OP Sequence

OP: 「Gamers!」 by Kanemoto Hisako, Iwami Manaka, Ookubo Rumi

「上原祐と強くてニューゲーム」 (Uehara Tasuku to Tsuyokute Nyuu Geemu)
“Tasuku Uehara and New Game +”

It’s best when you don’t expect it.

Oftentimes, the best stories are riffs on familiar formulas. Building something entirely new and revolutionary is difficult, because you’re liable to include a lot of elements that don’t work along with the new good stuff (which someone else will steal, combine with elements that work, and profit from your risk—that’s how creative work goes). But when you take familiar elements and twist them just so, it can feel fresh and alive even if it’s mostly familiar. That’s what Gamers! does—they put a twist on the ‘ol loser romcom genre, and hit you from an angle you don’t expect.

The biggest unexpected element is Karen falling head over heels in love with Amano. The popular girl falling for the nerdy boy is a well-worn trope, but here Karen falls so far in love with Amano as to start looking silly and uncool in her own right. Which makes it funny, because Amano might still get with the cute girl, but by then we know her cultural cachet will have fallen. She looks silly, which makes her more approachable, which makes her less cookie-cutter, and above all else, makes for more comedy. Rule of Funny reigns supreme! Turns out taking the old trope just a little farther can make it feel fresh.

The big star this episode, for me, is Uehara Tasuku (Toyonaga Toshiyuki). Midway through the episode it felt like he was the male lead and Amano was his heroine as he was chasing after! I don’t really have a follow up to that, I just thought it was a fun dynamic. Still, Tasuku’s transformation over a single episode was compelling and surprisingly complete, from sullen indifference to easy contentment. It helps that they led with him being good at the crane game last episode, and hints that he wasn’t scoffing at Amano for the same reason the others were. He didn’t come off as an asshole to anyone but his girlfriend Aguri (Ookubo Rumi), though even then he was more indifferent.

It also suuuuper helps that Tasuku’s struggles were probably pretty easy to relate to when your audience is a bunch of anime-watching nerds, and toss in middle school bullying? Done and done. But his frustration with Amano, which was more frustration with himself, led down two interesting paths.

First, he accurately called out how Amano didn’t accept Karen’s invitation because he was running away. Amano didn’t want to do the work to fit in with others and have friends, work that Tasuku was well-suited to call him out on because he’d done it himself. What I most appreciated during that scene was the mixing of serious and silly. Interspersing the two not only keeps the mood in the right place for the comedy this is trying to be, the comedy serves to slip past our defenses so the drama can deal a heavier blow. All the things they’re saying to one another are correct, and something that some audience members likely need to hear, either now or in the past—including, I’d hazard to guess, the author at some time in the past. This kind of insight is usually born of experience, either their own or of someone close. It hits home because it’s true, and it’s silly laced with humor. Bravo.

The other thing I really loved was the swift change in Tasuku & Aguri’s relationship between indifference and doki doki love. Their relationship was the one thing that was bothering me, but the discomfort was worth the payoff. And yes, learning that Aguri thought he was awesome back in middle school, when he was in his dark ages, is total pandering (because she likes the real him, not the cool handsome him)—but it’s good pandering because (A) it tastes so good, we all deserve a reward once in a while lay off, and (B) it came at us from the unexpected angle of them already being dating, so I didn’t see it coming. That unexpected twist enhances the whole package. Plus I’m a total fan of the B-couple most of the time, so I was rooting for them almost instantly.

Next episode, the plot thickens vis a vis Amano and Karen, as Amano’s gaming buddy enters the fray proper. I’m still not going to claim that Karen will lose the Amano Bowl, she’s still the front-runner, but competition that will likely lead (in part) to her breakdown is liable to make her even more sympathetic, which is wonderful. It feels like, instead of Karen being Amano’s love interest, the situation is reversed, so the more trouble Karen has getting close to Amano—the harder to get he plays, even if that’s not his intention—the more rewarding it’ll be if she wins in the end. Unless the other girl is a Megumi, in which case BACK OF BLONDIE, BEST GIRL INCOMING! We’ll find out next episode.

Oh yeah, and I’m totally blogging this series.

