Us anime viewers know how to identify the shows that really spark our interest. That random shōnen anime you stumbled upon one night might have become a weekly viewing ritual. Or, that gentle slice-of-life show you heard about from a friend might have become a fresh addiction. In any case, we all found shows that were worth spending a few days eye-guzzling during the summer. The anime GAMERS! was no exception, and it’s not too late to get into it since its school setting is relevant for the beginning school year. GAMERS! presents a sort of hybrid story that includes both elements of real-life gaming (of course) and tantalizing love stories. By mixing those two elements, GAMERS! creates a broad appeal that will delight fans of both gaming and romance.

The gaming part of the series is key to the character development and interactions. Each character has different opinions about games and learns about other gaming perspectives from their peers. Most of the main cast is part of the school gaming club, and they see each other often. In the process of getting to know one another through gaming, plenty of romances bud. But the show’s plot is the romances aren’t always perceived clearly by everyone. Some relationships are spotted accurately, some are wrongly assumed by others, and no one person has everything right or sees the whole picture. I’ll be breaking down parts of the first few episodes to show the gaming theme that creates relationships, what the relationships reveal about the characters, and how all of this makes the show so interesting.

Minor plot spoilers for GAMERS! up to and including “Keita Amano and Karen’s Best Entertainment” follow.

The Gamers and the Game Club

One day during school, high school loner Keita Amano is approached by another student, Karen Tendo. Amano generally sticks to himself, playing mobile games between classes and after school. Tendo, on the other hand, is incredibly beautiful and popular. She creates quite a bit of shock when she suddenly approaches Amano. Tendo ends up inviting Amano to join a club for gamers like themselves. Right from the jump, gaming is characterized as a way students can come together, even if it’s one of the most popular girls in school and a total introvert.

GAMERS! Screenshot
The Game Club’s great gaming setup. | Image: Crunchyroll

The club itself is pretty incredible. There are only about 4 members when Amano is invited, all of whom are incredibly talented at fighting games, puzzles, and first-person shooters. They have a room stocked with the best hardware around, with gaming PCs lining the walls and every console imaginable being played. Because the club is so strong competitively, they’re able to bankroll this setup through tournament winnings and sponsorship.

While not all of the main cast joins the club, it’s more or less the glue that holds them all together. Most characters are in completely different circles and would have never interacted with one another if not for the common love of gaming.

Budding Relationships

Amano isn’t someone who plays games for the competition. He generally prefers to enjoy what he plays and loves playing games with others. While he rejects Tendo’s offer to join the Game Club, this leads him to find some like-minded people. Tasuku Uehara is one of Keita’s classmates and hears about him turning down Tendo. Like all high school drama, this particular event was twisted out of context. Most of the school assumes that Amano turned down a romantic offer, not an offer to join a club. Uehara has spent a lot of time since middle school creating a ‘cool’ facade. In middle school, bullies harassed him for his interest in gaming. Because of this, he finds it especially odd that someone would turn down any chance to appear better in a social context.

GAMERS! Screenshot
Uehara and Amano get to know each other at the gaming cafe. | Image: Crunchyroll

Uehara is still into games and, after running into Amano at an arcade, plays for several hours. The two play just about every game in the place, especially games that are designed for only two people. Because he spent most of his time gaming alone, Amano never had the opportunity to play multiplayer games at the arcade. Uehara finds himself enjoying his time too, even if it isn’t the ‘cool’ thing to do.

With these new encounters, the romantic playing field of the show gained two new participants and starts getting a bit complex. Amano’s strong values when it comes to gaming impresses Tendo, making her fall in love with him almost instantly. Because Tendo loves Amano despite him being a nerd, Uehara finds a newfound respect for her and treats her more like a friend. But Uehara’s girlfriend, Aguri, notices this interaction and begins to worry that he doesn’t love her anymore. GAMERS! begins to bring together an intriguing slew of connections between its characters. This keeps viewers guessing about romantic encounters while keeping the plot ties to gaming.

