Image source: TVアニメ『ゲーマーズ!』公式 on Twitter

With a title like Gamers you might expect this anime to be about people playing games. And while there’s a lot of game-related fanservice to be found, it’d be much more accurate to say Gamers is a show about people who also just happen to know each other through games.

[Warning, this article contains spoilers up to the current episode of Gamers.]

The surface premise of Gamers is very clear. The series focuses on a group of students at a high school with a gaming club. The primary characters include the most popular girl in the school, Tendo Karen; the loner and socially awkward Amano Keita; the junior high school geek turned high school cool guy Uehara Tasaku; his girlfriend Aguri; and Hoshinomori Chiaki, a shy and socially awkward girl who is almost identical to Keita.

Image source: TVアニメ『ゲーマーズ!』公式 on Twitter

I’m not a “gamer.” I’m not someone who has much of a history of playing games much at all. I did receive an original Nintendo Game Boy for my birthday in 1989, and for a while as an adolescent, I had a Sega Genesis. I fully admit, however, that these consoles were less about my own interest in video games and more about keeping up appearances with other kids. By the time the Sony PlayStation came out, I already knew video games were not for me.

If You Love Video Games, Gamers Is the ‘Sports’ Anime for You

This is why I very much enjoy the fact that Gamers isn’t actually about video games. I previously argued that the first couple of episodes of Gamers presented the show as a kind of “sports” or “club” anime, but with a fair bit of script-flipping. And for those first few episodes, this was definitely the case. However, as the primary characters didn’t actually join the club in question, the series very quickly proved itself to be less about the “club” and more about the “script-flipping.”

Image source: TVアニメ『ゲーマーズ!』公式 on Twitter

Gamers continues its “script-flipping” by actually being a romantic comedy about the (mis?)adventures in miscommunication between its protagonists. Just as the earlier episodes followed all of the tropes of the “sports” or “club” genre only to turn it all around on us at the last second when Keita refuses to join, Gamers presents us with “the love triangle that isn’t.” Rather than being head over heels and desperate to win the attention of the female lead, instead, she is head over heels in love with Keita.

It’d be typical at this point in an anime romantic comedy for at least one other romantic interest to appear. Possibly more. Unsurprisingly, it’d be equally likely for there to be at least one rival—or possibly more. Once again, however, this isn’t what happens in Gamers at all. For the past few episodes, games have proven themselves to only be the social lubrication used when everything goes off the rails. And everything is very much off the rails. There’s no actual love triangles, quadrangles, polygons, or dodecahedrons. It’s just that everyone thinks there are. Everyone, especially the paranoid Aguri, is very much wrong.

Image source: TVアニメ『ゲーマーズ!』公式 on Twitter

Keita does have an interest in Karen, but has repeatedly failed to notice Karen’s overt interest in him. He ignores her when she shows up and his attempts to have her notice him always have an opposite effect. Tasuku is fully aware of how Karen and Keita feel about each other, but also aware that Keita and Chiaki, rivals in person, are actually online friends and have nearly everything in common. Chiaki is convinced that Aguri and Keita are secretly together (even though Keita and Aguri are in fact constantly discussing how Aguri can maintain her relationship with Tasuku). Aguri is convinced that Chiaki and Tasuku are secretly together. 

Of course, this being an anime, some of the situations are pretty ridiculous when confronted with suspension of disbelief. Yet because of the nature of the fact that everything the characters “know” is wrong, the potential for “train-wreck” comedy is present in almost every interaction. With all the tropes being presented only to have the opposite result, there’s always the potential for palm-to-face levels of misunderstanding between the main characters. 

Image source: TVアニメ『ゲーマーズ!』公式 on Twitter

Despite the fact that all of the characters have, at first glance, a wide range of social positions, they all have a surprising amount of social awkwardness in common. Tasuku used to very much resemble Chiaki and Keita before reinventing himself. It’s an open question about how much of the change is genuine and how much of it is put on. Aguri’s entire physical presentation is nothing like how she was in junior high school—itself entirely put on for the (perhaps false) preferences of Tasuku. Karen seems to have her reputation based solely on a combination of physical beauty and managing to keep her interest in games secret. In private, her social awkwardness is clear. 

While games may have been what initially brought the characters in Gamers together, it is their own similarity and penchant for being terrible about reading each other that keeps them together. And also very much keeps us entertained. Even if we don’t really care about whatever it is they’re talking about. I know I don’t! 

Gamers can be seen with subtitles on Crunchyroll and dubbed on FUNimation.

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