Given 2021 Series Review: Bringing This Beautiful Story To Life

Given 2021 Series Review

Given 2021: The live action drama version of the boys love story.

In 2019 the Given anime took my breath away and was one of my favourite series for the year. I’d never read the manga, and I will admit, I don’t really ever intend to. Largely because so much of what I enjoyed about the anime was the play between sound, music and colour and I’m just not sure that a static telling of the story could be as involving. So Given 2021 was coming hot on the heels of an anime I’d loved and had some big shoes to fill.

Given 2021

Then again, that isn’t really fair to this live action drama. And ultimately comparing it to the anime is a relatively futile activity because viewers have either not watched the anime or will already be able to make that comparison themselves. What most people want to know is whether Given 2021 is actually worth watching.

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And in all honesty, the answer is “yes, but…”

That ‘but’ is fairly important and yet doesn’t take away from the ‘yes’ part of the answer.

Given 2021

See, the one issue the Given 2021 live action drama cannot escape is that ultimately it is only 6 episodes long. While I recently proposed that an anime like Mars Red would have benefited from being only seven or eight episodes, rather than stretching a full season, the story of Given really did need more time.

We needed more time to get to know these characters and feel their situations. Particularly the supporting cast that really felt just kind of there and the stories they have to tell felt barely sketched in.

However, let’s take this all a bit more logically.

Let’s talk about Given 2021

Given 2021 is the story of Uenoyama (a high schooler who is in a band) who when looking for a place to nap at school runs in Mafuyu who is asleep in a stairwell holding a guitar. After one of the most awkward and yet adorable meetings, which ultimately ends with Uenoyama fixing the broken strings of Mafuyu’s guitar the two end up meeting in the stairwell more often and Mafuyu works to convince Uenoyama to teach him how to play.

All of which is pretty ordinary until Uenoyama hears Mafuyu sing.

Given Live Action Drama - Uenoyama shouts at Mafuyu

Here I will praise the casting of this live action drama over and over again. Sanari, who plays Mafuyu, really does manage to bring everything to a halt with his voice and it really does make you stop and just listen. You can never quite tell if it is beautiful or heart-breaking and it just kind of overwhelms you. That the character only has a few moments where we hear his voice throughout the series in the build-up to the live-performance at the end really works because too much would simply lose the effect.

However, as much as the sound of this character works, and as much as the group of boys in the band kind of come together by the end, for those who are fans of either the manga or anime, there will be a small adjustment period as visually they aren’t quite what you would expect. Then again, they do all at least look like real people and there are no awful wigs in sight (such as the live action Full Metal Alchemist) so maybe we should just be happy. But Haruki at least took some getting used to in this form and he wasn’t really given enough screen time for the adjustment to be smooth.

Given 2021

If I were to go in with no expectations then I’d have to admit, they all kind of worked in their roles. And considering Given 2021 is a dramatic story rather than a fantastical one, turning this story into a live action drama is considerably easier because there are no weird weapons, physics defying movements, or even complex action pieces to somehow bring to life.


About the most action we get is a sequence where one of the characters runs across a bridge while having an internal monologue and while that was nicely done it does mean that this story didn’t come with a lot of the challenges other manga and anime have when being translated to live action.

Though, on that note, I did point out during my episode reviews that while scenes shot indoors were beautifully controlled in how they framed characters and the use of light and colour, exterior shots were a little more hit and miss. Notably when the characters were in a car or on a motorbike, shaking camera and less deliberate shot composition seemed to be on the cards.

Given Live Action - Tokyo Tower

It’s a minor point but an important one when one of the key strengths of this story is in the visuals and sound direction. While Given 2021 takes a different approach to sound to the anime, having more background music and using repeated motifs behind characters and filling silences, it is still a key component in what makes this enjoyable viewing. And they still build up to the explosion of sound that is the live performance. While the song may not be to everyone’s taste, the build up to it and the culmination of the drama of the final three episodes make it one of those amazing television moments that can really sweep you away.

The romance aspect between Uenoyama and Mafuyu is also well built up to, though again it suffers a little due to the short run time here. As much as everything makes sense, it all seems very quick. Though what was perhaps the biggest issue is that Mafuyu’s relationship with Yuki gets so little time and even the montage it does get feels a little rushed. Without this backgrounding, Uenoyama’s presence doesn’t come across as quite so necessary to Mafuyu.

Given live-action episode 6

Also, while we do get the after the performance moment with the two boys, as the series then abruptly comes to an end it feels like things have barely gotten going when the story concludes.

So, while I still think the anime did a better job of telling this story (particularly in giving us the aftermath of the concert), the live action does have a lot to offer. And for those who have never watched the anime, they probably won’t have many issues at all with what Given 2021 has on offer, though they will probably be left with some questions about Akihiko and Haruki because they get seriously left out in terms of any kind of detail here.

Given 2021

What is important is that this live action drama can and does stand on its own and offers a fairly solid viewing experience that you could go in to without prior knowledge. And for those who have read the manga or watched the anime, this is just another version of a story you probably already love.

