“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” —Edgar Degas
Settling in to life at Eagle Jump studios, Aoba becomes more familiar with the ins and outs of 3D modelling. She experiences career milestones, such as receiving her first paycheque, work additional hours to ensure the graphics team meets their deadlines, and even spends the summer working with her best friend, Nene. All of this effort culminates in the game’s release, which is released smoothly. During a launch party, Kō is assigned as the next art director; despite her doubts about whether or not she’d be able to handle the position, an inspired Aoba states that she’s willing to follow whatever directions Kō decides to take. Thus ends the main body of New Game!, and while there’s another episode on the horizon dealing with a company vacation, for the time being, New Game! draws to a close. As an anime adapted from a Manga Time Kirara Carat manga, New Game! unsurprisingly provides a light-hearted and free-spirited interpretation of what life is like in the arts department of a video game development company. Rather than delving into the technical elements as deeply Shirobako did, New Game! instead chooses a route driven more by the dynamics between each of the different characters — the sum of their interactions creates an atmosphere at Eagle Jump that serves to inspire and encourage Aoba further.
The choice of having a diverse set of characters in New Game! is intended to show that the positive energy in Eagle Jump’s artwork division is a consequence of its incredibly colourful members. From the dedicated and hardworking Kō to bashful Hifumi and FPS_Doug‘s female incarnate in the programmer Umiko, and everyone else in between, the staff at Eagle Jump each serve to work on a very specific aspect of their project. To highlight that each role is unique, each character has a defining characteristic to mirror this notion. For the audience, this serves to ensure each character (and by extension, their position) is differentiable from one another, as well as convey the idea that the diversity in the team contributes to the varied interactions that result in Aoba finding substantial joy working with these individuals on projects that she’s genuinely engaged with. These elements directly contribute to Aoba’s dedication and motivation to put in long hours, as opposed to any social or corporate pressures that might result should a more realistic environment be present.
Because its manga published in Manga Time Kirara Cata, New Game!‘s anime form inherits the general atmosphere and tone from its origins: New Game! is driven entirely by its humour, an element that would simply not be effective had New Game! intended to depict the life of a newly-minted 3D modeller in a realistic fashion. The magazine that it is published in should have been a sufficient indicator that New Game! would not be dealing with the more serious aspects of game development, and consequently, New Game! comes across as presenting a rose-coloured interpretation for what game development is like. Industry professionals will know this not to be true; individuals working for an intelligence agency will similarly remark that James Bond, however entertaining it may be, is not a proper representation of a career in intelligence. The point of these unrealistic works is to offer a respite from the truths of reality and aid viewers in relaxing: by all counts, New Game! has succeeded in doing so, and ultimately, this is what is most relevant when considering whether or not New Game! is worth watching as an anime. My verdict is that New Game! is recommended for all audiences who are interested in viewing a light-hearted caricature of one aspect of game development. For everyone else, New Game! earns a weak recommendation; provided that one does not mind the yuri elements too much, most of the jokes and details are easier to relate to for those who are working, and even without a substantial background in game development and 3D modelling, New Game! manages to present these in an accessible manner.
Screenshots and Commentary
- This talk on New Game! will span thirty images, since there are quite a few facets throughout the anime that are conducive for discussion. This marks the third time I’ve used Flickr as my image host: I typically scale my anime review images to a width of 640 so they fit within the area, since this seems sufficient to convey a particular notion. It’s only in gaming or live-action movie screenshots where I opt to go with full 1080p images.
- Kō’s tendency to work long hours means that she remains at the office long after everyone’s left; having the place to herself, Koō strips down and enjoys a transient moment with the free air before Rin spots her. This is all kinds of hilarious in an anime, but would be unthinkable in reality.
- Misunderstandings such as these are frequent in anime: Rin herself decides to strip down and see what all the fuss is about, but because it’s morning, Aoba’s just arrived. Rin attempts to keep Kō quiet, but Aoba spots them nontheless. Without any of my figure captions, however, and the context that they entail, this image would be considered quite questionable — as an exercise to the readers, if you’ve not seen New Game! and in the absence of any explanation from my end, what are Rin and Kō up to?
- I earned my first paycheque back during my days as an office assistant while I was a high school student, and like the fate of most of my dollars, it went straight to the bank. My first paycheque from my first full-time job outside of university, I similarly took to the bank and opened a new savings account with a slightly better interest rate than my old one. I do intend on taking my parents out for dinner in the near future once their schedules allow for it, and the first thing I bought with my first paycheque would be the EVGA GTX 1060.
