I missed the OVA! I didn't know there was an OVA! I'll have to look for that.
This is a lovely little show. It's about Eagle Jump, a computer games company with all-female staff. They're working on a game called Fairies Story 3, which goes on sale in ep.12. That's it. That's all the plot you're getting. What you're watching in each episode is just everyone's daily interactions as they deal with the challenges of the job, the extreme hours and the gentle quirks of their colleagues and superiors. It's not trying to be a lacerating expose of the gaming industry, or anything like that. It's just a very likeable character-focused comedy.
The only way to analyse this show, really, is to talk about the cast. That's almost entirely what the show's about, after all. Everything else is background, although admittedly I quite enjoyed getting a better idea of what it's like to work in the video game industry. Our heroines put in some brutal hours, but on the upside:
(a) at least this company pays proper overtime, and
(b) they never bitch about the hours, because they love what they do and they're all focused on completing the game. (Yes, Japanese workers do indeed bitch about unreasonable working hours, just like anybody else would, but they'll have to do it less openly than you or I might.)
It's fun to see what goes into building a CGI character, let alone a virtual town full of them. I enjoyed learning about the bug-hunting job of game tester. It's all interesting... but at the end of the day, it's really about the characters.
1. AOBA SUZUKAZE (character designer and protagonist) - Eagle Jump fangirl whose all-time favourite game was the first Fairies Story. She's the youngest employee because she got a job here straight after leaving school, while her friends were going to college instead. Sometimes she's still mistaken for a schoolgirl. Purple hair, cheerful, terribly nice and earnest but has an occasional tendency to tease people.
2. KO YAGAMI (lead character designer) - Aoba's superior. She's frivolous, loud and fairly silly, but that's partly a front. She's also a workaholic with well-hidden self-esteem issues who was bad at socialising when she first joined Eagle Jump. She still doesn't like dealing with lots of people at once and her favourite time of day is after everyone else has gone home, because then she can take off her skirt and walk around in her knickers. All that said, though, she's become a happy, fun person and you'd be glad to call her a friend. (You'd have to raid her workplace if you ever wanted to see her, though.)
3. RIN TOYAMA (art director) - but her real job is being everyone's mum. She's also in love with Ko. (This is a Manga Time Kirara manga adaptation, so lesbians are to be expected.)
4. HIFUMI TAKIMOTO (character designer) - at first cripplingly shy, but Aoba helps her open up. Before that, her closest friend was her pet hedgehog. She'd ask it for advice. Hifumi's funnier in the early episodes, but always likeable.
5. YUN IIJIMA (character designer) - the least distinctive cast member, but still perfectly nice. Has a Kansai accent, dresses up a bit fancier than her colleagues and worries about getting fat.
6. HAJIME SHINODA (motion designer) - energetic, short-haired, super-enthusiastic geek whose desk is covered with figures. Usually broke because she spends too much money on them.
7. NENE SAKURA (student, part-time playtester) - in the first half of the season, she's just Aoba's friend who went to college. In the second half, she gets employed at Eagle Jump as a playtester. Childish, not much attention span, has a voice like a squashed frog. (I'm relatively inured to daft anime voices, but even I noticed Nene's.) Aoba and Nene both think they're the mature one who has to be their immature friend's minder. Often unwittingly causes trouble, but she's also a natural born geek and a first-class playtester.
8. UMIKO AHAGON (lead programmer) - humourless, scary gun nut who'll shoot you with pellets if you say her surname. She thaws a bit, though, and she's actually nice underneath. If she really likes you, she might invite you to go shoot some guns, or even give you a used shotgun shell.
9. SHIZUKU HAZUKI (director) - a dirty old man in a woman's body. She'd probably get called for sexual harassment of her employees if she had a penis. However it's just throwaway flirting and I suspect you'd be glad to have her as your boss. She's easy-going to the point of flakiness and makes good games.
UPDATE: I've now seen the OVA, which is about a company-paid holiday for everyone to a ski resort. It's good, but be warned that it has lots of fanservice in the hot spring.
It's a laugh. It's the kind of show that's always easy to watch, even if you don't feel like watching anything else. I don't think they've yet explained the all-female cast (and indeed to some extent universe), but I bet that's thanks to Shizuku. It's based on a four-panel manga, which explains the lack of narrative momentum, but the show's so pleasant and likeable that you hardly notice. Besides, our heroines certainly aren't taking life easy. They work hard. Their troubles feel meaningful. I could keep watching this for ever, really.