Still, a hot summer up here although not as bad as we were expecting. This said, seeing actual snow in the episode was a weird disconnect. We’re back talking about sensitive boys with guitars, i.e. Given episode 3. I don’t actually know why I keep calling them that, so far they seem pretty average sensitivity but I just feel like an adjective is needed there. Any ideas Karandi? How should we tagline Given?
‘We must protect Mayufu’?
Seriously, how much like a lost puppy does he want to look like? I will admit, I am a little distracted given I watched this episode and then immediately after broke my blog and went into full melt-down. Many hours and a restless night later, here I am trying to remember the calm, mellow that overcame me while watching Given.
Our first hint of full-blown drama came early in the episode with another quiet and slightly enigmatic scene from Mayufu. Once again, alone in a crowd he hints at a loved one lost. I particularly liked the line “I take the thing you loved with me”. At this point, I was sure Mayufu had lost his father. Just a feeling.
I was wondering who it was at that point as well. I mean father seems logical because of his age, but it just didn’t feel right for me. But I am intrigued because instead of just getting the same flash back of Mafuyu looking up at someone over and over, we’re getting lots of small scenes that are adding up to letting us know this character has a tragedy in his past. It is much more affective than shows that just reuse the same sequence over and over until they finally get to the reveal.
They are leaning into the BL reputation of the show with a scene that could have been interpreted as Haruki being jealous of Kaji riding around with Ueno’s sister (really like her, hope we see more). It was a cute scene and although essentially fanservice, I really do like the easy chemistry between these two. At this point they’re the couple I’m interested in seeing even if it’s just a fun bromance.
I thought Haruki was just jealous, I didn’t think that one was open to all that much interpretation. Then again, maybe knowing the tag on the anime I was just reading it that way. I totally missed that it was Ueno’s sister though. Probably distracted by Kaji.
In my defense, he’s very distracting (in a very good way).
In any case, as soon as the credits opened we moved on to a literally and figuratively sunnier scene. Apparently, little Mayufu turned down the offer to join the band and Ueno is taking it with as little grace as possible. I gotta say, the slightly goofball side of Ueno is really charming me. I thought he was going to be the classic stoic, slightly tsundere type but he’s kind of a dork in the best possible way. Hmm….I’m starting to sound like a fangirl aren’t I? Every character is my favourite…
And you know, it kind of rocks that Mayufu doesn’t want to join. He’s really tough to read but you would have thought he would have jumped at the opportunity. This unexpected reaction coupled with his apparently dodging Ueno afterwards was just plain fun and made his character that much more interesting.
I liked that Mayufu doesn’t react the way Ueno wanted and that it stressed Ueno out. However, I felt the sequence stretched a little long with Ueno following Mayufu around and even trying to talk to him like they’d broken up. While I get where they were going with this, it took too long to get to the point where the band members pointed out that Ueno never even asked Mayufu why he didn’t want to join. Admittedly, the scene where he did was well worth it, but I did feel this sequenced dragged just past its welcome before we got there.
Now that we’ve established Ueno isn’t the ultra-cool and collected type but in fact a lovable doofus, it made the scene of Haruki and Kaji playfully ribbing him at practice even more endearing. I mentioned it last time but these guys seem like actual friends. I’m a sucker for friendships. It wasn’t our usual band practice scene. It didn’t have that usual energy to it but it was replaced by some pretty good comedic timing.
I know, the music element kind of got put to the side this episode other than a reiteration of Mayufu singing, but the steps they’ve taken in making Haruki, Kaji and Ueno seem like real people and not just propped up cutouts for the sake of the story was really appreciated. I’d like more stories to take the time to make the characters seem this authentic.
We are slowly establishing this running theme where Ueno googles how to deal with Mayufu. This time, it was to convince him to join the band after all so the closest equivalent was how to ask someone out a second time after being rejected and it was adorable. Maybe my favourite scene. So far, this episode was mostly comedy, did you still manage to enjoy it?
As I said, I felt the sequence dragged on too long. I did appreciate moments within it such as Ueno turning to his phone for help as that made me smile, but the following scene at the lockers just felt like it belaboured the point and I was with Mayufu in looking for an exit to that scene.
Turns out Mayufu did get a part-time job just like they talked about last episode! Nice follow through. I like when there’s episode consistency beyond the main storyline, it makes suspension of disbelief easier.
And since he didn’t manage to say his piece at school, Ueno decides to meet him there but once again, interrupted. I was gonna use an expression that ends in “block” but Karandi’s blog is a classy place! And this is where we get the big tonal shift. It was bound to happen, I mentioned last episode how impressed I was with the lack of over the top drama, so this is my fault really. You know what, I’m gonna let you share your thoughts on Yuki.
I’m going to be honest, I was more interested in Mayufu’s reaction than in paying attention to the person who caused it. However, it was a really well directed moment (at least I thought so) as we cut between the guy asking whether Mayufu had someone else’s guitar, Ueno’s reactions, and Mayufu’s feet dragging backward before they turned and ran. It was perhaps my favourite moment in the whole episode.
I’ll give them this. Mayu’s reaction to tap directly into his fight or flight instinct at the simple possibility of being confronted with something painful and just straight up bolting out of there was great. At least I think it was. It was just such pure panic. And once again, we got pretty much all the information we needed with really minimal exposition. This aspect of Given is really a narrative strong point that deserves praise.
I have a bad feeling it will get ignored though. Maybe I’m just a big Ol pessimist but I’m afraid the audience will be split into those that dismiss it offhand due to genre bias and those that concentrate mainly on said genre. It’s a shame, a lot of the screenwriting and storyboarding is really smart.
Absolutely. I mean, while this might have the BL genre tag on it, so far it seems to have had significantly more time and love put into its production than what you would normally find in the genre. Couple that with a lot of attention to creating characters rather than just getting straight to attraction and so far even non-genre fans should find plenty to love in this series. Admittedly, not sure where this goes as I don’t know enough about the source.
The episode ended on the emotional climax with Ueno finally catching up to a very distraught Mayufu and screaming his feelings at him! After which Mayu sings again and Kaji overhears hidden in the shadows. I understand that this sort of contradicts what I just said but this scene was a bit cheesy. It really undercut the tension and emotion of the moment, in my opinion. Then again, I have no patience for drama so let’s let a more rational mind weigh in!
I didn’t love Ueno’s screaming at him, but at the same time I kind of feel that nothing else would have gotten through to Mayufu at that moment. Or any moment really. Mayufu sees himself a certain way and that has clearly been reinforced by others for a fair while. Ueno’s over the top appeal was exactly what he needed at that moment. Kaji overhearing though is just straight up soap-opera material and we could have done without that.
All in all, another great episode. By the end of it, I really wanted to see more. It’s not easy to really explain the appeal of a show like Given. For the record, there’s no real BL to speak of so far so that’s not it (at least for now). It’s a slow burn character study that doesn’t feel the need to overexplain and infantilize its audience. And it’s very colour coded which is fun for me!
I agree. I’m really enjoying it at the moment and I love learning more about the characters and paying attention to the different scenes because it is just really lovely to watch. The story is so far a really slow burn but there’s enough else going on that I’m not worried about it. Definitely fun.
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi
Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?
Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.