What They Say:
18-year-old Aoba Suzukaze is joining the character design team at the company that makes her favorite video games! But the real world of office culture can be a challenge for a total noob. From her awkward first day to her first game’s debut, she’s got a lot of skills to master. Luckily, her charming determination wins over her quirky coworkers, and before she knows it, Aoba has joined the party!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that has a couple of fun little moments where the English mix gets to use the 5.1 to better effect but the vast majority of the show is standard dialogue-driven material that doesn’t require any heavy lifting. We get some nice placement from time to time within the world of office cubes and a couple of other moments of directionality, but it’s few and far between overall. The series has a standard stereo design that plays to the center channel well with conversation moving well between characters. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format. Animated by Doga Kobo, the show plays in the real world settings very well with a lot of details that gives us a very clean look at a gaming company and all that it entails, at least for this group of cube rats. The design is one that works very well with a mix of CG work for the in-show game side, detailed backgrounds and settings for the office, and some appealing character designs that are laid over it all that stand out with a brighter color design and slickness. The encoding captures all of this very well with solid colors, some real vibrancy with the green backgrounds and other little areas, and some very smooth character animation that avoids breakup and other issues. Colors look strong and solid throughout and the smooth movements both for characters and in-game moments all come across very well.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case to hold the four discs for both formats and an o-card over it. The o-card uses different artwork than the case, which I like when they do that, as we get Aoba in the middle and everyone surrounding her with lots of bright colors as a key visual piece. The case cover goes for some of the Japanese artwork that’s more illustration and softer in vibrancy but has its own appeal with the detail and feels that it gives. The back covers for both are the same with a nice shot of Aoba to the right and a kind of classic game text summary of the premise taking up most of the space. Add in a box for the extras and it weighs it down a bit but not in a bad way. The shots from the show are cute and we get a good breakdown of the technical specs for both formats below it. The case itself doesn’t have any inserts but we do get artwork on the reverse side with a wonderful two-panel spread of the cast all dressed up in a range of cute outfits and lots of smiles.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Shotaro Tokuno, New Game is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the summer 2016 season. It did well enough that a second season hit in the summer of 2017 as well that we’ll be getting later. The original manga began in 2013 and has six volumes out (and is being released by Seven Seas Entertainment) and the anime is the kind of thing that definitely works well in feeling self-contained but open for a whole lot more to be explored. There’s a good sense of closure about events as we follow the six months of our lead character here but also know that she has a career ahead of her that we can follow and find a lot of enjoyment in watching it unfold.
The series focuses on Aoba Suzukaze, an eighteen-year-old young woman who has graduated high school and is starting work at Eagle Jump, a gaming company. Her friend and neighbor that she grew up with, Nene, went off to college as did most of her friends but she wanted to work at the company that made a huge impact on her when she was young. When she played the first Fairies game seven years prior it got her into it in a big way, to the point where she learned about those that created it. Just not anything about how to actually do the work at the company, though she still managed to get hired for the upcoming six-month final crunch run. Her job is as part of the design team to work through bringing the minor background NPC characters up to spec so they it feels fully integrated. Granted, she has to spend her first week learning how to do all of this by reading how the software works. Which is my only real frustration with the show as you know a company would scoop up someone that actually knew it and could just jump in at this phase.
Aoba’s journey is a fun one to watch as it kind of holds her hand a bit and that of the viewer to understand what goes into creating the game, but just within this particular group. She works with two others and the lead under the art designer to put it all together and after initially taking a week to get her first one done she has to speed it up, meaning more weekends and overtime as the crunch is really felt. The fun of the first half of the show is her interacting with the personalities involved with the rest of the group, such as Yagami the lead that worked on the designs of the first one and is someone she really looks up to. She slowly becomes friends with the outgoing Hajime from the motion group that’s with this group due to a lack of desk space and she gets close to Yun who works on the monster design. She has a harder time connecting with Hifuni but that’s simply because Hifumi is shy – and often wearing her earbuds like most of them are in focusing on their work.
The company is of a decent size so we see some others from time to time, such as the art director Rin as well as Umiko who handles dealing with the errors and other programming issues. She’s actually a lot of fun since she’s totally into airsoft and when Nene ends up signing on for the summer as a part-time game tester she gets placed in the same cube as Umiko, which is definite real-world life work experience for her. There are a few other cute characters that come into play, notable Shizuku, the overall director for the game that has staffed this place entirely with cute girls as that’s her thing. She’s “subtly” flirtatious with many and some of that comes through interactions the staff has with her cat, Mozuku, that she brings to the office regularly. This is all standard office setup stuff for most properties, anime or not, and it works well with the group that we get as they slowly bond under the constraints of time.
The series works the office angle very well with what it has to do, showing some of the struggles she faces along the way and the concern Nene has as her time in college has her worrying about her friend since doesn’t (seemingly) have any work experience herself and understand what’s going on. There’s some good fun when the two are working in the building at the same time but I like that Rin keeps Nene from turning it into something that it shouldn’t be. There’s a real world kind of factor playing into a lot of this and that’s what makes it work for me more than other shows that lean into character relationships and drama. We get them bonding as a team (with some between the lines if you want it yuri leanings) and some minor social aspects of it from time to time, but it’s mostly a workplace slice of life show with cute elements, some moments that make you grin, and, quite honestly, the satisfaction of watching the team come together to put out a game that they worked hard on and believe in.
I didn’t go into New Game with high hopes because I’ve seen far too many shows about cute girls making games and it’s just empty fluff. Though Aoba’s lack of knowledge going into this is a bit problematic, the series works well with what it wants to do and builds a really engaging and marathon-worthy slice of life experience. I like all of the characters, I like that there’s another season I can check out, and I like that there’s also a sense of closure with this one when the project finishes. These little touches go a long way toward making it work a whole lot better. Funimation’s release is somewhat barebones in a way but we get a great packaging for a regular edition release, a solid dub for a show they could have easily skipped producing one for, and a high-quality audio/visual presentation. Fans should definitely delight in what we get here.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 21st, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p aVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.