The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: New Game!

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.

New Game!- Full Series Review and Reflection

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” —Edgar Degas

Settling in to life at Eagle Jump studios, Aoba becomes more familiar with the ins and outs of 3D modelling. She experiences career milestones, such as receiving her first paycheque, work additional hours to ensure the graphics team meets their deadlines, and even spends the summer working with her best friend, Nene. All of this effort culminates in the game’s release, which is released smoothly. During a launch party, Kō is assigned as the next art director; despite her doubts about whether or not she’d be able to handle the position, an inspired Aoba states that she’s willing to follow whatever directions Kō decides to take. Thus ends the main body of New Game!, and while there’s another episode on the horizon dealing with a company vacation, for the time being, New Game! draws to a close. As an anime adapted from a Manga Time Kirara Carat manga, New Game! unsurprisingly provides a light-hearted and free-spirited interpretation of what life is like in the arts department of a video game development company. Rather than delving into the technical elements as deeply Shirobako did, New Game! instead chooses a route driven more by the dynamics between each of the different characters — the sum of their interactions creates an atmosphere at Eagle Jump that serves to inspire and encourage Aoba further.

The choice of having a diverse set of characters in New Game! is intended to show that the positive energy in Eagle Jump’s artwork division is a consequence of its incredibly colourful members. From the dedicated and hardworking Kō to bashful Hifumi and FPS_Doug‘s female incarnate in the programmer Umiko, and everyone else in between, the staff at Eagle Jump each serve to work on a very specific aspect of their project. To highlight that each role is unique, each character has a defining characteristic to mirror this notion. For the audience, this serves to ensure each character (and by extension, their position) is differentiable from one another, as well as convey the idea that the diversity in the team contributes to the varied interactions that result in Aoba finding substantial joy working with these individuals on projects that she’s genuinely engaged with. These elements directly contribute to Aoba’s dedication and motivation to put in long hours, as opposed to any social or corporate pressures that might result should a more realistic environment be present.

Because its manga published in Manga Time Kirara Cata, New Game!‘s anime form inherits the general atmosphere and tone from its origins: New Game! is driven entirely by its humour, an element that would simply not be effective had New Game! intended to depict the life of a newly-minted 3D modeller in a realistic fashion. The magazine that it is published in should have been a sufficient indicator that New Game! would not be dealing with the more serious aspects of game development, and consequently, New Game! comes across as presenting a rose-coloured interpretation for what game development is like. Industry professionals will know this not to be true; individuals working for an intelligence agency will similarly remark that James Bond, however entertaining it may be, is not a proper representation of a career in intelligence. The point of these unrealistic works is to offer a respite from the truths of reality and aid viewers in relaxing: by all counts, New Game! has succeeded in doing so, and ultimately, this is what is most relevant when considering whether or not New Game! is worth watching as an anime. My verdict is that New Game! is recommended for all audiences who are interested in viewing a light-hearted caricature of one aspect of game development. For everyone else, New Game! earns a weak recommendation; provided that one does not mind the yuri elements too much, most of the jokes and details are easier to relate to for those who are working, and even without a substantial background in game development and 3D modelling, New Game! manages to present these in an accessible manner.

Screenshots and Commentary

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  • This talk on New Game! will span thirty images, since there are quite a few facets throughout the anime that are conducive for discussion. This marks the third time I’ve used Flickr as my image host: I typically scale my anime review images to a width of 640 so they fit within the area, since this seems sufficient to convey a particular notion. It’s only in gaming or live-action movie screenshots where I opt to go with full 1080p images.

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  • Kō’s tendency to work long hours means that she remains at the office long after everyone’s left; having the place to herself, Koō strips down and enjoys a transient moment with the free air before Rin spots her. This is all kinds of hilarious in an anime, but would be unthinkable in reality.

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  • Misunderstandings such as these are frequent in anime: Rin herself decides to strip down and see what all the fuss is about, but because it’s morning, Aoba’s just arrived. Rin attempts to keep Kō quiet, but Aoba spots them nontheless. Without any of my figure captions, however, and the context that they entail, this image would be considered quite questionable — as an exercise to the readers, if you’ve not seen New Game! and in the absence of any explanation from my end, what are Rin and Kō up to?

