It’s always an experience to pick up a series half-way through the season and have a slightly different viewing experience compared to the others. I’m bringing this up specifically because I feel like I would have disliked Gamers! if I had been watching it weekly every week since the start than being able to binge watch it more than half-way and only catch the last 3 episodes. While I knew about the series’ through a lot of the references it made that surfaced on twitter during my twitter art raids, I never really bothered to watch it until recently. It was probably because it was around that time that Hajimete no Gal was boring me to tears first. For what Gamers! turned out to be, I can at the least say that it was more enjoyable than what Hajimete no Gal was though.
The key word being least
Amano Keita is a self-content gamer with no real friends to speak of who is one day approached by his school’s idol, Tendou Karen. Despite what her status and reputation might suggest, Karen is an avid fan of gaming and she tirelessly tries to get Keita involved with the school’s recently reformed gaming club. Keita, who always wished for interaction with liked minded gamers unexpectedly declines Karen’s offer and continues about his day where he gets tangled with other characters who couldn’t stand by and watch him make the decisions he’s been making. Somewhere along the lines, this anecdotal story becomes a quasi-love-pentagon between its cast members.
Despite the early episode’s frequent topic of discussing games and those who play games in particular, there was a noticeable shift from all of that into the regular rom-com territory where the quintessentially and infamous misunderstandings get thrown in every direction and believed from every passerby involved. People might say the title is false-advertising but even I would like to point out that the title is read Gamers! as in, people who play games, and not just being about games in general. Although it is sort of unexpected that this would occur since love-comedies probably don’t apply to people who play games this much. But hey, what would I know
Keita Amano is your filthy casual gamer who plays a myriad of games, had little to no friends, and can’t play visual novels worth a damn. Maybe it’s because of his insistence on not wanting to be slightly competitive but for someone of his level of passion not wanting to be around liked minded people is somewhat irksome. He’s so adamant with his lifestyle choices that he nearly threw a guy over an overpass, like come the hell on. That or it’s just me being naturally embedded with competitive spirit that I find his behavior to be annoying in being able to find joy in just being awful at a game but looking at the cool things happening than being the one who can be able to do the cool things in a game. Aside from that, he’s really not that noteworthy that than being the catalyst of misunderstandings that permeate the series’ mid to late segments. Despite all of those issues, Tendou Karen is desperate to get him to join the gaming club but a slip of the tongue ends up having the two “start dating each other”. While being the blunt end of jokes involving Keita’s refusal to join the club and his faux-status as a two-timer Tendou begins to fall for him at some point and appreciates his strange level of passion for the medium. I wouldn’t have liked her all that much if she wasn’t a constant source of laughs with her reactions so she gets a pass.
Tasuku is a former nerd turned ikemen during his debut in highschool life who turned himself around to escape the taunting of his peers. Keita’s quirkiness and passion reminds Tasuku of his earlier days and he tries to talk some sense in Keita but it turns out that Tasuku is the one who is impressed with Keita’s firm stance on doing what he enjoys and not letting anyone sway him. From there, tasuku re-enters the gaming life and is honestly the best character in the series but gets involved in the whole love-pentagon. Tasuku’s girlfriend, Aguri, is the non-gamer in the whole deal who’s liked Tasuku before his change into a cool guy and mostly tags along just because. Once the whole love comedy portion starts, she becomes attached to Keita where they quickly become friends over the misunderstanding that Tasuku might be two-timing and her relationship with Keita increases as the series becomes more convoluted in their assumptions on other couples. Through Tasuku we meet the 5th and last member of this mess, Hoshinomori Chiaki, one of the more reclusive gamer in their school to initially falls for Tasuku but eventually comes to vie for Keita’s affection after the two had more common than she initially thought after their first big spat against the abundance of moe in the industry. Everyone had their unique charms, aside from Keita, and despite the rom-com portions taking up a bit too much on the whole deal, the individual quirks and relevant, when it actually happens, discussion and commentary in the videogame industry were fun to experience. Her sister was a surprise addition so late in the series but she only served to further the misunderstanding between Keita and Chiaki. However, she did really try to alleviate us from this problem as well. I would mention the other gaming club members but none of them really show up again.
Visually, there’s nothing for me to really point out with Gamers! Pine Jam hasn’t worked on too many things but for a series based around highschool and its titular group of kids, it was a very pleasant sight to look at. That doesn’t really mean there was anything really stand out, but for what it set to accomplish to tell some weird love story between a strange group of kids, it did the job well. The soundtrack and sound effects fit the whole gamer aesthetic. I find it hard to really comment on visuals and sound in highschool-life-centric anime since that’s not what I usually watch but at the very least the series is pretty to look at and pleasant on the ears. On that note, I’m not certain of the series’ popularity before and after the series aired but it was one of those series that received endcards from a lot of prolific artists so there’s that too.
The pacing of the show is what really distinguishes this section because there’s clearly a point where the introductory arc stops and the misunderstandings blossom into some verdant grassland of assumptions and faux-deceiving. Every attempt to rectify the misunderstandings only causes more insecurities and it all happens after it becomes a rom-com after Keita accidentally confesses to the wrong point of contention with Tendou and the two become a couple completely by the slip of the mouth. Before this point, the series was pretty focused on discussing the gaming subculture and the smaller, more nuanced topics of the medium. It wasn’t anything ground breaking but I did admire the self-awareness but after that midpoint where it’s almost a genre switch, there’s a lot less of that.
I mentioned earlier that I started to binge-watch it after the series was way past the half-way mark and I’m glad I did so because with how the episodes featured the characters trying to unravel the web of misunderstandings they made, the events just kept continuing on and on. Even after the reveal that Keita’s admired indie game programmer and mobage day-1 friend turned out to be Chiaki, she hides that fact away and pins that title to her little sister. If I actually took this series slightly seriously and watched it weekly from the start, I probably would have been fed up with waiting a week to see something resolve, only for it to just continue on being all tied up. Thankfully I didn’t and I say thankfully because while the series is definitely stupid and beyond annoying for continuing these misunderstandings, I still enjoyed the characters and their silly attempts to fix these problems only for it to blow up in their face. As much as I’d like to see them resolve, their continued suffering in comedic fashion were actually entertaining enough for me to not find it off-putting enough to drop it.
Gamers! is clearly not meant for those who expected a show about game lingo and deep conversations about the subculture since that only really happens a handful of times. That being said, the surprise switch into a rom-com will make any uniformed viewer that aren’t acquainted with the light novel series either stick with the series or fall out with it. Personally, turning into a love-pentagon was the least of my expectations instead of it being a regular highschool harem comedy, so the former was at least slightly more enjoyable. Despite me ranting about how things just kept dragging on with the misunderstandings, I was still able to tolerate and enjoy a lot of the moments the characters had and I guess it helps to know that at least one girl is serious about her relationship with the guy she already confessed to so it’s not all focusing on our hapless lead. So in the end, unless you’re particularly stingy about rom-coms or harem-esque antics then this series will entertain you at the very least with its light commentary in the gaming medium but if you’re like me, Keita’s demeanor will tick you off. Thankfully, his ideals for being a casual at least fizzles out when the misunderstandings keep flooding in. Watch it if you’re not burnt out with this type of comedy and laugh at a handful of jabs at some situations you might have been in as a gamer.
I mean come the fuck on, Keita. You’re so beta that you can’t even play visual novels right.