Kanata no Astra Anime Series Review

Kanata no Astra Series Review

The School Trip That Will
Take Them Across The Galaxy

Kanata no Astra was an anime that seemingly came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of it and hadn’t seen any promotional videos or the like prior to the Summer 2019 season beginning. Turns out this was for the best because once this story got going it sucked me right in and was quite the enjoyable ride, more so because of walking into it absolutely blind. While it isn’t flawless, this was undeniably my favourite story of the Summer season and if it hadn’t been for the emotional connection I felt with Given, this anime would have walked away as my favourite anime of the season.

I know. High praise right off the bat.

That said, I will caution readers that though I’m going to avoid major plot spoilers as much as possible, given the nature of this story, with small bits of information revealed throughout each episode, pretty much anything I mention beyond the first episode would count as a spoiler. If you want to go in blind, just know this one is great and concludes its plot very nicely and that first double episode might start a bit slow but hang in their, it definitely finds its feet.


For everyone who is still with me, let’s talk about Astra Lost in Space.

This one is a fairly basic story following the voyage and return model where our kids, thinking they are going on a school camp, end up thrown to the other side of the galaxy though fortunately they find a functional space-ship (convenient that) and then they have to plot a route and make their way home. On the journey they learn a whole bunch of stuff about the world and themselves. Underlying this is the reason for them ending up in that situation which we will learn more about piece by piece as the journey progresses with all being revealed nicely by the end.

Still, it was really fun having a week in-between each episode to speculate.

We do need to start with that first episode though. Kanata no Astra begins and ends its run with a double length episode which adds to the overall cinematic feel this one seems to be striving for. Honestly, I probably could have done without the black bands that framed the screen for the majority of scenes however in key moments of drama, such as the rescue sequence at the end of that first double episode, that cinematic feeling really helps draw the viewer into the character’s situation and it works remarkably well.


What was a little less thrilling was the opening twenty minutes which is where the story lays its groundwork and introduces the characters. While the goofy comedy aspects on display in this part never go away, the rest of the story balances moments of tension with moments where the kids kick back and get to be kids. The opening sequence on the other hand feels like pure fluff despite the necessary introductions to the characters and the setting.

If I were to change anything in this series, it really would be this opening because I actually did pause the episode and contemplated walking away as my Summer watch list had been quite full. By the time I got to the end of episode one, all such thought were erased from my mind.

See, the characters in this story individually aren’t all that great or exceptional. In fact, most are pretty much characters we’ve seen many times before. The cast however is perfect together and as the group of kids face danger together, work together, clash with one another and then reconcile, they win the audience over and their plight becomes somehow more significant and interesting. Whether the story had ended up with a satisfactory ending or not wouldn’t change how fun the journey with this cast was even if individuals within the group annoyed me, they fit within the team.

The story also deftly introduced an additional character to the crew toward the end. Their integration only added to how solidly they had built these characters as the students we’d been travelling with interacted with, learned from, and responded to the new addition. There was some attempt at building up a few characters on Earth who were plot significant, though given the time frame this anime was working with, as well as the fact that the kid’s journey was by far the more interesting part of the story and the conspiracy was more interesting when the kids were speculating, this didn’t really go very far.


The one down side of all of this is the reveal of the traitor ended up being less of a reveal and more a confirmation of what you will have probably suspected for awhile. The character in question did feel off comparatively and there’s a lot of obvious flags along the way. I’d picked the traitor and then dismissed them because they seemed too obvious. While this isn’t the end of the world given their reveal is just one part of the mystery it is a point where more nuanced individual characters may have helped muddy the waters a bit more while still making this make sense.

Obvious red-herrings aside, there really weren’t any other candidates.

Still, it isn’t as though Kanata no Astra wants you to be perplexed. There are clues in the OP and a number of moments where characters tell us important information. While it is a slow drip-feed of info it never really stops coming and if you put the pieces together, by the time most revelations occur you’ve got a fair idea of what’s about to happen and then it is the satisfaction of having figured it out. Or in one case, being miffed that you went the wrong way with your speculation (well, I can’t get them all right).


Anyway, I loved the sense of tension this series managed to build up at key moments. I loved how when the kids had some down time they really felt like teenagers who were finding their way to a friendship. The music was fantastic and I liked that when a character changed her hair in the show they changed it in the opening as well. I also found it great the number of times Astra didn’t play the OP at all because it was using every minute of its episode time.