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  • I earned my first paycheque back during my days as an office assistant while I was a high school student, and like the fate of most of my dollars, it went straight to the bank. My first paycheque from my first full-time job outside of university, I similarly took to the bank and opened a new savings account with a slightly better interest rate than my old one. I do intend on taking my parents out for dinner in the near future once their schedules allow for it, and the first thing I bought with my first paycheque would be the EVGA GTX 1060.

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  • Aoba and the other artists spend a fair amount of time enjoying their tea, much to Umiko’s disapproval. While I was still an undergraduate student, our lab would have weekly afternoon teas during our meetings, but owing to how busy things got after I became a graduate student, tea disappeared along with these meetings: it seemed as though my supervisor was presenting our work every other week to interested parties from across campus, and even the local media.

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  • After Kō’s stylus malfunctions, Hajime and Aoba set out to buy her a new one. Rocking a Cintiq pen display for her work, some have wondered whether or not this line of equipment is prone to overheating, but reviews have shown that Kō’s model runs rather cool.

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  • While trying to lose weight, Yun adjusts the office thermometer, resulting in a minor temperature war between Kō and Hajime. My old office on university grounds was maintained at a cool 22°C and the thermostats could not be changed, while my new digs, located in a converted nurses’ quarters dating back to the inter-war period, is a small building that is quite susceptible to temperature differences. We have numerous air conditioning units in the building for hot summer days, although I’ve yet to see how cool or warm things can be come winter.

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  • Despite her overwhelming shyness, Hifumi longs to befriend Aoba, as the latter appears to constantly remind her of her pet hedgehog. The two get along quite well, although most of their verbal communications remains somewhat awkward.

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  • While Aoba’s always seen in a business suit, there are some occasions where she’s wearing more casual attire.

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  • Aoba spends a weekend afternoon with Nene Sakura, one of her friends from high school who’s presently enrolled in university, although similarly to Aoba, her physical appearance results in her being misidentified as a child. Despite finding this embarrassing, Nene capitalises on this when one of the theatre staff if she’s interested in a trinket intended for children.

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  • One particularly busy evening, Aoba decides to spend the night with Kō over at the office, and brings a bear-shaped sleeping bag that surprises Kō. Aoba has trouble falling asleep but later succeeds, leaving Kō to try and wake her as morning arrives. I’ve never spent the night over at any of my workplaces, despite one of my own wishes to pull a legendary “all-nighter” during the course of my graduate programme.

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  • Umiko is quick to mention that Aoba’s assets have created problems for the programming team: while the nature of these are not shown, improperly created assets won’t import or display properly inside the game engine, resulting in an asset that looks contrary to the original 3D structure or even one that is outright missing its material or texture data. This is very noticeable, hence Umiko’s actions.

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  • While showing Aoba the basics of airsoft, Kō shows up and manages to step on Umiko’s toes, prompting a classical duel, mano a mano, between the two. Unlike The Man With The Golden Gun, the duel does not extend into a funhouse, nor does it involve Scaramanga’s legendary Golden Gun against 007’s Walther PPK. I’ve longed to take up airsoft, and it might just become a hobby in my future: I would probably go with a personal defense weapon-type airsoft gun of sorts.

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  • The yearly health checkup comes as a bit of a hassle for Eagle Jump’s employees, who find it embarrassing or stressful; this is compounded by a novice nurse, but Aoba’s checkup proceeds reasonably smoothly. Health insurance is not provided for by all companies, but given the importance of health, it’s prudent to have a good healthcare plan. Supplementing that is a good exercise and diet.

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  • A certain individual of Tango-Victor-Tango is insisting that 3D modellers (the official term in the industry) is known more commonly as a “graffiker”, but an extensive search with my Google-Fu finds that this is definitely not the case — no results turn up. Professionals don’t refer to 3D modellers as such, and the search results return German definitions. Thus, it appears I’ve encountered one of those cases of insistent terminology I’ve heard that Tango-Victor-Tango is famous for for myself now, and said individual is not keen on my menacing the discussion threads, wondering why someone like myself is qualified to talk about some of the more technical elements in New Game!.

