Episode 3

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Gamers! ?

Keita has suddenly found himself surrounded by new gamer friends, but these social connections may not be worth the relationship drama that comes with them. Tasuku thinks that Keita needs more experience talking to girls, so he commands our hapless hero to befriend loner game otaku Chiaki Hoshinomori. Keita and Chiaki bond over their shared hobby (much to Karen's chagrin), but they quickly begin to fight over the subject of moe character designs. Tasuku tries to mediate the dispute, but his involvement only complicates things. By the end of the episode, just about everyone has the wrong idea about everyone else's relationships.

The driving force behind most of this week's antics is the unlikely friendship between Keita and Tasuku. Their growing “gamer buddy” bond is interesting, especially because Tasuku seems to be having more fun with Keita than any of his other friends. This could have some dramatic consequences later in the season, but for now the two of them make a solid comedic duo. Tasuku's streetwise sensibilities make him a good foil for Keita's absentminded enthusiasm, and it seems like Tasuku is almost going out of his way to play the straight man in their conversations. Between Keita trying to broaden Tasuku's gaming horizons and Tasuku trying to do the same with Keita's social life, they have the potential to generate plenty of entertaining plot points.

This episode turns that core duo into a trio with the introduction of Chiaki. As a group, the three of them are starting to function as an alternative (and perhaps even rival) social group to Karen's club. How the two circles will interact remains to be seen, but it reinforces the show's theme of having more than one valid perspective on gaming. Chiaki herself is about what you'd expect from the obligatory “shy girl” character, and while her feud with Keita covers some familiar territory, her interactions with both of the guys are intriguing. Instead of following the standard practice of having all the female characters fawn over one guy, Gamers! is building a much more tangled web of mixed feelings and romantic tension.

That complex balance of relationships is proving to be a double-edged sword at the moment. On the positive side, it's allowing for some hilariously brutal blows to the characters' egos as they see their crushes getting friendly with other people. Karen gets the worst of it this week, and her exaggerated reactions are accompanied by some inspired visuals. As fun as all this mayhem can be in the moment, all of the competing storylines leave this episode feeling unfocused. Quite a few scenes could have benefited from having a little more time to play out, especially Keita's panicked attempt to explain things to Aguri. With the style of humor that Gamers! has adopted, sometimes the best thing to do is to slow down and give a character extra time to dig their own metaphorical grave. That's hard to do when the show is juggling so many different relationships.

Of course, trying to make time for too many ideas is a much better problem to have than trying to muddle through with too few. If the biggest issue with Gamers! is that it's rushing to get all of its character arcs going, then it's probably in good shape for the long run. The comedy remains consistently entertaining, and the characters' interactions continue to provide interesting commentary on their varying approaches to their mutual hobby. If the opening and closing sequences are anything to go by, we've now met all of the major players. With the stage set, the series should be able to adopt a more manageable pace going forward.

Rating: B

Gamers! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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