The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: New Game!

New Game!!- Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” ―Leo Tolstoy

Aoba and Umiko interview Nene for an interim programming position, while Christina tries to warm up to the character team after fearing that they must hate her for her decision with the key visual, but it turns out they’re not bothered. Two new interns, Momiji Mochizuki and Tsubame Narumi, join Eagle Jump: Momiji is a graphics artist and begins work with Aoba, while Tsubame is a programmer. The others decide to host a welcoming party for the newcomers, with the aim of helping Momiji becoming more familiar with the character team. Later, while talking to Nene about how she came to be a programmer, Tsubame’s opinion of Nene and Umiko is diminished when Nene reveals she picked up programming as a hobby out of curiosity, feeling that Nene’s a part of Eagle Jump only for her connections. Determined to earn her place at Eagle Jump, Nene resolves to improve her programming skills. Meanwhile, Hajime grows worried about her high school friends, Akki, learning of her interests in anime and games while on an outing with Yun and her siblings. After a heart-to-heart talk with Yun, where they share images of their high school selves to one another, Hajime decides to reveal the truth to her friend, only to find that her friend’s long known and is accepting of Hajime’s hobby, to her surprise. As we enter the final quarter of New Game!!, the second season certainly has taken steps away from the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the first season, introducing new interpersonal dynamics amongst both old and new characters to liven things up around Eagle Jump. The latest additions to the staff include the competitive Momiji, who views Aoba as a rival after learning of her involvement in creating the designs for the company’s latest project, and the programmer Tsubame, whose remarks against Nene and Umiko have made some viewers very salty — individuals have felt Momiji and Tsubame to be quite unwelcome in New Game!!, although this is an position that I find ludicrous.

While dislike of these characters is perhaps only a natural reaction to two of the more hostile additions to New Game!!, I find that Momoji and Tsubame’s addition to the cast is a powerful one, serving to introduce conflict of a sort that previously has not been seen in New Game!! — early conflicts were resolved quite quickly because the old gaurd at Eagle Jump (including Aoba) have had a year to grow accustomed to one another and so, have learned how they best deal with challenges. However, Momoji and Tsubame are newcomers without any experience in company culture, hence their clashes with Aoba and the others. The rather heated discussion between Nene and Tsubame serves as a bit of a catalyst for hatred amongst viewers; most folks express disgust and disappointment with how Tsubame is quick to tear down Nene and Umiko after Nene casually remarks on her ties with Umiko and Aoba led her to Eagle Jump, and how she has no prior programming experience. However, I contend that Tsubame’s reaction, however inappropriate they were, is a natural one: people have a sense of pride when they’ve spent a considerable amount of time cultivating a skill. As such, when Tsubame learns that others can master those skills at a much quicker pace, it becomes a source of insecurity for her. In the absence of any knowledge about the actual journey Nene’s taken, Tsubame does jump the gun. However, this is surprisingly common; I have a friend who is a fantastic programmer, and folks (oftentimes, more senior developers or programmers) occasionally undermine him simply because they’re not appreciative of the fact that he’s very fact-driven and goes with better solutions based on hard numbers, rather than what experienced people have grown partial to, in order to build a system. One of the elements that New Game!! has not shown until now is that there are numerous unfavourable individuals in the real world. They can’t be ignored, removed or otherwise altered, so it is logical to work with (or around) them in the best capacity possible. Consequently, from a personal perspective, the inclusion of Tsubame and her remarks against Nene serve to strengthen New Game!!, showing that their universe is not merely a highly idealised depiction of reality, and that even in an all-girls environment, there can be conflicts. The true strength of New Game!! therefore comes from how the narrative presents Aoba, Nene and the others in helping their new hires develop the interpersonal skills to work in industry, as well as helping them adjust to life in the office.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve given a few interviews previously for new hires and as I am relatively new in industry, I completely emphasise with Aoba, who remarks that she knows very little programming. However, this interview is more of a test to determine if Nene is a good fit at Eagle Jump. This post comes somewhat out of the blue; I was not expecting Tsubame’s conversation with Nene to ignite discussions of that scale, so I figured that I should step in and offer another perspective. As with all of my previous New Game!! posts, this one will feature twenty images and their accompanying figure captions.

  • Before we dive any further into this post, I’ll explaining this post’s page quote: it’s sourced from Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian author counted as one of the greatest writers of all time and refers to prevailing attitudes about New Game!!; while a large number of individuals seem to have it in their mind that Tsubame is in the wrong, it’s equally important to see things from another perspective. This is why I am not so hasty in dealing out judgement about her, nor will I dismiss all of the things in New Game!! that make it enjoyable simply because of one moment that seems inconsistent with the general tone seen previously in the anime.

  • While seemingly cold and strict at work, it turns out that Christina’s actually quite sensitive and shy, admitting to Shizuku that she was not comfortable at all with the decision she’d previously made to put Kō as the credited artist on the concept artwork.

  • While Shizuku might be a bit of a trickster who enjoys pranking her staff, she also has their best interests at heart, and so, arranges for Christina to meet up with the others, rigging her cat, Mozuku, to assist. The end result is that the character department and Christina become on more cordial terms with one another: Aoba isn’t particularly disappointed or resentful of their decisions, and her willingness to continue moving forward is perhaps one of the strongest aspects about her character.

  • The introduction of Tsubame and Momoji form the next disruption at Eagle Jump that alters the status quo. All stories worth partaking in involve a disruption to the status quo, which sets in motion the rising action. While New Game!! might be classified as a “cute girls doing cute things” anime, its biggest and best surprise is exploring territory that remains somewhat untried, especially with respect to drama, while simultaneously retaining comedic elements. The sum of this is that New Game!! is able to stand out from its predecessor.

  • Momoji and Tsubame share the same dynamics as Aoba and Nene: the former in both cases are artists, while the latter are programmers. The freshman, however, seem more serious about their chosen professions and have some experience with graphics work and programming, respectively, while Aoba and Nene are individuals who, while still finding their feet in the industry, genuinely love what they do and are shown to be ready to learn with the aim of improving. The differences between the two sets up the potential for conflict, and Momoji immediately opens by counting Aoba a rival.

  • Shizuku decides to simulate a Maid Café with Aoba, Yun and Hajime here to their surprise. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but I’m almost always eyeballs-deep in code at work, so I’m not particularly big on distractions that do not deal with work (meetings are fine, provided they are about requirements and deliverables). I’ve been counting Nene and Tsubame “programmers” throughout this post, rather than “developer”; while the terms are often used interchangeably, a “programmer” is someone who specialises in writing good code and have a thorough understanding of how to build a solution. Conversely, a “developer” is someone who devises solutions, puts the components of a system together, gathers requirements and when needed, writes code. For a developer, communication becomes much more important.

