Don’t you just love it when an anime baits and switches on you? No? Well, there might be an exception to that and that exception is Gamers! The synopsis for the show leads you to believe that this would be a romcom mixed with a Genshiken-style show, but what you actually get is only half of that, and it’s not the Genshiken half. Still, even if the premise of the show was a bit misleading, was the show really all that bad?
Gamers! centers around a girl, Karen Tendou, and a boy, Keita Amano. Keita is a gamer and Karen is the direct opposite… the most popular and cutest girl in school! Then she reveals that she, too, is a gamer and simply hides it in fear of ruining her public image. She secretly restored the school’s gamer’s club and wants Keita to join, but after Keita realizes that everyone there is an elite class of gamer who pays for everything that they have with money they win from e-Sports tournaments, Keita decides it’s not the kind of club for him.
And that’s the last we see of them.
After Keita rejects Karen, she becomes determined to make him join the club. So you get this sense that the show will revolve around Karen and Keita with the gamer’s club being the ultimate goal, right?
The gamer’s club just ceases to exist after this moment. Instead, the show switches to a standard romantic comedy with a few twists and turns that make it stand out. Keita befriends a fellow gamer, Uehara and his non-gamer girlfriend Aguri. Uehari convinces Keita to proclaim his friendship for Karen and to get to know her better. Well, Karen has a major crush on Keita and when Keita asks her to be his friend, he accidentally slips and asks her to be her girlfriend in which she immediately replies yes without even thinking. One blunder later and the two of them are a couple!
However, Keita begins hanging out with Aguri a little more which makes Uehara think that Keith and Aguri are cheating on him. At the same time, Aguri and Keith think that Uehara and Karen are cheating on Keita. Add in another girl, Chiaki, who has a crush on Keita based on his online avatar and her sister Konoha who assumes Chiaki’s identity when Keita finds out that Chiaki is the independent game developer he admires and now you have a massive pot of WTFery and confusion. If this show does something right, it’s the fact that they spun an ultra-confusing web of people cheating on people when in reality, nobody is cheating on anybody! Add in some gaming references just to remind you that the show is called Gamers and you pretty much have this show in a nutshell.
The one thing that bothered me was the ending. While the show was hilarious and entertaining, it really ends on episode 11. Episode 12 felt like a filler episode where they spend about 20 minutes talking about DLC and video games. If you like discussions about the morals of DLC and want to see that expressed in an anime environment then the final episode will be an amazing ending for you. For everyone else, it’ll just feel completely flat.
While there were an abundance of characters in the show, the majority of them didn’t get much screen time as the major focus was on Riko and Reg… and later Nanachi.
He’s a casual gamer who likes spending time playing mobile games on his phone. He likes to experience the fun in video games moreso than winning. Outside of this, Keita is your typical teenage male protagonist. The one with very little guts, gets worked up about little things and is unsure of what to do half the time. The only little nuance that’s different about him is that he does have a straight-forward side, but only when he’s talking about video games. He’s not afraid to express his opinion and that becomes evident when he constantly gets into arguments with Chiaki over the finer points of video games. I was actually surprised that he agreed to continue dating Karen after his blunder, although he did try to find ways out of it, but just couldn’t bring himself to see it through. Although he was a little bland, Keita was still a fun character.
As aforementioned, she’s a closet gamer and the most popular girl in school… and that plot point gets thrown out the window nearly after the first couple of episodes because the rest of the season didn’t really elude to that much, if at all. After we establish her as a character, she just becomes a generic sub-main character with no real redeeming qualities about her other than the fact that she’s, somehow, obsessed with Keita. She’s known for turning down love confessions left and right which creates a shocking moment for the school when she accept’s Keita’s blunder of a confession instantly, but outside of this, she’s there, but doesn’t seem there at the same time. It’s like the show chose to focus on other characters more than her and that hurt her just a bit.
He’s a former gaming addict who is trying to kick the addiction by leading a normal life, but when he meets Keita, he decides to act like a mentor of sorts after he said some things that rubbed Keita the wrong way. His good gestures end up being a pain for him as he ends up playing middle man between Keita and Karen. This leads to his girlfriend, Aguri, suspecting that Uehara is cheating on her with Karen… which causes Aguri to seek Keita’s advice, which leads to Uehara thinking that Aguri is cheating on him with Keita and… you see where this is going? Uehara is nothing more than a life lesson in character format. Just don’t bother with some people… you’d be better off!
I don’t think we even find out what Aguri’s last name is, but I found her incredibly annoying as a character. She’s that real clingy type of girlfriend so it’s only natural that she would suspect cheating when Uehara tries to get Karen and Keita together. She’s not into gaming which makes her the odd person out whenever they decide to go to an arcade or do something involving games. I just couldn’t get into this character due to the way she was not only written, but how she was voiced.
She has a love/hate relationship with Keita due to a number of factors. She likes the Keita that plays mobile games with her, but that’s only because she has no idea that Keita is the person that’s constantly helping her and vice versa as well. She dislikes Keita because of some of his views on videos game don’t exactly align with hers. This, however, changes later on in the show when she discovers that Keita is the same person that’s been helping her all along. Keita also changes his tone when he discovers that Chiaki is the independent game developer that he loves. Of course, Chiaki doesn’t want it to be known so she pins all of that on her sister Konoha and, of course being as dense as he is, Keita buys the lie. Chiaki tries to come across as a cute character with her little “desu desu” catchphrase with accompanying head nods, but she doesn’t really become all that likeable until the end of the series when she tries to tell Keita her true feelings.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Pine Jam is the studio behind Gamers! and while they don’t have many shows under their belt (four if you don’t count this one and next season’s Just Because!) they put forth a pretty decent effort. The character designs were okay, but nothing that really made them stand out. Aguri was probably the only real stand out due to her pink hair, but the rest just seemed like generic designs. At least the backgrounds were well-detailed, but that’s not saying much since every anime these days has decent to great looking backgrounds.
The OST is completely forgettable and doesn’t really add much to the show, but slice-of-life or even romcom shows typically don’t have great OSTs to begin with. The opening to the show, “GAMERS!” by the voice actresses of Karen, Aguri and Chiaki is a bit catchy, but it’s not something that I would say go out and buy because you must have it. It is a fun opening that plays up the whole video game theme by adding some 8-bit-ish techno to it, but outside of that, it’s your standard anime j-pop opening. Worth a listen to a couple of times, but nothing more beyond that. Didn’t really care much for the ending so I’ll leave that up to you guys as to whether or not you liked it.
Despite the bait and switch approach, the show was pretty enjoyable. There were some pretty funny moments in there and even though the cheating web was rather convoluted and confusing, it only added a humorous dynamic to the show. There were some sweet moments that made you go “d’aww” but they were few and far between. While Gamers! is an entertaining show, I don’t think it’s going to win any awards, but it’s good enough to marathon if you’re looking to kill about 4-5 hours on a weekend.
There are definitely better romantic comedies out there, but Gamers! isn’t completely terrible to the point where it should be looked over. It was just pretty standard, but in an enjoyable way.
This is pretty much Chiaki in a nutshell as a character.
Until next time,
While Gamers! is a decent romcom, it tricks you into thinking that it would be more gaming-oriented when that just isn’t the case. There are gaming references all over, though, but it’s not to the level that one would expect.