[Review] GAMERS! – episode 1

Keita Amano is a lonely young man who loves video games; Karen Tendō is the beautiful president of the video game club; Chiaki Hoshinomori constantly fights with Keita; and Tasuku Uehara puts on a facade of being satisfied with his life in the real world, but he in truth loves video games.

Source: Anime News Network

I am as surprised as anyone to find myself wanting another episode of GAMERS!. Given how hit or miss club shows can be, combined with the infamously toxic atmosphere that is actual gaming culture, the show had an uphill battle ahead of it. But skin my flesh and call me a newb if I didn’t walk away endeared.

Karen looks at a game case, blushing. Bright pink text on screen reads BA-BUMP! A DATING SIMULATION FULL OF BLONDE GIRLS. SEXINESS-PACKED ADVENTURE. WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS INCLUDED

It helps that Keita is an Average High School Boy without being a total scuzzball, a low bar that many anime can’t be bothered to meet. He does have a bad habit of ogling popular girl Karen at several points, marking an irritating low point in a mostly fanservice-free episode (though the other female club member bares a lot of cleavage—I’m guessing she breathes through her skin—and the next-episode title card is of Karen in a bikini, so it’s by no means perfect in that regard).

Mostly, though, Keita is sincere in his love of games and his desire to make friends… even if in the same breath he manages to sabotage himself. If that’s not a relatable high school experience, I don’t know what is.

A male student grinning in an exaggerated manner. Inner monologue: Dude, I'm such a winner, right?

The early parts of the episode are a bit busy, throwing out a lot of jokes that involve on-screen text and being quick to reassure us that, say, a jerkish arcade pro is eventually going to screw up royally. Some of these are funny, some of them aren’t, which is sort of the nature of the beast (even with the best understanding of pacing and structure, in the end there’s an incalculable subjectivity to comedy).

Things fare better in the second half, once Karen takes Amano to the clubroom and the writing settles into more character-driven humor. An extended joke about the various club members’ Tragic Reasons for being pro-level gamers while Keita just… likes games has especially expert timing, and is one of the few times an anime comedy’s made me laugh out loud. Alone. In my house.

A smiling boy on a balcony. Dialogue: I lost all of my memories, and the only thing I was good at was that block puzzle

In fact, Keita’s casual approach to gaming winds up being an unexpected charm. It would’ve been easy to make this show’s protagonist a hardcore “real” gamer, but instead he likes mobile games and keeps getting shot in a competitive FPS because he wants to look at the scenery. At the same time, Gamers doesn’t punish the hardcore players as “losers” for enjoying things in a different way than Keita. There’s just a sort of warm fondness wrapped around the cast and an earnestness in depicting games and why they appeal to others. Having a series about gaming that acknowledges the many varied and valid ways people enjoy the hobby is the biggest surprise of all, and it won a lot of points with me.

There’s a hint of a love triangle on the horizon between Karen, Keita, and the (possibly hikikomori?) girl Keita’s been playing social games with, which promptly made my soul leave my body in an exasperated sigh. Still, if the show keeps to prodding at its character archetypes while being genuinely fond of them and their shared hobby, even that old cliché might be less unbearable than usual.

Keita, tears streaming down his face with a gloomy background. Inner monologue: I want to smack myself for thinking I was the chosen one!

Well done, Gamers! I can’t believe how eager I am to see more from you.

Read the ANN Preview Review Guide.

 

Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they had no idea their heart could still feel things. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, listen to them podcasting on Soundcloud, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.

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  • alecksis

    “and keeps getting shot in a competitive FPS because he wants to look at the scenery” this is exactly me.

    OK FINE you’ve endeared me to this one already. I’ll give it a shot. <3