I am freaking out so much right now. I feel like I’m seeing to a level deeper than anything I’ve ever seen before. The intro for Gamers~ has more for it than just some nice fandom shoutouts, so much more in fact that I want to share it with you.
Yes, I’m a fan of Mother’s Basement. I started watching his videos with his analysis of the One Punch Man opening, and I’ve been following him ever since. He’s one of the inspirations for me to finally get off my ass and start publishing animu essays rather than leaving them on my facebook.
Gamers! is one of my favorite shows this season. The jokes and their timing are impeccably well orchestrated. I can’t help but have a fit of giggles every time I tune in. But, I’ve come to love the attention and details that’s gone into its production too.
Let’s start from the beginning.
The opening shot introduces to our five players, with Amano naturally in the center of everything. Only Tendou, Chiaki, and Aguri are interacting with the camera though, and each one is showing off a little about themselves.
Tendou is giving us a classic “head tilt”. She’s a very polite and considerate girl. Normally, she keeps things very guarded and reserved. She doesn’t tell her friends about her gaming hobbies, and mostly keeps to herself. At least, that’s what she’s like when Amano’s not involved.
Aguri is acting very playful, and even bouncing a bit. She’s a naturally bubbly person, but she’s also one of the friendlier people who interacts with Amano on a regular basis, thinking of him as a kid brother.
Chiaki is hard for me to figure out because she’s looking off to the side. Not just that, but she’s looking to the side with a mix of disbelief and confusion. There’s a couple of ways to interpret this. One is that she’s actually looking at Uehara, as demonstrated by their positions in the cast shot.
That would make sense since we know Chiaki develops a crush on Uehara during her introduction arc. However, she’s not looking at him with the embarrassed doki doki that she has in the show. With that being said, it makes more sense if she’s looking at him after she thinks she’s “caught on” to Uehara’s “cheating scheme”.
The other idea is that she’s looking at Tendou who just had her introduction. This also falls in line with the idea of disbelief given that Chiaki can’t understand why Tendou would be so in love with “a light novel protagonist” like Amano to begin with.
In the next shot, Amano presses the oversized “power switch”. Bright lights and sparkles fly around and we go into a loading screen. Three bright lights go off, one for each of the girls, and we’re on to our title card.
This is where the intro starts having some fun with its video game references. I can’t name them all off the top of my head, but even I can recognize them for what they are. If nothing else, I’ll take a stab at guessing what they are. In order, it goes:
Resident Evil, some….side scrolling bullet shooter, Super Smash Bros, Call of Duty (or any number of FPS style games), Super Mario Bros (maybe the third one?), a dating simulator, uuuhhhh……Dance Dance Revolution?, Dragon Warrior, Street Fighter (specifically Ken’s pose for the continue screen), and finally – literally any MMORPG, but sure. Let’s pretend it’s Konosuba world or something.
It’s important that I lay this all out now, because I’m going to jump around the references’ order a little bit. The whole sequence running together gives us the very theme of the show: that life’s a game and that there are different ways to play it.
Amano is the one pressing the power button because he’s the main character. While everyone else is expertly woven into narrative, at the core this is HIS story. He’s the one who has to navigate everything, with the goal of not just completing the game, but winning. Unfortunately, he’s pretty terribad at it.
From the start we see Amano getting rekt. No matter what game he’s playing, he honestly can’t succeed. He can get close if he’s playing against one of his friends, but in the end he makes newbie mistakes and gets punished for it. What’s worth noting is what role he sees his friends in.
Uehara, his best bro for life, is the villain for both Resident Evil and Dragon Warrior. Whether he means to be or not, Uehara has set himself up as Amano’s greatest antagonist. Because Uehara is trying to 1) set up Amano with Tendou and 2) set up a love triangle between Amano, Tendou, and Chiaki for his own amusement, he’s creating obstacles and trials that Amano has to conquer. Unfortunately, Amano is not doing a very good job of stepping up to the task.
Next is Tendou. She’s referenced twice in these games. The first time is with the side scroller. Amano gets hit by a heart bullet and promptly dies. The second time, Amano is trying to play a dating simulator. I can’t translate the text, but given how all the other games have been going, it’s safe to assume that Amano is crashing and burning at this one too.
Both of these games are easily identified at his attempts at dealing with his crush on Tendou. Much as the intro implies, he fails pretty badly to start (or at least believes he’s failing). He fails so badly that he can’t even beat the dating sim he’s playing in the series itself with a proxy-Tendou.
Aguri and Chiaki are playing directly against Amano, and kicking his ass while they do it. They’re the only player characters that are competing directly against Amano. Each one is another mirror for Amano’s relationship with each of them. Like Uehara, Both of them are Amano’s friends even if he doesn’t quite see them that way.