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 6 Impressions – The Sound Of Tears Yet To Be Shed

Given live-action episode 6

It was always going to take a lot for the Given live-action drama to move me the way the anime adaptation had. Not because this drama has in any way been bad but more because the anime just blew me away and swept me off my feet in a way similar to the way Yuri on Ice had back in 2016. It was kind of like lightning striking and it didn’t seem likely it could happen again.

Given live-action episode 6

Episode 9 of the anime portrayed Mafuyu finally stepping up to the microphone and singing his feelings out and it was one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve ever had watching anime (you know, outside of the graduation ceremony in Angel Beats and maybe a handful of other anime moments that reduce me to tears more or less every time I watch them). While the final episode of the Given live-action didn’t reduce me to tears, it did cause a lump in my throat and I was certainly ready to cheer at the end of the performance.

A strong ending to the Given live-action drama.

I think part of the reason this didn’t quite hit me as hard as it did in the anime is I was well aware of what was coming, which is hardly a fault of this adaptation. Just as manga readers knew the conclusion in the anime. That doesn’t make it less worthy of being watched but it does change the viewing experience somewhat.

given live-action episode 6

On the other hand, I kind off feel like Mafuyu’s performance was even more mesmerising because it was live-action this time around. Watching Mafuyu step up to the microphone and holding our breath as the actor looked like he was fighting his flight impulse was a genuinely tense moment and when he finally opened his mouth the sound didn’t just still the whole audience, it brought me to a stand-still as well.

Where this episode of the Given live-action drama is a little less strong is in the emotions behind the song. While we do get some images of the relationship Mafuyu shared with Yuki, this montage feels a little sparse and honestly a little too short. While this relationship with Yuki has been behind everything it doesn’t feel fleshed out enough in the 5 episodes leading to this performance and visually the scenes weren’t that impressive of memorable.

Given live-action episode 6

But, the band did come together spectacularly after their individual emotional fall-outs in episode 5. Uenoyama recaptured what it felt like to perform for the first time and the smile he had on stage was wonderful to see. Haruki really stepped up and even Akihiko had a smile during the performance.


Of course, timing remains the overall issue with the after song encounter between Uenoyama and Mafuyu being incredibly short and the epilogue focusing entirely on Mafuyu with the rest of the band more or less disappearing.

Which is kind of a shame given Murata actually did attend the performance, made one comment about Mafuyu’s being naturally talented but then we never get to see him with Akihiko afterwards leaving this at a completely loose end.

Given Live-action episode 6

That said, if you are going to adapt Given in 6 episodes, focusing in on Mafuyu’s character, even at the expense of others, is probably the way to go. His character arc from sitting alone in the stairs and holding the guitar to his performance during this episode and facing the death of Yuki is completed and while this final episode leaves me wanting more it is a pretty satisfying way to conclude the Given live-action drama.

Plus, the off-stage moment between Mafuyu and Uenoyama is adorable.

Given live-action episode 6

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 5 Impressions – On The Eve of Disaster and The Broken String

Given live-action Episode 5

The Given live-action drama this week plunges headlong into the drama set up at the end of episode 4, as the penultimate episode before the band’s concert. While I don’t think this episode was quite as strong as the anime had been at portraying Yuki’s relationship with Mafuyu, it does a decent enough job of setting the scene prior to the performance and it certainly makes it clear that every member of the band is currently not in a great head-space.

Given live-action episode 5

The Given live-action drama really explores each boy’s drama.

Haruki is given a bit of a cold-shoulder this week as the anime focuses on Akihiko’s home-life and issues as well as the disintegrating relationship between Mafuyu and Uenoyama as misunderstandings and miscommunications abound. Honestly, it isn’t always comfortable viewing even if the subject matter does feel a bit rushed through in an effort to set up the final episode.

Starting with Akihiko waking up at home and his morning interactions with Murata (who I’m struggling to remember if he even got a name mention in the episode), this episode of the Given live-action adaptation lingers on facial expressions and the distance between characters. We see Akihiko’s obvious distress as Murata drapes himself over his shoulders, the more comfortable space when there is a gap between them, and the long pause before he asks him to come to the concert.

Given live-action episode 5 - Akihiko

That Akihiko is in shadows while Murata sits with the light behind him is obviously not just a coincidence given how light and shadows have been so deliberately used all throughout the series to frame characters and scenes.

Likewise, when we cross to Uenoyama heading to the studio and then roughly playing before sinking to the studio floor, that he is perhaps the darkest spot in the room is clearly not a coincidence.

On that note, this is perhaps the strongest performance by this character yet in the series. Earlier in my reviews of this Given live-action drama I’d made light of his attempts to portray mixed emotions and use deliberate facial expressions and yet here the scene works so well because he isn’t over-the-top. There is pain clear on his face, his breathing is ragged both because of the rough practice he’d just been doing and the emotional overload, and his sagging to the floor, back to the audience, just works.

Given live-action episode 5

Less effective this week is Mafuyu’s performance as he is confronted by an old friend of his and Yuki’s and we briefly see a flashback of Yuki and Mafuyu when they were together. All things considered, it was probably a good move to have the character’s backs to the audience for a lot of this scene because what we did see of them wasn’t amazing.

Fortunately, the inherent drama in what they were talking about still carried the scene, but it was the weakest part of this episode of the Given live-action adaptation.