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  • Driven by a desire to check up on Aoba and to see what her work is like, Nene applies to a summer position at Eagle Jump as a game tester. Testing games is more tricky than testing other software: while some tests can be automated via test suites, some things must still be done via manual testing. This is a particularly tedious and time-consuming process involving running through all possible actions to determine whether or not a bug can be found, and then logging the bug so that it may be rectified.

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  • Owing to her workload, Rin falls ill, and Kō is insistent that she gets some rest. Rin is voiced by Ai Kayano (Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebi, GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hōtō and Kanae Mitani of Tamayura), and at this point, I remark that it’s a mark of how long I’ve been around anime, now that I’m beginning to recognise some voice actors more readily.

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  • In some scenes, Umiko can be seen working in Visual Studio 2013 (the version number assumed is based on the fact that New Game! was first released in 2013), and similar to myself, she prefers the dark colour scheme. The white text on black background is easier on the eyes for extended periods (since the brighter screen can cause eyestrain). In the background, a Benelli M4 Super 90 (the M1014), M1911, Baretta pistol and UMP-45 can be seen, along with the M14 battle rifle, can be seen.

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  • After getting into a disagreement with Aoba, Nene spends a fair portion of the day distracted. This does not go unnoticed by either Umiko or Kō, although par the course for anime of this sort, the conflict is resolved before the episode is over.

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  • As the game’s release date nears, Kō gives Aoba, Yun and Hajime permission to visit a games exhibition, where they run into Hifumi cosplaying. The games industry is truly gargantuan in scale, and while once regarded as a hobby for desolate folks, it’s grown to rival the cinema industry in terms of size and dollars.

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  • Although Kō is reluctant to dress up for an interview, she does so at Rin’s insistence and immediately blows away everyone in the graphics department, including Aoba, who is dressed contrary to her wont because her suit’s at the dry cleaner. When I was graduate student, I typically rolled with business casual or smart casual attire, enough to be presentable even during surprise meetings with faculty and interviews from the media: although I enjoy informal clothing such as a three-piece suit, it does become uncomfortable after long periods. Presently at work, I dress in smart casual attire.

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  • Nene and Aoba go on a supplies run during the final stretch before deployment, picking up a turbo-charged energy drink for Umiko in the process and accidentally obtains the wrong type of receipt. I’ve chosen not to go with any discussion about Nene’s discovery of a camera bug that exposes the character’s undergarments: the aforementioned individual from Tango-Victor-Tango wonders why it’d be rendered if it increases polygon count, and I note that because it’s not visible, it not rendered on GPU as triangles to impact performance. Further, as simple as a low-poly structure and a texture, it wouldn’t make the asset too much larger if properly created #ggnore.

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  • When the final elements to the game wrap up and it’s time for Nene to leave her summer position, things wind up being quite tearful; Nene bawls her eyes out here and even leads to Aoba tearing up, showing that she’s grown quite fond of her time at Eagle Jump.

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  • On release day, Aoba and the others line up for the day-one collector’s edition, before accidentally letting the slip the identity of a final boss. This would violate their NDA, although thankfully, nothing substantial comes out of it, since some folks have already beaten the game. While this sounds crazy, I have heard some people completing games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the day it came out.

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  • Reminiscent of Shirobako, the staff are called to the stage and give a short speech about their experiences. This is Kō’s second release party, and while she initially struggles with finding the right words to express her appreciation for the work everyone’s put in, Aoba’s encouragement leads her to a simple but moving speech about her time thus far at Eagle Jump.

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  • Nene wins an airsoft model of the M4 carbine in a prize draw, and although Umiko states that it’s (more or less) the M16 assault rifle, the weapon depicted sports a collapsible stock and also has a shorter barrel: the M16 has a fixed stock and longer barrel compared to the M4.