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Oblivious Soulmates

Uehara, being the nice guy that he is, wants Amano to meet others like him. He introduces Chiaki Hoshinomori, a girl in Tendo’s class who also plays video games. Hoshinomori and Amano quickly bond through their similar tastes in games and have almost identical preferences. Eventually, they talk so much about games that they realize the small details are where they often disagree. The two most like-minded individuals in the show argue and squabble more than anyone else. In person, they act like playful enemies but, unbeknownst to either of them, their online personas have been best friends. They play most of the same games together but simply haven’t realized who the person behind the username is.

GAMERS! Screenshot
Amano and Hoshinomori bond over similar gaming philosophy. | Image: Crunchyroll

Hoshinomori makes what was previously more of a love rectangle into a love pentagon. She responds to Uehara’s kind actions toward her with romantic attraction. But, all of his actions were an effort to set her up with Amano. Ironically, this drives Amano and Hoshinomori apart.

Amano and Hoshinomori get so close that they learn the things about each other that aren’t consistent. While they both love a game, Amano might love the music while Hoshinomori loves the map design. The only reason both of them care so much about little differences like this is because they have a true passion for games. Even if they love a particular game for different reasons, the values that govern their liking to that game are the same.


Values in Action

Everyone has certain feelings towards their peers, and the reason for those feelings explains a lot about their values. Hoshinomori and Amano are loner types. They both find themselves meeting relatively likable, extroverted people, but they don’t interact the same way. In Amano’s case, he rejects what could’ve been a strong friendship with Tendo because the Game Club doesn’t fit what he thinks about video games.  Hoshinomori more or less falls in love with Uehara just because he’s nice to her. She cares about games just as much as Amano, but values the quality of a friend more than she values the things she does with that friend.

Uehara seems somewhat selfish in trying to manipulate the duo into dating, but in reality, that just shows how much he wants the people around him to be happy. As someone who personally experienced bullying, he empathizes with just about every other character and puts a lot of effort into understanding how everyone feels. This is the sort of well-meaning action that drives most misconceptions in the series. Everyone is really trying to stay true to themselves, and every character is a pretty good person. Unfortunately, this often means they inadvertently assume things while they try and help other people out.


Hilarious Misconceptions

The problem with matchmaking is that it only makes perfect sense when you have all of the proper information. While the characters in GAMERS! are all great friends, they don’t discuss romantic ties enough.  Because of that, almost every single person thinks random people are romantically attached when in reality they’re just friends.

Aguri, for example, sees Uehara helping Hoshinomori come out of her shell and assumes he’s cheating. She turns to Amano for emotional support, but then Uehara assumes Amano is stealing his girlfriend. These misconceptions drive them all to sneakily investigate one another and act very deliberate when they’re around each other. GAMERS! lets us viewers hear the thoughts of each character, so we’re right alongside them as they try to think their way through relationship drama.

All 5 characters in the love pentagon are here. Amano is prepared to confess to Tendo while the others attempt to confirm or deny their current relationship suspicions. | Image: Crunchyroll

For someone super loving like Aguri, this confusion is very distressing. The instant she doubts Uehara’s feelings for her, she does everything she can to keep him. This, however, ends up pushing them apart a bit. Alternatively, someone like Tendo simply does her best to improve her relationship with Amano rather than worry about his relationships with others. She is incredibly routine-oriented and stresses out whenever unforeseen outcomes are pushed onto her. So, even something as simple as Amano rejecting her invitation to the Game Club hits her quite hard. GAMERS! shows these character details over time instead of telling them outright. This makes the story a lot richer than a lot of other shallow romance anime.

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Game On for GAMERS!

Overall, GAMERS! brings forward a narrative that is as deep as it is subtle. While it may seem complicated at first, GAMERS! does an incredible job of bringing you into the story. As the summer ends, it’s great to see a series that consistently surpassed the bar on a weekly basis. GAMERS! has done something most romance anime struggle with; it has integrated a mystery aspect to the plot that leaves viewers guessing how each relationship will turn out.

Most importantly, there’s a level of character development through the friendships and misconceptions that form each week. While it may seem like these students just confuse each other, they really reveal more and more of themselves. In terms of the story, I’m rooting for several couples and a very specific outcome. It’s easy to pick favorites, especially considering how many characters take part in the main story. I feel almost personally invested in GAMERS! to the point that every happy ending feels real. Any anime that can make fans feel like they’re a part of the story is certainly miles above the rest.

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