Given live-action episode 5

All too soon it feels we’re moving on to the rehearsal before the concert and the band sounds amazing but Mafuyu doesn’t sing. Not a peep or a sound.


This leads to a melodramatic show-down between Mafuyu and Uenoyama leading to the guitar falling to the ground and the convenient breaking of the string.

I kind of loved how the two young actors portrayed this moment. Certainly it is over-the-top as they both just stare mutely at the guitar, their breathing heavy, as though the world just ended. While it is a little silly in a live-action version of this, it suitably fits the overall drama of the moment, and makes Haruki’s obvious annoyance with the two so much more fitting as he chides Uenoyama, reminding him that a broken string can be fixed.

Given live-action episode 5

While not the best metaphor in the world, the cohesive nature of the broken string being repaired as the starting point for Uenoyama and Mafuyu’s relationship absolutely works here and Uenoyama’s running to the show is definitely a solid moment for the Given live-action drama.

Now we just have to get through the concert.

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 4 Impressions – Losing The Way

Given Live Action Episode 4 Review

Drama, drama, drama. The Given Live-Action adaptation is pushing the drama up to 11 as band rehearsal falls into a conflict between Uenoyama, venting his emotions, and Mafuyu who is all but shut down, forcing the older band members to intervene. Mafuyu’s disclosure at the end of episode 3 hasn’t left Uenoyama any clearer about where they stand and cracks are definitely showing as the concert looms ever closer.

Given Live Action - Uenoyama argues with Mafuyu

All things considered, Mafuyu has made excellent progress in two months. Later in the episode when he practices guitar alone he’s sounding pretty good (for a relative beginner). That he’s totally blocked on writing the lyrics and doesn’t really even know where to begin is hardly his fault and Uenoyama and the rest of the band’s expectations are clearly kind of crushing him.

The Given Live Action Adaptation sounds amazing.

One thing I did like about this episode of the Given Live-Action drama is that we returned to the girl who told Uenoyama the rumours about Mafuyu. She’s feeling pretty terrible about her actions though part of me thinks her pity party at the bins was more just to get any attention from Uenoyama than genuinely feeling too bad for spreading rumours about Mafuyu.

Given Live Action - Drama

That the scene resolves a potential external conflict for Uenoyama is good. That it is also used to create some artificial drama as Mafuyu also witnesses the exchange from afar is less great given Mafuyu already had enough on his plate.

Still artificial drama and teen romance go hand in hand and this was hardly the most obvious forced plot convenience to be found in such a story. We’ll save that for Gamers with the many ridiculous misunderstandings and plot coincidences that essentially make up the entire story.

The other issue with the Given Live-Action adaptation that becomes a bit clearer in this episode is that t clearly isn’t working on a huge budget. The shaking camera when filming the motorbike on the road was distracting and while shaky-cam can be used to great effect, here it just felt like they didn’t have the right tools to steady it.

Given Live Action - Tokyo Tower

And this episode had a lot of external scenes compared to previous ones. Whether it was Uenoyama and Akihito on the roof with Tokyo Tower glowing in the background or the various car rides home or even Uenoyama taking out the rubbish, these characters spent a lot of time outdoors and it is in these scenes where Given feels less controlled in how it frames its characters.


Of course, the interior scenes were up to the usual standard with some clear attention placed on how the characters sat within the scene and there’s a truly adorable moment toward the end of the episode where Mafuyu, who is asleep, ends up resting his head on Uneoyama’s shoulder.

Given Live Action Episode 4 - Mafuyu sleeps on Uenoyama

The Given Live-Action story here leaves us on a very unresolved note at the end of episode 4 and that’s fine. We’re two episodes from finished and leaving us hanging right now is definitely creating a sense that we are moving forward and that there’s something coming just ahead that is worth waiting for. Anticipation is great and it doesn’t feel like they’ve dropped a cliff-hanger without thought.

I’m not sure how I feel about Akihito’s interference. I know he involved himself in the anime as well, but perhaps because that had 12 episodes and was more spread out it didn’t feel as intrusive. Here it feels like he’s trying to set himself up as some kind of puppet-master and while Mafuyu and Uenoyama certainly needed a bit of a helping hand his manipulations are a little intense in this episode.

Still, looking forward to episode 5.

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 3 Impressions – Rising and Falling Emotions

Given Live Action Episode 3

Carrying on the emotional outpouring in episode 2, episode 3 of the Given live action drama seems determined to cram all the emotional beats of this story in. That is perhaps the downside of this adaptation only having six episodes as we are definitely racing right along through the content with Uenoyama already well along in composing Mafuyu’s song.

Not that there’s anything wrong with this episode it just doesn’t feel like we get a moment to breathe.

Uenoyama - Given live action drama

The Given live action adaptation feels a little rushed.

From the opening where we see Uenoyama doing all-nighters to create the song to match the sound Mafuyu has shown him to the rumours swilling around the school with a short contrast of Akihiko and Haruki’s own dramas before we plunge fully into Mafuyu’s trauma over Yuki’s death it all comes one hit after another with scarcely a moment to digest it. Though this week all the characters are putting in a solid performance in the Given live action so at least none of it comes across as trite.

