A show with its title screaming “nostalgia” or “relatable” for gamers alike. It goes without saying; this show is not everyone’s cup of tea!
But because Gamers! is my cup of tea, it’s about time for me to talk about it. 😀
Romantic comedy and urgh, a light novel adaptation!
Before it even aired, the tags romance and comedy were present at the time. I would love to spell it out for you that combined, it says ROM-COM.
That’s right. Gamers! is your standard light novel adaptation of a rom-com story which is generally looked down by every but Asian, especially Japanese anime community. If you happen to be one of those people who are more than willing to give anything a chance and look beyond the simple logic of what elitists considered ‘good’, congratulations. You are part of the helpful reason as to why rom-com genre will keep on flourishing, eventually becoming a huge wake up call to anime watchers around the world that anime is not only made up of fights hype and flashy action sequences.
Light novel adaptations are notorious for being riddled with more flaws than you can count with your hands and feet combined, mainly because unlike manga or visual novel adaptations, there is much less ‘guidance’. However that lack of guidance can also be taken as degree(s) of freedom by experienced storyboard writer and directors. Before I go on with my mighty praises, let this fact sink in…
Gamers! is Okamoto Manabu‘s very first time directing a full season show, ever. He has only been doing episode directing for various shows before that. As a production, Gamers! gets a big thumps up from me. The sheer level of talent poured into this anime by Manabu-san has me stop singing praises for another light novel adaptation which is also extremely well made, Saekano Flat.
With the traditional anime cour and weekly airing schedule on top of each episode being allotted twenty-five minutes at most, there exist a clear limitation as to how much of a light novel’s volume can go into each episode. This always result in plot and/or story alteration in the forms of either addition or deletion. A prime example of plot addition is via character introduction scene with narration/dialogues, whereas deletion is as it looks; certain events that would otherwise happen in the light novel do not in anime or get only a tiny bit of air time. Again, there was already one great example that I’d mentioned for Saekano Flat.
Plot/dialogue placement is art
What Gamers! has done very well in its first episode alone is introducing nearly all of its main characters in a manner that leaves very strong impression. After the first episode I had impressions that Keita was a protagonist who would not go by the name of beta-cuck, Karen was that beautiful female heroine who went absolutely against all of my expectations. Tasuku and Aguri were practically living a gamer’s relationship dream, you know… having a girlfriend/boyfriend while still being able to have social life outside of games.
At least for Tasuku.
This is where spoilers provided by the anime itself help make anticipation even more welcoming. Right from the first episode I was already given hints that Tasuku’s relationship with Aguri would be stirred by Keita sooner or later.
A great light novel adaptation will have its story altered so much that it will make you want to read the source material in order to catch the differences. Oh and for Gamers!, there are.
First three introductory episodes adapted each of the three chapters from the first volume while the so-called ‘filler’ episode 4 adapted the first volume’s extra story.
I appreciated it very much! And FYI episode 4 is not in any way a filler.
The light novel’s prologue is pretty much entirely Keita talking about himself and his character. So instead of having the first episode entirely dedicated to introducing Keita’s sad as hell of a character, the material gets shredded and spread evenly into the three episodes. This allows us watchers to slowly learn more and more about him in the anime as opposed to getting a massive information dump. Something Mahouka could actually learn NOT to do.
Designs — Every light novel adaptation gets a second chance
The one undeniable truth about light novel adaptations is that character designs will always receive change.
Light novel art style tend to actually end up being inconsistent. The main reason as to why light novel character designs tend to change when transitioned into anime is because they need to represent the characters. In the case of Gamers!, everyone but Tendou Karen gets heavily overhauled to reflect their personality. My biggest props would have to go to Tasuku, who in the light novel looks more generic and even more beta than Keita, gets rehashed into an absolutely cool looking dude who clearly has the looks superior to the protagonist. No homo.
Other reasons may include blends into the background art or being strictly moe (cough* KyoAni).
Speaking of Kyoto Animation, let’s take a look at what they do very well.
KyoAni’s Hibike! Euphonium takes full advantage of grounded camera techniques, blurring and shadowing. Saekano Flat in comparison does not know what any of those three are; its overall art is insanely bright and sharp!
Moving onto the character art blending into the background art. I have tried to obtain two examples of similar scene where the main characters take public commuter service, around the same time of the day at that!
Again, Saekano Flat has this insane sharpness emphasis in the characters. It got to the point that sometimes they feel off no matter how detailed the surrounding/background is. Gamers! on the other hand did not blow the budget and managed to do exactly as required. The show is known for its colorful palette but it still is able to draw the line.
This is not to say that Saekano Flat has bad art, but rather to emphasize on the fact that Gamers! knows where it belongs in the art department. And the change in character design was done purposefully to make them look believable, ultimately resulting in the show being even more lively than the source it adapts from.