In less deft hands this story could have felt bloated, rushed, or meandering depending on how it was delivered. Yet here it feels like every step of the journey has been carefully plotted out and given just enough time without lingering past its welcome. Critical conversations are framed by comedy or short action sequences and everything balances nicely. In short, this series is a genuine joy to watch. It’s a space exploration story with a group of characters you can enjoy spending time with but it has ongoing drive throughout the series giving it a sense of direction and focus that helps pull everything together.

Kanata no Astra

Now I’ve actually watched the series twice already because I was watching the episodes alone to review them but about four episodes in I talked a friend into watching some of it and we soon caught up to where it had aired. After that I’d watch and review the episode and a day or two later we’d watch the episode together. It is amazing how many extra details you pull out of this on a second watch even if that watch is still with a weekly gap.

Kanata no Astra benefits from taking breaks and thinking things through.

On that note though, I don’t think I’d recommend binge watching more than two episodes of this at a time. This series seems to lend itself to that slower viewing experience of watching chunks of it and then contemplating before watching a bit more. Still, I’ll definitely buy this on DVD is it becomes available because this is one series I just had a blast with.


Just so it doesn’t sound like I’m heaping nothing but praise on this anime I will point out that it has a penchant for ending episodes on cliff-hangers, or building up to dramatic moments and then resolving them fairly quickly. In other anime I’ve found this can get quite annoying as it makes it feel like they are going for cheap TBC moments. For whatever reason I didn’t find the impact to be annoying in Astra and usually just happily waited for the resolution or accepted where the story went. That doesn’t mean it won’t be irritating if you find that particular narrative gimmick one that wears thin.

However, minor niggles aside, I’d strongly recommend giving Astra Lost in Space a go. Maybe it won’t work for you but I know I thoroughly enjoyed the story that was told here and there’s plenty of positives to take away from the series even if it ultimately doesn’t work for you.

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

Want To Read More About Astra Lost in Space?

Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.

Given Series Review (anime)

Given Series Review
Given Series Review

Low Budget But A Lot of Heart

It’s time for my Given Series Review.

Given was one of those quiet shows that I took an interest in from the write up and then when Irina suggested we cover it together for the season I happily accepted but didn’t expect much. What I got was a compelling story, wonderful characters, drama that felt right and not overblown (most of the time) and some wonderful choices in music and direction that overcame some of the obvious budget restraints the series was working under.

While it wasn’t a flawless series by any stretch of the imagination, my only real complaint when it was done was that the story wasn’t yet finished and I wanted a second season.

While visually the likes of Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia would wipe the floor with something like Given, and even more genre specific titles such as Bloom Into You are far superior even on just a casual glance, Given worked hard to use what it had to tell it story and the end result was definitely satisfying. Colour and shot composition are used to speak volumes as the characters move through their daily lives and as a viewer I found certain settings began to take on a life of their own with the school staircase almost feeling like an old friend by the time we got to season’s end.

This doesn’t really hide the static backgrounds, still images, or lack of detail in background characters, but I don’t really think they were trying to hide it. The attention to detail is where it needs to be and this carries over into the sound direction. The first episode made some clear choices using silence and diegetic sound only for a fair length of time before any background music came into the picture. Actually, the whole series could be seen as a slow build-up to their concert where the sound finally comes together but overall they’ve done a phenomenal job.


What is Given about?

I mean, we could talk about it as the story of a band that has no vocalist and after meeting Mafuyu at school, Uenoyama recruits him into the band but that barely scratches the surface. The story is very much about these two boys who are both pretty lost at the start of the series (for different reasons) who find new purpose after meeting and then have to deal with the growing feelings between themselves.

And unlike so many anime, this one doesn’t blink away from that. The characters confront their uncertainty about being in a same sex relationship, and about being in a band and in a relationship, head-on by the end of the season.


Both of these characters have baggage and they are both very much teenage boys. Communication becomes an issue on more than one occasion as does impatience and just a general lack of life experience. Of course, Mafuyu’s baggage is the driving force behind a lot of the drama, though watching Uenoyama figure out how to navigate the emotional fallout is at times quite difficult.