I’m kind of feeling if I didn’t already know this story, episode 3 might have left me feeling a little confused as it seems like so much happened simultaneously.

Given live action drama - what?

Though, I’m not all that upset that the Given live action adaptation has decided to speed through Kasai’s rumour spreading moment. Rather than focusing on her unrequited crush on Uenoyama we instead skip to the impact her words have on him as he processes what Yuki must have meant to Mafuyu and we see the rift that forms between the two because of it.

It’s a nice contrast to early in the episode where the boys had become close enough that Uenoyama thought nothing of putting his arm around Mafuyu’s should and Mafuyu actually gave Uenoyama a genuine smile.

Mafuyu smiles - Given live action drama

A little more jarring is the Given live action decision to really speed through Akihiko and Haruki’s relationship woes as the audience does get a brief glimpse of Haruki’s reaction when Akihiko chooses to crash in his bed rather than lay out a futon but there’s seemingly no follow up for either character in this episode.


Instead Akihiko ends up providing Uenoyama and opportunity to process his thoughts when he drops around to his house with a recording of the song he’s been working on. From the laptop the sound is small and underwhelming but the promise is there and I’m really looking forward to how the band sounds in this Given live action when they finally take the stage.

Akihiko - Given live action drama

Still, it was an important moment for Uenoyama as he really did need to sort out his thoughts about how he felt when Mafuyu was singing.

Haruki on the other hand tries to offer Mafuyu some advice and Mafuyu, in his most polite way, shuts him down with a simple question.

It’s a powerful moment and reveals more about how Mafuyu is feeling than all the contorted facial expressions ever could.

But if we needed further evidence of the rift opening between Uenoyama and Mafuyu by the end of this third episode in the Given live action adaptation, we get it clearly shown to us as a visual when Uenoyama goes for a nap in the stairwell and ends up beside Mafuyu. Mafuyu talks to Uenoyama about how he’s feeling with the song lyrics and Uenoyama pretends to sleep. In this moment we get a shot of the two on the staircase from outside the building and they look so small, with the window itself dividing them.

Given live action episode 3 - Uenoyama and Mafuyu

That’s something that has remained a strength in Given in both the anime and live action adaptation. Both pay attention to visuals and use framing, light and colour to really tell the story of these boys and to draw the audience into the appropriate emotion.

With three episodes left I am curious to see where the Given live action adaptation intends to end this story but with the speed we’re moving forward I somewhat suspect it will be the concert and I am very much looking forward to that.

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 2 Impressions – The Sound That Shook Him

Given Live Action Episode 2

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.

Given Live Action Drama - Aki and Haruki

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.


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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.

Given Live Action Drama - Uenoyama shouts at Mafuyu

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.

Given live action - Akihiko

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.

Given Live Action - Title

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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Karandi James

Given Live-Action Episode 1 Impressions – The Sound and Sweetness

Given Episode 1

It’s the arrival of a Given live action adaptation.

For those who followed my coverage of the Given anime series with Irina, you will know we both kind of loved it. So the opportunity to see a live-action version of Given is surely tempting with a vague sense of trepidation in wondering how could it possibly top the amazingly emotive experience the anime already gave us?

Seriously, I have Mafuyu singing his song as a poster on my wall in my study and there he will stay as the amazing and inspirational character that he is.

And the opening moments of this Given Live-Action adaptation weren’t awesome.

Given Live-Action - Uenoyama in the dark

The opening of the anime drew you right in with how quiet it was with the actions speaking for themselves. And then the sound began to build.

But this isn’t going to just be comparing Given Live-Action version to Given Anime version. Honestly, they deserve to be judged on their own merits and once I got over the fact that this wasn’t going to be the anime with real people, I kind of got drawn right in because I’m going to say, I loved this episode.

Given Live-Action, Worth It.

The story begins with Uenoyama explaining how he found and then lost his passion for his guitar and music. It is this disenchanted and kind of defeated character we meet at the beginning who then has a chance encounter with another boy sleeping in the stairwell with a guitar.

Given Live Action - Mafuyu sleeping

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t compare to the anime, but I will remind you that Irina and I declared the stairwell our favourite character at one point in our episode reviews of the anime. And I’m going to say that seeing stairwell-kun in live action was probably the best thing ever. How does one set of stairs have that much personality?

Probably because of the attention to details such as light and shadows as well as colour and textures. Something that has carried over into the Given Live Action version. Even if the first ten minutes there’s so much attention on lighting and this continues all through the episode. That and hands. So much focus on character’s hands.

It definitely makes it a little more interesting to watch.

Uenoyama actually ends up initiating their interactions by critiquing Mafuyu’s lack of guitar maintenance and before he knows it Mafuyu is following him to band practice.

Mafuyu does an excellent job here of looking hopeful and nervous simultaneously and once the band starts playing his expression says it all.

This was something I was worried about as we moved dove into the Given Live-Action and that was that the characters wouldn’t have enough nuance in their expressions to really convey the emotions of each scene. I can assure you, they can.


Of course, Given whether as an anime or as a live action is an anime about a band and music, and also a relationship and the characters and their journeys, but if the music sucks it would be hard to stick around. Fortunately, the band kind of rocked and not just because the whole band sequence was filtered through Mafuyu’s fan-boying.

