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Given is one of the best anime of 2019 and of the BL genre. It was created by Natsuki Kizu, a doujinshi artist of the anime Hetalia, Haikyuu, and Kuroko no Basuke. Sounds familiar? You probably remember her alias name as the famous doujinshi artist Gusari. Inspired by friendship, love, and heartbreak through fanart, Natsuki Kizu gave the world of anime a beautiful, soulful story of boy’s love.
Given was the first-ever BL anime to air on Noitamina, a Fuji TV programming block, devoted to anime. The main couple, Ritsuka Uenoyama and Mafuyu Satou were even nominated for the 2020 Best Couple by Crunchyroll.
That definitely says something.
Sadly, the anime ended in 2019 with only 11 episodes aired, unusual for an anime series. With the manga ongoing, and more of the anime to explore, Blue Lynx released Given the Movie.
Given circles around a high school drama, following Ritsuka Uenoyama and Mafuyu Satou. High school isn’t easy, for anyone but there a few things that make it better. Like any high schooler filled with passion and intense emotions, this anime depicts the life of teenage boys.
The story is divided into two arcs, the first arc involves Ritsuke Uenoyama and Mafuyu Satou and the second arc involves Akihiko Kaji and Haruki Nakayama.
The story follows Uenoyama, a passionate music lover and a confused teenager. He is, without an exception extroverted, likes to socialize, and is a basketball player. On the other hand, Mafuyu Satou’s personality is a complete contrast to his.
Mafuyu is a shy, reserved, and introverted guy who can be submissive and looks apathetic most of the time. Kind of like Yin and Yang, a part of a whole. A quiet boy, tightly clutching his broken guitar, a Gibson ES-330, napping on the staircase, encounters Uenoyama, who follows his usual routine of napping at the same spot.
Noticing his nap spot stolen, Uenoyama is intrigued by the shy reserved boy sitting with his guitar unfixed. Offering to fix his guitar, Mafuyu, still unspeaking nods and so their journey begins. This cute story has many rough patches. With their budding relationship, Uenoyama learns of Mafuyu’s dark past. Given (hehe) the situation, Uenoyama still develops feelings for Mafuyu.
Along with the concepts of love and friendship, the anime explores the musical world of rock. The series does a good job at depicting actual gay couples in the series, with a sense of realism. The character development of Uenoyama is interesting as it is an insight of a young boy exploring his gender identity.
Inspired by the famous prodigy guitarists, Uenoyama learned how to play the guitar at a young age and formed a band ‘Given‘ with Akihiko and Haruki. When he learns of Mafuyu’s stunning voice, a voice so mesmerizing that it could take your breath away and make you emotional, he asked him to join his band.
Soon he joins the band and they start performing together. Their first gig was a mess, with Mafuyu not being able to come up with lyrics and the drama that unfolds between them. Subtle gestures of love that make our hearts beat faster, following every move oh so slowly experiencing their love with them.
The second arc of the Given series follows Akihiko Kaji and Haruki Nakayama’s love story. Akihiko is a college student. He’s a music major and has excellent violin skills. Haruki is a bassist and a kind-hearted guy who rarely gets angry.
Their relationship is unique; Akihiko with his “bad boy” demeanor and Haruki as the complete opposite, a gentler man. Their relationship is painful to watch since it’s one of the most relatable relationships, regardless of gender. Haruki’s one-sided love is paired with Akihiko’s toxic ex-relationships.
As they proceed with their band and their musical careers, their relationship gets complicated. Several confessions/ confrontations later, their relationship progresses to what we all wanted. A loving and heart-warming love story. Combining the two arcs, the relationship between all of them is bittersweet. Their interactions as well as each one’s relationship with each other are quite interesting to watch.
Given is an emotional, heart-warming series. Apart from the main theme of the genre, the characters do not have the typical “anime” behavior. It is much more realistic and relatable. For the ones new to the BL genre, this anime is a good start. It’s one of the best romance stories out there. The story brings out each character’s personalities that are somewhat similar but still stand out from each other.