Anime Corner: Given Review

Blog Given Review Title

Oh just kiss already!

What’s the Story?

Uenoyama wants nothing more than to crash in his favourite napping spot, he’s become rather listless of late, losing interest in everything, including his music. All that changes though when he meets Mafuyu, a quiet young man sitting in his spot, clutching a guitar. Mafuyu doesn’t know anything about music or instruments, so he’s amazed when Uenoyama fixes the broken string of his guitar like it’s nothing and immediately begs Uenoyama to teach him how to play. Though initially reluctant, Uenoyama eventually caves and soon finds his passion for music returning, along with certain new feelings. But who does the guitar that Mafuyu always carries belongs to and will Uenoyama ever be able to work out his own feelings or will he just collapse into a puddle of awkward?

The Review

I don’t really watch a lot of BL (Boys’ Love for those that don’t know) series. Nothing against the genre, but it’s the same as any other romance for me, unless there’s a plot that grabs my attention I’m not all that interested. I prefer my romance as a subplot to some other genre or story, but this series is a prime example of why you shouldn’t let genre biases dictate what you watch, because this show is in the running for my favourite anime of last year. Admittedly what first drew me to the series was the music, because I always enjoy series about bands (despite how musically inept I am, or maybe because of it. A man can dream dammit!), but what I stayed for was the characters and the quiet charm of this series.

This series really knows how to just let a scene sit and breath. There’re so many scenes of a character just sitting there and thinking without any kind of narration and just a nice, gentle track playing in the background. All of which sounds really boring on paper, but this series knows how to sell it. The whole show is laced with feelings of melancholy and peace, intertwining and battling against one another as the characters struggle with their feelings and their trauma. Seriously, if you want to know how to use quiet in a scene, watch this series. The quiet also has the effect of amplifying the louder moments to perfection. I got chills when Mafuyu finally sang on stage, to be fair the whole series had been building up to that point and the final release was just something special. I was completely with the crowd in the series with their blown away expressions.

Speaking of Mafuyu, and the rest of the band. I have to admit that I’m in love with each and every one of them. This series is really at its best when it has all four bandmates on screen together, I love their odd little discussions and the way they bounce off of one another. I really just want to go get some barbeque with these guys and hang out for a few hours. Of course the characters are just as good individually, each one of them overflowing with personality and charm. I especially love Uenoyama’s many reactions throughout the series, the best Uenoyama is a frustrated Uenoyama! Also I like the way the relationship builds between Uenoyama and Mafuyu, starting off with neither of them noticing (well, Uenoyama doesn’t notice) before things finally kick into gear and it just leaves me with the warm fuzzies. I got sucked in hard into this romance.

Something else I really love about this series is that is manages to swerve a lot of romance clichés as it tells its story. Of course Uenoyama and Mafuyu’s relationship is full of stumbling blocks as the pair come to terms with their feelings, but that doesn’t mean the series has to fall back on the old tropes to add drama, in fact there are points were the series deliberately deflates the drama once its used it to rise the tension a bit.

(Next paragraph has a couple of minor spoilers, if you want to avoid them skip to the paragraph after it.)

Couple of examples, one, there’s a girl who crushing on Uenoyama, not that he’s noticed, but she’s obviously jealous of how close he is to Mafuyu and after hearing about Mafuyu’s past relationship she decides to tell Uenoyama. Now I was spitting feathers at this point (even though I’ve never understood that expression), but immediately afterwards the girl realises what a world class word for a female dog she’s being and instantly rolls it back. Good. Example two, Uenoyama realises that Mafuyu loves him back and he’s overjoyed, until he remembers a conversation from six months ago about how relationships between bandmates never end well. Does this mean he pretends to hide his feeling for Mafuyu? Do they try to date in secret from their bandmates? No, they go round to their houses and talk to them! What’s this? Conversation and communication in a love story? What fresh spore of madness is this?!

This series doesn’t need to be big or loud to get its point across. It doesn’t need melodrama or the angst dial turned up to eleven, it can get by perfectly well with a few quiet moments and some contemplative scenes, saving the real feels for when they’ll have the biggest impact. In the right circumstances a whisper can be so much louder than a shout, and this series is the epitome of that.

The Verdict

All in all, Given is a fantastic series and one of my favourites of last year (which considering some of the shows we got last year, that’s quite the achievement). It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s sweet and, yes, it’s heartbreaking in a few places. This is a series that really knows how to use quiet and mood to their best effect, building up the feels for the moments when the show wants to hit you squarely in the heart. I really love all four main characters and, honestly, just want to spend more time with them. If you skipped this series then you missed out, so go correct that right now and watch this show!

fish stamp unmissible

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

7 comments

  1. alsmangablog · June 13, 2020

    Uenoyama recalling the things he’d said before about how bandmates shouldn’t date was one of my favourite scenes in the anime! I also loved that he and Mafuyu went and talked to their bandmates about the situation, it was really sweet and demonstrated how close they all are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · June 13, 2020

      Maybe I’ve just seen too many trashy romances in the past, but it was so refreshing to see a problem solved by talking. Why can’t more series be like this?! Plus it gives us more scenes of the characters together which I’m always down for.

      I think there’s meant to be a movie coming out at some point, which I’m really looking forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ospreyshire · June 13, 2020

    Nice job. Music series can be really fun when done right. Of course I haven’t seen too many music anime recently besides Sound! Euphonium. Okay, I’ve checked out some music documentaries recently and I have a review planned involving a music scene based in a certain Northern English city in a few weeks. Haha!

    Also, thanks for checking out some of my recent posts especially my last Top 7 list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · June 13, 2020

      No problem, thanks for checking out my reviews, I always look forward to your comments.

      I’ll keep an eye out for your upcoming review, I’m racking my brain trying to think of what it could be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · June 13, 2020

        Sure thing. It’s been great checking out your various posts.

        Haha! I’ll give you some hints. This involves the late 80s and early 90s with a fusion of different genres like house, rock, and psychedelia. Those could be some clues for you to use your loaf, and I hope these hints aren’t mithering you in any way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Anime Corner: Sasaki and Miyano Review | Never Argue with a Fish

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