Given live action band

While the anime is still going to be my go-to for this particular story (it really did take a special place in my heart), I’m really impressed at this first episode of the Given live action adaptation and I am keen to watch the next 5 episodes to see how much of the story they tell and how it plays out with real people rather than in anime.

It certainly seems like a lot of attention to detail was put into the making of this episode and the two boys playing Mafuyu and Uneoyama seem to work really well together. There’s already been a number of scenes that have set my heart fluttering and we’re not even that far into the story yet.

Given live action - Mafuyu and Uenoyama

Anyway, if you checked out this first episode, let me know what you thought and if you haven’t given it a look, it is on Crunchyroll.

Images from: Given. Dir. K Miki. 2021

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Karandi James

Umibe no Étranger Movie Review – 59 Minutes of Pretty Visuals With An Okay Shounen Ai Story

Umibe no Étranger

It’s no secret that shounen ai stories are a little on the hit and miss side with far more missing the mark or falling into standard BL tropes such as non-consensual sex or dominant and submissive personalities (such as Dakaichi and similar stories present). So when a movie like Umibe no Étranger, or The Stranger by the Shore, comes along it’s kind of nice just to watch two male characters falling in love.

However, Umibe no Étranger also misses the emotional mark with 59 minutes being long enough to give us a sense of beauty for the setting, an outline of who these characters are and some of what they are overcoming, as well as one night where things get steamy before we get to a resolution of sorts but it isn’t long enough to really leave any kind of memorable impression other than being nice enough and kind of pretty.

Umibe no Étranger
Shun and Mio.

Who is Umibe no Étranger for?

Which made me wonder who this movie was for and ultimately I guess it is fans of the source material, assuming it perhaps fills in some of the gaps (though I’ve never read it so wouldn’t know). The movie itself offers a sketched picture of these characters but ultimately their past and troubles are touched upon and then we move on and their relationship progresses without any real obstacles outside of Shun himself.

While it all works it isn’t a particularly satisfying or memorable experience and you get to the end of Umibe no Étranger with a clear image of flowers growing around a bench, straw hats that won’t stay on heads, and cute cats that lounge about the house, and little impression of the story or characters themselves.

Umibe no Étranger

It would be like watching the Given movie without having first watched the series. By itself, the 59 minutes movie just isn’t enough to really be invested in the characters.

Anyway, Stranger by the Shore focuses on Shun, who we learn is gay and a writer and as the story progresses we realise he was bullied at school, has never actually had a real relationship, and when he did come out to his parents it didn’t end well. Though potentially timing was the problem there as he seemed to leave it until pretty much his wedding to his childhood friend before telling them.

Shun is living with his aunt and happens to see Mio sitting on a bench by the beach at night. After watching him a few times, Shun approaches him and eventually learns that Mio’s mother has died and the high school student is now on his own. The two kind of instantly get into the close and blushy stage of their relationship before Mio announces he’s going to an orphanage on the mainland.

Umibe no Étranger
And from this act a relationship was born.

We jump 3 years and 20 year old Mio returns and more or less declares that he’s in love with Shun.

This is kind of the main problem with the entirety of Umibe no Étranger. The relationship just kind of happens and we never see these two spending time getting to know one another. The movie ends and I still don’t know what either character likes about the other or even if they know anything about each other.

Conflict is created in the story more or less only by Shun pushing Mio away. We later learn that he was doing this because he didn’t want Mio because of the way when people in society would view their relationship and really his resistance lasts as long as one actual argument, a teary phone call and then one made dash through a convenient rain storm before the two are in a relationship.

Further conflict is attempted in Umibe no Étranger by introducing Sakurako, Shun’s former fiancée but given most of her actions seem drive to driving the two boys together this one barely counts and mostly just pads the run time and gives us a few flashbacks to Shun’s childhood.


Honestly, the story could work fine as is given Umibe no Étranger labels itself a slice of life and that really is what we are getting, the day to day of these boys on the island. However, I just can’t help but want this movie to do more with these characters and the relationship and really just commit to telling a story rather than idling about.

Of course, even without a driving narrative, The Stranger by the Shore is beautiful to look at. The shore line itself is basically its own character and we return to the bench where the two characters first met again and again in different seasons and under different skies.

Likewise the support cast is pleasant enough though we also learn little about anybody in this story. The Aunt Shun lives with runs a café and supports the characters but otherwise I couldn’t tell you a thing about her. Eri and Suzu are super sweet and their relationship is lovely, but other than Eri being a meddler, again, I couldn’t tell you one concrete fact about her.

Even Mio, who is one of our main characters, remains more or less vague. He has some trauma with the loss of his parents and that motivates him later in the movie to encourage Shun to repair his own relationship. Otherwise I don’t actually know what Mio likes, at age 20 what he’s wanting to do for a living, or literally anything about him.

Umibe no Étranger

He met Shun and then thought about him for 3 years before returning to the island to declare his love. But what were his plans beyond that? There’s a massive void where his actual character should be and while he’s pleasant enough, gets embarrassed at times, gets angry at times and does what he needs to, he’s not a character I’ll remember after writing this review because there’s practically nothing to remember.

