There’s something utterly heart-warming as this second episode of the Given Live-Action drama kicks off repeating Mafuyu’s comment that Uenoyama was cooler than the light music club. However, unlike in episode 1, here we progress to the next stage of teaching Mafuyu how to play.
The episode quickly progresses us to Uenoyama leaning in to show Mafuyu how to strum and play chords and the scene between the two is pretty adorable. Of course, Given doesn’t leave us at adorable for too long before Haruki and Akihiko return with their comedy routine around people in bands needing jobs.
One thing the Given Live-Action adaptation struggles with at times are the actor’s expressions.
Throughout episode two of Given’s Live Action we have a number of occasions where the characters need to pull off just the right change in expression. There’s a beautiful scene between Mafuyu and Uenoyama where a slow smile creeps across Mafuyu’s face that is soon mirrored by Uenoyama.
Equally though, there’s a scene later in the episode where Uenoyama’s actor tries really hard to demonstrate a mix of emotions but mostly looks like he’s contorting various facial muscles. I kind of hope they didn’t have too many retakes on that scene because I can imagine his face hurt after that effort and it really kind of broke the drama of the scene they were trying to create.
Points for effort and all and at last it was obvious what they were trying to accomplish with the scene.
Other than the strumming and a few chords, we actually don’t get to see the band perform or play in episode two of the Given Live-Action story and that’s probably a good thing because it means Mafuyu’s two shining moments, where he sings for Uenoyama shine.
Really, the sound just takes on a life of its own and in amongst an episode otherwise devoid of musical performances it really does manage to stand out. When Uenoyama claims the sound shook him you can really believe it because from such a quiet scene between the two to Mafuyu filling pretty much the whole world with his voice it has much the same effect on the viewer.
And this did lead, in the second instance, to a far more nuanced reaction from the actor playing Akihiko. Rather than the various contortions of the face, he remains seemingly pretty indifferent until the camera focuses down on his cigarette trembling in his fingers. It was an effective way of showing the reactions and worked well with the character.
Though while we’re talking about Akihiko, we may as well look at the older pair in the Given Live Action story. Akihiko and Haruki really don’t have a great deal of chemistry so far. Whether they are in the practice room or the scene where Haruki witnesses Akihiko dropping off the girl before borrowing a cigarette, the two work well enough but there’s hardly fireworks going on between them.
While this might work in favour of the electric chemistry brewing between Mafuyu and Uenoyama’s characters, it doesn’t do much for building the whole cast and so far the two older characters have been largely forgettable.
The Given Live Action adaptation continues to be a pretty solid watch providing another take on a story I loved and I’m really wanting to see the next episode because I am very caught up in this Mafuyu and Uenoyama’s story at this point even if the other characters haven’t quite drawn me in yet. Plus, I can’t wait to hear Mafuyu actually sing a song rather than ‘la-la-la’ even though I know that will be a bit further down the track.
Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021
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