“Let’s optimise for player experience rather than what we think will make more money.” —Ron Carmel
A year has passed since Aoba began working for Eagle Jump, and she wonders if there will be any new hires this year. While there are none, Kō and the others plan a hanami. Nene later meets up with Umiko to gain some insights into programming, confiding in her that Aoba’s inspired her to take up development of a simple game. Rin and Shizuku later interview each of their employees to gain their insights over their past year, and at their hanami, Shizuki announces a character design contest for their next project. A year has also elapsed in the real world – I was just starting out last year, and a year later, while I can’t quite say I’m a Swift 3 wizard, I am becoming at least a little more familiar with app development and project management. It’s most welcome to see New Game!! continue with its depiction of a highly fictionalised game studio; being a Manga Time Kirara adaptation, New Game!! is characterised by its light-hearted, humourous portrayal of an industry that is brutal and unforgiving in reality. Like its predecessors, the first episode to New Game!! is unsurprisingly easy-going, driven by comedy. Old characters are brought back to the forefront as the episode acts to give audiences a refresher on who everyone is, and with the old crew back in full force, New Game!! opens the stage for introducing new characters.
Like GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic before it, New Game!! opens its second season by re-introducing the characters that made their first seasons so enjoyable: even if the characters are memorable, a year’s passage means that some of their best moments may not be so readily recalled. As such, by placing familiar characters in novel scenarios that allow them to bounce off one another, audiences are immediately reminded of what had made the first season so enjoyable while simultaneously increasing their anticipation for what is upcoming. In New Game!!, it is welcoming to see Aoba and Kō set out on their next journey as game artists, and similarly, the seeds are sown for Nene’s interest in game development, as evidenced in her meeting up with Umiko to learn more about C++. Character interactions, being the core of Manga Time Kirara works, drive virtually everything in such anime, and one of the strongest aspects about second seasons are that they allow different characters, whom have had limited interactions insofar, to interact with one another. The end result is the creation of a much more dynamic cast: different personalities can draw out different responses and facets to the characters to really bring them to life. This is something that both GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic excelled at, and it will be exciting to see how New Game!! will bring new characters into the fold while further developing the existing cast.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Aoba owns New Game!!, so it is fitting to open with a screenshot of her all fired up and ready to receive Eagle Jump’s new employees. Not shown is her wilting when she finds out there are no new hires. A cross between Azusa Nanako and Chino Kafū, Aoba is innocent, hard-working and the sort of character audiences can rally around – she provides a grounding perspective for viewers, allowing them to take in the other characters’ eccentricities in stride, especially those of Kō’s, whose habits would almost certainly get her tossed from any company out there.
- Aoba nonchalantly greets Kō when she arrives, only to become shocked that she’s grown accustomed to Kō’s propensity to go Strike Witches-style while working late nights at the office. It’s a clever call-back to the first season to show that things have changed for Aoba, while at the same time, things have also remained the same. I imagine that by this point in time, there should be no misconceptions about what New Game!! is and isn’t. This is certainly an anime for relaxing to, rather than wondering how realistic everything is.
- The correct answer is that New Game! is realistic like Battlefield 1 is realistic, but it’s also authentic the same way Battlefield 1 is authentic. A work can be authentic and fun without being realistic; authenticity is about maintaining an atmosphere and retaining enough elements that are accurate to their real-world counterparts, and New Game! had this down solid. A realistic depiction of New Game! would be much less fun to watch, if only for the fact that when people are in the zone while working, it is dead silent in the office.
- Hence, when folks focus too much attention on the minutiae in New Game!, such as what kind of hardware they’re using or the nature of NDAs at Eagle Jump, I turn a blind eye to things and steer discussion away from the unimportant, irrelevant details – New Game! is about the characters and their experiences, not the hardware sitting on their desk. If one so desired a work of fiction where the hardware plays a role of similar importance to the characters, I would strongly recommend Tom Clancy’s novels; here, details are provided in abundance and will be sure to impress enthusiasts.
- The layout of the art department at Eagle Jump is more similar to my old office space at the University of Calgary than it is at my current workplace, an older building converted from nurses’ quarters dating back to World War One. Despite the age and creepy basement, I’ve acclimatised to the environment. It’s quite comfortable during the summer, since we have an excellent air conditioning system, but by winter, it becomes most uncomfortable: the heaters only have one setting, “overkill”, and I’ve become sick on at least one occasion thanks to an over-zealous furnace.