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  • As the party progresses, Yun and Hajime catch up with one of the voice actors and get her autograph, as well as a photograph with them together. I’ve a photograph of myself with Yū Asakawa from an anime convention: while the local one is quite fun, it’s also on the smaller side. As such, my next attendance will be motivated by the presence of a noteworthy voice actor (Risa Taneda, Sakura Ayane, Inori Minase or Ai Kayano come to mind).

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  • Minus Kō’s tendency to discard any sort of pants or a skirt once most of the employees head home, I find myself to be most similar to her in terms of style: I’m typically quiet and focus on my work, preferring solitude over crowds, and similarly prefer comfortable attire over anything more ostentatious, but over time, I do open up to those around me.

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  • For Aoba, meeting and working with one of her role models is a fulfilment of one of her dreams, and moving forward, her dream is now to continue making games with talented artists such as Kō. This marks the end of my post for New Game!, and with that in mind, a post on Amanchu! will be on the horizon: the finale released yesterday, and I’ll be watching that on very short order so that I can stay on top of my game, just in time for the release of Brae

According to folks who’ve read the manga, the anime adaptation of New Game! covers the first twenty-five chapters, which can be found in the first three volumes. There are a total of five volumes out at present, so it is not unimaginable that audiences could be seeing a second season of New Game! at some point in the future. While official news on whether or not this will become a reality has not been presented, New Game!‘s first season draws to a close. There will be an OVA following Aoba and the others, presumably while they relax in the aftermath of their latest launch, that accompanies the Blu-Ray releases, but for the time being, the release date also remains unknown. Being a cheerful and amusing anime with respect to both its characters and their experiences in games development, New Game! has been a surprisingly enjoyable anime that I originally had no plans to watch.

New Game!- Review and Reflections After Three

“What is it about animation, graphics, illustrations, that create meaning? And this is an important question to ask and answer because the more we understand how the brain creates meaning, the better we can communicate, and, I also think, the better we can think and collaborate together.” —Tom Wujec

Aoba Suzukaze is a new graduate who begins working as a 3D modeller at Eagle Jump, a video game developer company she has long admired for having created her favourite game. As she spends time at the company and learns the basics behind 3D modelling, she also becomes acquainted with her fellow co-workers in the character design department, as well as those from other sections of the company. An adaptation of the Manga Time Kirara Carat four-panel manga of the same name, New Game! focuses on Aoba’s life as a new 3D modeller, illustrating fictionalised aspects of game production and the work culture surrounding Eagle Jump. Intended to portray the life of a newly-minted graphics artist in a laid-back, humourous manner, New Game! does capitalise on its surroundings to present situations and jokes that are surprisingly consistent with what working for a 3D visualisation company is like.

Despite being an adaptation of a Manga Time Kirara manga, New Game! has perlexingly been the subject of no small discussion, with some viewers drawing some rather unusual conclusions about New Game!. The largest misconception at present seems to be that New Game! glorifies overwork, arguing that the anime is “disturbing” or “very painful” for its portrayal of Aoba and her coworker’s habits. For instance, Aoba’s senior, Kō Yagami, is the lead character designer and spends enough time at the office to sleep there overnight, an action that purportedly destroys any social life she might otherwise have. This is making a very subjective leap in one’s assessment: in fact, Kō is simply a highly capable artist who very much loves her work, and as such, makes a conscious choice to stay at the office. This is not something that is enforced by the company and as such, there is no evidence to show that Eagle Jump is demanding its employees to push themselves for the company’s benefit at their own expense. Similarly, Aoba’s drive to improve her skill as a 3D modeller speaks nothing of what the company’s policy is: she’s clearly motivated by her own love for games and a desire to contribute to the development of a new game. In short, New Game! presents nothing that suggests that overwork at an unreasonable personal expense is a beautiful thing, nor does it promote unhealthy work conditions. This is because as a work of fiction, New Game! is intended to portray a fictional outlook on what life as a 3D modeller is like, by showing how Aoba striving to fulfil her lifelong dream of contributing to the development of a game at a company whose staff each have their own unique attributes.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As of August 5, Google automatically migrated all of my Picasa albums to an archive as they finalise the roll-out of a new service called Google Photos. What this means is that I won’t be able to use Picasa as an image host anymore, since there are no more options to embed images at all, although thankfully, the archived photos will still remain accessible (otherwise, almost all of my posts would lose their images). I’ve transitioned to Flickr as my image host now, and so far, it seems to be a reasonably smooth experience.