  • Developers are true generalists, and unlike programmers or computer scientists, don’t always live and breathe code. I count myself a developer because of these reasons: I’m not a particularly skilful programmer by any stretch, and enjoy designing systems the most. As evidenced by this blog, I don’t always write code in my spare time. Of course, at work, I’ve no qualms about diving into APIs, documentation, or even Stack Overflow, to learn more about what I might need to do about a task at hand. Back in New Game!!, Shizuku has a bit too much fun in photographing Aoba, Yun and Hajime in maid outfits, much to their collective embarrassment.

  • When Shizuku approves of Hajime’s maid “skills” ahead of Yun and Aoba, Yun grows irate, while Aoba is merely confused, speaking to Aoba’s innocence. Hajime’s smirk is actually quite entertaining. I’ve seen the question being posed of whether or not anyone’s worked with superiors who are like Shizuku, and I am immensely grateful that my answer is no. This element is strictly relegated to the realm of fiction: in reality, people are rather more on-topic and focussed when work is concerned.

  • After the struggle to find a suitable restaurant to welcome Momiji, the character team settles down for lunch at a conventional restaurant. One of the greatest questions I’ve got about New Game!! is why audiences are taking it so seriously, lumping real world experiences and even credentials into things when the anime (and its source manga) are meant to present a fictionalised story at a game company. Wind of folks arguing about differences between a college and vocational institute have not escaped my ears; this is trite and quite unrelated to New Game!! on the whole. To haul terms into Canadian terminology, a college is an institute that does not confer degrees, offering certificates or diplomas upon successful completion of a programme (technical schools are a subset of a college, usually offering job-specific training programmes). The rest of the world considers this a vocational school. In Canada, universities are accredited to give degrees at the Bachelor, Master’s and PhD levels – in the United States, colleges refer to institutes that can only confer Bachelor degrees, while a university is an institute that also offers post-graduate degrees. So, by Canadian definitions, the people on messages-boards can go take a hike: a college and vocational school are interchangeable north of the 49th parallel.

  • Momiji is seen with uncommonly large portion sizes, and here, holds an onigiri that she’s brought for lunch. Aoba and the others attempt to help her feel more at home by inviting her out to lunch, although they relent when they see Momiji with her own lunch. There is a reason why I bring my own lunch as opposed to eating out: my office is located in the middle of nowhere as far as being close to food options go, and a quick lunch means getting back to work faster.

  • Tsubame is a capable cook, and usually whips up dishes that Momiji enjoys even in the absence of a substantial protein source. The two are roommates, a common arrangement amongst post-secondary students who live a considerable distance from their institution. The academic term is starting again for students; while I’m no longer a student, the effects of back-to-school are not lost upon me: traffic has increased slightly, with more pedestrians out and about now.

  • At one point, Momiji addresses Aoba as “Suzumiya” rather than Suzukaze when making her rivalry known. Struggling between being impressed by Aoba’s work and longing to surpass Aoba, the source of Momiji’s competitiveness towards Aoba remains relatively unexplored. Going from what has been presented, I would hazard a guess that Momiji is not happy about Aoba’s style having an impact on Kō’s style.

  • While attending an event, Hajime decides to catch up with one of her high school friends, but is to embarrassed to mention that she works in the games development industry. It’s revealed that Hajime had long hair in the past, and in response to the query of which incarnation of Hajime I prefer, I’d have to say that shorter hair seems to be more fitting for her current character, even if she is more appealing with longer hair.

  • While promising not to laugh, Hajime nonetheless finds herself facing Yun’s exasperation after seeing a photograph of her during her time as a high school student. Back then, Yun had coke-bottle glasses and was quite shy. When she graduated, she sought to reinvent herself, explaining her present tastes in clothing and distinct style. I am immensely glad that optics technology have largely eliminated the need for such glasses, otherwise, things could be quite uncomfortable on my end.

  • We’ve gotten to the moment at last in this talk: while I’ve spent the paragraphs explaining why I won’t vilify Tsubame, this post only features a total of two screenshots from that scene, which goes to show just how little the moment figures in the grand scheme of things: the whole scene lasts about two and a half minutes, which constitutes 0.95 percent of the entire anime’s length). I wonder what reasoning folks have for how one percent of the runtime in an anime such as New Game!! can render the whole of it (and the episodes upcoming) a failure, especially when considering how no plot holes are introduced, no unnecessary plot twists occur and there’s not deus ex machina, either.

  • It just wouldn’t be a proper post without an angry face from Tsubame. I’ve never particularly felt threatened by people whose talents in programming far surpass my own, although amongst my friends, I’m probably the most similar to Nene: I started out with a Bachelor’s in Health Science because I was indecisive about my career path, and while I could keep up with computer science students with vastly more experience and skill than myself, I continued wondering if software would be my calling. It wasn’t until the Giant Walkthrough Brain where I realised software development was my cup of tea. Unlike Nene, however, I’m always aware that I’m usually lucky with respect to solving problems, and the more I learn, the more I realise just how little I know.

  • In the time since I started this post, at least one other individual out there is in the same page as myself, suggesting that I’m not alone in thinking that Tsubame’s reaction hardly merits her becoming the “worst girl” or rendering the whole of New Game!! unwatchable. In order to ease out of that discussion, I’ll return to a moment of Hifumi handing Momiji new character designs to work on. While steadily improving, she still becomes flustered whilst dealing with people, and Hifumi has become one of my favourite characters of New Game!!.

  • The ninth episode’s namesake comes from this particular moment, where Momiji walks around in naught but her pantsu following a shower, to Tsubame’s disapproval. It’s been quite hot around my parts this summer, but not quite hot enough for me to do the same (if only for the fact that I don’t like walking around sans clothing). Given the stance I’ve taken on what ground New Game!! has covered and where these developments could lead things, I would not be surprised if this post becomes quite controversial and earns me several slaps on the proverbial wrist.

  • Having said this,  it would be interesting to see further rationale behind people’s perspectives: I already know of their stance about Tsubame and the execution of that particular scene, but the question I bring to the table is “what experiences in your life drive your outlook?”. Such a discussion could be very illuminating and offer insight as to how different people approach interpersonal conflict, but in the meantime, Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of the Tsar is out, and it’s time to explore those snowy Eastern Front maps, if only to get away from the heat that lingers over my area.