- Aoba and the other artists spend a fair amount of time enjoying their tea, much to Umiko’s disapproval. While I was still an undergraduate student, our lab would have weekly afternoon teas during our meetings, but owing to how busy things got after I became a graduate student, tea disappeared along with these meetings: it seemed as though my supervisor was presenting our work every other week to interested parties from across campus, and even the local media.
- After Kō’s stylus malfunctions, Hajime and Aoba set out to buy her a new one. Rocking a Cintiq pen display for her work, some have wondered whether or not this line of equipment is prone to overheating, but reviews have shown that Kō’s model runs rather cool.
- While trying to lose weight, Yun adjusts the office thermometer, resulting in a minor temperature war between Kō and Hajime. My old office on university grounds was maintained at a cool 22°C and the thermostats could not be changed, while my new digs, located in a converted nurses’ quarters dating back to the inter-war period, is a small building that is quite susceptible to temperature differences. We have numerous air conditioning units in the building for hot summer days, although I’ve yet to see how cool or warm things can be come winter.
- Despite her overwhelming shyness, Hifumi longs to befriend Aoba, as the latter appears to constantly remind her of her pet hedgehog. The two get along quite well, although most of their verbal communications remains somewhat awkward.
- While Aoba’s always seen in a business suit, there are some occasions where she’s wearing more casual attire.
- Aoba spends a weekend afternoon with Nene Sakura, one of her friends from high school who’s presently enrolled in university, although similarly to Aoba, her physical appearance results in her being misidentified as a child. Despite finding this embarrassing, Nene capitalises on this when one of the theatre staff if she’s interested in a trinket intended for children.
- One particularly busy evening, Aoba decides to spend the night with Kō over at the office, and brings a bear-shaped sleeping bag that surprises Kō. Aoba has trouble falling asleep but later succeeds, leaving Kō to try and wake her as morning arrives. I’ve never spent the night over at any of my workplaces, despite one of my own wishes to pull a legendary “all-nighter” during the course of my graduate programme.
- Umiko is quick to mention that Aoba’s assets have created problems for the programming team: while the nature of these are not shown, improperly created assets won’t import or display properly inside the game engine, resulting in an asset that looks contrary to the original 3D structure or even one that is outright missing its material or texture data. This is very noticeable, hence Umiko’s actions.
- While showing Aoba the basics of airsoft, Kō shows up and manages to step on Umiko’s toes, prompting a classical duel, mano a mano, between the two. Unlike The Man With The Golden Gun, the duel does not extend into a funhouse, nor does it involve Scaramanga’s legendary Golden Gun against 007’s Walther PPK. I’ve longed to take up airsoft, and it might just become a hobby in my future: I would probably go with a personal defense weapon-type airsoft gun of sorts.
- The yearly health checkup comes as a bit of a hassle for Eagle Jump’s employees, who find it embarrassing or stressful; this is compounded by a novice nurse, but Aoba’s checkup proceeds reasonably smoothly. Health insurance is not provided for by all companies, but given the importance of health, it’s prudent to have a good healthcare plan. Supplementing that is a good exercise and diet.
- A certain individual of Tango-Victor-Tango is insisting that 3D modellers (the official term in the industry) is known more commonly as a “graffiker”, but an extensive search with my Google-Fu finds that this is definitely not the case — no results turn up. Professionals don’t refer to 3D modellers as such, and the search results return German definitions. Thus, it appears I’ve encountered one of those cases of insistent terminology I’ve heard that Tango-Victor-Tango is famous for for myself now, and said individual is not keen on my menacing the discussion threads, wondering why someone like myself is qualified to talk about some of the more technical elements in New Game!.
- Driven by a desire to check up on Aoba and to see what her work is like, Nene applies to a summer position at Eagle Jump as a game tester. Testing games is more tricky than testing other software: while some tests can be automated via test suites, some things must still be done via manual testing. This is a particularly tedious and time-consuming process involving running through all possible actions to determine whether or not a bug can be found, and then logging the bug so that it may be rectified.
- Owing to her workload, Rin falls ill, and Kō is insistent that she gets some rest. Rin is voiced by Ai Kayano (Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebi, GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hōtō and Kanae Mitani of Tamayura), and at this point, I remark that it’s a mark of how long I’ve been around anime, now that I’m beginning to recognise some voice actors more readily.
