These characters are fantastic, and their thoroughly conceived personalities and thought processes allow for such an otherwise common style of narrative to thrive. While Karen is truly responsible for setting the entire story into motion, the most pivotal character in GAMERS! has to be Tasuku. He is by far the most aligned with the general audience perspective, as he is able to pick up on almost every relationship development that doesn’t involve himself. His understanding of a given situation is often the most important of the entire cast’s, because it demonstrates the self-awareness of the creator.
Not only that, but Tasuku’s input proves crucial in the development of this plot. The advice he gives to Amano is what first causes Chiaki to be thrown into the mix, and later on echoes in the mind of our protagonist as he takes his first steps into having a romantic relationship. Tasuku is the string ties this group together, and with the secrets that he holds about the others, he tries to direct the flow conversation to what seems like the best outcome—only to be thwarted by incredibly amusing, but unfortunate happenstance.
And while being utilized as a conduit for which to acknowledge all the clichés and insane coincidences is already funny enough, the best part of Tasuku’s audience-like position in the story has to be his ability to take sides. It’s as if he were sitting right next to me when mulling over who would be the ideal partner for Amano: Karen or Chiaki (obviously Chiaki). The difference between us and Tasuku, of course, is that he has agency in the show, and so GAMERS! becomes even more entertaining to watch as this character tries to impact other relationships, whilst unwittingly creating more problems for his own.
Moving on to Amano, in a sense, he’s just like any other rom com protagonist, being slightly unique but also mildly adherent to hackneyed standards. Amano has a knack for always saying the wrong thing, except when he doesn’t. He can’t even begin to comprehend what goes on in the female mind (unless it’s Aguri), and has no understanding of why he’s so attractive to them in the first place. The girls in the show are obviously drawn to his overwhelming passion for video games, even though that’s quite possibly his only desirable characteristic.
Yes, Amano fits the high-school-rom-com-protag archetype in a lot of ways, but he also has a lot of things that make him bearable, maybe even likeable. First and foremost, he isn’t such a damn cock tease that we’ll see him go through an entire season with dating anyone. Just like the rest of the show, Amano manages to be fairly self-aware. He even goes so far as to point out he clearly isn’t worthy of seeing Karen in a swimsuit, a humble recognition of his place in the world.
Characters, including himself, often notice his generic tendencies, usually right before he surprises them by saying or doing something not-so-ordinary. It’s these surprises are the best part about him. Everyone’s expectations of Amano always end up shattered, because he only fucks up in exactly the right ways—roundabout ways that result in actual relationship progress!
We see this in the very first episode, when Amano turns down the prettiest girl in school, in front of everyone. Sometimes people lash out at him in their utter confusion of what just happened, but then he turns around and explains himself in such genuine, albeit naïve ways. It’s literally shock and ~awwwww~ with this kid, and I couldn’t possibly come around to disliking him. I even enjoy his voice, played by a woman! Something about it is just so…pleasantly whiny? I don’t really know how to describe it, honestly…
Almost as much as I don’t know how to describe my profound love for best girl Chiaki! She’s brilliant, she embodies all of the good things Amano has going for him, and yet sadly, has no one falling in love with her. There’s this amazing irony to her character that’s brought out in her gaming argument with Amano. It seems Chiaki doesn’t care for moe in games, which is hilarious because she’s easily the most heart-meltingly moe character in the series. Yes, yes.
Chiaki’s lovingly sincere, except for the one time she’s not, and is just insanely cute no matter which way you frame it. Her adorably anxious personality comes out in the manner of which she speaks and acts, basically making a catchphrase out of stuttering, and delivering it with a level of endearment I wouldn’t have thought possible. It’s Chiaki’s own special brand of shyness mixed with Amano’s exceptional passion, and also his general naivety and obliviousness, that all come together to make such a tremendously captivating character.
I’d be remiss to end this review of GAMERS! without even mentioning games and game references. My biggest fear going into this “rom com for gamers” was it turning out to be a shallow veil for which to lure people of my ilk (gamers) with casual references to reach the lowest common denominator, and without showing substantial knowledge of the industry and/or its history. Thankfully, this anime proves that it knows what it’s talking about, when it decides to talk about them.
At its core, and as its title would semantically suggest, GAMERS! is a rom com more about gamers than the actual games they play. While the anime (and its immaculate OP) packs a variety of references both mainstream and obscure, it doesn’t hang itself up on a need to prove itself. The love of games is what connects the show’s characters, and whilst they come to know each other, they often break off into tangents involving gamer mentality and philosophy.
The last episode in particular, serves as a priceless and biting criticism of the current state of downloadable content, with a couple extra jabs thrown at free-to-play and loot boxes. And even though the topic of modern DLC is a fertile breeding ground for cynicism, GAMERS! still carries it out with the same, shining adoration of the culture as it did with the rest of the season before it. After all, nothing screams “gamer” more than someone trying to defend the business practices of greedy entertainment corporations.
GAMERS! proves itself to be an excellent example of the self-comprehending narrative that I fancy so much, demonstrating care and familiarity of its genre with artistry and finesse—a poster child of the ideal rom com, if the genre ever needed one. It plays so well with everything I’ve come to know about rom coms, and weaves together a precisely chaotic narrative of astronomical coincidence and humorous misinterpretation. Involving a brilliantly written cast of characters, and performed with some shocking talent from fairly no-name actresses (at least in the case of Aguri and Chiaki), GAMERS! is hilarious and charming and exact, and only works so well because of how much it understands itself…plus, it helps that it has just as strong of a comprehension and appreciation for its gaming culture subject matter. It is, without a doubt, my anime of the year, and I will eagerly await its second season.
Thanks for reading.