With these elements in mind, New Game!! has continued to impress in its presentation of the ins-and-outs of game development; the additional conflicts (and the prospect of solving them in the remaining episodes) means that New Game!! has done a considerable bit more to discern and differentiate itself from the first season. From the audience’s perspective, this is welcome, giving the second season a considerably more meaningful message than if the writers had chosen retain the languid pacing of the first season. I definitely do not hate Tsubame, and my expectations entering the final episodes are precisely to see what path Aoba and the others take towards addressing this particular conflict. It is understandable that people make mistakes and speak their minds without understanding the big picture, but if this were the basis for people to escalate their conflicts or simply run away from their problems, there would be no progress at all to speak of. Within the context of New Game!! and the thematic elements of learning, cooperation and appreciation of one another that are presented, it is likely (and expected) that the final episodes will deal with making the new hires a part of Eagle Jump. Overcoming their challenges and resolving their conflict is consistent with the message that New Game!! strives to present, and to leave these elements unattended is in contradiction of the ideas New Game!! has provided audiences up until now. If and when I’m asked, I’m on Tsubame’s team because she’s a part of Eagle Jump (albeit a temporary part for the time being): a team is only as good as its weakest member, and if Tsubame is allowed to learn and grow to succeed, the team’s success together follows.

New Game!!- Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” –Colin Powell

Hajime and Yun spend time together at a concert while Aoba, Nene and Hifumi do the same. Later, Hifumi accepts an assignment to be the lead character designer in place of Kō after their proposal is accepted by the publisher, and she sets about trying to keep the progress at a steady pace, although she finds Yun being dishonest about being able to make deadlines. This issue is resolved when Hifumi helps Yun design a more efficient workflow. Meanwhile, Aoba struggles to design the game’s main antagonist, but with some insights from Rin, manages to design a compelling backstory. She spends time at a hot springs with Nene and Hotaru Hoshikawa, an old friend from high school, discussing their visions of the future, and later, Nene demonstrates her completed game to Aoba, impressing her. However, Aoba is asked to turn over designing the artwork for their upcoming alpha to Kō, despite Kō’s objections. She nonetheless produces a finished product, resolving to see her assignment to completion even in the knowledge that Kō’s experience far outstrips her own. In the end, despite her drafts being declined in favour of Kō’s, Aoba feels that the learnings have been most valuable and allow her to improve for the future. This is the more serious direction that New Game!! has taken; dealing with internal struggles of interacting with fellow employees as well as handling decisions higher-ups make based on market forces.

The shift towards topics that are more sobering in nature is a direction well within the purview of what is reasonably expected of New Game!! – as remarked upon in my earlier discussion, the honeymoon that New Game!’s first season depicted is over, and Aoba is now gaining exposure to a reality driven by concrete decisions driven by the single most powerful actor: dollars. While it is saddening to see Aoba fall to tears when overwhelmed by the realisation of just how far the skill gap between herself and Kō is, even after holding back her disappointment at the higher-ups’ decisions, business decisions are often made with very specific reasons in mind that extend well beyond emotions. Consequently, to remarks that this makes Christina Yamato a villain, I counter that her message from the executives is a logical one; companies do what’s best for the bottom line, forcing folks like Aoba to take one for the team, because the alternative can mean the entire team fails. I myself am getting a first-hand education in these things, so I find that, while Aoba’s situation is unfortunate, it is also necessary for the company to successfully market the game. Consequently, Christina Yamato and the people she reports to are hardly villains: in fact, to add this into New Game!! is to introduce an impediment to Aoba, and seeing her overcoming this particular challenge will be rewarding, indicating Aoba’s own growth as she learns more about the game development process.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Hajime’s excitement about Moon Ranger concert tickets leads her to be reminded not to slack off during work hours. In spite of her efforts, Hajime is beaten to the punch and fails to buy her tickets, but turns down Hifumi’s offer. The rate at which tickets are bought by bots and scalped has reached ridiculous levels, and in a newspaper article I read a few weeks back, more stringent means of defeating measures are still needed to ensure that real fans can purchase their tickets. Yun invites Hajime later to join her siblings for the afternoon event.

  • Yun’s younger sister is a splitting image of her; both her sister and brother get along with Hajime without any difficulties. I’ve seen queries raised as to what difference there is between the children’s showing and adult showing, although the answer itself is quite apparent: the children’s show is rather more structured, being akin to a play, while the adult showing feels more like a concert, allowing attendees to dance along to the performance. The differences are geared to maximise enjoyment in both demographcis, although as Hajime finds out, the children’s concert is very enjoyable.

  • Nene and Aoba encounter Hifumi at the adult performance later, decked out in gear in preparation of supporting a group she’s fond of. I’ve never actually been to any concerts from performers in my area before, primarily because I’m not particularly keen on the sort of music that is popular (e.g. Katy Perry or Taylor Swift). Instead, my music tastes are considered fringe, as I prefer soundtracks, J-Pop, symphonic metal and older Cantonese songs (e.g. Sam Hui, Danny Chan, George Lam).

  • While New Game!! excels at illustrating the dynamics amongst the characters in and around work, the excursions into the staff’s time outside of work is also important, helping convey that each character is more than merely who they are at Eagle Jump. The differences are quite pronounced, from Hifumi’s enjoyment of shopping for clothes to Hajime’s tendency to binge-watch anime, leaving her tired and ill-prepared to deal with work the following day.

  • While New Game!! might appear to be a generally relaxed anime, I’ve seen my share of discussions where participants have been very serious with respect to details in the anime, from whether or not spoilers from the manga should influence discussion on what has already occurred in the anime, to speculation of industry standards where Eagle Jump’s staff run into difficulties. It is impressive that New Game!! is able to prompt such conversations, although I tend to stay out of things when they start getting too technical.

  • Despite her shyness, Kō and Shizuku decide that the time has come to transfer Kō’s role as lead character designer over to her. In spite of her doubts, Hifumi agrees, feeling it’s an opportunity for her to learn to speak up. While technically skilled, Hifumi initially runs into some difficulties in dealing with Yun when she begins slipping on her schedule as a consequence of challenges both in and out of the workplace.

  • In the end, Hifumi manages to set things straight with Yun and even helps her improve her workflow productivity by way of suggestions. However, this is done after Hifumi begins roleplaying, only for Aoba to walk in and observe the proceedings. It typifies New Game!!‘s ability to throw in the comedic with the serious, and this is one of the greatest strengths of the second season so far.

  • When Hajime encounters difficulty in designing underwater gameplay mechanics, she manages to gain insights from a shared conversation with Aoba and Yun. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and is also essential to the game development process: mechanics can shift gameplay in different directions and alter how the final product feels for the end users. This is why weapon balance patches are continuously being tested and deployed in games like Battlefield 1, and why some players suggest avoiding Far Cry 4‘s Buzzsaw.

  • Aoba develops an inspired antagonist for their proposed game, and later reports this to Rin. When she begins showing some photos of her and a friend to Rin, she comes across a picture of said friend kissing her, prompting this reaction. I have the opposite problem that Aoba faces: because I skimped on storage in my iPhone when I bought it back in 2015, I typically off-load images onto my desktop and back them up to an external hard drive for long-term storage. As such, when friends ask me about the things I did during my trip in Japan or the hike from last weekend, I cannot show them, since they’ve been moved.

