Friday, July 14, 2017

Base Combat is for Gamers!

What's better than seeing your favorite video game in anime form? Not much, really.

Okay, there's actually a lot that's better than that. But video games turned anime is nothing new. The two media genres overlap as much as peanut butter and jelly. But there is still a refreshing feeling seeing a video game you love make the leap to a full animated series. 

Now, it doesn't always work out. Granblue Fantasy of this past season was great. I've never played the game, but have found it to be an interesting one I would like to get into. God Eater was an okay series. It had some serious flaws in my opinion, from how they handled the progression of the story, to how it was animated. But it was really interesting, and it got me to dive into the game series itself, which I do like. 

But for every Granblue or God Eater, there's stuff like BlazBlue: Alter Memory. I love the BlazBlue games, despite myself being terrible at fighting games. But, the anime was terrible. They tried to cover in one cour every base that the game covers across 3 or four different story routes that exist across alternate timelines, plus a little bit from a second game. It was way too much, particularly when adding in some of the funnier, lighthearted moments from the game that actually had little to do with the story advancing. 

Then there are the anime that aren't themselves based on any game, but are themselves about games. You have something like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, and going back to the scion of the "stuck in a game" genre, .Hack//sign and its followups. You have series like Saekano, about a group of folks actually making a game.

And then there's things like the new show this season called Gamers! It's a show, it seems, that will about the classic otaku dream, or at least a variation on that classic idea, of a gaming otaku who is socially awkward due to their gaming habits, who manages to end up in a relationship with the No. 1 idol at school, a gorgeous, smart, athletic, beauty, who somehow happens to be as much, if not more, of a gaming otaku than he is. 

These series tend to follow the same script, with a few twists thrown in to freshen things up - a slightly different take on the relationship drama, or the disconnect between their gaming lives and real lives, etc. This series, Gamers!, seems to be focusing on the fact that the MC likes games, but not competitive gaming, so doesn't want to join Ms. Idol's gaming club, much to his own inner disdain for passing on the chance to be with the school's beauty. 

But what earns this particular anime a special place for me, regardless of where it ends up on the spectrum of great to bad anime about video games, is this bit right here:
This screenshot comes from a few minutes into the first episode that aired last night on Crunchyroll. The MC is approached by the school idol at a game shop while he is picking out numerous titles off the shelf. He's so startled to see her, he drops the games he grabbed. Of those, quite prominently shown there on the left, is Ace Combat. Now, ignoring the fact that there's a Mig on that cover that is clearly a replica of the F-22 cover for Ace Combat 4, and that the box appears to be a PS3 box, when the PS3 only had Assault Horizon and Infinity, it is quite funny and strangely gratifying to see. 

Ace Combat has never been a particularly big series, fan wise. It's not tiny, but it's far from the sort of game you'd expect to see make any sort of cameo in an anime. so, to see it do just that... it's just funny good. Icing on the cake would've been to see them actually play some of it and marveling at how accurate, or inaccurate, their recreation would have been... but that would definitely be asking too much. I'd love to think that is some sort of subtle nod to a PS3/4 remake or re-release of AC4, but that would also be asking way too much. 

If nothing else, Gamers! bumped itself up the list of shows I'll be looking forward to seeing each week during this summer anime season. Speaking of, for the first time in about 3 years, I will be updating that forgotten page where I list the shows I'm following this season. I want to wait a little bit to tease out exactly which shows I will be following, and will probably do a brief post on the shows I dropped, if any. That will probably be a week from today, once everything is out. I'm also planning a small post about the entry of Netflix and Amazon into the anime realm and my personal view on the way they've done it and the reaction I've seen from anime fans to it. So until then, enjoy.