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It’s never easy for an artist to face criticism, but that’s how one gets better.

NEW GAME! is the story of a young girl, Aoba Suzukaze, who begins her first job working at the game development company Eagle Jump. There, she meets a variety of colorful characters all working together to develop the sequel to Fairy Story, the video game that inspired Aoba to want to work in the field in the first place.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for NEW GAME!.]

Among Aoba’s new coworkers is Kō Yagami, the somewhat slobby character designer who actually did the character design work on the original Fairy Story. Aoba is brought on board the team to work under Kō to design the game’s NPC characters. It’s here that, for the first time, she faces the first true hurdle any artist who begins work as a professional faces: an editor.

After learning how to use the 3D modeling software, Aoba is instructed to work on designing a shopkeeper NPC using previous designs as reference. After designing a character she thinks will work, she takes it to Kō to give it a once over. She is immediately told to redo it.

Over the next week, Aoba goes through a never-ending cycle of tweaking the design and taking it to Kō, only to be turned back each time. It begins to feel that nothing she’s doing is enough and she begins to lose her way as to what she needs to do to improve her work.

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I won’t go into it any further, but needless to say, this is very much a story that has probably nearly broken the will of almost every artist out there: “The Wall.” That hurdle an artist hits where they don’t know how to progress further. Very often, “The Wall” presents itself in the form of an editor whose vision an artist just can’t seem to meet. As someone who has dabbled in the art field, I could completely empathize with Aoba as she is left scratching her head, trying to figure out just what she is missing in her work.

Before Aoba began working at Eagle Jump, she had been her own editor when it came to character design. Now she finds herself under the scrutiny of someone else–someone she respects who is far more experienced and has a much more critical eye. Unless she can find within herself what she needs to overcome “The Wall,” she won’t be able to evolve as an artist.

Under the rather adorable–and somewhat idealized–story of a young girl beginning work as a video game developer is a motivational lesson for artists everywhere. True progress as an artist only comes from facing criticism. For an artist, a good editor can be a terrible headache as much as the best ally they’ve ever had.

NEW GAME! can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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