For those who find stories around suicide or domestic abuse a challenge to watch, while this one isn’t overly in your face around it, these ideas are most definitely a part of what have shaped Mafuyu and the quiet way the story addresses his past will probably open some emotional scars if you have them and it is probably wise to go in knowing that this content is there.

Outside of their individual drama, the band and preparing to perform just adds an additional layer of tension into the story and pressure to push the characters into action, as well as introducing two amazing supporting characters.


Whether it is band-mum Haruki or the harder to read Akihiko, the two older members of the band provide gentle teasing, support, an occasional word of advice, and their own drama into the story. What makes them amazing is that they don’t seem to exist just to revolve around the main pair. They really are characters in their own right with a lot on their own plates.

That is probably the most amazing accomplishment of Given is that every character feels like they could be the protagonist of their own story and we just see glimpses of that story as they pass through the main narrative. It makes the overall story feel complete and brings these characters to warm life in a way that definitely feels special.

At eleven episodes, Given paces itself well (though this didn’t carry over to the much shorter live action adaptation). The story is a slow burn but each step brings you closer to a climax well worth the wait. The aftermath is beautifully handled and the characters grow on the audience with each passing episode and while I might have started off wanting to protect Mafuyu and thinking the drummer was pretty good looking, I finished the series very much loving all of these boys and wanting the best for all of them in the future.

Whether they are dealing with their emotional baggage, choosing a name for the band, or actually up on the stage, just spending time with them and hanging out became a joy each and every week (even when things were going badly for them).


As for the shounen ai tag (or boy’s love), this one is free of a lot of the tropes that put people off the genre. No age gap of note, no forced physical contact (though there’s fairly limited physical content in general outside of a kiss – so if you are hoping for that side of things this one isn’t going to deliver) and so on. This one is just a sweet school romance between two boys finding their way and it does it so well.

Given isn’t without its issues. Conveniently snapping guitar springs (apparently synced more to emotional tension then any real reason for strings breaking), well timed or contrived conversations or comments, and an overly positive outcome do kind of bring down the overall standing of the story. However, that would probably matter more to someone who was trying to give this a numerical score.

For me, despite all of those issues and despite the clear restrictions in the quality because of the budget, I loved this anime and these characters. I went in expecting so little and what I got blew me away and moved me emotionally.


Clearly I recommend trying this anime if you haven’t. It will not work for everyone. That slow pace may really put you off in the early episodes or maybe sweet romance isn’t your thing with a bit of drama thrown in. The music aspect might appeal, however there’s limited development there as the music takes a backseat to their relationships in terms of screen time. Still, if you give it a go and watch it through, there’s definitely a solid build up through out the series and an emotional payoff worth waiting for. Now we just need that season two. However if you can’t wait you can check out a fun discussion about the movie as well as my review of the movie.

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

Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Kanata no Astra Review Episodes 11 + 12


The End Of The Journey, And The Beginning


Astra Lost in Space Episodes 11 + 12

For various reasons I didn’t get to take any screen grabs of these two episodes, though I’ll honestly have to watch them again anyway because even if I’d been trying to get images, I’d have been too engrossed in the story to remember to do it. Episodes 11 and 12 of Kanata no Astra deliver a suitable ending to what was one of the more interesting stories of the Summer anime season.

While the show isn’t without its flaws, the survival in space narrative with the kids uncovering the truth as to why they were sent into space in the first place was very nicely handled and made for pretty compelling viewing. With episode 12 going double length, as the first episode did, we’ve managed to wrap everything up nicely.

I will admit, I didn’t expect episode 11 to go that far. I kind of expected an emotional climax to the reveal of Charce being the traitor from episode 10, however I didn’t expect any character to get genuinely injured. Admittedly, given the technology level of the society it was clear that if they made it home they could do something about the injury, but still that must have been horrifically painful.

And that’s where Astra’s charm really works. We went from something that intense to the characters laughing about it and making jokes and it didn’t feel like a jarring shift. I’m not entirely sure I’d be laughing about it so soon after the incident and yet with this group, with how they had coped with things up until that point, it kind of worked.