  • The amount of groping and general antics is what gives the fifth episode of New Game!! its name. Hotaru is seen in the middle here: voiced by Manaka Iwami, she’s one of the new characters introduced in New Game!!, being Aoba and Nene’s friend from high school, who was part of their school’s Art Club. A capable artist, she is enrolled at a fine arts college in order to become a professional illustrator.

  • Such antics thankfully remain confined to the realm of fiction, and during my sojourn at a Japanese hot springs back in May, I’m doubly thankful that I had the entire place to myself. I recall mentioning this in the Amanchu! OVA post, about the different forms of blushing and noted that the black body radiation kind was my favourite. Hotaru’s reaction here to being inappropriately touched at Aoba’s hands, of all people, lead her to emit thermal energy energetic enough to become visible light. Things later become more serious when the conversation turns towards the future: Aoba states that dreams turn out to be a mere stepping stone, and she’s ready to continue improving in order to pursue her goals.

  • This brand of thinking eventually becomes her mantra for New Game!!, driving Aoba onwards even as things become increasingly tough. While the stakes are elevated as New Game!! progresses, one thing I can always count on are the interesting faces the characters make under stress; here, Aoba rests her head on her desk at the prospect of what work there is on the horizon.

  • Nene’s demonstration of her game, Nene Quest, to Aoba goes rather well, although Aoba finds herself requiring a school bus, as she is being schooled at the game by Nene’s friend from university; befitting of gamers, Aoba and Nene’s university friend begin shouting mid-match, prompting the café’s staff to request a little quiet. Seeing Aoba enjoy her game and offer feedback is what spurs Nene on, and if memory serves, she will join Eagle Jump as a programmer later on. Whether or not this will be seen during New Game!! has yet to be seen, but it is very likely to be a pleasant moment when it does happen.

  • While Hajime swings her fists around to gain some inspiration for her game, I will take a detour and mention something completely unrelated: tomorrow is the first total solar eclipse since 1971 to grace North America. A partial eclipse of magnitude 0.8 will be visible from my position, reaching its maximum at 1133 MDT. Local news sources state that eclipse glasses have been sold out across the city, although I’ve still got a pair of Eclipse Shades from the partial eclipse viewing party held on campus back during 2014, when I was just getting started with Sora no Method. It seems that I’ve been aware of this eclipse for quite some time, having been looking forwards to it since 2012 when a total eclipse graced China, Taiwan and Japan in May 2012, although contrary to my remarks, I’m still well aware of what K-On! means to me.

  • To the upper right-hand corner is Christina Wako Yamato, a producer with Eagle Jump’s publisher, Houbundo. Houbundo is to Eagle Jump what Bethesda is to iD Tech and Machine Games, and what EA is to DICE. Business decisions made by the publisher do not always align with the development company’s goals; this is partially one of the reasons why Battlefield‘s DLC model has been a point of contention, and in New Game!!, Aoba and Kō experience this first hand when Christina announces that Kō is to do the artwork, prompting Kō to bring out her Mio Akiyama voice. In the end, to lessen the damage on Aoba’s feelings, Rin agrees to allow a minor competition to give Aoba a “fighting chance” even though she knows that the results will be foregone.

  • Kō offers Aoba some black coffee here, which Aoba drinks in one go despite her aversion to bitter-tasting beverages. For coffee, I invariably will prefer the addition of cream and sugar, enough to take the edge of the bitterness, but for tea, I prefer tea without any additions, having drunk it on its own at dim sum and Chinese dinners. Aoba pushes inwards with her project, not knowing it will never see the light of day, and as she continues to build it, her vision for the game becomes very clear.

  • It turns out the game that Eagle Jump is working on is a sort of RPG-adventure in a world of plushies, where the player can absorb the powers of different enemies while on a quest to liberate said world and help the queen turn things around. I’ve jokingly remarked elsewhere that such a game could be considered more violent than even the likes of DOOM, but in execution, the game looks rather family-friendly. As Aoba’s vision takes shape, I find that, were such a game to be built in real life, it would likely be published for a Nintendo platform, and would score favourably for its novelty, plus entertainment value for families.

  • The end result is that Aoba creates a cityscape type drawing featuring the protagonist hidden amongst the plushies, which speak volumes about the game itself. Her coworkers root her on as she continues working towards her goal, and later, Aoba pays Kō a visit to see how she’s doing with her work. Kō’s drawing is more action-oriented, and while others have argued Kō’s is superior, I personally prefer Aoba’s because it captures the atmosphere of the game more succinctly. I will disagree with the folks at Tango-Victor-Tango, however: neither are suitable as box art for the game. Aoba’s concept, modified to feature just the main character and the setting, would be the best overall, being clean and concise to show the main character in conjunction with the world the game is set in – consider the box art designs for games like HaloBattlefield and Deus Ex.

  • Aoba’s tears begin flowing freely upon realisation that Kō’s technical superiority leaves her in the dust. Reactions to this moment in the preview led viewers to wonder what was going on, and while Kō attempts to reassure Aoba, Aoba picks herself up, promising to at least finish what she’s started. It is this admirable resolve that makes New Game!! worth watching, and personally, I am a little surprised that messages of resilience, determination and a steadfast willingness to learn are often forgotten amidst a scramble to dissect the often-irrelevant technical elements surrounding New Game!!

  • This post on New Game!! comes out of the blue, simply to emphasise that I’m still enjoying what I see in the anime so far. As we hurtle towards the end of August, there are a few more things on the table left to write about, most notably, the Brave Witches OVA and Łupków Pass for Battlefield 1. For now, however, there’s the total solar eclipse to look forwards to. I’ll see if I can get a few photographs of it ahead of whatever my next post is: tomorrow also happens to be the date that DICE is rolling out a major Battlefield 1 update, which brings Łupków Pass to premium players ahead of the In The Name of the Tsar DLC in September.

I’ve heard that New Game!!‘s shift in tone can potentially divide the audiences into two factions, with one being appreciative of the changes, and the other feeling that treatment of Aoba comes across as being unfair, a deliberate attempt to set her career back. I contend that this is not the case; challenges are introduced precisely because they offer writers an opportunity to illustrate how people might reasonably handle them as they come up, and New Game!!‘s execution so far has been successful in showing Aoba as being determined and persevering. She may be overwhelmed by her emotions at times, but this is hardly unusual: what matters in the end is that she’s always willing to learn and improve. As such, I find that this new direction in showing hurdles that Eagle Jump’s employees face with the new project give audiences incentive to root for them as they call upon all of their resources and skills in order to deliver their assignments. Demonstrating that endearing elements can co-exist with more serious, real-world situations that have no easy solutions, these elements certainly have made New Game!! more enjoyable to watch, and I will be following New Game!!‘s second half with a keen interest.

