It’s easy to dismiss a show without watching it. For starters, who has the time to watch everything? You need to apply basic standards as you go down that list of new shows every season. (Funny that I write this statement after having watched far more than my usual amount of first-episodes from the Fall 2017 anime season. That was a mistake.)

Later on, though, someone might recommend something that you specifically passed up when it aired, something that doesn’t seem like it’s in your ballpark at all. “Try it,” they say. “You’ll laugh, if nothing else.”

What is it?

New Game! (yes, the punctuation is integral to the name) started life as a “4-koma,” which you can kind of think of a bit (just a bit) like the format of comic strips in the newspapers, back when people still read those, geez I’m old. For our purposes it’s a twelve-episode anime series which first aired last year. There’s also a follow-up series named with an additional exclamation mark which… I will only touch upon briefly, later.

What kind of story is it?

A young girl fresh out of school lands her dream job: Working at the video game development company where her idol is employed. She joins the team which is working on the latest installment of a beloved fantasy game franchise. Comedic hi-jinks ensue, and yes they do manage to release the game at the end.

Our point-of-view character, more or less. She grows on you.

(Whoops, spoiler.)

Why do you like it?

It’s funny, it’s earnest, and the drama mostly comes from facing technical challenges and learning to interact better as a team rather than from pettiness or spite or people carrying an Idiot Ball for an episode. Which is to say, it’s already superior to most sitcoms I’ve been forced to watch over the years.

Umiko steals the show. At gunpoint, figuratively speaking. Far and away my favorite.

For the most part, these are great characters having fun and being entertaining. This show entered my viewing queue at a somewhat grim stretch in my year so far and it’s exactly the kind of fluffy feel-good laugh-out-loud nonsense that made my days just a bit better.

What might one not like about it?

For starters, Nene. I won’t mince words: I can’t stand her, even if she is Aoba’s best friend. Her keywords are whiny and petulant, though she does somewhat redeem herself as the show progresses. I had to basically tune her out whenever she showed up so I could continue watching the rest of the show without losing my ability to enjoy it at all.

For a follow-up, New Game! has a very weird attitude toward fanservice.

I could’ve used another screenshot but this isn’t really THAT kind of blog, now is it?

In a show where basically everything revolves around cute girls being harmlessly cute, every now and then the show’s producers apparently decided that they’d gone long enough without a detailed close-up of someone’s underwear, or a bathing scene, or what-have-you. Other than the running joke about the above-pictured Yagami sleeping under her desk in her underwear (which they do use to good comedic effect) I didn’t see the point and it felt kind of ooky on occasion. “Uh, this isn’t that kind of show?” I’d find myself thinking.

Let’s be clear: It’s not fanservice itself I take exception to, it’s that a lot of it doesn’t make any sense in this context. Tonal whiplash, you could say.

Other thoughts about it?

On the one hand, it’s an anime and a comedy and clearly you can’t take too seriously the idea that this all-women game development house is going to teach you a lot about the video game industry. And yet.

One of Aoba’s model assignments for the game under development. You get these bits of 3D CG from time to time to show the team’s progress.

Someone did just the right amount of homework to be able to weave in bits and pieces of lore that, even if not entirely accurate, feel enough like real-life parts of the job to lend the show far more verisimilitude that you really expect from a fluffy cute-girls-being-cute comedy.

(Of course, this being the Internet, the comments section of some episodes at Crunchyroll are replete with dudebros going, “Well that’s not how that works” and “Why didn’t they just [jargon dump]” and so on. Repeat to yourself it’s just a show…)

Oh yes, the second series. Well. If you get through the first and think, “Yes, I want more of this” and can stand even more Nene and the introduction of several more characters to the mix, then by all means carry forward to the two-exclamation-marks show. It fell a bit flat for me by comparison to the first, though, so consider yourself duly warned. I didn’t dislike it, but.

Where can I watch it?

Boot up your trusty workstation and log into Crunchroll to start on your New Game!