I’m desperately trying to avoid outright spoilers because I do believe this is an anime you should definitely watch and guessing where it is going is half the fun. I do feel their arrival back home went a little too smoothly in the end. It felt like they needed one more stumbling block or at least some kind of conflict but it seems that everything did work out okay. Which made for an ending that allowed us to see where each character went next and how the society changed but felt a little bit far-fetched given the grand conspiracy they were about to reveal.

Still, that’s a minor nit-pick in an anime that was thoroughly enjoyable. I do plan on doing a binge watch of the whole thing before I write the series review but to be honest this is one anime I’d love to own on DVD so now I’ll just have to wait and see if it comes out in Australia at some point.

The full series review can be found here.

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

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Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.

Given Episode 11 – Outro


Laughing Rini

It’s Friday morning and I’m heading to work. This is relevant because for me Given airs on Thursdays. I watched the last episode last night. I actually put it off for a few hours – I wasn’t quite ready for an ending. Now, I’m on the bus and I just caught myself humming the end theme of the show as I have been doing all morning. I’m going to miss Given. I’m going to miss our chats about it too. Karandi, for the first time, you even texted me a little spoiler of your thoughts. I was excited!

Karandi - Avatar

Well, Given I’m hopelessly behind on everything else and I knew I’d be busy this weekend, I made sure to watch the episode when I got home from work Friday rather than leaving it until Saturday morning (when I’d probably end up not having time). That said, I’m really happy I watched the episode Friday afternoon, because it left me in such a great mood.


I was in a great mood too!

For a last time (this season, fingers crossed) let’s get into this week’s Given.

For a bit of context, last week ended on an actual cliffhanger as Mafuyu confessed his feelings to Uenoyama.

Remember when I said Ueno was a lovable dork? I stand corrected, he is the most lovable biggest dork. That surreal Being John Malkovich scene with all the Ueno’s partying had me literally cheering at my tv. I was hooting and applauding. This is how you illustrate the moment of romantic realization. From now on, I will only accept dinosaurs!

It was so brilliant. It took a moment that could have just been melodramatic and pretty standard and turned it into something that was funny, sweet, felt very real, and was an awesome character moment as well because this fit just perfectly with Uenoyama. I absolutely loved how they approached this.

On top of that, the conflict about not dating band mates because of all the potential complications felt very logical and in line with the characters. One of my big annoyances with romantic series is that to me the obstacles often seem contrived or simply non issues exaggerated for plot. The fact that this was an actual problem I could easily imagine in that situation really sold it for me.

I do that with my hair all the time

Because Haru is technically their band leader, I can see why Mayu and Ueno would think to go to him first.

Sidenote, I have been enjoying the many different hairstyles Haru sports throughout the season. This messy loose hair was particularly impressive to me. He looked both like himself and completely different.

I felt it also fit with Haruki being the unofficial band mum. It was like Ueno and Mafuyu were asking permission from their parents. And I agree, this didn’t felt like a conflict for the sake of drama, it felt like a genuine concern that these boys would have about starting a relationship, and so they dealt with it. Right then and there. It wasn’t a few episodes later after pining and angst. I really appreciated this upfront approach to the whole process.

Once again Ueno was the best in this scene. While Mayu was being his usual self and Haru was uncharacteristically stern, Ueno decided to go the unbearably adorable route. No wonder Haru cracked instantly. I think Ueno is going to make a good boyfriend. What do you think Karandi?

If there was ever any doubt that Uenoyama and Mafuyu were not good together, the scene with Haruki where they simultaneously hugged him definitely dispelled all doubts. The two have clicked beautifully and they definitely feel like a genuine couple in that honeymoon phase of silly happiness. My only worry is that Uenoyama is going to over-complicate the whole thing at some point causing some conflict further down the line, but for now the two are just adorable. 

personally I liked Ueno bowing

Kaji was true to form. Of course none of it was much of a surprise to him. Probably happy that both of them are going to stop moping now!

Now if Kaji could do something about Haruki. preach!

Ueno wanted to be the gallant gentleman again and it filled me with smiles. Mayu is much more comfortable and used to this type of situation than Ueno so I understand why each is acting this way. Still it was pretty funny to see their personalities more or less flipped from how they were in the first episode.

And you know what else was awesome. Finding out that the “real” Mayu, the one not wracked with guilt and pain, is a bit of a troll. He makes fun of Ueno offering to sing him a fight song while the other is struggling to carry his stuff. He playfully but very directly jabs Hiiragi when his old friends come to visit. It’s in his traditional airheaded way but kitten’s got some claws. Mayu’s sense of humour is sarcastic and I’m here for it!

