Episode 1 Review Showdown: ReLIFE vs. NEW GAME!

Now, if you’ve been following me on Twitter you know that there’s been a great debate on what I should review episodically this anime summer season. I ran a poll to try and determine what I should be giving a write up to week after week, and to my surprise it ended in a tie! So as a tiebreaker,  I decided to just review each first episode and see what I liked more. Enjoy.

ReLIFE, Episode 1

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The first impressions I got from this show were not of the content of its story, nor the premise of its plot. No, what was painstakingly clear from the first few moments of watching ReLIFE is that it looks and sounds unremarkable. There’s nothing unique or interesting about the character models, animation and backgrounds. The musical score consists of very generic and repetitive piano riffs. To top it off, the Opening theme sounds a bit derivative of last season’s Kiznaiver Ending theme. This show just looks and feels…basic. Not bad, but not particularly impressive in anyway. And so that means ReLIFE is going to do a lot more in terms of storytelling to prove that it’s a show worth watching.

Luckily, I can say I’m not disappointed…yet. While the premise of the show (NEET gets a chance to relive high school) is simple and almost feels like a form of wish fulfillment, it shows promise in the fact that this could be a relatable story of second chances. A redemption story, one where the audience is clearly meant to feel like they could be put in the same shoes. I’ve thought about what it would be like to be able to redo high school many times, and I’m sure plenty others have too. But this is where I hope the wish fulfillment ends. I want to see this protagonist be his own character, not just a conduit for the viewer to shoulder as he manages to woo every female in the school for no good reason. Or at least if this show turns out to be just that, I’d like them to be transparent about it. Use your knowledge and experience to steal the hearts of all these high school girls, just like in The World God Only Knows (which is a great show btw, highly recommend it).

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But enough about what I think this show should be. Now it’s time to talk about what this first episode actually is: A nice setup. I like that this is more of a scientific experiment rather than some sort of magical wish came true. This allows the show to be more candid and Meta about what’s happening. What would happen if you gave a NEET a second chance? I’d like to know, and I hope ReLIFE can deliver a plausible answer.

NEW GAME!

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It’s cute, but is there really any substance here? Am I going to care about these characters and learn about creating video games by watching this show? It’s too early to tell, but I really hope so because cute girls doing cute things for the sake of being cute isn’t really my thing. I’m not trying to knock on people who do like this sort of thing, but for me I think a cute girl being cute just happens to be a lot more endearing when I actually care about the character herself. And this goes for cute boys as well. I love me some cute boys.

So anyway, the show is cute, but it seems lacking in direction and humor. At least, humor to tickle my fancy. The comedy of NEW GAME! seems to rely heavily on the overreactions of the main character in regards to silly mistakes and “crazy” observations/realizations. Things like seeing her boss act all nonchalant in her underpants at work leave her stuttering for far longer than necessary. Yeah, I guess on paper it sounds pretty absurd, but obviously the people around the office are used to it, so what’s best in this situation would be to simply accept it and move on. Or maybe I’m just desensitized to panty shots…I’ve watched a lot of anime.

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Back to my comment on the direction of the show, I just don’t see where it’s going yet. I hope that’s due to the fact that this was just an introductory episode, something to give a look and feel to the space and characters we’ll be watching for the rest of the season. The end of the episode gives light to the end goal in mind, which is of course, creating a video game. What I liked about this however, was that the game they’re making happens to also be the sequel to the game that inspired our main character to get into game making in the first place. That being said, I feel it may have been too premature to reveal this, and it could’ve have been a nice start to a second season if this show ever planned on having one. It’s a dream come true for this character to be working on it, but because we don’t really know how much she’s been through or how hard she’s worked to get here, it doesn’t feel very much deserved.

It’s really hard to judge a show on its first episode, as I am really only left with hopes of what it could be. And what I hope this show could be, is the Shirobako of game development. But we’ll see.

The verdict

I thought both shows had pretty promising starts. They’re both not perfect by any stretch, but I see something I like in each of them. In ReLIFE I like the idea of a second chance. Hopefully it’s not wasted by the stupidity of the main protagonist. I’m not saying he is stupid, yet, but if he proves himself to be then I’m going to be very disappointed. He is an adult that’s been through high school before, so hopefully he has some idea as to what he wants to accomplish this time around. As for NEW GAME!, I like the cast so far. They’re cute, and they’ve also shown what seems to be somewhat distinct personalities. Oddly enough though, I don’t feel like delving deeper into their backstories. If we learn little things about them here and there throughout the season then that’s fine, but what I really want to see is a likeable cast come together to create a video game. I want to learn a bit about what it takes to create a video game. I also want better comedy, because cutesy bullshit just ain’t gonna cut it for me.

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And so, with all of this in mind, I think I’m going to have to go with…NEW GAME! The show has better animation quality, and a more diverse/well timed musical score. As far as story goes, it’s just too early for me to tell. I’m still going to watch ReLIFE, maybe even do an overall review once all is said and done, but NEW GAME! wins my weekly spot for episodic reviews this time.

Thanks for reading everyone, and feel free to tell me if I’m making a huge mistake in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Episode 1 Review Showdown: ReLIFE vs. NEW GAME!

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