Hello all! I have to admit, it’s gotten to the point where I really look forward to a new Given episode every Thursday evening. It’s the sort of show I really like. The sneaky sort. The shows I went in expecting nothing at all and that not only pleasantly surprise me but quietly build up to something special.
Also, after really thinking about it and carefully reading between the lines this week, I have to admit it, Karandi, you may not be entirely wrong about Haruki having a thing for Aki…
They weren’t exactly being subtle about that this week with so much of the focus being on them. That said, I’m with you. I was not expecting very much from Given. I kind of expected like it, as I really enjoyed Dakaichi and other such anime, but I didn’t expect it to be this quiet gem of a story that just makes me want to watch more and more. Also, you were right about Aki playing the violin. I totally got that swapped around in my head last time round.
We started off with a reminder that Haruki may have lined up a live performance for them. This is actually really exciting to me. I love the little intimate venue and I think it has the potential for an interesting episode. In structure it’s not that different from a sports! anime with all the practice leading up to one big event, there’s just no direct competition element. Are you as excited about the prospect as I am?
I’m a little worried that they are going to use it for DRAMA as we know the guy Mafuyu was trying to avoid goes to that venue. I really do want to see the band perform now that Mafuyu is a member and particularly with the song Ueno is working on, but I’m going to stay a bit cautious. Then again, it seems like annoying girl at school really does just exist to create that kind of drama as she sticks her nose in where it is very unwelcome.
Seriously, I’m loving the Ueno/Mafuyu vibe and her messing with it was not appreciated.
We also saw just how far along Ueno and Mayu have come. Ueno is a scary demon warning Mayu that he better practice more to be ready. A far cry from the lackadaisical young man that had lost his passion for music and by extension most everything else. If anything, Ueno is too passionate about this. On the other hand, Mayu is literally glowing, letting giddy happiness at the thought of singing a specific song literally radiate out of him.
It says something that these two are drastically different from the young men we met in episode 1, and yet they still seem like themselves. The character development was done so smoothly that you hardly noticed and yet in 5 (4 episodes really) they have grown more than some do in an entire series.
It’s really brilliant and it all feels like it has unfolded quite naturally. Even small things like seeing Mafuyu getting roped into playing basketball and seeing his smile and Ueno watching on just work so well in this story.
And yes, Ueno is certainly throwing his all back into music. I’m worried that he’s heading for a real crash back down to earth again given how high he is climbing on his current emotional rush, but at the same time I really want to see how far he can go.
For me, the real point of the episode though was the flashback. Can we just agree that no matter who the hottest boy may be, Haruki is just the most adorkable?
If Mafuyu is a puppy following Ueno around than Haruki has definitely got to a kitten craving Aki’s attention. Too bad that seems like it is not going to end well.
We did learn two things that may not be that important but to me added a lot of context to the characters.
First Haruki is actually the founding member of the band. He’s the one that sought them all out and brought them together and he seems to actually really love the band dearly.
Second, Ueno isn’t just a good guitarist, he’s actually a prodigy.
Like I said, these things may not matter, in fact they might not come back at all but I thought it was a nice little bit of world building. Am I the only one?
I really loved seeing that Haruki was the one who got the band together and his reasons. I wondered how these three characters had come together, particularly as Ueno didn’t seem the type to really reach out to others so I wondered how he would form a band.
The bit about him being a prodigy made me wonder if they meant that for real or if it was just hyperbole. Clearly Ueno is a hard worker when he’s fixated on something so maybe he’s just really talented for his age made better through effort. I’d probably like to see this point built on to clarify given at the moment it is kind of just something that was said in passing and I’m not sure it really works.
What did come back however is Kaji’s violin. Ueno made a big deal about it last episode and now not only did the camera focus on it but Haruki also spelled it out in case we weren’t paying attention. That’s some shiny Chekhov’s violin there. I bet it’s going to be important. Maybe Aki’s dad or mom is a famous classical violinist and they deeply disagree with his wild side (and potential alternative love interests…)
Yes, yes. I missed it last week thinking it was Haruki who played but this week definitely clarified in a way that could not be missed.
You know, I don’t usually prefer long hair, but Haruki really looks a lot better with it. I’m glad he chose to grow it out.
Alright, I have a weakness for guys with long hair and certainly have done a top 5 list of anime guys with gorgeous long hair. And yes, Haruki definitely looks better with long hair. I loved the scene with Aki playing with his hair and putting it up. There was something just really calming about that scene.
Kaji’s place is fancy and his roommate(?) gave me instant chills. I go about it more in the gallery since my impressions are really all based on the pictures, but did you want to say something about this scene?
Hoping he’s just a roommate and not a secret lover?
I’m going to admit, my heart kind of hurt when I saw the two mugs and then when the guy called out to Aki I wondered if Haruki knew about the guy in Aki’s place. Then I wondered if I was jumping to conclusions and whether they were just roommates.
Hmmm, I’m thinking a little bit of column A, a bit of column B. If this was a typical romance I would say he’s the guy Kaji has always been in unrequited love with and he’ll slowly get over it through the series. Kaji doesn’t seem the unrequited love type though.
As fun as it was to explore Kaji and Haruki for a minute. And it really was tons of fun. We absolutely need to see more of these two. We got back to Ueno, Mayu and our favourite character, the stairwell! I had mentioned in a previous episode gallery that the stairwell visually creates an intimate space and they are pushing this idea by giving these two their most private moments there. Mind you it is the only place they are ever alone… what did you think of this week’s stairwell scene?
The stairwell really is its own character at this point.
It was a nice, slower moment in an episode that seemed to be pushing forward (deliberately so given how the episode ends). Still, it was comforting to be back with these two where things started. I was wondering about Mafuyu’s reaction to hearing the song. Considering how pumped he was, his reaction seemed a little weak.
I can’t explain why but I love the fact that Mayu is great at basketball. I also really like how easily Ueno’s friends made him feel accepted!
I was so surprised. Given how out of it Mafuyu normally is, seeing him aware and able to play made him look just like one of the other boys and it was interesting seeing him in that space rather than isolated for once. Would like to see more of that smile though.
Of course, it’s all going too well. Given seems to be making a habit out of ending on a sour note (*cough). I guess we were right about the relationship/suicide angle. Although it’s still a rumour at this point. In any case, if there’s any truth to it, Mayu’s actually super resilient! I would be way more traumatized!
Yes, still just rumours but clearly we’re getting closer to knowing and I’m actually wanting this one out in the open now. It is starting to feel a little like Run With The Wind in that they are dragging the reveal out a little too long and that’s going to make it difficult for the payoff to be equal to the time spent building up to it. That said, they’ve done an excellent job so far and hopefully they time their reveal just right for this story.
Another week another great episode. This is starting to be my ending refrain for Given. I don’t know why I abandoned the manga so early but I may need to revisit/buy it!
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.