Yes, I loved how it feels like after performing is song Mafuyu has opened up a little bit. He’s still Mafuyu but he’s definitely more playful and it is really fantastic getting to know him a bit more without him being more or less emotionally shut down because of grief. I want to see more of this Mafuyu and how he continues to change as his relationship with Ueno does.

we all want to see more!

We then jumped to the promo pictures scene which was another clear bit of fluffy fanservice but boy was it fun. This was probably one of the most cheerful and just plain amusing scenes we’ve had from Given. The boys all together and just having a grand old time. The promise of the band starting to materialize into something real.

It’s the moments like this that made Given shine through for me. Small scenes, unpretentious and unimpressive in isolation but so carefully balanced to let each character shine. It slowly builds each of them up not through exposition or backstory but through their interactions with each other. It’s a very naturalistic way of getting to know these people which makes them seem so much more real to me.

Absolutely. The boys giggling through the shoot, being embarrassed looking at the photos, but all working together to build up the band… It all feels very genuine and it is just fun. So much time has been put into making these characters feel real and every interaction between them reinforces what we know as well as gives us just a little bit more insight into them and it makes even these little moments feel so purposeful. I love it.

When it comes down to it, Ueno and Mayu are pretty similar, they like the same things and react in more or less like one another. It’s not that surprising that they would form a bond. On the other hand, Haru is more sensitive then the rest while Kaji is aimless. We got all that without even needing a line of direct dialogue to that effect. That’s what really impresses me.

There’s been a beautiful absence of exposition in this anime and honestly it is a welcome change. I know I enjoy isekai stories and the like but they end up fairly heavy on scenes that exist just to explain stuff. Given has been a very nice change of pace from that and one I really appreciated this season.

wow Kaji looks so over it in the promo!

This last episode was more divided than most. It was like a series of small acts or like a day in the life type of narrative. The evening was dedicated to Haru’s birthday. I’m not sure how I would react if my friends thought that celebrating meant throwing a pie in my face. Has that ever happened to you Karandi?

I think most people who would join me for my birthday have enough sense to know that throwing a pie in my face would not end well for anyone involved. Not to mention, what a waste of a pie.

The divisive nature of this final episode covering so many small moments was kind of perfect as the story isn’t done but it gave us a resting point of sorts as we saw where each of the characters were in their current journey as well as where the band is sitting right now. I would absolutely love another season, but this episode gave me a sense that this was a nice moment for a pause or a break.

At the tail end of the sequence we got one of the more melancholy moments of this episode as Haru finally shows some cracks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty easy to infer that Haruki is under a lot of pressure and not doing that great, but it’s the first time we actually hear him admit it to himself. Nothing big, just one of those small introspective moment, the type we often have on random milestones like birthdays. I’ve been there and so have most of my friends. It was such an intimately familiar moment that all I wanted to do was invent a way to communicate with drawings through my TV so I could tell him it would get better. It always does…

Haruki has a lot of pressure in his self-appointed role of band-mum and I think he needs to make sure the other members don’t get complacent and take advantage of him in that space. Of all the band members, he’s the most likely to burn out from the work load as he takes care of a lot. Uenoyama is likely to lose motivation, Mafuyu is clearly strongly effected by his emotions, and Kaji doesn’t seem to take on a lot of responsibility for the small details and seems like he’d be least effected if he walked away, but Haruki may genuinely suffer from the workload he’s taking on. Hopefully the rest of the band members step in before that happens.

and hopefully we’ll get to see it in season 2!

The final moments catch up with Mayu and Ueno having just stumbled unto a summer festival and sharing a quiet moment before going home. It ended on a series of cheerful and optimistic still shots and then left us in the middle of a sentence, just as Mayu is about to explain what his next song will be. That is the exact perfect spot to end it.

All in all, this last episode was very gleeful and lighthearted again. Once more it skewed more towards comedy which I know is not your thing but it’s very much mine! Despite the fact that there were no more physical displays of affection, I think this was one of the more romantic episodes if not the most romantic one. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for anything else. Now I am majorly conflicted since I definitely want more but at the same time, it seems pretty much perfect as is.