For 59 minutes Umibe no Étranger a pleasant enough escape experience provided you enjoy a shounen ai story and aren’t put off by a same sex couple having a sex scene.

Umibe no Étranger
An unsuccessful attempt to sleep together.

However it isn’t a movie that must be watched and ultimately it will probably just be forgotten as it is neither strong enough as a story to be remembered or contentious enough to be discussed beyond the initial watching.

However, as always, I’d love to know your thoughts so if you watched Umibe no Étranger be sure to leave me a comment below.

Images from: Umibe no Étranger. Dir A Oohashi. Studio Hibari. 2020

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Dakaichi Series Review

Dakaichi Episode 6 Junta and Takato

What Could Go Wrong When The Two Sexiest Guys Get Together?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. MAL lists this one as a shounen-ai but honestly this one pushes it a bit further than that. While it doesn’t go as far as the source material for this one went and avoids the actual rape in the first episode, there’s still some problematic aspects to how these two guys end up together and Takato gets nearly sexually assaulted by more than one character. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of anime then I’ll thank you for clicking on my post and recommend you check out one of my other series reviews.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

For those still with me, I really had a lot of fun with Dakaichi. Another rare case where for whatever reason I actually read the source material of this one a while back (though it turns out my memory of it is a bit hazy). I was very curious as to how this would work as an anime and even more curious as to how it was airing on Crunchyroll given it seemed a little more racy than their usual fare (then again with the Goblin Slayer explosion this one just flew straight under the community radar – or the people who chose to watch it just knew what they were getting into and weren’t all that worried about it).

Dakaichi Episode 6

I reviewed this one at four week intervals with Arthifis and I will admit those conversations greatly added to the fun of viewing what might have otherwise been a reasonably mediocre anime. As much as there are aspects of this I loved, I can’t deny that from an execution point of view there are a number of miss-steps and parts that are just plain average. But, it is one of those titles that is better to watch with someone. Being able to discuss your favourite scene or moment, or ask what someone else’s take on a particular moment was, is one of those really fun aspects that you lose when you watch anime alone. There were also a few others on Twitter that were following this one and I will admit there were more than a few fun screen caps and fan arts floating around. Throw in Cactus Matt and Irina’s collaboration posts week to week and this was a really fun seasonal viewing experience.

Dakaichi Episode 4

Right, so I just admitted it isn’t that great an anime but the social aspect of watching this one was fun. Which makes me wonder what this will be like to people picking it up after the season is done and binge watching it.


And realistically this one comes down to whether or not you like BL. If you are into Boys Love, this one is actually a pretty good title for the genre. Then again, given the limited number of actual Boys Love titles that don’t just tip-toe around the are they/aren’t they aspects being good for the genre isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation.

Dakaichi Episode 10

But there are some fairly strong points for this in terms of being a decent BL title.

Firstly Takato as the protagonist is an absolutely fantastic character. Sure, every single guy he meets (almost) tries to eat him for some reason, but he’s not a push over (for anyone outside of Junta). He’s also really great to watch in his daily life. Honestly, I’d happily watch this show devoid of the relationship aspect and just watching Takato rise up as an actor and hold his own on the set. Seeing him on stage, filming, at photo shoots, and just seeing how he dealt with relationships and roles in different studios was fantastic. This really helps elevate the show when the main character doesn’t just exist to be in a relationship but has an actual life that the relationship has to fit into.

When you pair Takato with Junta, outside of Junta being creepily pushy early on and practically a stalker (standard BL tropes that are definitely being employed), the two actually work really well together. By the time we get an episode from Junta’s perspective showing how he viewed the start of their relationship, his character had kind of grown on me and I actually ended up liking him.

Of course that made me wonder why I found Junta kind of charming compared to Usagi from Junjou Romantica and partially the answer is found in the comparative positions of the two characters. Junjou Romantica has Usagi taking advantage of the student he is supposed to be tutoring and then more or less being the one taking care of Misaki once his brother leaves and it creates a fairly dodgy power imbalance which means that the relationship always sits awkwardly. While Junta starts off as creepy as Usagi, both Takato and Junta are adults who are more than capable of being independent and Takato is actually the older and more successful of the two so isn’t dependent on Junta in the slightest. It is just enough of a difference to help take some of the creepiness out of the whole situation, though this is still not a great model of how to build a happy relationship (so you know, don’t pay a guy 1000 yen while he’s drunk in order to call him by his name and film it because, creepy).


But wait, I was on positives. So let’s discuss the music. I love the OP to this one. It doesn’t really work for everyone but I absolutely loved listening to it. The visuals are kind of meh but just close your eyes and listen and that’s kind of awesome. The ED is great fun and I love watching Takato and Junta dance around the studio. It’s a great way to end each week. The rest of the soundtrack is kind of forgettable but at least it isn’t bad.

The conflict they bring into the relationship is mostly decent. Okay, there’s a lot of drama for the sake of it, as there is in any romance anime, and of course a lot of the issues could be cleared up by the two characters actually having a conversation, but again that’s kind of ordinary. I did like the final real conflict of the story where the two get caught by a photographer and while the resolution to this is way too neat it really just made me want to get behind the characters and their relationship.


