Given Episode 1 – Musings in E minor


Irina2Hello 100word anime readers! You know what I thought when I saw Given pop up on the summer season schedule? I though it’s been a while since I watched a pretty boy anime…and they’re artistic too! Then I thought You know what’s better than staring at animated pretty boys? Staring at animated pretty boys and dishing about it with a girlfriend!!! So here we are. I’m sorry K, I think I just alienated a lot of your non pretty boy loving audience….

Karandi - Avatar

I wouldn’t worry about it, I doubt people who aren’t into staring at animated pretty boys, or music, are actually going to read a post about Given so I’m pretty sure we’re right to gush to our heart’s content here. Which is probably a good thing really.

Just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m Irina and I will be in BOLD font today while the always lovely Karadi will be delicate.

When choosing a show entirely on superficial reasons, visual presentation and mostly character designs become really important. I do like the look of the characters in Given but at first glance, they seemed rather generic. Cute student types not quite as sparky as KyoAni draws them. Some more interesting designs do appear later on in the episode though. What were your first impressions Karandi?

Looking entirely at the character designs, neither of the two main characters really catch my interest. I mean, they are perfectly fine main characters but not overly gush worthy. But then there’s the drummer… 

ooooohhhh yeah, there is definitely that drummer… His OP appearance was a high point.

Okay, my usual issue is that the characters are a little too young for me to seriously gush even if I wanted to, but it is a very nice looking show.

they are perfectly fine boys

I must say the opening sequence was actually surprisingly poignant. The series of scenes silently showing Mafuyu distraught over a broken guitar string, isolated from his peers and over eagerly trying to find a place for himself hit a nerve with me. I particularly liked that there was no soundtrack at all until Uenoyama and Mafuyu meet. It was a poetic production touch that seemed to betray some care and vision on part of the adaptation team.

I’m with you. The fairly quiet opening with just the sounds of footsteps, the key in the door, the ambient noise at the train station all just kind of drew me in and made me wait for something. I wasn’t even really sure what I was waiting for. This makes the inclusion of sound later in the episode more affective and by the time we got to the band practice the contrast with this quiet opening hit really hard. it made it stand out so much more than if we’d been bombarded with sound throughout the episode.

We got to know our main characters a bit in the first half. So far they seem rather stereotypical, not that it’s a bad thing. Any thoughts on Mafuyu and Ueno?

I loved that Ueno described Mafuyu as a puppy he’d picked up. That made me laugh and it seemed so accurate. 

I like the dynamic between the two boys so far. They are both stereotypical in their own way, but as you said before this production has a lot of care behind it (or seems to) and there’s already small details creeping in that help to distinguish these characters from the many mopey teenage anime boys we’ve seen before.

this would work on me

Personally, I’m a sucker for the Cloudcuckoolander archetype so I quite liked Mayufu. I think he works particularly well because we get pretty much no background on him whatsoever. A mysterious, apparently well-meaning weirdo. It’s not special, but it’s cute.

It was kind of nice that they didn’t hit us over the head with the exposition stick and try and unpack everything about these characters into the first episode. We got enough to get a sense of who they are and a brief glimpse at why they are that way but there’s a lot of space for fleshing them out as we go forward and clearly the two together are going to help each other grow.

Considering the passion and dedication you put in your blog, I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt the sneaky underhanded pain of slowly losing your passion for something, but I loved how it was illustrated through Ueno. I also really enjoyed that he hadn’t given up on playing guitar, he simply wasn’t having fun anymore. I find media often shows artistic endeavours as all or nothing. Either burning all-encompassing passions that overshadow everything else in the character’s life or they just give up on them altogether. In reality, most passions have ups and downs, they change with time, calm down once the novelty disappears but that doesn’t mean you have to stop everything. It’s a reality we don’t see portrayed much.

I actually found this all too relatable because I was actually aiming for a music related career (not performing) when I was young and worked really, really hard. however, as I got older I found I was more practising because it was time to practice or because it was an ingrained habit rather than finding any real joy in it. I ultimately walked away from music altogether because it just wasn’t what I wanted any more and that was a really hard decision given the time and effort I’d put into it.

That said, while my passion was not reignited and instead got channelled more into an obsession with fiction, I really liked seeing Ueno in this episode and seeing him finding some of the fun in playing again. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with this.

I have a feeling this sentiment will come up a lot!

As far as design goes, I enjoyed the other band members a bit more (cough drummer cough). Sure, I have a soft spot for blonds and for slightly older looking characters so that helped but they also seemed more fun. That long-haired bassist in particular just looked like someone I’d grab a drink with. We might as well be groupies right off the bat. Who’s your favourite Karandi?

Yeah, it was definitely the drummer. He seemed a little more down to earth than the others and more like a quiet observer but we really didn’t get a lot of time with the other characters so I guess we’ll find out what they are like a bit more as the story goes.

Here are my overall thoughts on the first episode. The art style grew on me and I like the soft colour washes. The pacing was good and particularly suited in creating an emotional context without much exposition. The story is simple and so far, the characters are rather tropey but I’m encouraged by the way the narrative is structured.

I think you did

After I watched the first episode, I realized I had at some point read the first few chapters of the manga but I never finished it, so I’m interested in seeing where the story goes.

Mayufu may end up a little *too* precious for my tastes. However, I’m happy that he took the initiative to visit the band and learn a bit about the guitar on his own, even after Ueno explicitly told him he wouldn’t teach him.

I would say it’s a solid 7.5 start. Your opening thoughts?

I know I read the first chapter of this at some point, but legitimately don’t remember anything other than the synopsis so I’m more or less going in blind here. So far, I thought this was a well made first episode and I like how they’ve presented the characters. The colour palette isn’t really my first choice given it is a little bit washed out but I loved the direction, particularly when the band was playing. That scene was just great to watch and again speaks of a lot of care going into the production.

However, I will avoid giving a score because I find numbers mostly meaningless. This one however has gotten my attention and from a production point of view is probably one of the better first episodes that have come out this season. I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Of course, I took a lot of screencaps and dumped them on my blog – it’s what I do!!!

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

16 thoughts on “Given Episode 1 – Musings in E minor

  1. As someone who is unfortunately not running into as much Given coverage as I would hope, this was nice to come across. Glad the drummer is getting the attention he deserves in here too!

    1. Considering how nicely put together the episode was I’m surprised by how little attention it has been given. Though I guess the shounen ai tag is keeping some viewers away.

          1. It helps that it is airing on Crunchyroll, same with Dakaichi. A lot of the time the reason people don’t watch these kinds of shows is lack of access. Then again, it isn’t everyone’s genre and so far there are zero cute anime girls.

    2. You know, I was not expecting much from this show and the first episode was a pleasant surprise. I hope that encourages people to pick it up while it’s really easy to catch up.

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