Random thoughts:

  • Love love LOVE the OP. The ED is fine too, but dat OP. The Super Smash stage was my favorite, and I’ll stop there because if I listed out all the scenes I liked we’d BE HERE ALL DAY.
  • Amano is so into all the stuff about games, not just the playing. He’s the type who would read all the quest text in an MMO.
  • It’s like watching me play a fighting game. Too real ;_;
  • “You won plushies for someone else, didn’t you?” This girl.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: I get it now!; Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; and The Carcer Principle.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Fight on!」 by Luce Twinkle Wink☆

End Card


  1. Gamers is one of my favorite this season. Sometimes you can get gem when you don’t expect it, like Hataraku Maou-sama in 2013. I’m sold after this latest episode, simply a brilliantly executed episode. I’m looking forward how the inter-personal relationship between the characters develop from here.

  2. Other video game shout outs spotted:
    PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (The FPS game in the opening sequence.)
    Persona 4: Arena Ultimax (Did Atlus financially support this anime in exchange for advertising the Persona series?)
    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Bland-name version, one of the games Tasuku was putting in a box alongside the bland-name copy of Ace Combat.)

    What’s next, KanColle Arcade? (Kadokawa’s producing this show and arcades are still popular in Japan, so…) Or perhaps even Crossout? (Yeah, I wish. AFAIK, Japanese Crossout players are usually on PS4. It’s possible there are JP players who play on PC, but I’m assuming they’re rare.)

    Oh man, if Keita sucks at fighting games, what more if he starts playing the (in)famous Souls series? I’d still watch to see how many times he dies in-game (and I’d probably have a similar experience as him–if not worse–if I do try my hand on Dark Souls 3)…

    That said, I do appreciate how much Keita loves video games despite not being good at them. Heck, most gamers probably went through the same “I suck at video games” phase before finding that one video game (or video game genre) they really like or are really good at.

    Hooboy, I sense a love dodecahedron incoming… On a different note, it’s good that Keita found a gaming bro in Tasuku and vice-versa. Keita has found someone he can openly play with at the arcade (though I’m assuming that’s not the only reason) and Tasuku no longer has to treat video gaming as his old shame.

    So I’m assuming Keita’s female gaming buddy will eventually cut her hair short?

    And finally…Luce Twinkle Wink?! The same group that sang the opening theme of Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta is now singing the ending theme for this show? Nice choice.

      1. I love hearing that! Someone with familiarity with, and respect for, the source material ought to be able to build on its successes and craft something even better! (And occasionally misstep, but that’s creation.) Aside from the occasional show like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which just seems tailor-made for adaptation, liberties SHOULD be taken. They should just be adding or tweaking the bones, rather than rewriting them entirely.

  3. Aguri = keeper! Hold onto that one, you lucky bastard!!

    And so begins Karen’s true spiral into the Abyss. I haven’t read too far into the LN and I can think of a few other shows where the unpopular MC has made the high-class beauty more approachable as they chased each other, but none compare here. This feels like she’ll do all the chasing as she breaks herself down with a straight cliff-jump. Made all the more hilarious by how dense but honest Amano is, instead of just the typical dense-dull god-mode MC.

    I look forward to just how much trolling Uehara can get out of our newly awoken super-tsundere!!

    1. @Aex

      You’re right, Amano’s dense-but-honest schtick really helps, because it gives him personality, a justified flaw, and makes him likable in the way real humans are likable: interesting in their own unique, esoteric way. That makes Karen’s affection for him less silly, because there seems to actually be a reason for it, even if we can all still joke about how she’s trying to date down or ruining herself for the nerd.

      It’s like, I can see myself in Tasuku’s shoes, liking an honest, passionate idiot like Amano as a friend. (I say this as a straight male, so not interested in him beyond a friend.) So I can understand why a girl would like him, even if I’d lawl a bit if the super popular girl unexpectedly crushes on him. Making him a REAL DAMN PERSON helps stitch all the other parts together.

      I might have gone off on a tangent there. ANYWHO, I think he’s a good character.


      Stephanie Dola is a good parallel. She might have started crushing due to magic instead of playing hard to get, but they end up in the same hilarious place. Love it!

  4. I wasn’t expecting Episode 2 to pull me in this much. To see Tasuku call out Amano and develop into a likable character beyond being a cool guy was powerful stuff. It was adorable to see him start falling back in love with his girlfriend after finding out she liked him in his dark days, but you’d think she’d mention that to him when they first started.