New Game!!- Review and Reflections After Three

“When I left you I was but the learner; now I am the master.” –Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

With the competition to design a character capable of absorbing enemy capabilities beginning in earnest, Aoba struggles to come up with new character designs against veteran Kō, whose experience allows her to make considerable progress and makes her a favourite to win the competition, but when Hazuki cites Kō’s work as being too familiar to the art of Færies Story and approves Aoba’s designs, Kō is devastated, snapping at Aoba when the latter asks her for advice later. Rin speaks with Kō, reminding her of her own past as a lead character designer, and later, Kō agrees to help Aoba out. The final product, bearing a combination of their styles, impresses Hazuki and she assigns both of them to become the character designers. While Kō’s been around the block and is familar with the technical details, however, Aoba finds herself becoming lost, feeling ill-equipped to handle her position. Hifumi takes Aoba out for lunch to show support, as well as to practise talking to someone familiar and improve her shyness. Meanwhile, Nene’s made further progress in her game and arranges to meet up with Umiko to gain additional feedback on her game. New Game!! is settling into its narrative after three episodes, and insofar, it’s been a welcome return to this Manga Time Kirara adaptation that has captured game development in an immensely entertaining manner.

While subtle, it is quite clear that with the honeymoon of Aoba’s first year past – pure comedy is gradually giving way to character development, following the pattern that GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic employed; this approach is superbly effective at setting the stage and subsequently depicting facets of characters unseen to illustrate that the characters are more fluid than initially apparent. Whether it be Kō getting salty in front of Aoba out of jealousy, Hifumi’s efforts to become more social or Nene striking up a professional relationship with Umiko, it is definitely meaningful to see the different characters change over time. This has been something that GochiUsa in particular excelled at, and watching New Game!! apply this towards a fictionalised game developer shop successfully means creating a cast that viewers can empathise with more strongly with, regardless of whether or not they are familiar with the industry. To create characters viewers can become invested into and care for is the mark of a strong narrative. I also look forwards to seeing what directions the technical elements will take – New Game!! is authentic when it comes to its portrayal of elements that adds an additional level of depth to the anime, so it will be interesting as to what sort of tools and techniques will be shown as Aoba and the others begin working on their next title.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • New Game!! is the only anime besides Princess Principal I’m following with any semblance of regularity this season, and while I’m thoroughly enjoying both, I don’t feel that I can offer much to talk surrounding the steam-punk supernatural elements of Princess Principal, especially considering how I would likely pick the anime apart in discussion by comparing it to Tom Clancy novels. This is unfair considering the differences in genre, and as I am liking the direction Princess Principal is taking, such a post would probably not be indicative of this enjoyment. Hence, for the time being, I’ll stick to watching Princess Principal, and possibly returning to do talks on it later.

  • Freshman Aoba against Veteran Kō in the character design competition seems to bring to mind the face-off between David and Goliath – Yun is convinced that against the likes of Kō, competing is futile since Kō’s prowess makes her a shoo-in for becoming the next lead character designer, but Aoba decides to try anyways, feeling that it’s a part of her job description to contribute to the team and see where her art needs improvement even if winning the competition does not seem likely.

  • When Hajime comes in exhausted from a night of binge-watching anime, her coworkers assume she’s been hard at work on character designs and attempt to make things easier for her, leading to guilt. I’ve heard that marathoning (alternatively and more widely-known as “binge watching”) makes up viewing habits of upwards of sixty-one percent of all Netflix users, while sixty-four percent of all steaming viewers have marathoned a show at least once in a year. Three quarters of people define binge watching or marathoning as “two to six  or more episodes in a sitting”, a definition so loose that, under these terms, even I’ve binged watched something before. I normally watch episodes one at a time, or at most, two in a row.

  • In the OVA, it was the snowmen, and here, Aoba plays with her stationary while staying late nights to work; she tortures her eraser out of boredom and snaps out of it a moment later, returning to work. While I’ve never been a fan of what are colloquially known as “all-nighters” and avoid them like the plague, I can and will continue working from home on things if the need arises. At least this way, I can work from the comfort of home and immediately hit the hay when the tasks have reached a satisfactory state.

  • I have a feeling that seeing Kō’s pantsu is intended to be the exception rather than the rule, and as such, it would be unfair to assess New Game!! on the basis of its first episode alone. The closest it gets is showing Aoba’s (shapely) legs under her desk as she slumps in her chair during her overnight stay at the office. After a particularly long coding session, I might have degenerated into this position at my desk, but I try to make it a point of standing up and moving about every fifty minutest to reintroduce circulation, as well as stretching a little.

  • Inspired by her bear-shaped sleeping bag, Aoba’s sketches “accidentally” make it into the competition and impresses Shizuku, who approves of the designs to enter the second round of competition. I feel that Aoba’s use of hiragana in the drawing translate approximately to the Cantonese equivalent of “啤啤”, or “bear bear”. Formally, “bear” referring to members of the ursidae family is described as “熊” (phonetically similar to “red” in Cantonese), but for one reason or another, I’m really fond of calling bears “啤啤”, akin to how I prefer calling rabbits “bunnies”. Incidentally, while English has the more endearing form “bunny” for rabbits, I don’t think there’s such an equivalent for bear, and most children refer to their stuffed animals as a Teddy Bear.

  • Frustrated and upset that she was upended by an upstart, the tension in this moment is palatable when Kō loses her cool and yells at Aoba. Even without the audio elements, seeing Kō’s eyebrows makes it clear as to what she’s feeling: this is why I think anime eyebrows are relevant, as they can convey emotions very well. The shape and dimensions are very indicative of how the characters feel: in manga, this is especially important, since the visuals are fixed and as such, must capture as much as possible.

  • While perhaps not visible in this compressed image, Aoba is holding back tears after trying to talk to Kō for advice. In this moment, the differences between Yun and Aoba’s desk are quite clear: Aoba’s got some personal effects and a few resource books, but otherwise, her workspace remains quite free of personalisation to the extent of other desks. It will be here that I mention the page quote: Aoba’s definitely without the arrogance of Darth Vader, but the consequences of her chat with Kō exuded this sense. I also note that at some point, Aoba powers on her computer by pushing at the large button, which begins glowing. This is not a design characteristic of either the Dell Inspiron or XPS 8900 line: the Dell logo does not glow on the XPS 8900, and the power button is located near the top of the tower, further indicating Eagle Jump uses custom-built computers.

  • Meanwhile, Rin shares some insights with Kō, reminding her of how she came to be one of the greatest assets at Eagle Jump. She guides Kō and inspires her to make up with Aoba, leading Kō to help Aoba out. At the competition, the work that Aoba submits has Kō’s style and methods in it, leading Aoba to say that it was something the two of them created. Aoba’s new ideas with Kō’s skills allow their designs to take on a new feeling, and it is this sort of novelty that Shizuku is looking for.

