Spring is the perfect time to catch up on rom-coms. The chill of winter has finally broken, the flowers are blooming, and love is in the air! And no rom-com better encapsulates the emotions of high school life quite like Gamers!
A wonderful time between childhood and adulthood, high school is where you might find your first love or a group of fast friends that share the same hobbies and likes as you.
On the other hand, it can also be a time of utter chaos filled with misunderstandings, little-to-no-idea about how to pursue love, and otherwise solid friendships broken by things that might feel irrational to outsiders.
Gamers! brings to life that feeling of bumbling your way through teen romance, the construction of amazing friendships and the formation of nonsensical rivalries.
More than once during my watch, I found myself ready to jump out of my seat, yelling: “No, don’t! I’ve already made this mistake! It’s not going to end well!” at the screen. So what’s the deal? What makes this series just so good at portraying these things?
Different types of gamers
Gamers! centers on Keita Amano, a high schooler who’s a bit of a loner and prefers playing video games to pretty much any other activity. Slowly, he meets others who are just as into games as himself.
The only thing is that their favorite types of games are wildly different, as are their opinions on what makes a good game and why games should even be played at all.
Karen Tendo is the president of the Game Club. To her, gaming is all about competition. Tournaments and eSports are where gaming shines in her eyes. Uehara Tasuku is a very different kind of gamer. His idea of gaming is spending a lazy afternoon at the arcade. And Uehara’s girlfriend, Aguri, is into arcade games as well, mostly because of her boyfriend.
Then there’s Chiaki Hoshinomori, a quiet girl who likes phone games. But even though she and Amano seem to have similar tastes in gaming on the surface, it quickly becomes much more complicated as the pair get to know each other better.
For the love of games…and the people who play them
Yes, video games are heavily featured in Gamers! But this isn’t really a show about games. It’s a show about the people who play them.
Gaming in its many different forms is something that brings these otherwise very different characters together. And, at times, games are something that also splits them apart. Amano balks at the idea of playing games only to hit high stats, gain rankings, and be the best.
On the other hand, Tendo is in her element when trying to achieve that perfect score. At the same time, Amano can respect the effort and talent that goes into competing in gaming tournaments.
This is what gives Gamers! that extra spark. It’s a story about people who might look similar in some ways and diametrically opposed in others. It’s about people trying to get along and respect their differences in opinion, sometimes failing miserably. Sounds like high school to me.
How to be in a relationship
Like any group of high schoolers, Amano and his friends aren’t immune to romance. Love is in the air, and just like those of us who’ve experienced high school, our protagonists think they have a better handle on the whole “going out with someone” thing than they actually do.
High school was a time when wires were crossed and miscommunication ran rampant, regardless of intention (at least in my experience). And that’s true in Gamers! too. Characters misspeak, wild conjectures are drawn and a comedy of errors ensues.
Watching Amano and the rest completely misinterpret one another’s words and actions, leading to chaos piled atop even more chaos, makes for good fun. And there’s no shortage of comedy to be had as the characters find themselves entangled not in a love triangle but more of a love prism.
Yet no matter how wild the miscommunication seems at first—and no matter how comedic—it always feels real.
Learning how to properly communicate in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) takes time and practice. Mistakes are a part of growing up and growing wiser, and being comfortable talking about fears and worries can be difficult, no matter how much we might love someone.
Amano, Uehara, Aguri and the rest are constantly misconstruing events and conversations they weren’t really a part of, and have a tendency to only make things worse when trying to help one another out of various predicaments. But the love for their friends and significant others always drives them to pluck up their courage and have the conversations they’ve been avoiding eventually.
Maybe things don’t always work out as planned. Maybe asking questions and admitting how you really feel is hard. But they take those steps and learn from their past mistakes (well, mostly).
Hey, they’re not perfect! But neither are we. And it’s this echo of our own lives that makes Gamers! just so incredible.
The depths of friendship
Romantic relationships might be a driving point of the series, but so are platonic friendships. Games may have caused many of the characters to initially meet, but it’s the bonds they forge that truly keep them all together.
This also isn’t a case of a group of guys who are close friends and a group of girls who are close friends building a larger friend group. The pink-haired, bubbly Aguri often spends time with Amano, viewing him more as a partner in crime and younger brother who needs a little guidance, than the boyfriend material Uehara worries about.
Even if the time the unlikely duo spends together baffles Aguri’s boyfriend, Uehara, it’s a wonderful thing to see. After all, we don’t often get such heartfelt portrayals of guys and girls being friends without things quickly turning into crushes.
But in Gamers!, friendships truly shine in all their messy glory. Sometimes friendship means incorporating a friend’s younger sibling into outings. Other times, it’s desperately attempting to convince two of your best friends who you know are just perfect for each other to date.
Gamers! is an anime that is much more than the sum of its parts. On the surface, it’s a story about a high schooler and his group of friends, all of whom are interested in games in some way. But it’s also a story about friendship, learning how to be in a relationship, growing up and growing wiser.
Maybe things aren’t always the smoothest for Amano and co., but they grow and learn, always trying their best to support one another as they play some awesome games, just like many of us.