    Poor Karen keeps getting brushed off though. I got some good laughs out of her excitement to try to get Amano back in the club as well as Amano dangling Tasuku from the balcony.

    What I appreciate the most is how they mix in real life games with some knockoff ones. It was nice to see Persona 4 Arena Ultimax again even if Amano was scrubbing it up with Narukami. I wish I was good with Elizabeth or Naoto, but I have more skill with Yukiko and Mitsuru’s playstyles. Can’t wait for a P5 version with playable Futaba and Makoto. I have a mighty need.

  5. /proceeds to dig some stuff not covered by the anime yet up to this point to get a gist of what’s probably coming up next.

    Hooo… boy.

    This… ain’t gonna be pretty… We have a Misunderstanding the Anime for the weeks to come.

  6. Ive found the first two eps of Gamers! to be a decent treat. There’s a level of charm and passion found in these two eps that prevents it from being too derivative; although i would like if it could polish its dramatic writing just a bit more. It’s too early to have a full opinion on that aspect so ill just wait till the series is complete to give off my final thoughts in that regard. With the introduction of chiaki next week, it seems we’ll have our entire gang. According to the summary you guys did for the summer preview, chiaki and Keita have a bickering relationship (also foreshadowed by the end card of the first ep with the amano and chiaki vs screen on the arcade stall). I really hope the bickering doesnt amount to the usual bullcrap we’ve come to see from LN’s of this ilk; but rather bickering that is well-written and devised to flesh out these two characters and the relationship they have with each other. In other words, there should be a valid reason why they dont get along too well or perhaps that they do and this is their way of showing it and that when they are onscreen together, they dont become toxic to the narrative; that’s all i ask.

  7. Watched it just because of games.
    Found it rather nice, the drama and humor is good.
    The animation is crisp and consistent so far.
    A feel good show.

    A story about “broken” people (haijin?), their struggles and how they band together and enjoy life?

    Now theres NEW GAME for game creation and Gamers for game consumption 😛

    1. Persona 5’s getting the same treatment, it’s just the newest. I think there’s already a fighter and other spin-offs in the works since P4AU is a few years old now.

  8. Good thing he found out what he has without having to go through the process of losing it.
    The reaction he had when he found out was rather sweet. Hopefully they stick together till the end.

    Back to Amano, I really thought he just didn’t like competitive games but Tasuku really hit the nail on the head there. I guess he really loves the gaming culture but is just too socially awkward to participate in real life events. Strangely understand Tasuku’s frustration with him. I do wonder what he liked about the fighting game though. Isn’t it usually the adrenalin rush or the social interaction? Didn’t look like he was interested in either until Taskuku showed up.

    Finally, never really asked the guys at the arcades what they thought about players like these.
    Was the analysis really true?

    1. I don’t think it’s really about any of that with Amano. I think he’s just a casual, laid-back gamer that sees a lot of fun in every game. Competition isn’t his thing and he’s socially awkward, so he either wants to play with people he knows or by himself. I don’t think it was about the game being a fighter, it was just there and he wanted to play it, and when he did it was something new in a game he’d never played before, so he enjoyed himself.

  9. I was a bit skeptical about Amano and Tasuku’s relationship at first of this episode but I am glad they are starting to befriend each other and Tasuku isn’t afraid to be show it in public.

  10. I’m a bit late to the party, but I must say that it was your reviews, Stilts, that made me check this series. So far, it’s been a blast. It has a perfect balance of the seriousness of the gamer experience (from the strong points to the drawbacks) and over-the-top comedy, and likeable characters. I think that the resolution of the one-episode arc for Tasuku and Aguri sealed the deal for me… and that’s despite knowing how it ended due to the review.

    Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I hope it doesn’t run out of steam.

  11. I know very well what bully feels like, didn´t have it as hard as others but it was still awful so Tasuku has my sympathy there. That being said, I would NEVER do in a million years what he did, changing yourself to be liked by others is the lowest a person can get in my opinion, I´m proud of the person I was in highschool as I´m what became of me after that so I would never degrade myself by abandoning all my the things I love to do (anime, manga, light novels, video games) so others can like not me but a mask, a very hollow mask.

    I know I sound harsh, but whta Tasuku did is a huge berserk button for me. Still loving this series anyway.


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