What They Say:
Keita Amano is a fan of one thing: gaming! Whether he’s on his phone or console, he just loves playing video games. And when the beautiful president of the game club, Karen Tendou, invites him to join, it seems like an EZ choice. Except, he declines! KO’d by the shock, Karen suddenly makes getting close to Amano her main quest. But she’s not the only one interested in him!]
The audio presentation for this release comes with the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets the 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that is very much focused on a traditional dialogue oriented design but it gets a couple of bigger moments where it stands out in relation to the gaming itself. The bulk of what we have is simple interactions, though, and that plays out well across the forward soundstage. The placement hits some solid moments with the way the characters move about and the stereo mix hits all the expected marks. The 5.1 mix doesn’t provide too much noticeable in a big way since the material doesn’t really call for it but the dub has a greater clarity and comes across louder in a good way. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Pine Jam, the show has a really good look to it with the character designs and detail within them and we get a very well done real world setting, just not going for something stylish in terms of colors. There are a number of very fluid segments of animation that come across very well and the gaming aspects are definitely going to delight fans. The encoding captures all of this in a solid way with clean colors that are free of problems such as breakup and noise. The animation quality is pretty good and the encoding does right by it in bringing it to life without any issues.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds both formats on hinges as well as an o-card slipcover that replicates the case artwork, The front cover uses the key visual for the show with the main cast together in a game of Tetris that definitely works well with its layout, colors, and how the characters are showcased. The back cover goes for a white background with the colors from the front used in some good linework and other widgets. The shots from the show are a bit bigger than normal and they display the series designs well. The summary of the premise covers the basics and we get a good listing of extras and a technical grid that breaks down both formats cleanly and accurately. The set doesn’t have any show related inserts to it but we do get some great artwork on the reverse side using some of the Japanese release artwork of different pairings.
The menu design for this release keeps it simple with static images for the backgrounds that gives us a good look at the cast. They’re very detailed and appealing with the costuming and hair as well as some really nice color definition. The logo is kept large in the upper left corner with its bright pink and the menu navigation along the bottom has some old Windows style blockiness to it that makes for easy use. There’s not much to the release beyond the show so the menus work quickly and easily in moving about and setting up both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Sekina Aoi, Gamers! is a twelve episode series that aired during the summer 2017 season. The novels began back in 2015, just about two years before this aired, and is still ongoing with ten volumes. So there really wasn’t a ton of material available for it when they started plotting out the anime but studio Pine Jam put together a good plan with writer Hiroki Uchida and director Manabu Okamoto. The series doesn’t feel like it really drags even as it works us through some familiar story ideas. Where it works is that we get some fun characters in how they interact with each other without, mostly, going to weird extremes or crazy directions. It’s largely real world based and doesn’t lean too heavily into the gaming side itself.
The general premise is one that involves a high school gaming club where those involved enjoy competitive gaming. This isn’t like a hardcore kind of thing where they’re doing ranked competitions against other schools but just in how they play themselves. Club president Karen Tendo is looking for some new members and she’s set her eye on Keita Amano, your average second-year type who is very much a gamer himself. Keita’s not interested in competitive gaming, however, and enjoys other types of gaming and just the experience himself. Considering how wide and varied gaming this becomes a nice point along the way, especially since it’s not devoted just to dating sims or hentai games or some such. He is competitive in his own way as he does like to win but it’s not quite the same as how the club goes. So he doesn’t exactly want in on it because it’s not his speed but Karen is pretty much intent on bringing him on.
Which works in his favor because he’s actually interested in her but unable to figure out how to really talk to her. He gets a little help in all of this from Tasuku, the handsome classmate who is dating Aguri and dabbles in some types of gaming himself, mostly crane games and other arcade games. In fact, he ended up with Aguri because he gave her a stuffed animal from one of them during middle school when he didn’t know her and she’s been interested in him ever since, changing her hairstyle to pink and being a lot more outgoing. Aguri’s cute in general and her interest in anime makes for some fun laughs at times, but what gets me is that along the way she and Keita end up becoming really good friends as they try to help each other with the others relationships that are in various stages of development. That does lead the others to wonder if they’re in a secret relationship themselves but I really liked that Keita and Aguri are completely platonic throughout and just friends.
Where the real conflict in this series stems is with the addition of Chiki, the quiet girl that Keita tries to ease into talking to so that he can actually deal with the stronger personality that is Karen. Chiaki, however, turns out to largely be a female version of Keita and the two have a ton in common and get along really well and easily. She even undergoes the rare early change of cutting her hair (at Takusu’s suggestion, of all things) and you see her falling for Keita pretty easily. They have a lot in common, some of which neither even realize until far later in the show when she has to get her younger sister to help out in covering for her, and you really get the easy push in how she’s the “right” one for Keita. But Keita’s kind of oblivious to this and his path keeps pushing him toward Karen, though I do like that it’s not a hard and strong push, something a little more nuanced so that we get them dating just to make things incredibly awkward while everyone tries to understand their own feelings.
The series is one that largely plays to familiar high school romantic comedy storylines. We thankfully, blissfully, avoid events like the whole going to the beach but we do get a hot spring sequence that I can’t complain about that much toward the end. The reason for that is that it focuses on the three girls enjoying the spring but with Chiaki and Karen arguing over the value or non-value of DLC in games. It’s such an engaging discussion in itself that you can either miss it by focusing on the fanservice or miss the fanservice because the conversation is so interesting. There are some good discussions on the different types of gaming along the way to showcase the characters and what they’re into and I found that I really liked what we got out of Takusu with the arcade gaming and the crane material. But for the most part, the series draws us into the characters and it puts me in that place where my usual easy to figure out who belongs with who side doesn’t quite work so well. While Takusu and Aguri are spot on together, I really liked her friendship with Keita. And Keita seems to connect with all three girls in different ways that feel meaningful so that none of them got the short end of the stick. When it’s a tough thing to figure out it usually means I enjoy the show more as it’s less predictable, sorta.
Gamers! is a pretty fun series. It’s the kind of show that some will avoid if they think it’ll rely heavily on the gaming side and be pretty inside baseball in its own way but I think that the gaming side here is just a trapping to a familiar high school romantic comedy. It presents us five familiar characters to work with but moves them through their journey in a more interesting way than a lot of them do and it let me uncertain as to how the pairings really should end up when you get down to it. It’s a very well animated show with good designs and a solid encoding that brings to life the quality of the animation. It’s the kind of show where you think based on its origins you can figure most of it out easily, and maybe you can, but it does it with enough style and uncertainty to make you want to see where it goes beyond what’s here.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 21st, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.