And the gods of anime said, “Let there be yaoi.” And behold, there was yaoi. And the gods looked at it and said it was good. And the fujoshi also looked at it and said that it was good.
Given Episode 5 Review: The Reason
Warning: herein are spoilers for Given episodes 5 and 6.
Also Note: I usually call Uenoyama “Uecchi” since it’s one of his nicknames.
The Book of Genesis joke is there above because I felt like this anime became delightfully gay all of sudden. The gods must have spoken, and ta-da! It became a BL anime! Episode 5 revealed that Haruki likes Akihiko (Kaji) in a clearly romantic way. Thinking back, this much should have been fairly obvious already, but being my usual Inattentive ADHD self, I completely missed the hints. That was one reason why the turn to BL felt abrupt. The other reason was the reveal at the end of the episode.
That one girl, whose name I can’t even be bothered to remember, told Uecchi that Mafuyu dated another guy in middleschool, and that other guy (probably Yuki) killed himself. Rumor has it Mafuyu helped lead to his demise. Suddenly, Uecchi is faced with several emotions. He must be surprised to find out this way that his best friend is gay. The rumors related to suicide might scare or bother him a bit. If he’s like me, Uecchi also feels irritated at the girl for spreading rumors like this. Last of all, he may have realized that he, in fact, likes Mafuyu; or at least, he may question the root of his self-proclaimed “obsession.”
Putting the ending and speculation aside for now, let’s go back to Haruki and Akihiko. We were given the story of the formation of the band from Haruki’s point of view… starting from how he met the ruggedly handsome Akihiko Kaji. Watching his story of unrequited love unfold was bittersweet. Haruki got crazy-excited about simply looking closely at Akihiko’s face when they met in class. He never told Akihiko he was in love with him, even as time passed and the two formed a band together with the guitar prodigy Uenoyama.
There are mysteries and secrets on Akihiko’s end, too, what with the attractive dark-haired young man staying at his house and calling him “Aki.” Love triangle? Speaking of Akihiko Kaji, he keeps staying over at Haruki’s apartment after drinking too much. At one point he falls down, out like a light, on top of Haruki in his bed! Fujoshi Gasp! Fujoshi Squeal! Can I just say that I’m so glad there was NO drunk rape? I must have watched too many bad, rapey yaoi OVAs or else why would I be relieved over the common decency and basic self-control shown by Haruki? I mean, if this was Koisuru Boukun… well, nevermind. It’s not.
In other notes, Mafuyu can play basketball, and he’s pretty good at it. This surprises Uecchi, who finds himself obsessed with Mafuyu, the new song, and the band. It’s great to see him so inspired and happy. As for Mafuyu, his cuteness is almost too much for me to handle. I had to do my fujoshi squeal aloud at least once, seeing his cute smiles and expressions, or I felt like my body would burst. That’s about all for this episode. Oh, and as usual, I noticed that the music in this episode was great, but the art a little lower quality.
Given Episode 6 Review: Creep
This will be a brief review/recap due to today’s stubborn, persistent headache. I dislike that girl who told Uecchi all that stuff about Mafuyu. She apologized for part of it… why not apologize for all of it? For opening your mouth in the first place? No, you weren’t “just trying to make conversation,” you like Uecchi so you don’t want him to be with Mafuyu. I see we have here the trope of bitchy women in shounen ai anime. It ticks me off a bit. Anyway, the song Uecchi’s been working on is all ready except for the lyrics. Mafuyu is given the job of writing them whether he wants to or not.
First, though, there is a cute scene of Uecchi talking to Akihiko and describing his feelings of love— which he may not know are feelings of love— that come up when he hears Mafuyu sing. That triggers Akihiko into thinking of the guy he likes, that dark-haired pretty-boy staying at his place for some reason. Apparently, he’s a violinist.
Besides that one, three other scenes stuck out at me as not only important to plot and characters, but also extremely well-made, emotionally moving, and thought-provoking. First is the scene where Mafuyu suddenly gets talkative with Haruki, asking if he loves anyone, and if so, how would he feel if that person disappeared from the world? Haruki says he doesn’t know how he would feel, and Mafuyu says it’s the same for him. This scene and the voice-acting and music in it were surprisingly powerful.
The second scene to mention is actually several scenes, wherein nothing happens except that Mafuyu wanders around different parts of town, riding random buses here and there, noticing some of the people and places he passes. What’s with these “boring” scenes? Well, they are important because they show that Mafuyu is thinking. He’s thinking hard about whether to use this song as a chance to express the feelings related to his past love.
Thirdly, there was the gentle but powerful scene at the end. Mafuyu tells Uecchi he had a lover in the past and he thinks he wants to use those feelings for the lyrics of the song. How does Uecchi feel as he hears that Mafuyu had someone he once deeply loved? Well, he — Ritsuka Uenoyama — feels suddenly and intensely jealous. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Given definitely has me hooked at this point. It was a slow burn, but now we’re getting somewhere. These two episodes were excellent. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on them. Take care, and I’ll see you next time in Anime Rants.
(Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.)