“GIVEN” An Anime Review


   Given is one of the best animes released in 2019, after season 4 of My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, The Promised Neverland, and the reboot of Fruits Basket. The characters Mafuyu Sato and Ristuka Uenoyaman from Given were even nominated for 2020 Best Couple by Crunchyroll, and if that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will. Given was first a manga created by Natsuki Kizu. If the name doesn’t ring any bells, maybe the name Gusari does. She started off as a doujinshi artist for Hetalia, Kuroko no Basuke, and Haikyuu!! She made a name for herself through her sensitive exploration of love and friendship in her fanart. Given was released on July 12th, 2019, and came to an end (sadly) on September 20th, 2019. Given made history as the first-ever BL anime to air on Noitamin, Fuji TV’s anime programming block. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Psycho-Pass, The Flower We Saw That Day, and The Lie You Told In April are some animes that were aired on Noitamin. 

   Given begins by following a quiet, introverted high school student by the name Mafuyu Sato in his musical journey that was inspired by his new band-friends and his former friend(s). At first, the story is very vague in that it starts off with Mafuyu and Ueyonama but eventually branches out to other characters and Mafuyu’s past (which got me hooked) after the first episode. In 11 episodes, we are given (heh heh) a satisfying feeling of love, loss, and moving on to love again through music. I doubt this series is finished just yet, but I do know Given is definitely an 8/10 in terms of a story.

   This series is very reserved in animation (which isn’t a bad thing). Up until the concert segment of the series, there was very little animation movement apart from talking, walking, etc. But during the concert episode, the animators made up for that with both visuals and audio, which was amazing! The CGI was a good decision during this time because of all the sudden movement as well as the vocals. Aside from that, I absolutely loved the art style and it stayed true to the original version of the manga. The song Mafuyu sang was just perfect, you really felt the emotions he was going through and it just breaks your heart. With all that said, Given deserves a 9/10 on art and sound.

   The best thing about this anime is probably that it contains actual (explicitly) gay couples. The development between our main couple is gradual, but very, very obvious and more importantly, extremely believable: you really can’t help but ship those cuties together. They have a really great relationship dynamic–it is honestly really refreshing to not be subjected to problematic BL tropes in this actual BL anime. The characters themselves are all interesting and complicated and lovable, and their voice actors really add so much life into them. Their speech is more realistic rather than the usual “anime-style” of speaking, so it really adds to the realism and seriousness of this drama (though, I have to say this anime is also pretty funny). This is a music anime, so I also have to say the voice actor for Mafuyu is a perfect choice–the speaking and singing voices really feel like they come from the same person (as sometimes an actor’s singing voice is very different from their singing voice) and he really has Mafuyu’s personality down to a tee, so I would give a 9/10 on the characters.

   I really loved Given and would rewatch it again (with tissue at hand). I also liked that shirts stay on the characters’ bodies (unlike many BL animes) and they don’t do things for the fan service (aside for the funny moments). It feels as though anime creators are finally showing people what a gay couple is like, not the fantasy of it, and I really like that. I would give Given 10 hearts out of 10.

   If after reading this review you want to watch Given but don’t know where to go, don’t sweat it; I have some great websites you could go to watch! Crunchyroll.com is good for a lot of anime and is commonly used by anime lovers, but I believe you have to pay after the two-week trial. Anime-plant.com is also a good one to use and I used it for a while, but there are ads before or even in the middle of the anime. I don’t mind having to watch an ad before I start my anime, but I don’t like watching them in the middle.

   If you have watched it and you don’t think 11 episodes are enough (I’m with you on that!) you don’t have to wait too long for the Given Movie to come out. It is supposed to release on May 16th, 2020!