  • Thus, Shizuku reaches a decision that sees Aoba and Kō work together jointly as character designers. Adding more interpersonal conflict into New Game!! furthers the enjoyment factor and shows that even in such a idyllic portrayal, problems can arise and need to be solved. The sort of drama is nowhere near as deep-seated as in a more focused workplace anime such as Shirobako; there is a limit to how serious New Game!! can get, but seeing the narrative unfold in this manner adds diversity to break up what would otherwise invariably end up as a monotony of comedic moments.

  • As it turns out, Hifumi is rather big on shopping for clothes, but her crippling shyness leads her to hardly ever buying anything despite her looking quite nice in a variety of outfits. It would explain how her interest in clothing has not put a massive strain on her expenditures, and putting this side of Hihumi’s character into the episode’s opening shows that the episode is in part about her longing to be a bit more comfortable talking with others.

  • Aoba finds herself out of her league when the discussion on 3D modelling gets serious, leading her to blank out and not offer any insights or suggestions on Hifumi’s preliminary model. Their talk of fur effects here is a legitimate conversation: rendering fur, even on the new generation NVIDIA cards, is an expensive process, and most games will fall back on textures with a good set of normal maps in order to achieve a similar appearance without the graphical overhead. With this in mind, for pre-rendered scenes, more sophisticated visuals can be used.

  • In order to both help Aoba relax and also practise speaking up, Hifumi invites Aoba out to lunch, a fancy place serving crab spaghetti. A cursory glance at my posting this month finds that, this post included, I’ve a paltry seven posts. This is because I’ve been out and about more outside of work hours: I went to Banff National Park yesterday, complements of Parks Canada and did a bit of a hike around the Vermillion Lakes trails before having dinner at Melissa’s Missteak to celebrate yet another cycle around the sun: I ordered their six-ounce sirloin and lobster tail dinner with a fully-loaded baked potato. Under the steak house’s old-time ambiance (the restaurant is in a log cabin dating back to 1928 and looks like the timber-framed buildings of Colmar), I enjoyed the tender, juicy steak and lobster fresh from their live lobster tank: if you’re reading this and you’re in Banff, I highly recommend eating here. Between the atmosphere, friendly, attentive staff and excellent food, it’s a superb venue for eating before or after a long day’s hike.

  • After dinner, we then took a walk by the Bow River before driving home under a blood-red sunset, courtesy of the forest fires raging a province over. Returning to New Game!!, I’m similar to Hifumi in that social activity and crowds wear me out; quiet time is what allows me to re-energise. However, for me, things aren’t quite as bad; it’s more of a preference that I enjoy quiet and “me” time over being with a large number of people, but I can hang out in groups just fine. Here, Aoba, Kō and Yun watch as Hifumi flits between being awake and being asleep.

  • Kō watches Umiko working on her assignment: this scene was remarkably well-done, transitioning between Nene’s simpler project and Umiko’s commercial-grade work. In comparing and contrasting the two, New Game!! illustrates the similarities between Nene and Umiko even in spite of the differences in the scope of their work; from their encountering of bugs to solving them, only to have someone else coment on their work, Nene and Umiko’s parallel experiences are meant to show that novice and expert programmers differ in how they handle issues and design systems even if they’re working on very similar tasks.

  • With this in mind, word of certain imageboard’s userbase delving into irrelevant details behind Nene’s background (such as her major and the nature of her post-secondary institution) has reached my ears. I’m not sure why they are focusing on the minutiae and ardently maintain that their discussions are to be disregarded: Nene’s current major has very little impact on her ability to learn C++, and while folks are perhaps making Nene to be more talented than she is (learning a programming language and the basics of programming is by no means difficult), I personally respect her character for having made an effort into learning something new.

  • Similarly, whether or not Nene’s campus is modelled after Hitotsubashi University, in either architecture or offered courses, should have no bearing on the fact that Nene simply enjoys learning about C++ and has an eye on working towards a programming-related career: focusing on irrelevant details is a halmark of folks who do not understand what analysis is, only leading to inane speculation that is a waste of time. A short example how to quickly address minor details follows: let’s say I’m bothered slightly by the fact that Nene and Umiko both compile their code with the enter key for the sake of discussion. In Visual Studio, the default keyboard shortcut to build is ctrl-F5. However, I can then apply a bit of thinking, suppose they’re using Visual Studio’s terminal, and we’re good to go. Returning on track, Shizuku seems to enjoy getting on Umiko’s nerves, promptly earning herself a flick to the forehead that leaves a visible mark.

  • Hifumi decides to share lunch with everyone in an effort to get to know everyone better, but it turns out she’s bought some of the components. She also offers Aoba some home-made meat and potatoes, but Kō hops in before Aoba can, leaving both Hifumi and Rin irritated: the former had wanted Aoba to be the first to try, and the latter is stung by Kō’s remark that Hifumi’s cooking surpasses hers. After a tiring but enjoyable day in the mountains, I relaxed under sunny, if somewhat smokey skies today. It seems the smoke covering Mount Rundle yesterday has finally reached home. The smoke did not detract from my Battlefield 1 matches or the chocolate cheesecake partaken in today.

  • Umiko mentoring Nene brings back memories of when I mentored undergraduate researchers in my old lab a few years back, as well as when I was being mentored by my old lab’s graduate students. Having a good instructor is essential, as it can encourage aspiring individuals to persisting on, although looking back, I had it easier than my mentor did: by the time I became a graduate student, our lab had moved over to Unity and Unreal Engine, whereas when I first started, we were using an in-house game engine whose internal workings were difficult to fix.

  • Nene and Aoba chat over the phone as the third episode draws to a close. New Game!! has succeeded in keeping things fresh for the most part, and I’m looking forwards to each episode. With this post in the books, I am looking to write about the long-awaited Amanchu! OVA; it’s been out since March, but unforeseen circumstances mean that I haven’t really had a chance to look at it until recently. Moving into August, the posting schedule becomes a little less clear: aside from the Brave Witches OVA, set for release on August 25, I’ve not any other posts set firmly in mind to write about as of yet.

Three episodes in, New Game!! has definitely maintained my intrigue for its combination of character growth, consistent comedy and the occasional inclusion of technical detail that adds immersion into the anime. The main question that remains is when the new characters will appear: while watching new developments amongst the present cast has proven enjoyable so far, it will be much more interesting to see how the introduction of new characters disrupt the status quo and bring about transformation in the existing characters. Because there are four characters, I imagine that unlike GochiUsa, the new additions will require a bit more time to adequately develop and integrate into New Game!!‘s story: consequently, I look forwards to seeing how new folks will interact with the current group of characters, driving New Game!! into novel directions that give the anime a unique sense relative to the tone set by its first season. Of course, manga readers will likely already be familiar with New Game!! and understand precisely what directions the second season intends to take, but for me, I look forwards to seeing how the anime presents things, especially with respect to the simultaneously developing mentor-student relationships between both Kō and Aoba, as well as Umiko and Nene.

