could be implied as a lovers already by the way. Both cared for each other’s well-being and helps each other when necessary. And Rin is also upset when  Kou accidentaly forgets their trip together to the hot-spring. Honestly, can’t they be anymore  clear than this?

And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Hazuki, whom only appears sproadically, has a great chemistry when paired with anyone, especially with Aoba. She has this air of superiority that everyone is afraid of, yet also respect. Her antics might be perverted at times, but she also comes off as a good person when the time is right.

I also liked the pacing of the show. Sometimes they lowered the amount of jokes for the sake of character development and the story progression, sometimes they increase the number of jokes so that we can take a break for the character development. It’s a good pacing.

Speaking of pacing, it’s also worth noted that each episode has 3 segments. Each segments is different [That’s should be obvious] and sometimes falls into one similar pattern of either joke-serious-joke, or serious-joke-serious. While it makes several punchline obvious, the formula worked and ascends the series into a whole new level though.

Noteworthy, unlike Umaru, there are no parts being adapted out, save for some that will appear later in the next season. Yes, I wrote this review weeks after the second season being announced. In fact, instead of being adapted out, there are some notable inclusion on the anime. The major one is Hazuki’s early inclusion to the series. Hazuki appears a little late over the manga, so seeing her early and makes such a great impact is something else. The other one is her pet, Mozuku, an overweigh cat who lets out a strange, yet cute meow. While Hazuki’s appearance might be more major than Mozuku, Mozuku also done her part as an eye-candy. Speaking of animals, Sojiro, Hifumi’s pet is also cute.

Honestly, when speaking about character, I just couldn’t stop talking about Hazuki and her impact in the story. I like Hifumi more though. It’s just that, Hazuki seems underrated. Here’s hoping that she plays a bit more important role in the next season.

Enough about them though, let’s talk about a more-universal thing.
Characters are colorfully-drawn and fluidly animated, as usual of Dogakobo’s standard, and looks cute. Especially with the fact that New Game!’s cast are compromised of females. The 3-D models of several game characters are also cool-looking though.

BGM sounds okay. Some might fit the current scene, but some might seem out of place. Oh, and about that, it’s actually the sound effects that bothered me. There are some notable sound effects that I noticed were either out-of-place, outdated, and sounded just bad.

Background are… Well, given the fact that the series is based on workplace, I can say nothing about it being less green and all, but… For a workplace setting, it looks beautiful and colorful enough not to make me bored seeing it.

Also, if it’s not obvious by now, the jokes are always solid the entire time. The jokes range from either their job description, their interaction with their jobs and co-workers, and just random stuffs.

If there’s something that New Game! Taught me, there are several things though.

First is that making game takes hard work. That should be obvious, but looking at Aoba putting so much effort on just a villager characters and how Kou constantly rejected her work makes me think twice before flaming a game. I now know that the staffs put everything they got to make a game. They put their heart and soul creating the core, characters, gameplay mechanic, and even the easter eggs. The last day of the deadline is also tough, no wonder Team Bondi’s staff wanted their name at least to be on the credits.

Second is debugging, or play-testing. This is Nene’s job during the course of the show. The premise might seems promising. You get paid for playing an unreleased game. That makes you drool. That is until you realize how dull and boring your job description is. You need to play it constantly over and over
again until you realized that the game is finally bug-free. That seems, no… That IS tedious, so tedious that Nene once said it out loud.

While the insight on game development isn’t meticulous, it’s easy enough for casual viewers to grasp several gaming-industry terms and how they do their jobs, as well as providing several unique experience for them to watch.

Now… Complaining part…
Aside from my earlier rant about Umiko, there’s just one thing that I don’t like from the series. It’s the unnecesarry fanservice. I’m not a fan of a fanservice or panty-shots, so when I see one, I get turned off. However, Kou has a tendency of removing her pants and revealing her panty to the whole world to see, which she says is liberating. What’s so liberating about removing your pants and letting everyone see it? Well, she did it only at night so, I guess that’s okay? Aoba and the others are constantly put on the fanservice shots though, the undies shot, the bathing scene [That one is okay though], and Aoba undressing for her overtime.

The fanservice is noticeably reduced as the show progressed.
I noticed that they removed the unnecessary fanservice shots at the later episodes, and Kou’s pantyshot are noticeably absent after the first half of the show. I guess they finally learn that fanservice isn’t everything? Hopefully so.

All in all, this is a very good series, with the focus placed on character development and chemistry between characters. It is a good anime to enjoy when you want a good time of feeling good and relax, but also want to laugh. The laugh won’t be giggle or chuckle though, sometimes, there are moments where you’re going to laugh. It also provides several good experience and insight on how game industry works. While I found this especially interesting, I had a hard time enjoying it when there’s fanservices. The jokes are either hits and misses, though most of the time, they’re a hit. And they are not some lazy formulas being repeated. You might notice that the jokes are hardly repeated, but the resolution seems obvious at certain times.

A good show indeed. It makes me think twice before I either criticize a bad game. Now I know how hard and tedious it is to make a video-game.

I really recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good slice of life genre. Some who is also interested with the game-industry setting should not hesitate to pick it up too, since it offers some insight, helpful ones, about games. Even a casual viewer can enjoy this anime. But, might not appeal to those who doesn’t enjoy cute girls doing cute things.

The Good: Character developments are top notch and stands as one of the best. Every character has a good chemistry with anyone. Good punchlines and working formulas on every episode. Hazuki stole the show.
The Bad: Unnecesarry fanservice. Several jokes might not work as intended. Umiko is unbearable at times. Pacing might be a bit slow to some.

Highlight Moments: When Hifumi shows-off Sojiro to Aoba. Pretty much all the times when Hazuki appears and  is not being a pervert

After watching the first season, the announcement for the second season makes it hard waiting for it to come.

FINAL SCORE : 4 out of  5

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