“It’s up to you now, Aoba. Now you must sleep in the office in your panties.”

The second season of NEW GAME!! managed a delicate trick: adding characters without overwhelming the old, going deeper without losing the glow, and adding real workplace drama to a moe-moe comedy in a way that improved the whole.

The things I remember most about the first season of NEW GAME! are mostly vague, or a few jokes about overtime that hit uncomfortably close to home. This is not a dig; the character of have always been easily recognizable, memorable, and enjoyable, and the jist of their relationship is what I most remember about the first season. But most specifics are lost. I know they released Fairies 3, and Aoba made a lot of NPCs, but much past that he details are as fluffy as the series’ atmosphere always has, and always will, be. It was cute, light, and fluffy, a cute-girls-doing-cute-things about making games and work woes. And that was great.

The delicate dance that NEW GAME!! pulled off with this season is diving deeper into what the premise offered: a glimpse into white-collar working life in an industry that people yearn to be part of. Not only that, it did so without losing the cute, light, fluffy atmosphere, by harnessing all our built-up good will over these characters into short bursts of grounded drama, and then getting back to the fluff afterwards.

Whereas I’ve forgotten most of the details of the first season, I don’t think I’ll be able to forget about the contests in this season, especially the second one. The first one was great for the result it gave: Aoba and Ko teamed up to refine Aoba’s character designs and breathe life into what would become PECO. Putting Aoba into that position changed the dynamic, and that alone was good for the series, because it changed the status quo in a way that gave rise to new interactions. But it can’t match the second contest.

Ko’s eruption—there’s no better way to put it—when it was revealed that she would do the promotional art so that the game would sell better was a raw moment. Real emotion, to the point that I’d damn well believe it if you told me the original author had been in either Ko’s or Aoba’s seat in that situation—or they’re just good at their jobs, in which case, you know. Also a compliment. The sour taste that scene, and the results of the second competition, despite the wonderful poster Aoba created (they should have used that at some point too!), left—that colored the story going forward in a way that only became clear when the finale came along. It’s the feeling that something changed, so that when Ko revealed that it was Aoba’s striving in the face of a competition she knew she would lose that made her want to grow herself, and lead to her transfer to a company overseas, well. I believed her. It made it feel less like contrived season ending drama, and more like something that naturally would happen.

Maybe it did happen in the manga, which would go a long way toward explaining that; having the good luck to have source material that fits your episode count happens too. The plaudits still count.

It also helps that workplace dramas are like sports anime in a way. The strength of sports anime is that the protagonists can lose without the whole story ending, because nobody is going to die if they lose; likewise, Ko can transfer away, and though she’s lost to the story (to a point) either forever or for a time being, it’s not like she’s died. That makes it easier for it to happen. Add on that I’m a working stiff myself, and I’ve seen people who I dearly care about leave the companies I work for, or move away and out of my immediate life—and I’ve been that person more than once—and it brings it home extra. Probably I’m jiving on the story out of proportion to how much a younger viewer would because of that. Fair! Like I said, the plaudits still count.

Still, I stand by my assertion that the second season is superior to the first, though certainly the first was required for the second to do so well. Elements like adding a second major area of focus inside Eagle Jump—that of the programming team, with the addition of Nene (more permanently) and Narumi—as well as giving us more time with Hazuki via Christina, helped to flesh out the setting and mine other areas of game development for laughs and fluff. Though the character team wasn’t neglected, and Momiji is a good addition to their ranks, even if I feel like she hasn’t been fully utilized yet.

Plus, did you see how flagrant they were getting with the Ko x Rin romance at the end there? Just out with it already! This isn’t Nanoha, it’s 2017, you don’t have to hide your lesbians anymore (trope!), just let them be gay already! Though at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if Rin runs off to marry Ko in France, or they shack up as soon as she’s back in Japan. That scene after the going away party, man. So gay. So great!

NEW GAME!! was always a good time, and NEW GAME!! just upped the storytelling quality. Add on the developed relationship between Ko and Aoba, where it really does seem like Aoba might be able to pick up where Ko left off, and it builds on the original, adds new characters, dives into some real drama—and does it all without letting the magic die. Highly suggested, would PECO again!

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, I’ve begun blogging again! The latest post: Help Houston.


  1. Season 2 is definitely better than season 1. The last episode also hits me harder than I expected. I will miss Aoba and friends 🙁
    This and Sakura Quest are my best slice-of-life anime this year.

    One Pinch Man
  2. And now to wait for the source material to pull ahead a bit as, from what I’ve seen others say, the anime has pretty much caught up to around where the manga is. Then we can get a New Game!!! series (followed by !!!!, !!!!!, !!!!!!, etc.), lol.

    But yeah, this and Sakura Quest are definitely among my favorites this season. I just loved every single character; even ones we only got a brief introduction to, like Hotaru (she, together with Aoba and Nene, were just adorable).

    Also, let’s not overlook how far Hifumi has come since the beginning. She went from being a total introvert who literally couldn’t talk to the others unless it was through some sort of messenger to being a team leader and being the one to take the initiative to talk to others.

