「ゲーマーズと課金トーク」 (Geemaazu to Kakin Touku)
“Gamers and Billing System Talk”
What a fairly boring end to an overall good series.
This isn’t the first out-of-order OVA-like finale I’ve seen. One of the ones I remember most is the ending to Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu, and that’s an instructive comparison, because while C3-bu is probably a worse series overall (though I like it irrationally), the final OVA-like episode wasn’t bad. Whereas here, it just felt like a waste.
The reason is that this reprieve wasn’t earned. In C3-bu, the characters went through the crucible, and while the out-of-order finale wasn’t necessary nor even added to the series (it would have been better suited to end on its second to last episode, the real finale), it had this feeling of a reward after a stressful time. That’s the advantage dramas have when they dip back into lighter comedy—the relaxed valley feels like a reward after the tense peak. Gamers!, though, is a comedy, and while the hilarity certainly had its peaks, it sure didn’t peak in the previous episode, so not only are they trying to give us a reprieve when one isn’t needed, but it isn’t earned. All of which just makes me go, “Uh, what? Why are we doing this now?”
All of which is likely far more thought than actually went into this episode. Probably they just didn’t want to go any further in the source material. Which makes it odd how they (I’m told) changed the events of the previous episode from what happened in the source. Why bother if they’re not going to attempt an anime-only ending? Not that I’d necessarily have preferred that, but still. Odd.
That aside, this episode felt like a Chris Rock-style comedy set, told by someone other than Chris Rock. To explain: Chris Rock is famous for tackling richer subjects than most comedians do in his sets, which is why he’ll latch onto one idea, examine it from fifty different angles, and repeat the premise over and over. He’s teaching the audience while tackling the premise from all sides, uncovering all these different facets that the audience has never thought of—and it’s hilarious! But the writers of Gamers! ain’t no Chris Rock. They did what he did by diving deep into a premise (Games are too expensive), and they did set up the premise fairly well, but their jokes weren’t that good. They were pedestrian level. These are the kinds of jokes that better writers would have sped past (“Too obvious”) to get to the golden nuggets that no one’s thought of before. They belabored the point, but the payoff wasn’t there. Instead, though some jokes did land, mostly I was bored.
It doesn’t help that Gamers! has never been about games. It’s about using games as a starting point to delve into the hilarious misunderstandings and broken relationships of five idiot teenagers. This episode was about games, and it didn’t much work.
Enough of this though. Aside from the fanservice, this episode will be quickly forgotten. Let’s get on to the final impressions.
- Also, that whole Eiichi diversion was bizarre and I would have forgotten about it by the end of the episode had I not had the screencaps.
- To be fair, what Aguri doesn’t understand is that gaming—and most pastimes—aren’t supposed to be 100% fun. Humans ain’t wired to enjoy that even if they were. Challenge, satisfaction, perseverance, and a hundred other motivations are viable too, in gaming as they are in anime blogging.
- An industry in its final days . . . well. Those in glass houses, etc.
Gamers! is a show I had a sneaking suspicion about, which is why I called dibs on the first episode. And to be fair, it wildly exceeded those expectations! For over half the series, it was an absolute treat, utilizing complete abandon for where it was going to deliver some of the zaniest, funniest misunderstandings I’ve seen in a while. Yet it’s that abandon that made it stumble in the end, and it’s useful to dissect why.
Up through episode seven, or even the latter half of episode eight, Gamers! was firing on all cylinders. I’ve likened it to Mikakunin de Shinkoukei before because, when it was churning through content with nary a concern about what would happen next, it was phenomenal. And it did this with some delicate character work that, frankly, I’m still surprised they pulled off. Tendou could have easily been a caricature, but they went to such lengths to make her absolutely silly that she largely shed her tropes and became a likable character in her own right. There was also Tasuku, who edged hard on unlikable several times, for his abject idiocy vis-a-vis relationships, and for mistreating his girlfriend, but didn’t quite fall across the line. Get those wrong, and none of it would have worked—and they didn’t! The foundation was strong, and while the jokes were flying hot and fast, it was wonderful.
Where Gamers! struggled was when it slowed down. Comedic misunderstandings are a dangerous tool, as they’re apt to get friggin’ aggravating if they go on too long. What Gamers! should have done was what I thought it was going to do, and that’s change. I simply don’t think that misunderstanding-based comedy of this energy level has a long enough half-life to support a series for the long run, and while that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, it does mean that you should respect the length this kind of storytelling gives you. Gamers! could have used 13 episodes (and the related amount of source material, though I haven’t read that, so it’s only my supposition that it needed this change as well) to tell a truly outstanding story—and then stopped. I always think of Mirai Nikki, a series that seemed to be in a hurry to finish, like it was cramming far more story into two cours than most series would put in four. And it was great! If Gamers! had done that, it could have kept the hilarity going until the end.
But instead it tried to hop off onto the love triangle train with Karen x Keita x Chiaki, only to hesitate and go back to the misunderstandings. Pick one, dammit! Gamers! could have found a new lease on life going into something more centered on the couples, or perhaps focused on outside perception of their relationships? I don’t know, it ain’t my story. What I do know is that the misunderstandings-focused comedy was starting to spoil, and they didn’t accelerate to a grand ending or make a clean move to something new.
I don’t want to seem utterly negative. Don’t imagine this being written with a frown on my face. Mostly I’m inquisitive, trying to tease apart why something I was enjoying so much floundered toward the end. And to be honest, part of that is that it burned so hot around mid-season that it would bound to disappoint, as I said last episode (though I was talking about the story’s eventual canon end). In the end I still rate it as a good series, and for those wondering whether they should watch it, if you’re at all interested in a hilarious romcom, I would suggest it! I would just temper that suggestion somewhat, something I would not have done at mid-season. For the laughs it gave for most of the summer, though, Gamers! was thoroughly worth the time, both to watch and to blog.
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