For the first time this season, New Game!! addresses workplace conflict with episode 6.
Conflict was bound to happen. What is interesting is the way in which Eagle Jump’s employees handle it, particularly Aoba, who has been submissive until this point.
Aoba has been very nervous about creating the key visuals for Eagle Jump’s upcoming game. Despite this, she seems to have resolved to try her best and make a name for herself, thereby following in the footsteps of her idol, Kō. This dream is shattered when she’s pulled into a meeting and told that the executives are looking to capitalize on Kō’s reputation instead.
Initially, Aoba accepts this. However, Kō does not and actively fights for Aoba to be given a chance. For the first time, Aoba stands up for herself and is allowed to put forward an attempt. She’s no longer the meek, timid girl from season one – now she’s a confident professional who takes great pride in her work, and she’s not afraid to say so.
Shizuku makes it clear that Aoba’s submission will be purely symbolic, and that they’re going to use Kō’s art regardless. At this point, it isn’t about whether Aoba’s work is accepted or not. It’s about being confident enough in her talents to compete with the woman who inspired her and proving to everyone that she has what it takes to be taken seriously as an artist.
Aoba isn’t the only character learning about pride this episode.
Nene has finally finished developing her game and lets Aoba and Hotaru playtest it. As she watches, she acts in a way that every programmer will find immediately relatable, critiquing her work and trying to lower her friends’ expectations as they play. It turns out that the game is of a higher quality than she knew though, and they love it.
In many ways, this show is as much for aspiring developers as it is gamers.
Nene’s struggles are true to life and although she was essentially just a moe character in season one, season two has seen her become a valued part of the cast with genuine ambitions and motivations. She’s also a testament to the fact that even people with no formal training can do great things.
This episode marked one of the only times that New Game!! has ever addressed tension in the workplace, and it portrayed it excellently. Better still, it wasn’t used as a lazy plot device to pad the episode. Instead, the conflict is used to highlight Aoba’s ambition and further develop her character. If she continues to work towards her goals, there may be a very bright future in store for her.