Episode 5

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Gamers! ?

Meddling in other people's love lives rarely works out well, but that hasn't stopped Tasuku from playing matchmaker for Keita. After learning that Keita and Chiaki have more in common than they realize, Tasuku arranges a gaming meet-up to let them spend more time with one another. It's bad enough that Keita and Chiaki continue to insist that they hate one another, but things become infinitely more complicated once Aguri and Karen get involved. Now Keita thinks Karen has a thing for Tasuku, Tasuku thinks Aguri is falling for Keita, Karen thinks Keita and Chiaki are an item, Chiaki thinks something's going on between Tasuku and Keita, and Aguri is still convinced Chiaki is going after Tasuku. As everyone's relationships descend into chaos, the truth is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

This episode's opening scene is likely to cause some confusion, as it circles back to the end of episode three. This opens up the question of where exactly episode four fits into the timeline. Given that Keita and Tasuku talk about Keita's afternoon at the arcade with Karen this week, it's safe to assume that the events of episode four can be placed somewhere in the midst of episode three, perhaps as a kind of self-contained side story. It's easy enough to move forward once that's all sorted out, but it seems like Gamers has needlessly jumbled up its timeline in order to make space for that side story. Considering that the audience is already busy keeping track of all the characters' mistaken ideas about one another's relationships, a more linear plot arc might have been a better choice.

Regardless of how we got here, the current state of play within the core cast is pretty darn funny. The series does a nice job of setting situations up in a way that leads characters to get the wrong idea about one another. For all the meticulous plotting and narrative trickery that this requires behind the scenes, it's impressive that the flow of events feels as natural as it does. In the majority of cases, there's at least a vaguely plausible explanation for why a character looks at an innocent situation and infers some kind of romantic subtext. The most amusing of the lot may be Keita's conversation with Chiaki after being spotted at a restaurant with Aguri; while he's blissfully unaware of what he's done, it slowly becomes obvious to the audience that he's only made things worse. That's some clever writing at work, as it uses what we already know about the characters to create a humorous situation.

This episode is relatively light on serious game-related content, apart from the brief debate on Chiaki's design dilemma. That's a little disappointing since it gives Gamers less time to show off its insightful side, but it also means that the series is now able to carry the majority of an episode without leaning on the crutch of video game references. A significant portion of the comedy is now coming from the characters themselves, with the games playing more of a supporting role. This is a good sign in the long term, as it means that Gamers will have a deeper pool of material to draw on for its humor. We still get to laugh at Keita's failure to woo a Karen lookalike in a dating sim, but that joke feels fresher because it's surrounded by other types of comedy. Variety is key in a series like this, especially when it comes to avoiding a late-season slump.

Apart from the needlessly messy timeline, Gamers is doing a good job of turning chaos into entertainment. As the characters' relationships get increasingly tangled in a web of love, hate, and misunderstandings, the humor is starting to come from a wider variety of sources. The question now is how far the series will go before it cuts these kids a break. Will they eventually get everything straightened out, or are they doomed to run circles around each other for the whole season? As long as the show can keep me laughing, both options seem viable at this point.

Rating: B+

Gamers! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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