(This post is the third of my 12 essays for the 2016 edition of 12 Days of Anime, a joint project between many anibloggers. For more info about the project, check out appropriant’s introductory post here, and check out the full blog spreadsheet here if you’re interested in the work of everyone participating!)
Back in May of this year, I finally got the chance to put my college degree to good use as I started working for a firm near my hometown. It’s certainly been one of the bigger transition periods of my life, from adjusting my sleep schedule to match an 8-5 workday, to moving out into my own apartment back in September. But through all the ups and downs and the tough questions I’ve spent evenings pondering, it’s still been a positive time for me, even if it’s not always easy to keep track of everything happening in my life.
Perhaps those new experiences with working life were what endeared me to New Game this past summer. After coming off a spring season filled with great slice-of-life and CGDCT shows (Flying Witch, Anne-Happy, and Sansha Sanyou, to name a few), I wasn’t quite as interested in New Game compared to other shows premiering that season. But even still, I figured that if New Game fit into genres I’m usually fond of, it was probably worth giving a shot. And then 51 seconds into the first episode, Aoba walks up to Eagle Jump for her first day of work and experiences a quintessential new hire crisis:
Yep, New Game and I got along just fine over this past summer.
The truth is, this moment and many others like it weren’t just something I could relate to, but notes of encouragement towards worries I had felt about my own experience as a new hire. Like Aoba, no one else started at my company at the same time as me, which meant I didn’t really have anyone at the office to connect with over my work experiences. But New Game helped ease my concerns with life as a full-time employee, with moments parodying all sorts of office “events” I saw every day. Aoba’s experiences were and are a reminder that those around me understand my perspective of the work we get at the office, even if their own perspectives are totally different than mine. I remember how on calmer days I’d laugh to myself when I heard my coworkers making fun of each other in the background nearby, or how on more stressful days I reminded myself that it’s ok to find work challenging, especially when given full control over completing it on your own. And well, I’m rather unfortunate to already know the dreaded feeling of hitting that snooze button one too many times.
Even now as I write this post and flip through scenes and episodes of the show itself, I think I’m realizing just how much this show helped me through the past few months. I’ve seen shows that have reminded me of past experiences with school or college, or have shaped me personally in one way or another. But New Game is probably the most I’ve ever been able to really relate to and understand the actions and feelings of characters in a show, because in all honesty it’s pretty darn close what I was experiencing at that time. And the show also captures the blur of how fast everything seems to progress around you during those first few months – Aoba started work by just working to learn from a program guidebook, but within only a few months (or, well, episodes from our perspective) was designing her own character; 6 months ago, all I could do was read some project plan sheets and tabulate quantities in Excel, and yet now I’ve been a key part of preliminary design for an ongoing project.
New Game hits small but classic office beats like the struggle with official documents, or “what do I do if someone sees me during the minute I happen to be distracted?”. And it expands beyond plot points or character interactions as well – the animation and expressiveness throughout New Game captures even the smallest moments in incredible ways. This incredible cut shows an insane level of spacial awareness and detail in a simple motion that I do more times per day than I could count. Aoba’s body shifts, rotates, and moves forward and back in a motion that matches near exactly to the same moves I need to make to sit at my own desk chair. That cut was the piece of animation that singlehandedly destroyed my assumptions on what sakuga could be – whereas before I only saw sakuga as major, bombastic moments or highly dynamic cuts of animation, now I can look for and find these details in even the quietest moments.
And ultimately the greatest thing about New Game is that it’s truly a great show. Funny, heartfelt, filled with expressive, complex characters, even the episodes that didn’t quite connect to my experiences as a new employee were a blast to watch. Few shows manage to hit that mark of consistency from episode to episode, and it says a lot to the staying power of the show that I caught myself watching extended sections of the show again while drafting this essay. New Game is a gem of a show, and one I will treasure for years to come as an outstanding comedy with an upbeat outlook on everyday life as a full-time employee.