Many anime- if not the majority- take place in high schools. We get to see the everyday lives of students attending class, participating in clubs, and the drama of first loves, dates and kisses. Even if an anime does not take place at a traditional school setting, they usually involve characters that are teenagers. There are anime that involve adults and working life, but their numbers are scarce compared to high school anime. That is why this anime season was so refreshing for me. There were two anime that showed adulthood- New Game and Re:Life. However, the characters in both shows had very different experiences in their work lives, and I am going to discuss this in my post today.
**Warning! This post will contain spoilers, especially for Re: Life
New Game- Having Your Dream Job
New Game is a slice of life anime about an 18 year-old
loli woman who gets a job at a video game company. The working environment in this show is very positive and here’s why- notice her age. 18. Suzukaze Aoba, the main character, gets her job right out of high school. No college. No experience. And yet she is given a full time position in a very niche industry. As a North American who is used to this country’s terrible economy and job market, I found this surprising and kind of hard to believe. I personally know how hard it is to find a full time in America, especially one that is so specialized. Every job requires some kind of degree and/or working experience in that field. It’s the same for careers in the gaming industry. I did some research and saw that employers want an experienced worker. And yet, Aoba gets her job with absolutely no credentials. I am not an economic genius and I’m not sure if this is common in Japan. Maybe it is. However, Aoba should be considered extremely lucky, at least in my opinion. She landed a job that she loves and that will eventually let her achieve her dream. AND it’s full time, probably with benefits and everything.
Aoba can also be considered fortunate when it comes to the environment of her workplace. She feels awkward and uncomfortable at first, but all of her coworkers and senpai are extremely friendly and supportive. Even though she makes some mistakes, her managers and superiors do not belittle her and actually help her. Yes, she needs to figure some things out on her own, but there is always somewhere there to give her advice. Again, as an American, I find this to be quite rate. Don’t get me wrong; I have met many amazing people at work who were always willing to help. But I have had experiences where the administration just “throws you to the wolves” without training you and expect you to do everything perfectly. Then, they get irritated when you’ve made a mistake. Maybe this is just the culture in America and things are different in Japan. Either way, though, I envy Aoba.
Another positive aspect of Aoba’s job is that it is creative. She has to learn how to use computer programming which is tedious, but she is able to create art and characters. Finding an outlet that lets you make art for a living and get paid for it is very difficult (again, maybe Japan is different). If I could, I would jump into New Game and get a job working for Eagle Jump. I have a degree in writing so maybe I could help write the video games’ plots or dialogue.
In the end, after all of her hard work, the games Aoba was working on gets released and it is a dream come true for her. She realizes that all of the overtime and commitment was worth it in the end. Although there are times when she gets fatigued or depressed from working long hours, overall Aoba has a very positive job and workplace. I will pray to the business gods so that everyone is able to have such a great time at their job and be able to work toward something that is meaningful to them.
Re: Life- Things Don’t Always Work Out As Planned
Kaizaki Arata’s job in Re: Life is the exact opposite of Aoba’s. Kaizaki goes to college and then attends grad school. He has the credentials and experience to get a full time job in his field, and manages to get one after he graduates. However, his working environment is drastically different from the one in New Game. Kaizaki gets trained by a woman who is very friendly, energetic, and the top sales person in the company. Because of this, the other male employees dislike her and harass her. Kaizaki witnesses the harassment and confronts the other employees, but this only makes the bullying worse. Eventually, the woman commits suicide. Instead of feeling remorseful, the other employees, including Kaizaki’s boss, act like they are happy she is gone. Fed up, Kaizaki quits the job, even though he was only there for three months. The whole situation was very traumatic for Kaizaki and he falls into a depression. He can’t manage to find any other “real jobs” and ends up getting a part time position at a convenience store. (I hate the concept of a “real job”because working retail is hard). In the eyes of society, Kaizaki is considered a loser, even though he did what was ethically right. Because of this, he gets selected as a subject in the Re:Life program, which is the main focal point of the anime.
As you can see, his experience in the work industry was extremely negative, so much that he almost quits society all together. Yoake, his support, also has had troubles as a Re:Life employee. His first experiment was a failure, his bosses contradict themselves, and Yoake loses confidence in himself. I don’t want to sound like a bummer, but I feel that the way that work places are represented is more accurate in Re:Life. I am not referring to the suicide of Kaizaki’s senpai; I have never seen this at work and hopefully no one else has or ever will. Not all work places are going to be as terrible as the one depicted in Re; Life, but the themes of the career world being competitive and unfair are true. I have seen it myself. I’ve witnessed people getting fired or laid off because they were getting paid too much money. I’ve worked my butt off at a part time job, only to be paid like crap and get looks from people when I told them I worked in retail. It is very easy to get frustrated and depressed about how the world works.
However, in the end, Re:Life has a very powerful and positive message- there is always a chance to start over. Even though his job was terrible, Kaizaki slowly rebuilds his confidence and comes to terms with what happened with his senpai. If there is a second season (I’m crossing my fingers), Kaizaki will probably start looking for a new job and hopefully it will be in good environment like Aoba’s.
As I described, the representation of working life in both anime are extremely different, one being positive and the other one negative. Despite this, it was nice to see anime that involved people’s careers and I really enjoyed both shows. Aoba and the cast of New Game are adorable and lovable. I chuckled at the cuteness, giggled at the silliness, held my breath during yuri moments, and envied all of the girls who worked at the company. It was the kind of cutesy slice of life anime I can never get enough of.
On the other hand, I appreciated Re:Life more on a personal level. Being frustrated about your career and this corrupt world is very relatable to me. I’m 24 and some of my experiences working have been very similar to Kaizaki’s. I fear that I will never find a full time job I will be completely comfortable with. Because of this, the message of the show- there is always a chance to start over- is very relevant to me and can help other viewers with similar experiences feel a little better about the future.
What work experiences have you had? Were they more like Aoba’s or Kaizaki’s? Or a combination of both? Comment below!