Welcome, all, again. Today’s subject will be Gamers!, which follows the romantic and gaming misadventures of a set of high school students. Sound underwhelming, perhaps? As if it might be nothing more than a series of awkward misunderstandings, unbelievable coincidences, and cliched plot devices? More curiously, how can you be so right and yet so wrong? It’s simple, really: this show’s story far surpasses its premise.
Keita Amano is a shy introvert whose greatest passion is gaming. Because of this passion (certainly not because of his talent!), he is approached by Karen Tendou, the school’s idolized beauty. It so happens that Karen is herself a passionate gamer and the president of the school’s Gaming Club, which is populated by a few hardcore gamers. Amano visits the club after class and enjoys the experience for its novelty, but nonetheless rejects Karen’s invitation to join. It seems that Amano has no interest in competitive gaming, which is the primary means through which the Gaming Club supports itself and its activities. So, one and done, right?
Well, no. You see, Karen–being the school’s reigning idol–is unaccustomed to rejection. So much so that she invited Amano in front of his classmates. And we can hear whole worlds shatter when Amano declines that invitation. In fact, Amano is just about the only one blissfully clueless to the social catastrophe he has wrought. Karen flees in tears from the sudden public humiliation, while Amano’s classmates grow restless in his presence–just who does this nerdy nobody think he is, making their idol cry? Amano has kicked a bear, and is about to face its claws. And he still has no idea.
Nor will he have much time to develop one. Amano’s rejection of Karen sets off a chain of events that drag in other students and start to fray their established social order. Karen falls for the boy with the moxie to reject her, while Amano finds it difficult to have a normal conversation with anyone, particularly someone as popular as she. And so he keeps shutting her out–and unwittingly inflating her opinion of him in the process! Amano’s handsome and popular classmate Tasuku Uehara tries to help him understand the developing situation, but just ends up muddying the waters. And although Uehara initially involves himself for his own entertainment, he instead becomes friends with Amano. He even tries to help Amano build his confidence around girls by introducing him to a rather unkempt female gamer, hoping that their shared interest might spark conversation. Unfortunately, it sparks several, even dragging Uehara’s devoted but ditzy girlfriend into the deepening morass.
This show rolls along riding incidents of misinterpreted situations, misunderstood intentions, and mistaken efforts. The comedy is quirky and often exaggerated; honestly, I feel that there are even some moments of intentionally awkward animation just to heighten comedic effect. Gamers! seems meant for immediate consumption and enjoyment–instant gratification–and to that end both the characters and the situations are kept relatively shallow. And it works, right down to Uehara’s underappreciated girlfriend Aguri proving to be the most sympathetic character of the lot. This is the cotton candy of this season’s shows, sticky and sweet and insubstantial. But who doesn’t love the occasional sugar rush?