This is probably the closest to GAMING yet
Gamers! centers around a group of high schoolers that happen to play games. What this series does right before the anime has even been given the green light, is inserting itself into a tiny gap in anime genres. I have seen a lot of negative ‘reviews’ about this show and most of the complaints were to do with how Gamers! steer away from gaming culture. This is where I will not be nice and ask you to stop reading this post right here if you cannot face the truth.
Here comes the truth…
What is this ‘gaming culture’ you speak of?
Do you mean that you actually want an anime about Toxic Seagull and Moe Kaceytron?
I am extremely thankful that I only got to see a few minutes of these two in the spotlight because they represent the biggest reasons why I do not enjoy playing online games as much. Despite being a helpful lad, it is the competitive side of Kase-senpai that easily validates Keita as a gamer on the other side of the spectrum. Keita really only wishes to play for enjoyment. I can guess what you are probably thinking…
Keita is a casual mobile game scrub!
This further validates his philosophies as in real life, these things are surprisingly popular in Asian countries. Did you know that at least a quarter of the people who frequent Akihabara do not actually watch anime?
What do they do instead?
They play mobile games!
I casually play Final Fantasy Exvius myself. It’s extremely similar style of online social adventure game Keita plays.
Gamers! doesn’t stop there. It goes on to give shout outs to 80’s and 90’s kids as pretty much all of the games referenced are of everything from NES, consoles, arcades, visual novels, PSVita ported games, FPS, mobile games to even BOARD GAMES! You will know that you truly lack great gaming experience if you can’t even pick up half of the references in this anime, let alone in its opening sequence.
There however are two types of games that are currently being neglected by the show…
MMORPG and MOBA.
I’m not even going to lie. MMORPG theme has been done to death in anime, whether they are of Isekai genre or not. And I am frankly tired of it too because what mainly happens is we have a protagonist who will either be the best–uncontested or somewhere in the high-profile category. The protagonist finds absolutely no trouble in his journey on his own; he struggles for others, and others only.
They just mostly happen to be girls. Ringing any bells?
I’m looking at you, Sword Art Online. Quan Zhi Gao Shou comes pretty close in respect, I will however give credits for having a better than average protagonist. Then there is Btooom!, while not MMORPG, still harbors the same protagonist trick.
Finally appears an anime that takes advantage of the genre gap, I hope that Gamers! continues to neglect most of MOBA and MMORPG while giving me the nostalgia I carve for. It is as if this series is written by a person who has been gaming from 80’s to mid 2000’s, counting the FPS PUBG as an outlier.
It is no secret that I am a more than casual World of Warcraft player. In the game there are hardly anyone I know who actually watch a similar type of anime that I do (it’s over in About Me page, yo).
Yes, it does get quiet in the chat despite everyone knowing that we all watch anime. It is that clear difference in taste that prevents me from going spasm whenever anime is brought up as a topic in the guild chat. I also have made a point about how rom-com genre anime is probably the least popular outside of Japan. So what is popular among the gamers in (European) community of World of Warcraft?
Battle Shounen and Supernatural Seinen. Oh how unsurprising!
Stuff like Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul, Bleach, One Piece and Dragonball Z. You name it. How do you think these people reacted when I mentioned rom-com’s like Saekano? Or even Sakurasou?
Gamers! is a rom-com anime that does the intentional of neglecting the one genre where majority of its playerbase is barely able to recognize a thing or two about romantic comedy anime. This is legitimately pulling the middle finger and I like it very much.
Teenagers are not exactly adults
Those are just some of what Gamers! have in interaction with real games.
Characters in the show play games in each and every episode. If that is not gaming then I don’t know what is…
The story focuses on what’s actually more relevant to a bunch of high schoolers, their quest to finding a place they belong. This is very obvious but romance is one of a few aspects no single adults would deny that they’d want perfected back in their teenage days. So here is a story about a bunch of teenagers that play games; they are just human. They fall in love, fall out of love. They endlessly doubt their judgments and actions, fearing that the worst is always to come. I’m aware that Gamers! runs a theme of misunderstandings for its comedy part. You also have to realize that there is also a logic to comedy, and if the show is really going that route, there will definitely be the punchline present and the moment when every single facades come crashing down, leaving us with pure romance. There may actually be emerging drama, who knows?
As of this post, Gamers! has nine episodes out and for me it definitely ranks up very high in my romantic COMEDY ladder. Now I don’t actually have the moolah to cash out the light novels and all… damn it.
Up until now I have only talked about things this anime ring nostalgia for me while not a single thing about relatability. That’s where I will probably make up another post for it.
I will try!