- When I say I am interested in character interactions, this strictly refers to how they deal with one another on a professional and inter-personal level. Said interest does not extent to the notion of pairings of characters, which are trite and contribute little to the overarching themes in the show. While Rin may possess feelings for Kō, overall, this does very little to affect how Eagle Jump delivers their next title, and instead, serves to alter how Rin acts around Kō for humour’s sake. The pairings, in short, are meant solely for laughs, and interpreting them is an exercise in futility.
- Easing viewers back into things means that there’s very little in the way of work being done this episode. One can surmise that it is probably set a short ways after the vacation OVA that was released a few months ago. Things can get quiet in between projects, and it is during this time that I will usually do maintenance of the code base or work on frameworks and APIs to make it easier to build things in the future. A good set of frameworks can save hours of development, especially where code is reused.
- Shizuku decides to take the staff out for hanami: the blossoming of Sakura trees in Japan is usually from late March to early May, which means that during my trip to Japan, I would have been at the tail end of flower-gazing season. While most trees were already devoid of the famous pink flowers by my arrival, we did see some sakura trees still in bloom at Oshino Village near Mount Fuji. Closer to home, there are a large number of sakura trees on campus grounds, and while I was a student there, I would spend May mornings and afternoon admiring the trees. By the time the local anime convention came around, the blossoms would have gone.
- Nene’s fieldcraft is inadequate, as Umiko is quick to point out. She’s holding rifle optics here to keep an eye on Umiko, but promptly loses her. As noted in the Tom Clancy novels, the best defense against someone with exceptional fieldcraft is to blend in with the crowd and betray nothing. Adam Yao excelled at this: in Threat Vector, he notes that it is more productive to pretend to be an ordinary citizen and enjoy a bowl of noodles besides executives to learn about company secrets. Because countermeasures against tails are often done by determining which people do not belong, blending in can defeat the countermeasures, although as Nene is a post-secondary student not trained in spycraft, all is forgiven.
- After a bit of light-natured humour involving Nene and Umiko sharing ice cream, Nene gets down to business and presents Umiko with a simple 2D game she’d developed in her spare time. It’s written in C++ and impressive considering the little experience Nene’s had with programming, but a ways into the demo, the game crashes with the “_Block_Type_Is_Valid (pHead->nBlockUse)” error. Umiko is plainly a skillful programmer, knowing that as a beginner, Nene should not have the answers given to her. Umiko instead decides to point Nene out in the right direction to figure things out, helping her learn as a programmer, and Nene even documents her methods appropriately, showing her commitment to learning and improving, and in the next bullet, I present an explanation for what the error is about, as well as how to fix it.
- The technical worked solution is uninteresting – the following answer is, in plain terms: “_Block_Type_Is_Valid (pHead->nBlockUse)” is thrown when attempting to deallocate something in a block of memory that has already been removed. Examining the code more closely finds that Nene calls the function “DestroyMe()” without checking to see if her character object exists. Thus, her function could be called even after her object’s health attribute has dropped below zero and the initial deallocation occurs. This is where the deletion of a non-existent object occurs. The fix is simple: do a check to see if the object exists before deleting it (as a failsafe to prevent the crash), and add another guard elsewhere to prevent characters’ health from dropping below zero (which is good practise for enforcing game logic).
- At an interview with the high-ups, audiences are given a hint that Shizuku is the reason why the entire art department and one of the developer teams are entirely female. She managed to strike a deal with one of the male lead developers, promising that he can have all male developers provided that all female employees are under her watch. While this seems contrived, I note that I work in an all-male development environment despite our higher-up’s openness to hiring males and females. It does become a little dull without female developers, since female developers can often provide insights that males do not. Either way, it sets the stage for why there are only girls in New Game!, and some explanation, however improbable, is much preferred to no explanation at all.
- While Hifumi remains quite shy and is quite flustered when asked to speak her mind, Hajime wastes no time in outlining her own proposal for a game. A quick glance at the cast finds that Kō is voiced by Youko Hisaka of K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama, while Rin is voiced by Ai Kayano (Mocha of GochiUsa and Saori Takebe of Girls und Panzer): it always is a bit surprising but amusing to learn of the folks behind each role, and with time, one becomes more familiar with who’s who. Having said this, I never base my decisions to watch something based on who is in it.
- Umiko reacts to Shizuku’s remarks about changing requirements here in her usual manner. Her requests for the requirements to remain stable is a pipe dream that most software developers will be familiar with: changing specifications are a pain in the backside to deal with and may add additional development and testing time to a project. Furthermore, scope creep is an ever-present threat to a project’s schedule. Because shifting expectations from clients are the reality, I place great value on modular architectures and code reuse; having a solid code base makes it faster to implement and test new components on a moment’s notice.