New Game!!- A preview of season two

“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.

My First Time on a Company Vacation: New Game! OVA Review and Reflection

“讀萬卷書不如行萬里路” —Chinese Proverb

Despite her initial fears about skiing during a company vacation, Aoba discovers that she enjoys skiing and overcomes her fear in the process. Meanwhile, Kō becomes sick and Rin looks after her. After a speedy recovery, Kō takes to drinking and goads Umiko into a drinking contest while Aoba and Hifumi relax in the onsen. The OVA for New Game! comes as a bonus for individuals who had bought each of the six home release volumes and submitted their proof-of-purchase stubs: despite early materials strongly suggesting that this would be a hot springs episode, the actual OVA turns out to be set at a ski resort, being a faithful adaptation of the manga’s story. Despite being a bonus episode set in the aftermath of Eagle Jump’s successful release, the simple tale of how Aoba manages to find enjoyment in something that she initially is initially apprehensive about serves as the episode’s message, acting as an analogue to her experiences with taking on a new job. Though doubtful, Aoba manages to find enjoyment in a new activity because of her interactions with her co-workers, as well as with her own resolve to make the most of things. Although simplistic, it’s a fitting element for the New Game! OVA that subtly mirrors the thematic elements seen in the anime proper. Fun, relaxing and fitting for New Game!, the OVA is something for all viewers who enjoyed New Game!, although folks should not be missing out on too much should they pass over the OVA.

The contents of the New Game! OVA bring to mind my own recent experiences. Having just returned from a two-week long vacation to Japan and Hong Kong, of which a week was spent in Japan, the time is also fresh to look back on my first-ever setting foot upon the Land of the Rising Sun; I do not quite feel up to the task of writing about this fantastic vacation just yet, primarily because so much was seen, done and eaten over the past two weeks. However, I will recount the second evening in Japan, during which the itinerary saw me visit the Hotel Heritage in Kumagaya. Set just a short ways outside of Tokyo, it’s located in a quiet area with beautiful scenery, although upon arrival, darkness had already settled over the land, hiding the landscape. After checking in, we sat down to an exquisitely prepared Japanese dinner: a personal-sized nabe with rich cuts of beef, katsu with shredded cabbage, sashimi and bento, along with snow crab. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and upon its conclusion, I soaked in the onsen. Despite living only an hour from the Banff Upper Hot Springs, I’ve never actually gone to a hot springs before, so this was a wonderful experience. I found the onsen empty upon arrival and had the bath to myself; after cleaning up, I stepped into the bath and marveled at the water’s warmth. After ten minutes, however, I began feeling light headed and exited to cool off. All in all, this was superlative, and I left with a sense of relaxation. These elements are seen in numerous anime, ranging from The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan and Urara Meirocho to K-On! and Yūki Yūna is a Hero: to have experienced the same first-hand is quite unlike merely watching from behind a screen, and it continues to impress me the extent that anime in the slice-of-life genre capture elements in Japan.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’m back, baby! It’s been a shade over twenty days since my last post, and while it may have appeared that I unceremoniously stopped writing for my blog, the truth is that I was on vacation. Superbly enjoyable, I saw, hiked and ate my way through the trip in all of its glory. I mentioned earlier that I would be writing about the second Hai-Furi OVA, but the contents of the New Game! OVA were more closely aligned with my vacation experiences, so I figured that I would do a post that was one part anime discussion and one part a short discussion on my vacation.

  • The page quote, a Chinese proverb, translates directly to “it is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books”, and my experiences in Japan definitely confirm this: it was something to watch in anime the sorts of things Japanese people do for recreation, but quite another to have actually experienced it for myself. As is the custom, this talk will feature twenty screenshots, although like the Non Non Biyori OVAs, the images are captured from a DV PAL source and so, are of a lower resolution than my usual posts. When fit into a 640 by 360 form, the fuzziness is minimised and the image quality becomes acceptable for a blog post.

  • The start of the New Game! OVA sees a raging snowstorm that blankets the land in white. I’ve seen more than my share of snow during the past winter, which had been a bitterly cold one, and in a bit of irony, a powerful low pressure system swept into Alberta today, bringing with it powerful wind gusts reaching 100 km/h and copious amounts of rain. It even snowed while I was at work. In Hong Kong, a Black Rain Advisory was issued earlier today, and news reports of waist-deep flooding in places like Shau Kei Wan have arisen.

  • Aoba savours the moment as she prepares to tuck in to breakfast. One of the things that I enjoy most about travelling and staying in larger hotels is the fact that breakfasts are quite large, featuring all manners of baked goods such as bread, croissants, muffins and pancakes, as well as eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, vegetables, fruits, cereal and yogurts. In general, having a good breakfast is essential for keeping energy up for the day, and this goes double for travelling, which can be quite exhausting on account of all the listed activities: I typically have continental breakfasts or something quick at home, since I need to roll off for work on short order.

  • However, when I travel, there is invariably the opportunity to eat what is known as an American-style breakfast: the combination of simple and complex sugars, plus proteins means being able to maintain reasonable energy throughout the day. Diverse selections available at breakfast buffets means that I will also pick fruits, as travelling means reduced availability of fresh fruits. Here at breakfast, Aoba remarks that she’s more inclined to relax at the hotel rather than go skiing with the others. Midway through breakfast, Aoba notices that Kō’s not touched her food, and it turns out she’s developed a minor fever.

  • Rin looks after Kō to ensure that the latter makes a speedy recovery, and here I am, in the aftermath of my vacation, rocking a sore throat and cough. My health remained solid through the trip, but on the flight back home across the Pacific, I noticed that I was feeling a bit drier than usual, and drinking water did little to alleviate the sand in my throat. A bit of sleep the day after proved helpful, although I’m still coughing at the time of writing. Having said that, my headache has vanished, and the jet lag seems to be abating. Being sick while on vacation is unpleasant, but Kō’s choice to rest will allow her to recover.

  • While preparing for their ski run, the art team runs into Umiko, who is outfitted in winter gear and enjoying some time practising survival game drills in the snow. Between the choice of joining Umiko or skiing, Aoba decides to bite the bullet and remain with her colleagues. I’ve only ever gone skiing once: back during January 2012, I visited the mountains with friends from the Health Sciences program. My friends plainly overestimated my ability, and after a single hour of basic training, they decided to take me out to the “beginner” hills.

  • While I managed to hold out and make it for most of the track, there was a steeper hill that I was quite unprepared to deal with. Poor technique and inexperience saw me fly down the hill; I eventually hit a bump, did a front flip and landed back-first in the snow, winded, stopping just meters from some trees. In New Game!, Aoba’s colleagues seem a little more understanding and give her a bit more time in basic training.

