Should You Watch Gamers?

Our Episode 1 Summer Anime 2017 Review
  • Anime
  • Comedy
  • Romance
gamers anime
Gamers. (c) Pine Jam

Gamers opens in a sweaty, tense classroom filled with awkward silence as a clock ticks inside and cicadas buzz incessantly outside. The clock ticks; grimaces twitch on a variety of faces; a cicada straight-up just dies. It’s a hell of an opening, because without any words it has already demonstrated a sense of place and mood as well as given the viewer a reason to keep watching: how does everything go so wrong? Why are all these high schoolers watching the two kids in the middle? What happened here?

The protagonist is a young man with a girlish and energetic voice named Keita Amano. Keita’s a zero at school and spends most of his time playing dating sims and mobile titles, so when class idol Karen Tendou comes up to him at a gaming store and appears charmed by his every word and breath, Keita falls all over himself. She asks him to try out her gaming club and of course, he agrees to give it a try.

Let’s face it: I approached this anime with a high degree of skepticism. “Gamer schlub meets GIRL! Who is GORGEOUS! And GAMES!” is such a tired wish fulfillment fantasy. Of course there are pretty girls who game, must endless mediocre anime revolving around this musty concept haunt every season?

But the expected fanservice was almost nonexistent, and Karen seems like she may have at least one dimension other than object of desire, judging by her persistence in recruiting Keita. There’s still a chance that her motivation hinges on wanting to date Keita, which would instantly plunge this show in my regard. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

At Karen’s gaming club, which she’s made as a replacement for the school’s famous former gaming club, she points out the trophies its members won in competitions last year which funded the purchase of all the equipment in the room. She also introduces two upperclassmen, an FPS god named Gakuto Kase and a fighting game fiend named Niina Oohiso. Niina doesn’t leave her Guilty Gear corner for the rest of the scene, but curt Kase gets the newbies started on 30 rounds of CS:GO to see who’s up to snuff.

It turns out that Keita isn’t the only person Karen’s scrounged up. The other prospective member, Eiichi Misumi, is a block puzzle fanatic who seems just as shy and gentle as Keita. But where Eiichi shows real promise at FPS games, Keita hops up and down on top of a car trying to look at the pretty scenery instead. As they wind down, Keita realizes that this could be a place where he finds lasting friendships and learns from kind upperclassmen, surrounded by games he loves….

And then he turns Karen down while thanking her for the opportunity. What? What? This is where my enjoyment of Gamers went from reserved to enthusiastic. He turns Karen down because he likes to play his way, for fun, not for competition. What a sensible reason to turn this golden opportunity down! What a relatable, reasonable thing to say! Talk about unexpected.

Later, Karen comes by to tearily ask him to join the club again, pretty please. Once again, he turns her down, explaining more clearly that he likes to play the way he likes to play. He’s not mean or cruel, but Karen tears up, covers her face and runs off dramatically… before slipping on a banana peel. Oops. Then running off more dramatically with her ears glowing bright red. Her bright red ears tipped me over the edge of laughter, more so because I don’t think the show is going to leave Karen in this state: if Keita doesn’t eventually join the club somehow, what could the show possibly be about?

The show has promised plenty of shenanigans to come. The first half is filled with text flashing on screen to promise various ways in which characters’ current standings will be upturned. Characters like a too-cool-for-school guy named Tasuku who prides himself on his hot, dumb girlfriend set themselves up for a serious deflating. (Tasuku’s little monologue about how awesome and badass he is, coupled with the on-screen text that flatly points out how he’ll soon eat his words, really gave me a giggle.)

We also see that Keita is constantly helping one of his friends in a co-op mobile game, giving us even more insight into Keita’s character. I can’t help but root for someone who likes co-op over team deathmatch, especially when he’s constantly, cheerfully helping the same friend. Loyalty and team spirit is just as valuable as an esports trophy, and I look forward to seeing if Gamers will probe that promising facet of its premiere further.

It should be noted that this anime relies heavily on cringey, awkward humor and the awful, suffocating feeling of vast social missteps and misunderstandings. There’s plenty of people who don’t care for that kind of humor, and if you’re one of them I suggest this anime is not for you.

But for gamers there are plenty of Easter eggs (Kase’s Hyper-X Cloud headphones, Keita’s posters, Niina playing Guilty Gear, the particular map they’re all playing on in the CS: GO clone). The show is overall easy on the eyes, confident in execution of its gags, careful with its details and surprisingly smart. Background music serves its purpose without being distracting, character design is on the blander side of appealing (with notably pretty and shimmery eyes) and comedic beats are 100% on point.

From the opening alone, we know that this show has a destination it plans on reaching that’s a little bit beyond “panties flash, waifu get.” I’m willing to follow Gamers along the way.

Gamers airs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Will you be watching? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

Should You Watch Gamers?
Gamers is easy on the eyes, confident in execution of its gags, careful with its details and surprisingly smart.
  • Top-tier cringe humor
  • Relatable protagonist
  • Gaming easter eggs
  • Cute character design
  • Unexpected twist
  • Top-tier cringe humor
  • "Loser meets gorgeous GIRL WHO GAMES" trope is tired as hell
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