Gamers! (ゲーマーズ！) is a 12-episode “romantic”-comedy from 2017 by Studio PINE JAM adapted from a light novel.
Keita Amano is a loner whose only friends are the video games he plays constantly when one day the school idol Karen Tendo approaches him about joining a gaming club she started since shes also a secret gamer. Keita goes to check out the club, gets happy he can finally make friends like himself there, and then decides not to join because he “doesn’t like the way they play games” which crushes Karen. Meanwhile his classmate Tasuku Uehara (who was a big gamer in his middle school life) becomes intrigued by Keita’s unabashed enthusiasim for gaming even in the face of social pressure and Uehara’s girlfriend Aguri gets dragged into things when she starts meeting with Keita about Uehara and then there’s the gaming girl Chiaki who starts to develop a friendship turned rivalry with Keita over the slightest differences in their gaming tastes and look, almost none of that really matters.
Its been said that “love makes fools of us all” and boy, is that ever on display here, these kids are MORONS. Not to say you wonder how they can function, 90% of the time theyre fairly ordinary, but whenever something comes up involving whoever they have a crush on they turn into utter disasters. Worse, or rather more hilariously, they frequently see everyone elses love lives crashing and burning and recognize them as such and either try to help them out, or in Ueharas case want to watch for their own amusement, only to turn around and be utterly oblivious to how they’re sabotaging themselves. There’s really not even a love triangle or conflict going on here, all of that is in their heads as pretty much everyone has a crush on someone who loves them back, they just let misunderstandings pile upon misunderstandings to make everyone a fool.
The prime example of this is Karen Tendo. In most series she’d either be a tsundere or far more reserved whereas here she’s pretty straight forward about her gaming and goes from being an extremely competent person to a walking disaster in the course of 1 episode, all because Keita is too dense to figure out she likes him and keeps accidentally “rejecting” her with things she takes the wrong way. The show loves to make everyone the butt of its jokes and it works.
There’s also an episode spent playing a knock-off of the game of Life which is one of the funniest things Ive ever seen that makes almost the whole series worth it by itself.
While not exactly a “cringe” comedy you’re not here to see any of these kids get happy ever afters, as cute as some of the pairings are together. You’re here to revel in the comedy of errors about how a bunch of people who are really similar to each other still can’t effectively communicate with one another.
Pacing wise, well its based on a light novel and some light novel pacing creeps in with a couple episodes that are “side-stories” to the main plot that keep showing up and awkwardly breaking up the flow of things and some episodes in the second half dragging under a bit too much contrivances without anything happening. The last listed episode (12) is also a bonus episode from the DVD release which is odd to end the series on if you go into it cold as its super meta and doesn’t work without really understanding what its doing.
Weeb Level: 5/10- You have school life tropes, rom-com tropes AND tons of video game references to get through here.
Fanservice: 4/10 (5/10 with the final episode)- While nothing too blatant, there is a somewhat heavy male gaze at times skewing some shots and it does like to have very brief panty shots every episode or two. The aforementioned last episode is at a hot spring and is pure fanservice in several ways even as most of the episode is the characters lambasting bonus fanservice content (I said it gets meta).
Quality: 8/10- A brisk, fun time which perhaps lacks something distinctive to keep it from being remembered easily.
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Funimation both have it available for streaming, and Prime has it for rent online.