  • Aoba Suzukaze is New Game!‘s protagonist. Voiced by Yūki Takada, she’s a 3D modeller who has long aspired to work with Eagle Jump, and despite being a high school graduate, her small size leads her to be mistaken for a middle-school student. Her appearance brings to mind attributes from K-On!‘s Azusa Nakano, Non Non Biyori‘s Renge Miyauchi and traces of GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu.

  • Kō Yagami is the first of the staff that Aoba runs into; while a fairly strict character designer with high standards, her habits leave something to be desired. Aoba is somewhat embarrassed to learn that Kō sleeps sans any sort of pants or shorts, but overcomes this quite quickly when learning that Kō designed the characters to the games that she loves.

  • Coffee is said to be the lifeblood of game developers. I’ve also heard that there is a very specific amount of beer or alcohol that supposedly bolsters performance, but I’m not particularly big on either, since both drinks detrimentally affect my performance: the former makes me jumpy and the latter gives me a headache.

  • Anime tend to depict workplaces as being full of colourful individuals, each with distinct character and mannerisms: here, Hajime Shinoda is swinging a prop lightsaber around. A motion designer, she captures the motions best by experimenting to see what’s natural, and I remark that last year, I won a toy lightsaber at the Stampede. The lightsaber is actually still at my old office space on campus, and I’ll need to clear that out on short order.

  • Aoba is introduced to Autodesk Maya (“Saya” in New Game! to avoid any copyright infringements), and initially, she’s overwhelmed by how complex Maya is. One of the best-known 3D modelling tools around, Maya has a very steep learning curve and is quite difficult to learn. With that in mind, I’ve heard some discussions where some folks claim that Maya causes random file corruptions or do not save properly. I’ve worked with 3D modellers who know Maya very well, and they’ve never had any issues with saving. Conversely, strange normal behaviours and some exports creating meshes that are not water-tight are quite common.

  • I myself have a minimal amount of experience in Maya, enough to extrude surfaces, apply textures and construct simple structures, a consequence of there being a lack of 3D modellers to help me build assets for my thesis work: every asset in my thesis, I built using Maya after learning it out of necessity. Here, Kō speaks with Rin Tōyama, an art director heading the department creating background assets, about getting Aoba an ID card so that she can enter and exit the office.

  • I’ll introduce the remaining characters: to the far left is Hifumi Takimoto, a skilled but shy artist who prefers using IM for communications, and to the far right is Yun Iijima, a character designer responsible for designing monsters. Kō and Hajime have been introduced, so I’m going to do my best to remember everyone’s names in time for the finale review.

  • I’ve never engaged any of my coworkers or fellow researchers in sword fights before, but I do recall reading a job posting where nerf gun skills were an asset for a developer position. Smaller companies seem to be more relaxed and informal, and some major tech companies encourage a light-hearted environment in order to maximise the employee’s productivity. Besides notions of glorifying overwork and undue stress floating about New Game! (which have been addressed in the paragraphs above), I’ve also seen two other misconceptions in New Game! that I’ll clarify.

  • The first of these deals with the computers that are used in New Game!. Aoba’s development rig can be seen here, and at least one individual has been under the impression that these are Dell Inspirons, an entry to mid-level family of computers intended for light to moderate computing. Said individual claims it’s a bug, wondering why graphics artists would use these machines, but they are forgetting that the computer case and the hardware inside are independent of one another.

  • At a company such as Eagle Jump, computers would be equipped with reasonably powerful quad-core processors and a good GPU (at least a GTX 970 or better) so that the 3D modellers can work reasonably well. As such, it’s quite inappropriate to presume that Aoba and the others are using computers ill-suited for their work. The other aspect that is a misconception is that 3D modellers can dress however they please, despite Aoba’s preference for wearing a business suit to work.

