Episode 7

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Gamers! ?

The good news for Keita is that he's somehow managed to stumble into a relationship with the most popular girl in school. The bad news is that all of Karen's admirers suddenly hate his guts, and he's still under the mistaken impression that she's also dating Tasuku. As the miscommunications continue, Keita decides to call Karen up to the roof for a private conversation. She assumes that he wants to call the whole thing off, but it turns out that Keita just wants to ask her out on their first date. The date goes reasonably well aside from an unexpected encounter with Chiaki, and a hard-fought battle in a kart racing game brings Keita and Karen a little closer together.

Gamers has some cleanup to do after last week's comedic chaos, so it's hardly surprising that this episode gets off to a relatively slow start. Keita's solo conversations with the other major characters serve mainly to help the audience figure out where everyone stands after the public confession scene. Tasuku and Aguri still suspect one another of cheating, Chiaki thinks Karen is just helping Keita escape a fake relationship with Aguri, Keita thinks Karen has something going on with Tasuku, and Karen's worried that Keita is going to call off their new relationship before it even starts. For the most part, this is largely just a refresher course on what the audience already knows. The one interesting development is that the relationship initially seems to be causing both Keita and Karen more trouble than either of them expected; if they want a happy ending, they're going to have to work for it.

The episode starts to pick up steam once we reach the rooftop scene. This conversation ends up changing the dynamic between Keita and Karen, possibly for the better. Instead of having Karen obsess privately over the blissfully oblivious Keita, the series is forcing them to interact more directly and confront their feelings for one another. This results in some charmingly awkward chemistry as both characters try to deal with the fact that they have no idea how a romantic relationship is supposed to work. That carries through to their first date, which maintains a sweet side even as it draws humor from the characters' actions and reactions. Instead of eagerly anticipating the next round of chaos, I found myself actually rooting for the newly formed couple.

Chiaki's arrival midway through the date helps stir the pot, though I'm not entirely convinced that her presence is necessary. Even without having her around to push things along, the show could've set up the totally-not-Mario-Kart scene easily enough. Regardless of how we get to it, this scene outshines the rest of the date in selling the idea of Keita and Karen being compatible with one another. Keita's last-second defeat helps the two of them bridge the gap between their different approaches to gaming; Karen sees value in Keita's willingness to choose the most entertaining course of action, and Keita acknowledges that the match wouldn't have been as much fun if Karen had gone easy on him. Instead of driving the characters apart, the difference in their perspectives helps bring them together.

In terms of outright comedic impact, this episode takes a significant step back from last week's effort. It's still reasonably funny, just not outrageously so. The good news is that it makes up for most of that lost ground by moving forward on other fronts. The show takes ownership of the changes it set into motion last week, and the relationship between Keita and Karen now seems like a desirable outcome instead of a joke. Gaming also returns to play a more central role in the narrative, influencing the characters' actions and creating an opportunity for them to find common ground. With plenty of conflicts still left to resolve, Gamers finds itself in a good position as it moves into the second half of the season.

Rating: B+

Gamers! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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