    1. What they did with Hifumi was really part of the show’s greatness: they let characters develop instead of saying that it’s just a CGDCT show, so don’t bother. There’s growth everywhere, and instead of wishing that the daily life of the characters would never change, the show makes you look forward to what happens next. It’s something a lot of these types of shows try, but few really succeed at. I think the choice to put it in a work environment rather than highschool or college helps, because we all know that while school has to end some day, people need to work well into their golden years. Plus making a job out of what you love is a fantasy pretty much all of humanity has had at some point in life, so seeing a cute girls actually do it really sucks you in like nothing else.

  3. This summer season was a really sparse one for me with regards to anime shows I watch weekly. The shows I followed were Nobunaga no Shinobi’s 2nd season, Isekai Shokudou, and this. I’ve been feeling burnt out on anime, and I find myself lacking the energy to watch any show weekly nowadays. Yet when they announced the 2nd season would be airing, I just knew that I had to watch it.

    I almost never failed at trying to put aside some time to watch the episodes on the day they came out, which I cannot seem to muster the effort for other shows. After a long day at work, joining the girls at Eagle Jump was a really great way to relax my tired mind and body, and at the end of each episode I always felt the old anticipation for next week and fervently wishing I could time travel just to get to watch it faster lol.

    I also found it a huge pity that you didn’t cover this season, Stilts. After each episode I was craving to hear your thoughts, wondering what you would think about this development, and finding out if you had a different perspective on a particular scene. Nevertheless I’m still grateful for this final impression from you. Now on to some observations I’d like to share:

    Hifumin-senpai’s growth from a shy and introverted girl into the team leader for the chara design team really hit quite close to me. I saw some part of myself in her from season 1 and could identify with her struggles to overcome her shyness, and watching her try her best to get out of her shell that culminated in her being appointed as the team leader was really inspiring for me personally. Too bad though that after her appointment as team lead and the arrival of the 2 interns she received diminished screen time, which I guess is understandable because they had to flesh out the newer characters.

    Another character that surprised me was Nenechi. I profess to finding her voice rather annoying when she first appeared in season 1, although she grew on me after her time beta testing Fairies 3. But this season her character grew so much that she’s now one of my favorite character in this series. First she took the initiative to learn programming to try creating a game to surprise Aoba, that lead to her bonding more with Umiko when she asked for her help with the game. It didn’t hurt that Nenechi and Umiko had great chemistry together, which I’d rate as great as the chemistry between Aoba-Hifumin and Aoba-Kou. One particular standout scene was when they show both Nenechi and Umiko facing problems and then implementing a solution with their programming tasks in parallel. Being a Computer Science student myself I could also relate very well with all the hardships she faced in creating her game, dealing with bugs, and doing testing.

    Finally, last but definitely not least is Aoba and Kou’s relationship. In season 1 Kou was the person that Aoba idolized the most, and was her mentor who taught her the ropes and guided her in her work. But in this season we find Aoba pushing herself more in her efforts to try and catch up to Kou, that culminated with the first game concept competition that started the change in their dynamic with Kou shifting to seeing Aoba as a rival. Then when the 2nd competition came around, with Aoba fighting for a chance to prove herself to be recognized as the chara designer for PECO, was when I could feel that there was no coming back. Kou didn’t want to steal Aoba’s recognition as the concept designer like the game publisher wanted, but she didn’t want to belittle Aoba by trying to go easy. I was supporting Aoba all out as she struggled to design the promo poster for the game, and was happy when she found a hint and went to work on her poster. But when Kou came to talk and Aoba asked to see her work, I just knew in my heart Kou had produced a great promo poster , and seeing Aoba herself admit that was a right stab to the heart. Yet even if she lost, I think the fact Aoba tried so hard was not a waste. Aoba learnt she could do better by designing the poster through what she thought was the core of PECO, but also what her poster lacked in conveying about the game at a glance. Her effort also inspired Yun to be more proactive herself, where before she never put in much effort in game design concepts because she respected Kou and was afraid of failing, seeing Aoba opened her eyes to not be too timid with her ideas. And Kou also was driven to push herself more now, because she recognized how comfortable she’d gotten with herself as was highlighted when Shizuku commented her designs as too similar to Fairies 3 during the new game concept competition. Thus when Kou had decided that she wanted to go abroad and expand her horizons to learn new skills, I was already torn in two. I understood her desire to elevate her skills and also give room for Aoba to grow herself without depending or being inhibited by Kou, yet I knew Aoba would be undeniably sad at her leaving. The last episode was really strong on the feels, but in the end I was still satisfied. Kou might be gone for now, but I just know that she will definitely come back and am most certainly looking forward to that moment.

    Phew… guess that’s enough rambling. In conclusion, I think that this season showed huge progress by expanding the story in a lot of ways thus making it even better than before. I’m really gonna miss spending my time with them in Eagle Jump every week, and hope to see them back soon.

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