Basically, if you can overlook some of the less savoury aspects of how the relationship starts, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Still, even ignoring the sexual assault aspects, there’s a few other issues this anime faces. Visually it isn’t that impressive. Sure there are plenty of screen cap worthy moments of the two main guys (and why wouldn’t there be given they are both apparently sexy actors), but backgrounds, support characters and action are all kind of dull. Not to mention the neck beards (as Arthifis put it). Okay, they are hideous and totally unnecessary.

Dakaichi Episode 7 - Junta

We also have the ‘filler’ episode at episode 8. Sending the characters to Hawaii could have been fun and given the nature of the show it could have been the opportunity to push the envelope. Instead we got very little in the way of fan-service and the plot and actual execution of this episode was all manner of dodgy. Mostly it was just a terrible episode.

Throw in the fact that the series climax really occurs at episode 12, and while episode 13 is better than episode 8, it also watches like filler, and you have to wonder why they didn’t just make this an 11 episode series.

And actually, that raises an interesting question about the sex in this. Given the characters are adults and they do in fact engage in sex, this anime kind of keeps it relatively off screen but doesn’t leave a huge amount to the imagination. But the problem with this is that people who don’t like sex and fan-service won’t like it, and people who want sex and fan-service won’t feel it goes far enough. It isn’t catering to either audience and while it hit my comfort zone perfectly without going too far for me, I know there are a lot of people disappointed with how tame it ended up and other viewers who were creeped out by how far it went. Well, I guess you can’t please everyone.


Still, this show features cute, adult aged, anime guys falling in love and to be honest, I enjoyed it. This was one I had a lot of fun with during the Autumn season and while I get it won’t be for everyone I certainly think there will be plenty of people who will have fun with this one.

And I just wrote more about this anime than Bunny Girl Senpai so I’m pretty sure I’m done.

Images from: Dakaichi – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year. Dir. N Tatsuwa. Clover Works. 2018

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Friendly Talks with Arthifis – Final Thoughts on Dakaichi

Dakaichi Episode 10 Takato and Junta kiss

And here we are with the final collaboration post between Arthifis and myself, for the Autumn season. We’ve had such a good time we’ve decided to take on a similar project in the Winter 2019 season so just wait and hopefully we’ll soon be announcing the shows we’ll be discussing. In the meantime, here are our final thoughts on Dakaichi, and over on Arthifis’ new place, the Anime Shelter, you can check out our final impressions of Goblin Slayer.

Below I am in RED and BOLD and Arthifis is in BLUE and ITALICS.

Dakaichi Episode 9 Takato

Welcome back Arthifis. It is great to see you again and today we get to discuss the end of Dakaichi. So much happened in these final episodes I’m not even sure where to start. Though I suppose, we should probably start with episodes 9  – 11 before we discuss episode 12, where things more or less conclude, before we get to episode 13 which just seemed like its own thing. What do you think?

Thank you for having me once again ^.^ I always love doing these eheh

Yeah, I would start from there! I actually liked this last arc (before the conclusion) I wasn’t really expecting that it would go for that route at all! I was almost sensing that it would be another guy/girl coming up in the series trying to steal either Junta or Takato from the other. But, contrary to all that they played the tabloid card, which for me was unexpected and interesting!

The thing that I liked the most is that, how Japan deals with celebrities such as idols or actors, it is something that I cans see happening in real life. I also have to love how Junta was able to completely fool me and made me think that he started dating with a girl… I mean, I knew that he was saving Takato in his own way, but I thought he was actually with her 😛

On the other hand, there was an excellent character development on the Takato’s side. It was really pleasant to see Takato starting to take out his mask and letting himself go with his emotions more and more 😛

What about you, what is your verdict on this arc?

Dakaichi Episode 11 Takato

I really enjoyed it but I ended up with mixed feelings about a few things. I loved that the relationship drama focused very much on their careers rather than a love triangle or something similar. Dakaichi was always at its most entertaining when it focused on their jobs with the relationship sitting behind that and so having to think about their relationship in terms of how it would impact on their acting career seemed like a really suitable arc for this story to end on and I really loved that.

I didn’t love the lack of communication that still exists between the pair at this stage in their relationship. Takato dumping Junta to protect him and Junta ‘dating’ whatever her name was in order to set up his take-down of the tabloid; I just felt like if they’d actually had a conversation they could have bypassed a lot of the drama. Admittedly, then it wouldn’t have taken as many episodes and it probably would have been pretty uninteresting to watch, but in terms of them having any kind of healthy relationship it would have been nice to see.

That said, I’m with you in that I loved seeing Takato’s development as a character (big surprise given how much I’ve enjoyed Takato in general). However, seeing him at the end of this arc, I really loved how his character had been changed by the events of the series while still being Takato.

Did you have a favourite moment?

Dakaichi Episode 10 Takato and Junta

First let me just comment in the healthy relationship that you commented 😛 I completely agree with you, but at the same time if not like this, there would not many episodes (as you said). But, also I think Takato had to develop to what he is today so he could have this conversation.

Regarding the favourite moment… Well, I think my favourite moment is when Junta is on TV and says everything ahah I loved how everyone who worked with Takato went to Twitter telling their story with Takato being clumsy ahah The guy who tries to be always perfect in the public eye just had everyone showing his softer and cuter side ahah (though I can’t remember if this is in episode 11 or 12).