  • Owing to the hazards associated with flying down a slippery, snow-covered slope on two thin pieces of wood, folks tend to wear helmets when they ski where I come from, so it does come across as a bit strange that the characters of New Game! are seen without helmets whilst skiing (especially Aoba, who’s about as much of a novice at the trip’s beginning as I am now). I am content to overlook this, since in fiction, characters are not subject to the laws of physics quite as vigorously as people would in reality 😛

  • Aoba crafts a number of miniature snowmen throughout the course of the OVA, giving them numeric designations, subjecting them to “tortures” by bringing them into the warmth and sending one to Kō to wish her a speedy recovery. She’s also heard making some snow-related puns during the episode, something that Hifumi notices but fails to give comment on. This playful side of Aoba’s personality, though not commonly seen during New Game! proper, is not unexpected, given that she is still quite young.

  • Aoba’s friend, Nene, reacts to a message from Aoba while studying on campus. Closer inspection of this image shows a large number of sticky notes in Nene’s textbooks and notes — it’s a common technique to allow one quicker access to important materials, but during my time as a student, I preferred creating notes anew for finals. This was motivated by the fact that I would be forced to revisit all the materials again to distill out core concepts to build a summary, allowing me to better recall things. As it turns out, after two days, Aoba’s become rather more familiar with skiing and is able to traverse the basic slopes without much difficulty, keeping up with the others.

  • As the evening sun sets in, Aoba’s perspective on skiing has done a full one-eighty. An open mind and willingness to learn has allowed her to become sufficiently skilled in skiing to enjoy it, and it is this that forms the basis for the OVA’s theme. Typically, OVAs do not offer much in the way of an overarching idea owing to their short length, but in supplementing the events of an anime proper, they can offer additional insights into the characters’ beliefs and values. Sometimes, these insights can be quite surprising, which is why I enjoy looking at OVAs and seeing what new perspectives they can provide viewers with about characters in a given show.

  • Yun, Hajime and Aoba relax in the outdoor bath with Kō and Rin. At the Hotel Heritage, there were indoor and outdoor baths, although the outdoor bath was for mixed use and required purchase of a special swimsuit. That evening was modestly warm, certainly more comfortable than the sub-zero conditions of New Game!, but despite being of the True North Strong and correspondingly accustomed to cold, I could not bring myself to go outside out of fear that I would catch the chills. The indoor bath, on the other hand, allows for folks to bathe without any sort of bating attire.

  • I stepped into the indoor bath only after thoroughly cleaning myself; the day had, after all, included a lightning tour of Tokyo, and we’d been rained on at some points. The bath was surprisingly quiet, and save for two other fellows, I had the place to myself. Back home, I’m quite bashful about walking around without clothes despite being modestly fit (a reminder of social norms in North America), but at the onsen, those reservations disappeared pretty quickly. Any more information and this post will become R-rated, so I will leave readers with an aesthetically pleasing view of Hifumi resting in the onsen.

  • Having recovered from her cold, Kō is back in business and challenges Umiko to a drinking contest even as they order different dishes at the hotel restaurant, including sea urchin and sashimi, which Kō enjoys tremendously. While a Japanese delicacy, and a part of dinner during my stay at Hotel Heritage, I was still in the early stage of my vacation and had no intention of taking the risk, however minor, of contracting food-borne illnesses — being the wet blanket that I am, I dipped the sashimi into the nabe pot and soon had myself some cooked fish that tasted delicious, on top of giving the broth a bit of extra kick.

  • If there were to be a single image in this entire post that captures how I felt while immersed in the soothing warmth of the onsen, Aoba’s expression here would be it. The indoor bath at Hotel Heritage, compared to New Game! and most anime, differ greatly; the particle density is lower (i.e. less steam) and water details are much greater (the water is clear, having no obscuring properties). Having Frostbite or CryEngine-level visual effects in anime dealing with hot springs is typically reserved for BD releases, and with this in mind, while New Game! is certainly playing it safe in its OVA, I would not have minded seeing this OVA (and Hifumi) on ultra settings.

  • Whil Aoba plays with a snowman and simulates killing it, Hifumi partakes in some sake. I speak strictly for myself when I say that I would not have done this; I’m already pretty bad with alcohol, and after some ten minutes of sitting in the onsen, I was beginning to feel a little light-headed. Sake would have almost certainly kicked my ass, although Hifumi is plainly enjoying hers. Closer inspection of this image finds that Aoba’s snowman has become a pile of mush from prolonged exposure to the warmth, a clever touch; I now understand why folks are depicted drinking a glass of milk after leaving the onsen. Feeling thoroughly content but a little dizzy after my soak, I took a bottle of cold water after returning to my hotel room.

  • In this post, I have taken advantage of the events of the New Game! OVA to recount one of my experiences while on my trip to Japan. Naturally, there were numerous others, and this will be the subject of a future post (most likely, soon, before I forget everything) — it was a thrilling journey, and I wish to do it justice. Here, as we near the end of the post, I remark that discussion on the New Game! OVA has been surprisingly minimal: even Tango-Victor-Tango’s self-appointed 3D modelling and computer hardware experts seems to have little to say about the OVA. Having said that, I am certain that things will change, and discussions will grow more lively, in the very near future.

  • Umiko recovers from her drunkenness rather abruptly, all the while insisting that she’s fine, after having one drink too many following Kō’s challenge to up the ante and take on something more potent. Contrary to what might be imagined, I never feel left out when I am at a social gathering and choose a soft drink over something like a beer: for one, the taste is better, and with ever-conflicting research about whether or not alcohol has health benefits or increases the risk of cancer, I think that trading in my ale for a ginger ale isn’t all that bad.

  • The New Game! OVA is in the books, and this means I’m fully back, both to work and to routine. For the folks who were hoping for my demise, I must apologise, today is not it: coming on the horizon will be a talk on the second Hai-Furi OVA, which released today, and before May draws to a close, I will be aiming to wrap up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Koe no Katachi is also out now, and I will be watching that as I make the time to. It feels great to return, and for folks who are wondering what else my vacation entailed, I will (probably) write about it in due course.

With the OVA finished, there is a second season of New Game! in the works, set for release in the summer 2017 anime season. Continuing on with where the first season left off, four new characters will be introduced. I enjoyed New Game!‘s first season for being able to capture the eccentricities of a game company’s artistic team; the anime exceeded expectations in being able to strike a balance between humour and character growth, as well as for integrating minor details to enhance the authenticity surrounding the 3D modelling and asset creation process. While I was less pleased with some aspects of the community for taking the anime a bit more seriously than warranted (driving discussions down a drier path, debating minutiae about whether or not Eagle Jump was using Dell computers, for instance), on the whole, New Game! itself was solid, and it is a most pleasant surprise to learn that a second season would be coming out so soon. For me, the anime does not need to be realistic to succeed, and so, looking ahead to the second season, I enter with an open mind and the expectation of more humour as the four new characters interact with the existing team.