Welcome to one and all! I’ll be writing bi-weekly reviews of Given, unless it turns out too terrible to continue. (That seems very unlikely.) So, let’s Rant!
~Given Episode 1 Review: Boys in the Band~
Given episode 1 showed us the main characters, Mafuyu and Ritsuka. The former is spacey as can be, and also cute as a button. He carries around a guitar for some reason, but doesn’t know how to play. Ritsuka is excellent at guitar but feels disinterested. Still, he has a casual band with two other guys, Kaji and Haruki. Mafuyu begs to be taught how to play, but Ritsuka refuses to teach him. Thanks to Kaji and Nakayama, Mafuyu learns to restring and tune his guitar. Encouraged, he continues to pester Ritsuka about teaching him.
Based on the first episode, it seems like this will be a very soft-core shounen ai series, in contrast to last year’s Dakaichi. For me, that means it might be a bit boring, or might not turn me on. But as long as I like the main characters, I’ll enjoy it as one of those tame, cute, and fluffy BL shows. If the intensity does increase, I’m hoping there won’t be too many overused tropes or negative elemtns. If there is forced sex or making out, my face will be…
Uchida Yuuma plays Ritsuka, and I recognize him from being Kyo in Fruits Basket (2019). Yano Shougo voices Mafuyu, and I like this voice, but I’m not too familiar with it yet. The opening song is “Kizuato” by Centimilimental and the outro is “Marutsuke” by Given. I like both, but I think the OP is more my style. It’s stuck in my head, haha. The piece of music the band played for Mafuyu was awesome, and the quiet instrumental music appearing now and then was good too. I like the audio quite a bit so far.
The characters seem interesting, entertaining and/or cute. As for visuals, they look maybe a bit lower budget. But the production value is high because despite budget limitations, everything still looks pretty good to me. To compare it to some lower budget works from last season, it’s a few steps better than Ao-chan Can’t Study and Midnight Occult Civil Servants. I liked how there was no CG for crowds or background people (yet). The animation looked great for when the band plays. The character design for Ritsuka is a little boring, but the one for Nakayama Haruki is hot. And Mafuyu is just adorable! I want to hug him.
The good audio, the calm and cute atmosphere of the show, and the character dynamics all contributed to my enjoyment of the first episode. I’m looking forward to more.
~Given Episode 2 Review: Like Someone In Love~
Ritsuka finally agrees teach Mafuyu some basic guitar. He also gets permission to let Mafuyu practice in the studio. The first part of the episode was funny because I’m just as clueless as Mafuyu with guitar and really anything musical. Ritsuka’s reactions were great. I admire him for having the patience to teach Mafuyu. And I admire Mafuyu for learning, because there is nooo way in hell I could ever learn to play guitar. Watching him practice made me imagine myself trying, and I shuddered at the thought of so much effort. xD
Still-shots continue to be used for students in school and people on the street. It’s nice to not see any CG that makes me cringe. Again, I think the art looks simple and low-budget, but not in a bad way. My favorite things about the art so far are the face expressions. In regular scenes and in those short goofy scenes, the expressions are priceless. I also noticed that the lighting and shading is good, or at least, I like it.
We learned a little more about the characters. For instance, Kaji (Akihito) is surprisingly perceptive of people around him, and good at understanding people in general. Through Akihito’s observations and what can be gathered from Ritsuka’s own actions, it seems that Ritsuka is more mature than people expect, and has a tendency to want to protect and teach others. Akihito also begins to realize that Ritsuka acts ike he’s got an unconscious crush on Mafuyu. I’m certain he’s right, because Given is supposed to have BL in it.
Also in regards to shounen ai, the question is raised about why Mafuyu is so keen to learn music. One obvious reason is that he likes Ristuka. However, there may be more to it than that, since he was already carrying around a Gibson Hollow guitar model before meeting him. Besides this character development, there wasn’t much to the story of this episode, until the end. Then we have the scene where Mafuyu bursts into song, and he sounds spectacular! Ritsuka was so moved by it he shed a tear (or maybe it was sweat?). And– at that moment– Ritsuka probably fell in love. It’s almost too sappy for me to handle.
(Oh, and Ritsuka asks Mafuyu to join the band, too.)
This is Anime Rants, throwing out a big Thank You to all who read this post or at least perused it! Your readership is greatly appreciated. Take care now!
Other Posts About Given:
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(Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.)