If you’ve ever dreamed of creating your own video game, Magic of Stella is most certainly a show you’ll want to pay attention to. Though it features a protagonist who didn’t exactly grow up with dreams of joining the industry (or many dreams at all, it seems), it’s an interesting and candid look into how game development teams realistically get their start.

But more than that, it’s a lighthearted tale of how video games can bring people together, even if it seems they’d hardly spend time together otherwise.

Magic of Stella is infused with video game references from its opening, which features some gorgeous pixel art to the game-making process referenced by the characters in the show. Anyone who grew up with classic consoles can appreciate the look of these retro figures, and it adds a layer of authenticity to the series that sets the stage for

The story centers around an unassuming high school student named Tamaki Honda, who’s enjoying her first day at school perusing the various clubs on offer. There’s a veritable bazaar of different organizations to join–of varying sizes and member counts–but somehow Tamaki ends up with the SNS Club: a ragtag bunch of students who come together to create doujin games.

Their first work was molded into a finished product, thanks to their former club leader who graduated the year prior, but now they seem to be languishing. They’re not quite sure what they have going on anymore, especially after losing their leader. They need direction. They need purpose. Maybe they just need to look further inside themselves.

When Tamaki and her best friend wander over to the SNS Club and try out their doujin game, they’re enthralled. And while Tamaki’s best friend Yumine Fuda (a fujoshi who joins the Illustration Club) is already spoken for when it comes to her after-school activities, it turns out Tamaki has found something she enjoys doing. She’s an illustrator herself, which is what the SNS Club is looking for so they can work on their next game. And while she’s only really good at shounen manga with gruff-looking male characters, she’s got a talent the group can work with.

The SNS Club is comprised of some of the most neurotic students you’ll ever see. The member responsible for the background music seems destroyed by the thought that Tamaki and her friend didn’t notice the music at first, and the rest of the club members hardly seem as though they get out much beyond working day and night on their projects. You get the impression they’re a pretty strange group, but there’s a lot of love between them and in what they do.

Though the anime hasn’t aired many episodes just yet, I get the sense that this bunch of misfits (just look at Tamaki at the beginning of the episode) is going to come together and make something truly special–just like video games can unite groups in the real world.

It’s a lot like smaller video game studios, actually. These groups aren’t simply drawn together automatically by their love of games or anything like that. Sometimes they barely even know each other–or it seems the individuals involved in the process aren’t even that in-the-know or interested in the game-making business. It can happen that the creators themselves might not even play games but come up with one idea one day that ends up being a smash hit.

But in the end,┬áit’s a small group of impassioned individuals brought together by one common goal: to make a product that people enjoy.

I’m looking forward to seeing how close this new group of friends becomes.

Magic of Stella can be viewed on Daisuki.

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