- If GochiUsa were an indicator, we will likely see new characters introduced a short ways into New Game!!‘s run. The whole idea of there being no new hires is plainly a feint, since news sources have revealed four new characters. The concept of introducing them later allows viewers to settle back into things before the status quo is disrupted; GochiUsa was able to create a completely new atmosphere with a single new character in Mocha Hoto, although her presence also meant she took the spotlight during the episodes she were present in. In New Game!!, the four new characters will likely be a little more distinct and crafted with the intent of integrating them with the main cast.
- At the flower gazing, it’s a potluck of sorts, with everyone bringing a little something to share. Hanami is a custom in Japan, being a big deal, as people often do picnics and dates under the fluttering of the pink-white petals. This stands in contrast with the cherry blossoms of campus, which often go unnoticed because they typically blossomed during that sweet spot following exams and before spring courses start, folks in Japan appreciate the transience of cherry blossoms. Because my research programmes start in May, I was around campus to enjoy them back when I was a student.
- A nervous Rin waits for Kō to sample her cooking, and when Kō praises her, Rin steps up her demands, only to be unintentionally turned away when Kō decides to try sashimi. It’s time to share on a little secret: while New Game!! was originally to start airing on July 11, a pre-airing has available for a week and some now. While I have no current plans to do episodic reviews for New Game!!, I’d figure that I’d set the table with some opening remarks before really delving into the series, given that the episode has not shown New Game!! any new territory just yet.
- Aoba reacts to wasabi in her sashimi: it is a bit of an unpleasant trick to play, and back when I was in high school, I participated in a game of sorts with sushi where ten percent of the rolls were loaded with wasabi in a food variation of Russian Roulette. The only kicker is that I’m quite fond of spicy foods, so when I landed on one, no one noticed I’d taken it until I said so. At this year’s Calgary Stampede, there’s a legendary pizza loaded with the Carolina Reaper, a pepper scoring 1.569 million Scoville Units on average (rounded to four significant figures). It is so intense, I’ve heard that emergency services are on station in case people brave enough to try it react poorly to the pizza. I’m not quite so adventurous, and have my eye on the Lobster Poutine.
- Despite Kō’s prank earlier, after Shizuku announces the internal character design competition, Aoba lightens up and expresses her looking forwards to working on another project. The improbability of Aoba securing a position as a 3D modeller despite lacking a profound knowledge of Autodesk Maya, is explained as Shizuku running into Aoba prior to her interview, and after a more casual conversation, found Aoba’s personal attributes to be a much greater asset than her technical skills. Their decision has been a good one: hardworking and motivated to improve, Aoba is a fine fit with the team and gets along with the others as well as she completes her tasks.
- In Kō, Aoba sees a role model and leader. The two definitely make a fine student-mentor pair, and a part of New Game!! will be seeing how the two continue to help one another grow even as new staff are hired into Eagle Jump. As an aside, it looks like Unity3D is featured in the credits: I wonder what role they’ve played in New Game!!. This brings my post to an end, and the next talk on New Game!! will be done after three episodes have elapsed. Owing to the non-trivial number of posts on New Game!, I’ve created a new category, and also note that the second season is merely denoted with an additional exclamation point, rather than being titled “New Game Plus!“. Upcoming posts will include the third movie in Washio Sumi Chapter, as well as Battlefield 1‘s “Praise de Tahure” update whenever that is released.
One of the elements that I found surprising about New Game! was not the anime itself, but the severity that some fans regarded the series with, whether it be the nature of the computer hardware used at Eagle Jump, how realistic the depiction of AutoDesk Maya is or whether or not New Game! was an effort to glamourise overwork and unreasonable hours in light of deadlines. While undoubtedly relatable for some viewers, who are similarly working in technology or innovation-related fields, the fact is that New Game! is a Manga Time Kirara adaptation and consequently, intended to entertain rather than be an accurate depiction of reality. It is a rose-coloured view of the industry intended to evoke a few laughs, with numerous creative liberties taken so characters can bounce off one another. In this role, New Game! is immensely successful – the things that made season one so entertaining make a return in the second season’s first episode, and looking ahead, it will be exciting to see what directions New Game!! will take. The first episode is set for broadcast on July 11, and I will be following this one quite closely, as I did a year ago when New Game! first aired.