"It's stuck deep inside me and I can't get it out of my head. Mafuyu's voice is an insane and dangerous weapon."
That day, Ritsuka Uenoyama started to feel that playing the guitar and playing basketball, both of which he liked very much, were becoming boring. He then encounters Mafuyu Sato, who's holding onto a broken guitar, and decides to fix it. The moment Uenoyama finishes fixing the guitar, Mafuyu becomes completely attached to him. However, after hearing Mafuyu sing it leaves a deep impression on him.
I am so happy that with Given we are finally getting a story that does not fall into the demons and fantasy trope (I mean I like those too haha). What's even better is we are getting to see a not so cheesy representation of queer love in anime. There is nothing groundbreaking per se with the story in Given. It has been done before, but often - the writers do not truly understand how to portray same-sex love on the screen (looking at you Super Lovers). The premises of Given reminds me of Doukyuusei as it revolves around high school, music, and two young
men discovering they love each other. However, there are differences, such as the underlying emotional trauma hinted at throughout the first four
episodes for Mafuyu Satou.
The protagonist and lug with a big heart, Rituska Uenoyama is a guitarist who does not seem to take pleasure in music or any of the other things like sports that used to make him happy. Then there's quiet, melancholy, and often aloof Mafuyu Satou who knows nothing about the guitar he carries around with him and is seeking something more in life. These unlikely characters quickly find themselves learning how to be the best person each can be and finding refuge in music.
The first four episodes move at a pace that allows the viewers to get a better understanding of the personalities of Uenoyama and Mafuyu. We the audience, know little about these characters, but the story feels like a natural and gradual introduction. We are also introduced to Haruki Nakayama and Akihiko Kaji – the other members who round out the band. Nakayama and Akihiko who are in graduate school and college respectively, have insight and offer advice to the younger bandmates. They also have an interesting dynamic that is starting to unfold as these episodes progress.
The animation and music are top-notch, and if things continue down this path, I will be thrilled. The use of real instrument names like the Gibson ES-330 and how scenes depict the use of music equipment such as amps, pedal effects, and decibel readers does a great job of adding a more realistic feel to the anime. The music does not feel like an addition to the story – it is part of the fabric that makes this an alluring anime to get lost in. I am vested in these characters and look forward to seeing the story unfold. I hope the plot skips the tropes of being too angsty or the couple not realizing their feelings until the last episode of the series haha. This is the kind of story where you want to spend time with the characters, and you want to see the relationship come to full realization week after week.
Given is probably one of the best adaptations of a Boys Love manga out there. I can say this with confidence despite the fact that I have only seen the first 4 episodes. (WARNING: may contain spoilers). Also, this is a review from the perspective of a huge Given manga fan.
It's mostly about love, loss and then slowly learning to move on and let go. I have to say, it's one of the most engaging, realistic and emotionally resonant young love stories I've come across so far. Not much has happened in the anime yet - but I think it was done with purpose.
You can really see the effort and thought they put into setting up the tone of the series and laying down the foundation for what's to come. They even added a lot of additional scenes (not present in the manga) that truly help in fleshing out the characters and making them feel more alive, as well as connecting story beats in the manga to make the story more cohesive and flow a lot better.
They are doing a really good job at translating the story from book to screen. The direction, shot compositions and the lighting are so noticeably good, it's honestly so impressive. It's not just "animated" manga panels - they really put a lot of thought into the pacing and flow of the scenes. The character animation is also pretty good (which is usually notoriously bad when it comes to BL anime). This is a music anime too, so I was a little worried about the performance scenes, but (holy crap) the instruments' look (and sound!) were rendered so well and the CG for the performances were actually impressive! Not to mention, even the background art for scenes are very detailed and beautifully done too. I for one love the character designs. They managed to keep the same feel/personality of the characters from the manga, while also adding their personal take on them.
The sound design for this anime is so damn impressive (I can't believe how blessed we are) especially for scenes with instruments in them. The strumming of an unplugged electric guitar by a complete newbie... the sound effects of the amps and other equipment... it is incorporated so well, you can believe that the sounds truly come from those moving pictures. And I'm not even talking about the band's actual performance scenes yet! That being said, the actual musical performance on episode 1 is SO good - it truly fit the image I had of the band while reading the manga. The background music is also really nice and makes use of band instruments so I thought that was really cool. Plus the OP and ED are really good. The ED reminds me how perfect Shougo-san is for the role of Mafuyu - both in speaking and singing. This is a truly blessed anime adaptation.
