An unfortunate over-reliance on fan service
Although episode 9 of New Game!! raised some interesting points about how workers perceive themselves, an over-reliance on fan service hampers it. This is something that has become increasingly prevalent as this season progresses, and it’s starting to use up time that could be better spent developing the show’s newer characters.
Shinoda and Yun open the episode with a discussion about re-inventing themselves. In the past, both of them have changed their appearance or habits to make themselves more likable. However, their friends value them for who they are, not who they try to be. This is an important theme emphasized this week: when everyone acts the same way, nobody is interesting, so it’s important to be yourself.
Narumi and Nene are finding this out as well. As Narumi has come from an official programming course, she looks down upon Nene, who has no formal training. (This is a contentious point amongst programming teams in real life.) But, Nene makes it clear that she is prepared to work just as hard as Narumi, and even declines to ask Umiko for help when she encounters a problem.
While this shows Nene’s determination, it might not serve her well in the future. Nene is working at a disadvantage here and would be wise to take all the help that she can get.
The episode ends with a seven-minute long scene where Momo and Narumi discuss the food that they like. It’s clear they’re having financial trouble, and they’re looking forward to their first payday. This scene would have been bearable if it hadn’t taken every opportunity to show them scantily clad.
It’s easy to see why the studio has done this. As a moe show, a large part of its audience is male, and simply put, fan service sells. However, New Game!! doesn’t need to rely on it so heavily – it has a strong plot, an interesting premise, and relatable characters. One only has to look at Highschool of the Dead to see what happens to a show that eschews plot and character development for titillation. It’d be a real shame if New Game!! were to allow its standards to slip, given how enjoyable the rest of the season has been.
On the whole, though, this episode is enjoyable. It has less plot progression than the previous episode, but it shows Narumi in action. She seems to be at her best when she’s not paired exclusively with Momo and has the potential to become a fascinating character in her own right.