How did you like this last episode Karandi?

Agreed. It was a perfect ending point for the season. And the comedy skew isn’t a problem in this kind of story after everything we’ve been through. Particularly since the comedy feels like the boys celebrating everything up until now and shows Mafuyu coming out of his shell. It doesn’t feel like the intense tonal shifts Demon Slayer goes through when it changes between drama and comedy, and it isn’t comedy as the only point as everything here is still character or plot driven. I know I normally just say I don’t like comedy, but that’s because it is normally like bad fan-service and intrudes on the story and adds little to character or plot. When it is done well, and actually funny, even I can admit it works.

But come on… season 2? I’ve had so much fun with this story and these characters and I have loved the whole journey, not to mention just seeing how this show has been put together because there’s been some great choices with the direction and the music has been solid. Besides, I’d love to review more with you as it has been an absolute delight discussing this one each week.

now I’m blushing…

Maybe as a subconscious defence against losing Given (at least for now) I almost immortalized the last episode by taking a ridiculous amount of screen shots (even by my standards). But also because of the way the episode was structured, with all those different acts, the visuals really changed quite a bit throughout. I didn’t end up with a ton of images that looked more or less identical like I usually do. Long story short: there’s a gadjillion screencaps HERE.

*I took a break while writing, it’s several hours later. I’m still humming that song….


Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Given Episode 10 – A Lighter Note

Given ep10 1023

Laughing Rini


You know what I’ve come to realize. I love a dork. Both in anime and in real life. Dorks are just the best. They’re fun and all innocent and nice. You just want to give them a hug and pat their heads or something. Dorks always make everything better. I will always be proud to call a dork a friend. You know what else I’ve come to realize, Uenoyama is just a huge dork! I love him!

Karandi - Avatar


Uenoyama is an adorable dork and let’s hope he stays that way. Going to be honest and just let you know that when I watched this episode I look a lot like Mafuyu did early on and so my focus is all over the place. Still, I was left with the impression that I enjoyed the episode so let’s press on and pretend that I’ll make some sense.

I agree it was an amazing episode!

After the tense emotional episode, we had last week, we knew that Given would have to deal with the aftermath. Both of the performances and that kiss, which had been just left hanging there with no real conclusion.

Seeing as Given is a show that was written specifically for me, it dealt with these things just the way I liked it. With lighthearted humour and a goofy touch as my second favourite dork, Uenoyama only realized the next day what exactly had happened at the show! Of all the approaches they could have chosen, they went with fun! Thoughts?

It definitely went with the idea that the whole kiss had happened very much in the heat of the moment and as an impulse. So impulsive apparently that Uenoyama didn’t even immediately recall it. That definitely worked with last week and with what we know of these characters, and was just kind of fun – not to mention gave a meaningful reason for flashbacks of certain scenes which I was not opposed to having a flashback of. 

so picky

I once wrote that Given is a show full of nice people. I hadn’t realized just how right I was. The girl who went to middle school with Mayu not only attended the show but sympathized with him on a deeply human level. Take took it upon himself to make a video of their performance and later immediately became their first Twitter follower! Despite his snide comments Murata seems to really want to help them progress and my buddy Hiiragi was relieved to the point of tears that Mayu found his voice…

These are all very nice people, I really appreciate that Given takes the time to give them their own lives. Supporting characters is what makes the world seem alive.

I’ll admit, this is something I normally appreciate in Given but this week, with my own focus so broken I honestly had to stop the episode and go back through previous notes just to remember who she was and why it mattered that she went to his concert. I’m certain that normally this would have had a bit more impact on me but largely I found the additional characters at school a little distracting this week as I was struggling to follow what was happening. That’s entirely due to my own being sick and nothing to do with the episode though.


So they succumbed to the sick boy trope… Pun intended! I don’t think I can put my feelings on this into words. Karandi – help!!!

I found my spirit-animal this week in Mafuyu as he lay in bed with the cooling patch on his head. Given that had been my state for most of last this made me smile a little bit. That, and tropes are easy to follow because they don’t require a lot of thought from the audience so this part of the episode was much easier on my brain.

I like that they came up with the name Given in such a silly and casual way. Although, I’m just a tiny bit sorry they didn’t decide to name themselves, Salted Tongue! Of the double entendres!