- In some scenes, Umiko can be seen working in Visual Studio 2013 (the version number assumed is based on the fact that New Game! was first released in 2013), and similar to myself, she prefers the dark colour scheme. The white text on black background is easier on the eyes for extended periods (since the brighter screen can cause eyestrain). In the background, a Benelli M4 Super 90 (the M1014), M1911, Baretta pistol and UMP-45 can be seen, along with the M14 battle rifle, can be seen.
- After getting into a disagreement with Aoba, Nene spends a fair portion of the day distracted. This does not go unnoticed by either Umiko or Kō, although par the course for anime of this sort, the conflict is resolved before the episode is over.
- As the game’s release date nears, Kō gives Aoba, Yun and Hajime permission to visit a games exhibition, where they run into Hifumi cosplaying. The games industry is truly gargantuan in scale, and while once regarded as a hobby for desolate folks, it’s grown to rival the cinema industry in terms of size and dollars.
- Although Kō is reluctant to dress up for an interview, she does so at Rin’s insistence and immediately blows away everyone in the graphics department, including Aoba, who is dressed contrary to her wont because her suit’s at the dry cleaner. When I was graduate student, I typically rolled with business casual or smart casual attire, enough to be presentable even during surprise meetings with faculty and interviews from the media: although I enjoy informal clothing such as a three-piece suit, it does become uncomfortable after long periods. Presently at work, I dress in smart casual attire.
- Nene and Aoba go on a supplies run during the final stretch before deployment, picking up a turbo-charged energy drink for Umiko in the process and accidentally obtains the wrong type of receipt. I’ve chosen not to go with any discussion about Nene’s discovery of a camera bug that exposes the character’s undergarments: the aforementioned individual from Tango-Victor-Tango wonders why it’d be rendered if it increases polygon count, and I note that because it’s not visible, it not rendered on GPU as triangles to impact performance. Further, as simple as a low-poly structure and a texture, it wouldn’t make the asset too much larger if properly created #ggnore.
- When the final elements to the game wrap up and it’s time for Nene to leave her summer position, things wind up being quite tearful; Nene bawls her eyes out here and even leads to Aoba tearing up, showing that she’s grown quite fond of her time at Eagle Jump.
- On release day, Aoba and the others line up for the day-one collector’s edition, before accidentally letting the slip the identity of a final boss. This would violate their NDA, although thankfully, nothing substantial comes out of it, since some folks have already beaten the game. While this sounds crazy, I have heard some people completing games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the day it came out.
- Reminiscent of Shirobako, the staff are called to the stage and give a short speech about their experiences. This is Kō’s second release party, and while she initially struggles with finding the right words to express her appreciation for the work everyone’s put in, Aoba’s encouragement leads her to a simple but moving speech about her time thus far at Eagle Jump.
- Nene wins an airsoft model of the M4 carbine in a prize draw, and although Umiko states that it’s (more or less) the M16 assault rifle, the weapon depicted sports a collapsible stock and also has a shorter barrel: the M16 has a fixed stock and longer barrel compared to the M4.
- As the party progresses, Yun and Hajime catch up with one of the voice actors and get her autograph, as well as a photograph with them together. I’ve a photograph of myself with Yū Asakawa from an anime convention: while the local one is quite fun, it’s also on the smaller side. As such, my next attendance will be motivated by the presence of a noteworthy voice actor (Risa Taneda, Sakura Ayane, Inori Minase or Ai Kayano come to mind).
- Minus Kō’s tendency to discard any sort of pants or a skirt once most of the employees head home, I find myself to be most similar to her in terms of style: I’m typically quiet and focus on my work, preferring solitude over crowds, and similarly prefer comfortable attire over anything more ostentatious, but over time, I do open up to those around me.
- For Aoba, meeting and working with one of her role models is a fulfilment of one of her dreams, and moving forward, her dream is now to continue making games with talented artists such as Kō. This marks the end of my post for New Game!, and with that in mind, a post on Amanchu! will be on the horizon: the finale released yesterday, and I’ll be watching that on very short order so that I can stay on top of my game, just in time for the release of Brae
According to folks who’ve read the manga, the anime adaptation of New Game! covers the first twenty-five chapters, which can be found in the first three volumes. There are a total of five volumes out at present, so it is not unimaginable that audiences could be seeing a second season of New Game! at some point in the future. While official news on whether or not this will become a reality has not been presented, New Game!‘s first season draws to a close. There will be an OVA following Aoba and the others, presumably while they relax in the aftermath of their latest launch, that accompanies the Blu-Ray releases, but for the time being, the release date also remains unknown. Being a cheerful and amusing anime with respect to both its characters and their experiences in games development, New Game! has been a surprisingly enjoyable anime that I originally had no plans to watch.