Rumour has it is a song you see! I really wanted to use the word rumour in the title of the post but I also wanted to keep up with are musical themeing. It took me a long time to come up with this title. Longer than I care to admit. And I am super proud of it if for no other reason than I have to convince myself to stop trying to find a title for this post!
Anyways….How are you Karandi?
I’ve had better weeks. However, this episode of Given definitely helped shake off some of the funk from the week because I really enjoyed it. By the way, I kind of like that post title.
Given has been great for shaking off the summer blues. I do hope next week will be better for you though! How about we start by talking a bit about a show that relaxes us both.
I do quite enjoy the attention to production details in Given. It’s little things but they flesh out the experience more than most people give them credit for. For instance in the opening scene (and another later on), Ueno is composing a song in his room with headphones. Which means we get to hear the sound of his guitar unplugged. You almost never hear an unplugged electric guitar in shows. And that’s exactly what it sounds like. The slightly hollow metallic sound. It was enough to make me think it was really happening for a second there!
I liked these sequences as well. The stopping and thinking, tapping the pencil, trying something out, forgetting to go eat… it all seemed fairly authentic. I also like that the sister reacted to Ueno’s behaviour rather than just ignoring it like so many anime families do. She couldn’t figure out what he was up to and so she went to another member of the band to find the info. Admittedly, she does have an ulterior motive for her choice in who to ask but it still, again, seems like an authentic reaction to something.
I’m a big girl now (figuratively) and I can admit when I was wrong. Haruki really is acting all jealous. However, I was right that the girl was Ueno’s sister and she is awesome! I wonder what her relationship to Kaji is? Also, I get the impression that Haruki doesn’t know that it’s Ueno’s sister. What do you think K?
I definitely see Haruki acting very jealous and I think you are right. It seems he doesn’t really know who she is, doesn’t really appear to care. All he seems to see is her moving in on Kaji and he really doesn’t like it. I wonder how that will play out.
Tired Ueno was great. I enjoy how versatile this guy is. He doesn’t really have a personality archetype and does change in his reactions and interaction quite a bit based on his circumstances. Because he is not too outrageous a character (no one in Given is), you may not notice it as much, but I think he has more personality range than average.
But seeing Mayu light up at the song was unexpectedly cute. They are slowly making him more expressive which goes with his character arc nicely.
I absolutely love these two characters. They are doing such a good job of having them respond to events around them rather than just blithely hurtling along their plot line and it is making them so endearing and making them feel very real. Mafuyu is becoming more and more expressive when he’s with Ueno and his genuine delight at the idea of a song was fantastic.
Apparently there is a girl in Ueno’s class that has a crush on him (I’m sorry I forgot her name). She is modestly assertive about it too. The funny thing is, she looks a little like Mafuyu. They’re the same height, similar hair colour. I’m not sure if it means anything, but I found it striking.
The girl in Ueno’s class is probably the low point for me so far. With the excellent characterisation the other characters are getting, her being painted as the jealous would-be-girlfriend is standing out so much. It would be great if they could give her a bit of depth and personality beyond feeling threatened by Mafuyu’s presence.
We got a studio scene as well as another restaurant scene. Both of these settings remain my personal favourites. I think I just really enjoy having all of them together. They are all quite different which makes for interesting dynamics. And they all have great chemistry with each other.
For instance, finding out the Kaji is a talented violin player on top of being a drummer really was cool (and reinforced my conspiracy theory that anime violinists are always blonde). However, hearing it from a way too proud Ueno brought it to another level by making the reveal both funny and endearing.
Wait… wasn’t it Haruki who was the violin player? Did I get that wrong?
Just looked it up to make sure – definitely Kaji is the music major and violin player!
Regardless, I absolutely agree with you that having the group together, whether at the studio or the restaurant, is great. The personalities bounce off each other nicely. I think though this was where subtlety fell a bit as the characters themselves made a point of stating that their differences were what helped them stay together (they were talking about musical taste but it isn’t a stretch).