With Aguri, Amano is playing Super Smash Bros. Competitive scene aside, Smash Bros is ideally a game where a bunch of friends can get together and just have casual fun. Incidentally, the majority of Aguri and Amano’s time together involves hanging out out at a cafe while they talk about their love lives and try to help each other through their harder moments. It’s also where a lot of the show puts more of its “straight man & funny man” jokes, with Amano playing the former and Aguri the latter. They tend to get worked up so much that the knockout blow punchline is just that much better for it.
Chiaki, meanwhile, is not playing around. It only takes her a second to find Amano, scope in, and headshot him. While we might see Chiaki as one of Amano’s friends, they certainly don’t see each other that way. Not at first, anyways. They’ve said it themselves in the series that their pride is one of the few things they have as lonely, reclusive, gamers. Every time they get into an argument, it’s full out war. Incidentally, Call of Duty, as well as other mature FPS titles, have reputations for having kids no older than their teens, screaming and shit talking each other over their headsets. That’s a pretty accurate description of what it’s like to watch Amano and Chiaki going at it.
Amano is playing Super Mario and DDR by himself but, again, he’s doing terribly. He makes one mis-step in Mario, and he’s dead before he can finish trying to turn around to fix his error. In DDR, he’s trying desperately to hit all of the notes correctly but he JUST. KEEPS. MISSING. If you look over at the score pad, he’s hit only 1 good note, and can’t get anything better than “bad” on all the rest.
As if that wasn’t enough to show just how badly things were going for him, both screens tell you that he’s only on LEVEL ONE, ON THE EASIEST MODE. This intro is literally showing you just how bad Amano is at gaming and life in general up to this point.
What’s interesting about the DDR one though is that all five of the characters are shown as the dance notes. It’s a nice joke about how everyone is completely out of step with each other, causing all the misunderstandings to begin with.
The lead-in to the next part is actually very clever, even though it looks disjointed. In the Dragon Warrior clip, all four of the party characters (which are named for Amano, Aguri, Chiaki, and Tendou) have been been knocked out.The text rolls, signalling the player’s loss. That one’s probably a nod to how, even as a group, none of them can defeat the tangled knots that Uehara puts them through.
But then, we get to see Amano recreating Ken’s “continue” screen from Street Fighter.
The CONTINUE countdown ticks down until the last moment when Amano gets revived by priestess (bishop?) Tendou. Amano rises, clad in classic fantasy hero’s armor. The shot pans back to show the colossal monster that all five of our heroes are striving to beat.
As soon as the fight picks back up, Uehara is knocked completely out. Rarely does he actually seem to help without making things harder.
Aguri, being the non-gamer that she is in real life, leaps at the monster and just punches it with the same directness her personality has. Tendou and Chiaki take the more fantastical route of using magic to bombard the monster from a distance.
Amano is still our hero though, so it’s up to him to run up to it and deal the final blow.
Here. This is one of the things that makes Gamers worth watching for me. Playing games and having fun with your friends. Where the other games leading up to now have either been single player titles or on versus mode, this is the first time we’ve seen everyone playing something co-op (known as cooperative play). Just like we see in the first episode, Amano has no desire to play super competitive games, and is terrible at them besides.
However, once he has his friends together and they can all work together towards something (not unlike how he’s always playing his mobile game with Chiaki), he has some of the best fun of his life. This clip of them playing together is almost half a minute long. Every other reference takes no more than 3 SECONDS. I know, I’ve timed it myself. The stories and memories that Amano is making with his friends last longer than any of the individual games themselves because the memories stand out more.
It’s a constantly re-occuring trend in the show. Like I said, the show is about how life is a game and everyone wants to play it differently.
At the time that I’m writing this, Amano has just finished his first (actual) date with Tendou. There’s a scene where he’s playing Mario Kart with Tendou and Chiaki. He pulls ahead by a nose and can probably win off of just that. But rather than going for the straight win, he uses it as an opportunity to have some fun by taking a chance with his “roulette bomb”, an item that will either blow up in his face or blow up everyone else.
A lot of people would probably say he he was just scewing around, but it doesn’t matter. Because he took a chance at something he thought would be silly, everyone had more fun than if things had just been a close, but normal, race. Tendou even notices and remarks that it’s the same reason why she likes him so much.
The intro ends with a “shoe shot” of both Amano and Tendou walking towards each other slowly before going once more to the shot of the cast that we started on. It’s a shot that shows us that, even if it’s just baby steps, they *are* getting closer to each other.
PHEW. That’s Gamers!
I’m amazed at just how much detail I’ve been missing from such a quick little intro. Every week I’ve tuned in to watch Gamers! and all I ever really noticed before were the cool references. While this may be mostly conjecture and fan theory, the more I looked into it and gave it some thought, the more plausible it honestly seemed. Honestly, I’m glad I spent the better part of two days writing this up because it’s enhanced my enjoyment of the series just that much more.
Gamers! is available on Crunchyroll, and I believe it’s being simul-dubbed by Funimation right now. I’ve been watching it subbed to have the episodes as soon as I can, but I’ll gladly rewatch it in english just to watch this show again.