Yeah, the story works because you hear of so many bands picking names fairly randomly. I’m glad they didn’t go on and on about it but just got to it and went with it.

Given ep10 -5(11) - Copy
missed opportunity I tell you!

It’s a very small thing but to me, Mafuyu going to buy strings by himself was a huge leap. Somehow, it seems unthinkable that the boy we met in episode 1 would be capable of such a thing. It’s an actual marker of character growth and of Mayu slowly coming out of the shock and grief that had him paralyzed.

I know it wasn’t presented with the emotional gut punch that last week’s show was, but this is the scene that did it for me. The one that made me think, oh wow, it might be o.k. Things might work out. Am I overthinking this? 

I don’t think it is over thinking it. Given has shown us a number of times how carefully crafted the story is with multiple things linking back to previous events and ideas. That said, I didn’t really think about it until you mentioned it but Mafuyu buying strings by himself is a massive leap and a great sign of him not being dependent on Uenoyama which would make it hard to really get behind a relationship between the two.

you could do worse for a spirit animal

We didn’t get to see too much of first dork Haru this episode. The early scene with Take was funny though. This said, he and Kaji really make a great odd couple. I’ll admit, Murata was just oozing sexiness this episode but Kaji is just so much more fun when he’s with Haruki. There’s no point to this paragraph, I’m just trying to drag Karandi over to team Haru. Apparently, that’s what matters to me right now!

I’m all for shipping Kaji with Haru, I just still think Murata has more sex appeal in general. That said, if he messes with Mafuyu it will be war. His comment about him needing a trigger to bring out his potential set off alarm bells in my fevered brain and I hope I don’t have to declare war on a fictional character but I may just go there.

I agree

The last scene between Mayu and Ueno parallels then end tag between Yuki and Mayu last episode. Both not quite dates, both by the sea and in places that Mafuyu has never visited before. But this is the Mayu I was expecting. Excited and nervous. Both of them standing side by side instead of walking one behind the other.

It was such a happy and sweet scene in contrast with the cold slightly depressing one we got last week. I loved it!

It was perfect. It made me smile even though I was exhausted from focusing on the episode and just wanted to go back to bed. It also made me really sad this season is ending soon.

Given ep10 -9(21) - Copy
you have been warned!

Karandiiiiiii, I don’t want next week to be the last episode. I mean it makes sense, this is the perfect spot to stop the story but also I don’t wanna. What’s gonna happen with Haru and Kaji? Given JUST got their name! Who’s gonna make my Thursday nights gleeful? I don’t want them to be a one hit wonder!

Yeah, we definitely need a sequel here though in the grand tradition of brilliant shows  this one will probably not get a part two meanwhile somehow Granblue Fantasy did and I’m still wondering how on earth that happened.

You know how you can relive all the fun of this episode? By looking at all the screencaps I took! Yup, Gallery is over HERE

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Given Episode 9 – Resolution


Laughing Rini

At this point Given is just plain bullying me! It’s toying with my feelings! It plays on Thursday evening which is almost Friday but not. So you’re tired from your week but it’s not the weekend yet and this lovely little piece of sound and tranquility just swoops in as a salve to my restless mind and I have no one to talk about it with. Well…until a few hours later. I’m not the most patient sort. This week’s episode hit me square in the heart and I immediately wanted to tell my feelings at someone. But I also didn’t want to spoil anything. In the end, I simply texted Karandi the single word “whoa” without context or explanation. She puts up with a lot you guys…

Karandi - Avatar

And given I can’t watch Given most weeks until Saturday morning, I had this random ‘whoa’ staring at me in my DM and I was wondering just what I was in for (though after thinking about it I at least realised Irina must be referring to the most recent episode). After I finally got to watch the episode, I actually kind of understand exactly where Irina was coming from. There was a long time after the episode ended where I just kind of sat staring at the video that wasn’t playing anymore in silence trying to get my thoughts together. I also seriously caught Irina’s screen-cap problem this week. 

Let’s put it to good use

As always, I was a little afraid for this episode. Given has my full buy in by now but I still don’t want to see it slip even if I will still love it. Last week ended on one of the most openly dramatic scenes we’ve had. And as I mentioned the abuse reveal was a bit of a sour note for me. So now, with things at an impasse, I had to wonder how much seething and hand wringing and frustrating misunderstandings would I have to sit through before we got to the good stuff?

