It’s easy to be labeled as a stereotype without the person making the accusation actually knowing you. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves that, even though stereotypes should always be taken with a grain of salt, there is some level of truth to them.
Just as there are stereotypical anime viewers, there are also stereotypical gamers. And Gamers has quickly and successfully established the varying types inside its characters. The immediate example I can give lies with Keita Amano: the literal definition of “generic protagonist”. He’s the very typical “I just play whatever’s fun” kind of gamer. Even resorting to dating simulators and not taking competition very seriously, in most cases. These are the kind of gamers I don’t really understand but despite that he’s presented in a way that isn’t very proactive. Even though as a protagonist, you’re generally seen as the one making the decisions and almost moving the story forward even in reaction to another force that causes you to move it forward. But Keita has been placed in a very reactive role, which, to my understanding, is actually common for romcoms, sure. Like, when your typical tsundere walks up to the protagonist, gives him a letter and then tells him “oh it’s not what you think, baka!” and then he reacts stupidly. However, I’d argue this is the first time any romcom has done this well.
Because Keita doesn’t feel as much of a protagonist as he is the link that dynamically connects the cast together very similarly compared to Katsuhira Agata and that’s funny to me. Because both of these characters, on their own, are some of the most generic and boring protagonists but they work as the core for these ultra-dynamic relationships; having personalities gather around them and these protagonists almost always has to be interacting with some people and following everything they do because it’s very clear those characters are so much better. And to be fair, it’s a working formula that doesn’t make Keita look amazing but it makes him look not terrible and that’s fine! If you’re gonna make a character like Keita, he should never be in the forefront. At max he should remain in the same level as all the other main characters. Kiznaiver didn’t agree with my sentiment but, so far, Gamers has shown restraint with Keita.
Tasuku Uehara is an interesting take on the casual gamer stereotype. Because he was actually a hardcore gamer that dropped gaming to fit in with the cool kids coming into high school. Getting back into the swing of things through Keita, he was able to pick up games again and talk about them but he never becomes super passionate about them. He just consumes whatever Keita recommends to him and sometimes talks about games with him. This distinction is important because it gives him the ability to look at their obsession of games at a more distant angle. He’s the guy that isn’t so blinded by his love for gaming that he can point out what we obviously see from the other characters. In fact, I would say he’s more so the protagonist than Keita because we hear more about what he’s thinking and almost analyzing the other characters just as the viewer would. The difference between viewer and character is that he’s integrated in the same way all the other characters are;through Keita and Keita is not one to be comfortable with a large group of people, not before this show anyway. So, it stands to reason that none of them actually know each other. Even with his girlfriend, Aguri, he isn’t so sure of what kind of person she is, psychologically. This is due to the fact that he just half-assedly accepted her confession, not particularly caring about her as a person but I am sure in the back of his mind he knew he accepted because of her outward appeal. Not even necessarily out of a raging sense of boning her because she was cute but because she looks very popular and easily acceptable into any group. I am sure if she looked less reputable in the eyes of teenagers, Uehara would’ve declined the offer. But, of course, having a cute girlfriend means you’re a cool guy.
And there’s a reason she stylized herself to look so appealing. Back when Uehara was a game-loving geek, he won a stuffed animal and gave it to this one girl. That one girl was indeed Aguri. And this was a major surprise to Uehara because he didn’t believed anyone liked his old geeky self. But knowing she would be going to the same high school as him gave her the courage to dress up like a gal and confess to him. And as much as I like her character, this was the first thing that bothered me about the show but, to be fair, this was entirely my fault. You see. I didn’t expect to like this show. It exceeded expectations that were low, but it kept exceeding expectations. I was constantly ready for the show to get to a point where it falls downhill and while there were certainly bumps in the road it remained fairly decent throughout all the episodes I’ve watched so far. And Aguri was the first kind of character I expected to be kind of generic. The same could be said about Chiaki, who is kind of falling downhill as a character but before she was so much better than I really anticipated. I just expected her to like Keita but instead they had this love/hate relationship that is so very common in gaming communities that it was completely tangible in a narrative about gamers and how they cooperate with others.
Which I think is the whole reason people like this show. It expresses the different kinds of gamers there are in the community. Have you ever argued about who is the best character in your mutually favorite game? You’ll relate to this show. Have you ever just wanted to play games casually without engaging in any arguments? Look no further! However, if you’re a competitive gamer than Karen Tendou has you covered. Winning is fun, as they say and this philosophy is no different for her. However, she strays from this stereotype as she interacts and falls for Keita. Because she learns that Keita always plays to win, he just knows he’s not at a competitive level and he’s fine with that. He has no reason to force himself to be competitive, he has fun just playing games and trying his hardest with where he’s at. And Karen appreciated his honesty and finally grasped the fact that not everyone desires to be the best gamer, even if it would be nice. No, in fact, you can have the same level of passion for gaming even if you aren’t competitive.
Despite all I’ve said, the same similar stuff can be said about a whole lot of other romcoms. It’s generally why I don’t favor the genre because, in concept, they’re all very much the same a lot of the time and I wouldn’t say Gamers is different in that aspect. And I know what I am about to say is very arbitrary but what I personally think separates Gamers from all the other romantic comedies is that: it has “style”. And style isn’t something that can be so easily defined. It’s the same way I can tell a fellow gamer: “Hey! Danganronpa has style” . And he probably wouldn’t know what I mean until he plays the game.
Truly, style is the thing that gets Gamers past level one and level two is just the small differences like how a lot of the routines aren’t box standard. A lot of romcoms will have your typical protagonist/tsundere interaction whereas Gamers invents a whole new interaction of the likes of Chiaki and Keita arguing over whether or not moe is cancer. Or Uehara has everyone figured out and thinks he can manipulate his friends into getting together or force them into a scenario that is hilarious to him and calls himself a genius for it before inevitably failing and tricking himself into believing something that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even artistically, Gamers has found ways to avoid using typical facial expressions and tries to make new kinds of expressions that allows it to stand out just a little bit more.
But watching it will convince you of its charm better than I can, consider all this just a recommendation…