  • That 3D modellers observe a more casual dress code is not true: company policy varies from company to company. So, some organisations ask their employees to observe a business casual or business formal dress code, while others may be more lenient and allow their employees to wear smart casual. It has nothing to do with the department one works in, but everything to do with the company’s dress code.

  • My conference in Cancún led me to understand that while I have a low tolerance for beer, I can manage cocktails better. Consumed slowly, I only become mildly drowsy with drinks such as the daiquiri, whereas with beer, I immediately pick up a raging headache. Aoba is below the legal drinking age, being “only” eighteen, and in reality, with some exceptions, would not be hired straight from high school. A 3D modeller would have at least a Bachelor’s degree or diploma in a related field, accompanied by some familiarity with Autodesk Maya or an equivalent set of 3D modelling applications.

  • With that being said, New Game!, being a Manga Time Kirara work, is allowed some creative liberties (I accept and expect their works to favour humour over realism). However, it is quite surprising how seriously some folks have taken New Game!, imagining that it to be a proper portrayal of the real world and wondering why the details in New Game! do not line up with reality as per expectations.

  • Where I currently work, hours are reasonably flexible. On most days, I arrive at around 08:30 (09:30 if I’m coming from the gym), and leave at around 17:00-18:00 depending on how much there is to do. Conversely, Aoba is terrified at the prospect of being late, and her expression here is comedy gold. In general, I also take mass transit to work, and for the most part, it’s quite convenient. I’m sure my opinions will change once the Real Canadian Winter™ sets in.

  • En route to work, Aoba trips on the pavement, resulting in a stance similar to one seen in GochiUsa‘s second season. Only marginally late, Kō lets Aoba know that such occurrences are usually discouraged, but she’d be let off the hook this time. To avoid being late for work, I try to sleep early such that I’m somewhat well-rested in the mornings at the minimum. Conversely, because I tend to sleep before 23:00 on most days and wake up between 06:00 and 07:00, I’ve fallen quite far behind on my shows.

  • Here, Aoba jots down pointers from Kō on 3D modelling after being given her first assignment, to build an NPC for one of the villages. Despite getting her sphere pasted (for the longest time, I saw numerous pasted_sphere nodes in my Maya projects), Aoba resolves to do her best and learn to build more natural, fluid-looking characters. Kō’s remarks that Aoba will need to improve her asset turnover, though humourous, is reality: once one becomes familiar with the basics, it is expected that they can build more high quality assets in a shorter period of time.

  • For instance, it took me a month to figure out the logic for a molecular pathway in my thesis, but once this was done, I was turning out pathways every other week, enough to build a small library of interactions that highlight the versatility of my system. Back in New Game!, Aoba hears from Rin that her original submission was satisfactory, but Kō’s standards means that there’s always room to surpass satisfactory; folks can feel if something is poor, acceptable or excellent quite readily, hence the drive for excellence.

  • All told, I think that New Game! is harmless entertainment meant to combine the lightheartedness of an anime with some elements from the game developer’s workplace. It’s quite difficult to imagine (or demonstrate) that the authors intend New Game! to serve as a commentary on the game development industry, so I’ll definitely be continuing with this anime, keeping an eye open for the fun things that the show chooses to illustrate. As for future posts, I’m actually not too sure what I’ll be writing about, but I’m considering another Alien: Isolation post in light of how often I’ve gotten my face kicked in by the legendary Face-huggers.

Insofar, I’m enjoying New Game! for its depiction of the graphics development aspects of game development. The anime simplifies a great deal of the realities of games development and primarily aims to act as a very gentle satire of the industry in general. New Game! comes out at a very curious time: I’ve now been working full-time for a month now, and there is a surprising amount of content that I immediately relate to. I’m rather curious to see how New Game! steps through the developer cycle. In my experience, the art assets always are the keystone for development, since games make extensive use of them, so I definitely appreciate the value that 3D artists bring to a development team. New Game! has not presented itself as a social commentary, nor is it propaganda, and as such, what I look forwards to most is watching how Aoba becomes more at home with using Autodesk Maya and grows accustomed to the somewhat unorthodox life at Eagle Jump.