What They Say:
Aoba Suzukaze starts another year designing characters at Eagle Jump, and she can’t wait to meet the newbie recruits…if any are hired. But before she can even unlock her senpai status, she finds herself in a lead designer position for the company’s newest game! Following in her manager’s footsteps, Aoba’s gotta get good if she wants her skills to compete with Ko Yagami’s.
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 2017, 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. The slipcover uses the familiar key visual with the younger members of the group together looking cute as the bears are all about while 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 and Nene 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 as they play about.
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)
After the success of the first season we ended up with a second season a year later that just added an extra exclamation mark to the title, which always frustrates me as I’d rather see a subtitle used for the season or just call it the second season. Anyway, the show is one that works well as we move through the next stage of the lives of these characters with some welcome expansions and real growth. The growth of Aoba in the first season is one of the big things that really made it work because you could see that the characters weren’t the same from when they started. So many shows are static in this regard and combining that with the game creation and testing really drove an engaging story. Plus the lack of school-related material for the most part outside of some mild college references was a big plus as well.
With this season, events take place a year after Aoba joined and we get a nice look at how she reflects on her time starting there and all the things that happened. She’s grown well and is now sitting in on interviews as time goes on for new hires while Nene is going through her own growth, working on her programming skills with her own game while quietly getting help from Umiko as she sees some potential in her. These little areas work nicely and we get to see how Aoba learns more of the business side through the interview process, getting her to mature up a little bit, while Nene gets to come on board with more work for the company is welcome. They’re both discovering what they’re good at and working toward it in their own ways. Aoba’s story isn’t quite so central this time around, though she’s still the lead character, and Nene’s journey is quite engaging in seeing her progress with her programming her own game.
We also turn the focus toward a new game that’s being put together with Peco and there’s a lot of fun in seeing the way the team comes together since there are minor competitions. Aoba ends up being thrust into it more forcefully but it doesn’t become quite a competition between her and Yagami but rather a good maturing of Yagami in helping to nurture her talent, allowing Aoba to really put together a great game start here with bear designs and a storyline that’s interesting. It’s not a slow burn to get to the game conceptualization here and they kind of sidestep certain aspects of it but watching Aoba take the lead and having it come to life as it does with her working with others to tweak and put it all together really hits a sweet spot. Yagami gets to have a bit of pride over seeing Aoba grow like this and it continues Aoba’s journey in general.
There are a few new characters to this season that help out with various aspects of the larger game creation with testing, coding, and some design work, and bringing them in later in the season helps so that it doesn’t quite clutter the early episodes. I really liked what we get from Momiji and Tsubame as they’re a fun pairing in general and Tsubame’s past in how she’s really had to work and struggle to get to this point gives her some good backstory to work with – something that isn’t used to really help her in ways that might be somewhat unfair. Tsubame gets less attention overall even with this backstory piece as Momiji is more outgoing in a way and interacts with Aoba more because of the design side of things and that makes her feel a bit more fully realized.
What I really like with this series is that as the game creation process goes on and we go through the stages toward the master being made. From the bugs to the minigames and fine-tuning everything, it’s very nicely done. But the group dynamic of the company from top to bottom with how they interact is delightful, all serving to help each other grow in terms of the business but also as friends of sorts. A lot of this is on the elder side of it as they’re in a different place from the younger members but it’s Ko’s growth that really hits the sweetest spot because it does provide for a radical change to the character. It also leaves me really hopeful that we do see another season someday as I want to see where all of these character arcs go, to the point where I just might have to check out the manga that Seven Seas Entertainment is bringing out.
The second season of New Game doesn’t repeat the events of the first but rather builds on them wonderfully. The character arcs fit into a real world narrative well (outside of how intense the game creation business itself actually is) and nobody is the same as they are at the start. But they don’t follow exactly predictable paths other and the ramifications of changes with one upon others is nicely explored too. I really like all of the characters and would love to see more of these stories because it does present something different from the norm with a kind of enjoyable office/work life that avoids big drama but not big problems. Funimation’s release is solid with a great package, a fun dub, and a great looking encode. Very recommended as I’d give the two seasons together an A- rating.
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: September 4th, 2018
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.