The best thing about this anime is probably that it contains actual (explicitly) gay couples. The development between our main couple is gradual, but very, very obvious and more importantly, extremely believable - you really can't help but ship those cuties together. They have a really great relationship dynamic - it is honestly really refreshing to not be subjected to problematic BL tropes in this actual BL anime. The characters themselves are all interesting and complicated and lovable, but their voice actors really add so much life into them. Their speech is more realistic rather than the usual "anime-style" of speaking, so it really adds to the realism and seriousness of this drama (though, I have to say this anime is also pretty funny). This is a music anime, so I also have to say the voice actor for Mafuyu is such a perfect choice - the speaking and singing voices really feel like they come from the same person (as sometimes an actor's singing voice is very different from their singing voice) and he really has Mafuyu's personality down to a tea.
Enjoyment - As you can probably already tell, I enjoy this anime a lot. It is one of the anime I most look forward to watch every single week. The story is interesting, dramatic, emotional and the characters are relatable, complicated, and loveable. I am fully invested in the story and all the characters, so I see that as an absolute success. I truly hope we get more adaptations of queer stories like this that are treated/adapted with the respect and love they deserve.
Overall - Really high quality work overall in terms of art, animation, voice acting, writing, directing and MUSIC. Very easy recommendation to absolutely anyone who likes good romance/drama/highschool/music anime.
Bear in mind I've actually never watched a Boy's Love anime in my life, but there was something about Given that immediately struck me. The fact that I never watch this genre yet felt compelled to watch this show says something, and I'm telling you to watch it too.
Now this is my first time watching BL, though I am familiar with the common issues that come with BL. Sometimes it's not portrayed right or is way too forced, not allowing the romantic aspect nor the representation of BL to come through as well. However, Given does this in a subtle, yet intriguing way that
leaves you wanting more out of the show. You end up liking it so much. Not only do you enjoy the cute characters or the music storyline, but you like the ships and the little things between the characters the show likes to add. Nothing feels forced or overwhelming, the story and development progress at a nice pace that keeps you engaged and never feeling rushed. Given knows how to set a certain atmosphere around the show, maintaining a good balance between the romance, drama and light-hearted moments.
The drama is almost perfectly shown in this series and I must say, I love it. It's never too dramatic nor are we ever getting too little content. It's always the right amount, from simple flashes of images from the past to characters' distressing facial expressions, the heavy scenes and the sad drama come together to create a story you can easily understand and follow. I think this is the essence of Given, how easy it is to follow. It's as if Given creates this flow, a calm wave that sometimes rages when something disturbs the water. This is especially depicted by Mafuyu's heart-breaking past, which is such a mystery yet with the details and clues you gain through each episode, builds the story little by little and sometimes causes the steady pace of Given to quickly become disordered, in a good and entertaining way. This creates dynamic drama and scenes that are enough to affect you as a watcher.
The characters are all amazing contributors to the story, I've easily taken a liking to each of them. The puppy-like Mafuyu who has a troubling past, the passionate Uenoyama who just wants something to ignite his flame again, the soft Haruki who's trying to cope with the feelings he has for someone, and the seemingly-unapproachable Akihiko who's actually super cool and interesting. Each of these characters just make for the story to be better and I find myself waiting for each episode to come out every week because of them.
Music & Art:
Who doesn't love a music anime? Especially when it involves a band? Of course, the music is great, and I think it's also thoughtful of the series to teach about music at the same time as well. For those like me who are well-versed with the music world will find it fun, and for those who don't know much will find it educational. The art fits the quaint series very well and the smart direction of scenes are very thought-out and clever. The opening and ending are great, I enjoy the visuals a lot in the opening.
All in all, this series struck me from the very beginning and I don't even generally watch this genre, yet I'm finding it so entertaining and wanting more. I recommend giving this a watch if you're looking for something different, as this show doesn't fall into the regular tropes and cliches romance anime in general usually offers. Just watch Given and from the very first episode, you'll be wanting more.
Given is a story about two young musicians, one just starting his real journey into music, and the other trying to rekindle the passion he lost through the disillusionment the teenage years can bring. Ueenoyama, Has lost his passion for music and finds it rekindled by Sato's genuine Naive desire to learn to play the guitar and become a musician.
The Animation is colourful and although it can be clunky at times, at other times, they can achieve some interesting and engaging shots, from often unused angles, you can notice this particularly in the first episode.
The sound is good, and engaging enough, it's not revolutionary,
but it's not going to give you that problem when the characters play something really shit and then it's passed off as the best thing ever. It was enjoyable enough on it's own and made sense in the narrative.
From what I've seen this show looks pretty good, don't get me wrong it's not perfect but it looks fairly nice, it fulfils the basic components of a Music Anime, (that being music and a passion in the characters for the development of their musical potential) and it has the rare characteristic of having a romance between two men, which I enjoy, without slapping you with it or any rapey shit, it can just be in the background, still very much part of the plot and not subplot, but not dominating everything.