Work smart, not hard.
I’ve briefly touched the subject in my first impressions post, that New Game focuses on Aoba who starts her first job at the game development company Eagle Jump. Her shenanigans at the office bring something more concerning to the surface, ridiculous working hours in Japan. And how seemingly New Game glorifies this aspect of the working environment in Japan, where long hours and near death dedication are something to be celebrated.
According to an article at Yahoo Finance an employee at the Japanese branch of IBM averaged 18 to 20 hours a day. Research from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that about 22% of Japanese Employees work 50 hours or more each week on average, compared to 11% in the U.S. That’s quite the difference. The respective employee at IBM had a mental breakdown due to lack of sleep, being physically and mentally completely drained.
IBM responded that it was all according to Japanese labor regulations and employees can address this issue with their management or the human resources department. From my working experience, I know this statement is utopian. Most employees will just keep going, afraid to speak up because they might lose their job.
The article further states that overtime is considered self-sacrifice where the individual is second to the performance of the company. Also a very interesting mechanic within Japanese companies. It pushes employees to the absolute edge. Another development is that the commitment was due to the lifetime employment a company offered, but working has become less stable, so employees go even further to prove their worth.
When we focus deeper into New Game, there are very dark sides to Aoba’s new job that are arising during the episodes. I find it very painful that New Game tries to glorify this, with employees even sleeping on the floor at the job. Not leaving their work space to go home. This destroys your social life much faster.
There was a particular scene were Aoba was being tardy for work. Instead of notifying her coworkers she’ll be a little tardy, something I did when my train wasn’t running on time. She rushes at break neck speed to make it in time. Dedication for the company is very admirable, but rushing into public transport or traffic isn’t. Your manager won’t die if you catch a train later, but you might trying to jump into the subway or train in time or trying to overtake that last car just before the bend.
I got to this realization when I was running to work and I tried to squeeze myself between two trucks. One was parked and the other was moving backward into the spot next to it. It was dark and I tried to run between them. I was fast enough to just slip through, but this could’ve ended badly. At that point I realized; if your boss is expecting you to risk your life for work, you should just quit.
That an anime such as New Game tries makes a fluffy anime around this subject matter is quite disturbing. It’s not only a reflection of the standards held at Japanese companies, but that’s it’s also something beautiful. Giving it all, working long hours and calling happily to your friends how great it was and how honored you are working for such a company. With the other side being jealous of your achievements. New Game is a great anime, but from a social perspective this is a propagates unhealthy working conditions and utopian expectations.