The show is taking it’s time to build up the relationship between Mafuyu and Ueno. A good move if you ask me. They are now in a comfortable friendship that just relaxing and enjoyable to watch. Sure Ueno may be a little too set on going pedal shopping with Mayu, and the little meet up mix up is a classic date scene, but it doesn’t feel too forced, so far.
We got to see the boys in street clothes. Why do I get so excited about alternate outfits? And they kept their colour coding!!! Was I the only one surprised by how cool Mayu’s street clothes were? Is that mean of me to say?
I’m just kind of happy both are dressed in pretty ordinary clothes. We aren’t getting any extravagant mash up outfits here. It adds to the overall feeling that this story is firmly grounded in reality and that these boys could be real.
There was a brief moment when I threatened to roll my eyes when I realised they were playing the game of ‘wrong entrance’ but they didn’t stretch this scene too long, and thank goodness they didn’t do that idiotic thing where they walk either side of a pillar and miss each other. Once again, the boys were sensible and realising they couldn’t find one another they rang, discussed and fixed the issue. Ueno even apologised for vague directions rather than getting upset about the mix-up.
So the boys spent a carefree and generally uneventful afternoon guitar pedal shopping. There wasn’t really much to it. They went in a store, checked out the merchandise. Mayu tried a distortion pedal to check the sound. And Bam! even I had chills when that overdrive variation rang out. I am so easy to manipulate but hey, good sound design, is good sound design!
Speaking of good sound design, I remember the first half of this episode where we had a lot of still images in a montage and part of me wondered how stretched the budget was getting but I couldn’t really criticise because the soundtrack during that sequence was amazing. I really need to find the soundtrack to this anime once it is done because I am in love with the background music.
Anyway, onto the whole distortion pedal thing, I agree, that it was pretty well done and I loved Mafuyu’s reaction.
This sequence really showcased how Mayu is slowly coming out of his shell, if only a little. He was visibly moved by the overdrive like I was, then demonstratively disappointed to find out he couldn’t afford it at all. When Ueno brought him to the second hand store he had some visible misgivings, quickly replaced by excitement when they found the same pedal used, and finally determination when it was still a bit out of his range, but manageable on layaway. In the course of a few scenes, we have seen just about as much emotion from him as we had up until now. I quite liked it!
Yes, I loved how animated he was during this scene and how instantly he took action. It was incredibly to see from him and a lovely bit of development. Also, the two boys are clearly feeding on the other’s enthusiasm. Mafuyu reinspired Ueno who in turn inspires Mafuyu and so on and so forth. Can’t wait to see where this goes and I just hope it doesn’t all blow up.
You know, BL in general gets made fun of a lot for being way too tragic! I get it, it’s not like I’m a huge fan of drama after all. But I can appreciate it when a story manages to make the drama resonate, feel tangible instead of contrived. When Ueno’s wannabe love interest and her friend spot the two boys shopping and the latter girl starts talking about having gone to middle school with Mayu and there being “rumours”, it was chilling. A perfect if sad note to end on.
This is highly relatable drama. Of course there were rumours in middle school. Mayu probably got called names. There are always rumours in middle school and bullies that call people names. But when you already feel different, alone, scared, these rumours become a lot more menacing. It can be suffocating and even devastating.
Here are my Ultra Dramatic Wild Speculations. Mayu is indeed gay or at least interested in boys. (safe guess…) Yuki may have been more than a friend to him, even if one sided. OR maybe it wasn’t one sided and the pressures and (rumours) got to the poor boy. How tragic would that be! It could also explain why Mayu changed schools.
That was almost the same as the theory I was working on which was maybe Mafuyu confessed to the guy and then the guy got teased and bullied leading to a tragic outcome so Mafuyu feels guilty. I love that we’re getting little bits of this back story at a time rather than an info-dump and how it feels organic the way we learn each part. More shows should learn how to handle back-story from anime like this. Then again, I’m a little concerned that we might be heading toward full-blown drama.
I’m wiling to put up with a little drama. Another episode, another soothing glimpse of eternal summer days filled with friends and music.
This week’s screencaps were brought to you by Karandi since she had already taken them (why let Given screencaps go to waste?). However, if you want to see a bunch more with some half backed theories on colour and angles and such, I might have something to suggest!
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.