Anime Review: Given– Hope for Shounen Ai

Welcome to Anime Rants! If you don’t already know, Given is a 2019 yaoi/shounen ai romance anime. Other genres include school, music, and drama. While it was airing, I wrote episode reviews for Given, but I never got around to a series review until now. The following brief overview examines five categories: visuals, story, audio, characters, and personal enjoyment. With that, let us begin.

Visuals: 7/10

Given has a simple and cute art style that I really enjoy. Even though it’s not super-detailed, it looks good to me. I liked the character designs. Lighting and shading in Given is generally on point. The face expressions are manga-like and exaggerated for a comedic effect. Sometimes, a little bit of CGI is used for when the characters are playing their instruments. I think it still looks alright since those few clips are short and blended well. There’s nothing especially great about the visuals of Given; however, they are quite pleasing to me.

Story: 8/10

The story category is much stronger than usual in a yaoi/shounen ai romance show. It’s about Ritsuka the young guitarist and how he falls in love with with the strange but adorable student Mafuyu. It’s equally as much about Mafuyu and how he must overcome his grief related to the past. In a school-romance/drama anime, there isn’t some masterfully developed plot or original structuring. That’s true for Given. But the story is still pretty decent because it pulls you into the minds of the characters so well. Even for the few aspects that are trope-ish, the delivery of them feels fresh and unique.

Included in this category are the themes prominent in the story and the presentation of different elements that don’t fit into the other categories. This is where Given shines the most, besides audio; it depicts a young gay romance in a way that is bold and unusual for anime. It’s not fetish fuel. It’s not completely rife with tropes. There’s no sexual harassment, and the story doesn’t feel over-the-top. Perhaps most importantly, one of the characters (Akihito) asserts that there is nothing wrong or even especially unusual about being attracted to the same gender. Unless you’ve seen a significant amount of yaoi anime, you may not appreciate these awesome qualities of Given. In that case, take my word for it. Given is definitely a progressive anime friendly to LGBT+.

Audio: 10/10

It’s rare for me to give a 10/10 for any category. Something deserves to this rating if it’s better than anything you can imagine and/or you wouldn’t change anything about it. The audio for Given earns this score. For one thing, the voice acting is good and memorable for all the main characters. But more than that, the music is what’s truly great. Opening song “Kizuato” by Centimentennial is a fast and addicting rock song. Both of Mafuyu’s songs, “Fuyu no Hanashi” and “Marutsuke,” are breathing taking and easy to remember. They were sung by Shougo Yano, the seiyuu who voices Mafuyu. These songs helped make Given into a wonderful anime.

Characters: 8/10

The character category is yet another area where Given excels. The four central characters are all interesting, well-written, and lovable. Their development is slow and steady, as their personalities, backstories, and current issues become more apparent. Ritsuka is pretty relatable as a boy who is caring but intense, trying to find himself and rediscover some passion in life. Mafuyu is a highly sympathetic character who will make your heart ache; plus he’s positively as cute as a button. Akihito is one of my personal favorites, a great example of an adult bisexual man in anime who doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter character stereotype. Haruki is also a great character, so sweet and sometimes awkward. Really, this anime handles its characters exceptionally well.

Personal Enjoyment: 9/10

Given gave me a sense of enjoyment throughout its brief but powerful run. There were aspects of all the previous four categories that I loved. I listen to the songs quite a bit in my spare time, and have mostly learned to sing “Marutsuke.” The expressions and voice acting for Mafuyu are almost too cute for me to handle. Haruki was my favorite character besides Mafuyu, and it was interesting to learn about his past. I felt so excited and refreshed as it became apparent that Given is a genuinely good LGBT+ anime. I also simply enjoyed watching a good romance story.

Overall Score: 8.4/10.0 Excellent!

The overall score is calculated by taking the average of the five categories I covered. The scale goes from 1 to 10, with 1 being too abhorrent to speak of, and 10 being a perfect masterpiece. I consider anything in the 8s range “Excellent.” As you can see, Given made a great score. I recommend watching it if you want a good, short romance and/or a yaoi anime that isn’t problematic like most of them. With that, I will close, and heartily thank you for reading. Take care until next time!


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