Returning to this column here, where I look into a character from anime or manga that made an impression on me. Though I don’t have a strict regimen for this series, I would like to lean more generously on side characters over main ones, and not even necessarily characters I will obviously like – though those could (and have) also land a spot on one of these. This exercise is sort of intended to lead me to appreciating characters I presently do not.
The only criteria I really have for this series is that these characters must be from anime or manga I have watched/read to completion or am currently watching/reading. I have a substantial backlog already, so if you have any suggestions of characters for me to look into consult this list and I may take a shot at getting to know them in depth.
Today we look at Aguri of Gamers!. As of this writing I’ve seen 9 episodes, and it is in the last few (not 9 obviously) that Aguri, the carefree optimist of the group, became really interesting to me. At the start we see Aguri as Tasuku’s girlfriend, with a pretty apparent one-sided love on her end. So far she is the one who has been dominant on the romantic front, and she’s been quite the pleasant turnaround (in terms of expectations) of character so much so that I daresay she’s steadily become my favourite character in the show.
I’ve fallen pretty hard for Gamers!. It’s quickly become contender for my anime of the season. Having experienced it so far as a delightfully hilarious romantic comedy and an awesome awkward presentation of the power of friendship with amusingly relatable characters, it’s pure gold in my eyes right now. And I have been genuinely laughing out loud at it like not many other shows have made me.
Aguri sticks to Tasuku like glue a lot of the time, and gets a bit huffy when he acts aloof. Though Tasuku is very much attracted to Aguri, or at least acknowledges he’s dating someone who is attractive, something to note is that Aguri doesn’t really seem interested in games, nor is she particularly good at them, but she plays them while appearing to enjoy herself as a way to spend time with Tasuku. Personally, I find this aspect of her character rather heartwarming. But Tasuku may disagree, at least initially, on that front. He seems despondent or detached emotionally from the relationship, and almost irritated by Aguri’s requests for him to win stuffed animals for her in the crane machines.
It is soon revealed how Aguri fell in love with Tasuku and why she is so infatuated with him. Apparently he won her a plushie doll in middle school (or as Tasuku refers to it “the dark ages”), and so began her descent of affection and adoration for him. Years later she found out they went to the same high school and noticed he changed his appearance, so she changed hers as well in order to get closer to him. It is this reveal that lights up Tasuku’s feelings for Aguri and what makes him fall for her.
Aguri then becomes good friends with Keita after he asks her to go with him for some coffee in an attempt to console her presumptive heartbreak having witnessed Tasuku acting nice around another girl in the hallway. After knowing that Keita wants to become Karen’s friend, she and Keita form a bond of sorts wherein the two act as emotional supports for one another’s relationships. Their spending time together is based on an effort to clear up a misunderstanding, which ends up creating more misunderstandings, like Tasuku half-thinking Aguri and Keita are falling for one another. In any other romance, this would made out to be very dramatic and have an unpleasant tension in the narrative, but this is a comedy and it turns these common doubts and insecurities into hilarious plays of miscommunication and inner monologue (major props to the voice acting and writing staff).
Aguri even goes to the trouble of mapping out the love pentagram confusion on paper, but gets overwhelmed by it all and scraps it out of frustration. She doesn’t have all the information we (the viewers) do, so of course she gets it wrong, but got to commend her for trying. Bless her heart.
Though the above moment is a good one, it doesn’t interest me so much as her moments talking with Keita. She shows insecurities and a tinge of sadness at the prospect Tasuku is cheating on her, yet loves him so much that she despite she perceives it that way, wants to figure out how to get him back instead of scolding him for his supposed duplicitous act. Here Keita acts in good faith on behalf of Tasuku, saying that it’s more likely Aguri is misreading the situation. This cheers her up and puts her in a cheerful mood again… until another misunderstanding presents itself to them, and Aguri witnesses in comical shock.
From here the meet-ups with Keita and exchanges of plans to help one another in their relationships is what makes Aguri such an interesting character to me, at least relative to this show in particular. Despite her being understandably down about the whole affair she believes is happening between Tasuku and other girls, Aguri tries to be there for Keita anyway. She’s insecure about herself and status of her relationship, but raises her spirits to help boost Keita’s confidence about getting with Tendou. Isn’t she a trooper?
Another encounter eavesdropping on a conversation between Tasuku and Chisaki leads to yet another misunderstanding that causes Aguri to become deflated to the point where she’s (comically) reciting an infamous cheat code.
It is in episode 8 we see these misunderstandings be addressed and resolved (at least between Aguri and Tasuku), or so we’re led to believe – and I want to believe, despite whatever mishappenings in episode 9 are setting up next. Tasuku asks how Aguri feels about Keita and she says she considers him like a kid brother. This puts Tasuku at ease with the status of their relationships. And it’s a touching scene where these two who love each other feel comfortable sitting side by side after all their presumptions and misconstrued behaviour. It feels like a moment of victory for Aguri, and us the viewers.