I also loved the rings scene… It just means a lot both for the characters and for me! I mean, I also put my heart and feelings out for this relationship to work, right!?

What about you?

Dakaichi Episode 12 Ayagi

I also have to pick Junta’s announcement on TV. I may not be the biggest fan of Junta but he played this so well and it was such a well executed moment. The tweets about Takato being clumsy were hilarious but I think what I loved the most was how Junta just smoothly slid in the idea that he was going to move in with Takato mid-TV announcement and so much else was going on that no one even batted an eye. I have to give his character credit for being pretty gutsy.

What about least favourite moment?

From all the series?

Why not, though if you have one from the final episodes that would be cool.

Dakaichi Episode 12 Takato and Junta

Well… Both include in someone trying to take advantage of Takato, so I’ll give you both ahah

My least favorite from all the series is, of course, when the other guy is thinking of forcing himself on drunk Takato and ends up stopping because of Junta’s phone call.

From the last episodes, has to be that director (producer?) who tests Takato and tries to go to bed with him. Of course it was to make the point that Takato was still in love with Junta, but I just don’t like these kind of stuff lolol

What about you?

Dakaichi Episode 12 Takato and Junta

My least favourite moment is also a Junta moment. Where he is pretending to be dating the actress and gets in Takato’s face about his expression. I mean, I know Takato dumped him, but Junta has more or less figured out why and what is going on with Takato, so this scene just feels like he’s being a bit of a jerk for the sake of it.

Anything else from these episodes before we get to episode 13?

Just gonna comment… I’m not sure if Junta knew that it was what was happening… Truth is, Junta always seemed pretty insecure when it comes to Takato, like Takato would flee far away one day or another. This way, I somewhat understood the elevator scene.

In fact, I think it was on that point where Junta understood that Takato still loved him and ended everything to protect him.

But, that’s all… Now, episode 13… I don’t even know what to say about it ahah Basically it seemed like a DVD special more than anything.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. I mean, it is kind of special to see Takato running everywhere trying to find the best present and place to go with in Christmas. Moreover, it is pretty fun to see him believe everything he overhears. I mean, he even starts thinking that Junta will dump him if he doesn’t have a present for him ahah

It was a cute episode, ending the series in a bright note! However, I would prefer that the episode was around that play they were talking about in episode 12 😛

What about you?

Dakaichi Episode 13 Junta and Takato

I agree that it definitely felt like a DVD special more than a final episode. That said, it was a very good special and I really loved watching Takato bump into literally everyone we have met this series before finally getting Christmas with Junta. It was just cute and sweet.

That said, it didn’t actually do anything for the story and given episode 12 left us with a few points (such as the new project that Takato and Junta are working on and that random new character they introduced), it just makes me wonder if they ever intend to do anything with that.

On that note, if they did, would you watch it?

Ooooh! It WAS a new character! I actually thought it was someone who I just had erased from my memory. That, or just showing that the director (producer?) was also gay, just because how he said to Takato that being gay (or just having a relationship) would destroy his career.

Answering to your question… YES! I really loved it! It was one of the best Shounen-Ai Animes I’ve ever watched! So, I really want to thank you for introducing me to this series 😀 I would do the first impressions nonetheless, but by having this collab with you made me really want to watch everything eheh

What about you?

Dakaichi Episode 13 Takato

If Takato is in it, I’m going to be watching.

No, I really loved watching this series even with some of its more problematic moments, so I’d happily take a second season. I think there’s still heaps that these characters can do and I’d definitely love to see more of the behind the scenes stuff at their work. So fingers crossed that eventually we get another season (no idea how far the source material went at this point though I might need to go refresh my memory about that as well at some point).

I think this one is still a little bit hard to recommend. There’s a lot about it that is really good but I found myself last week explaining the plot to a friend and by the time I got to the end of the first episode they were ready to bolt. It definitely is one that only really works if you kind of know what you are getting into and you aren’t going to be put entirely off by those moments that really push the envelope.

Final thoughts?

Well, I basically am with you! It’s shounen-ai and as most Anime shows under this genre, it’s created for a specific public. This way, I would say it is not for everyone. But if you like the genre, or even if you like romance a lot, I think this Dakaretai is one to try out! 🙂

In the end, I think it’s not perfect, but it’s really good! Every episode was entertaining and I didn’t feel bored not even once. Something that I cannot say from the Anime we are discussing at my place ahah

So yeah, that’s my final verdict! 😛 A very strong shounen-ai Anime which I recommend a lot to people who like this kind of setting… Oh! Also, before I forget! Sasaki Takumi is the best manager! (I think that’s the name XD)

Dakaichi Episode 10

Thanks so much for joining me to cover this anime. We’ll definitely have to try this again in a future season. Hopefully the readers have also enjoyed following along with our friendly chats.

Thank you for doing this with me! 🙂 It was really fun and I would love to do it in a future season! And, yes, hopefully you guys also liked to follow our little chats eheh 😉

See you next season, maybe? 😀

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Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. Pukutto Badge Collection Box
Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. Pukutto Badge Collection Box