Turns out none. Because Haru Fixes Everything!!!! I should have known that. It’s not like the fact that Haru is the best was a secret or anything…

Nut honestly, Haru really did come through in the exact way that I like. Mayu broke a Guitar string – Ueno go get more and fix the guitar string. Solved! You’re a fan of drama Karandi, were you disappointed by such a quick and fairly easy resolution?

kids these days, you gotta tell them everything

I absolutely loved this sequence. That absolute devastation falling between Uenoyama and Mafuyu with Kaji just standing there stunned. It was one of those moments where everything just kind of stopped. Then, band mum Haruki comes to the rescue and gets everyone moving and tells everyone what they need to get done.

Besides, I really don’t like contrived drama and this show managed to give us the real drama of the moment without being ridiculous about it. Sure, the broken string represents more than just a broken string, but as Haruki points out, Uenoyama was the one who fixed the strings in the first place. If it is broken, fix it again.

well, you got other qualities

As Ueno went dashing out for a string, we saw his sister again. She has always been there for him, but I think we really got to see how much Yayoi worries and cares about her brother. I thought that was sweet. And he’s a bit of an airhead, typical careless little brother that doesn’t even notice. They have a nice sibling relationship and it’s unexpected in this type of story.

Here I feel a little differently. I feel that as one of the very few female characters in the story, the sister is getting incredibly short changed as she’s left wringing her hands on the sidelines as neither Uenoyama nor Kaji give her the time of day during the crisis. I think a little more from her along the way would have been nice but honestly until you mentioned her name then, I didn’t even know what it was.

I mean..just..gwah

Once Ueno returns with guitar strings, Kaji and Haru head down to prepare their set. This may be just me but the scene on the stairs was…forget the flowery words. It was hot. I don’t know what I found so…hot. I just did. Specifically when Kaji leans just out of camera to speak to Haru and we only see his arm and part of his back. There’s something about the framing and the way the camera centres on the wall that makes the entire thing seem so voyeuristic and naughty. Just me??? Don’t care, standing by my perversion.

Agreed, that was definitely hot. 

we’ll try

It is interesting how the relationship between Uenoyama and Mafuyu is always framed as sweet, innocent and a little bit fumbling but Kaji is always framed with Haruki as being quite aggressive and domineering. This scene in particular had him on the step above Haruki (admittedly because he was following Haruki down a staircase) but then looming over him. His words were soft and actually quite supportive but the body language sent an entirely different message and I desperately want to know if Kaji is serious or just messing with Haruki.

Again, this is part of the reason I found this episode incredibly moorish when it came to grabbing images. Every scene and sequence just seemed so well thought out with each cut and angle purposeful. Honestly, the story and characters hit a dramatic high this week but so did the already very solid direction for this series. It was intense.

ok the not speaking thing was cute but…

All through the first half of the episode, the tension slowly melts away. Haru’s gentle but firm direction had stirred everyone into action and Ueno did his best to say his piece. Kaji got some optimism back and everyone rallied under a renewed sense of purpose to just get on stage. But Mayu didn’t say a word. He thought things through, his body language loosened but he remained completely silent, even when spoken to. That was such a nice touch!

It was like being back at the first few times Mafuyu met with the band. Which much like the whole string changing was a nice throwback to where all of this started. This episode was very good at bringing things full circle before charging ahead.

hey look, a boy with a guitar in a staircase

Of course, we all knew Mayu would sing. It’s in the opening credits of the show…  And we all know what he sounds like….it’s also in the opening (and closing) credits of the show. But this extended song and flashback focused much more on his voice than the OP and ED do. I looked it up and his voice actor Shōgo Yano is not a singer at all! I quite liked his voice it had a nasally twang but was also unusually light and clear. A very distinctive sound that fits the “natural talent” tag well in my opinion.

I actually didn’t know if he was going to sing or not. I figured if he didn’t sing this time, they might try to squeeze another performance in before the end of the series (which seemed insane) but it didn’t seem to be a given that this was the time he was going to open up.

Which made it so much better. And I totally agree that his voice really fits the ‘natural talent’ label very well. I finally agree with Uenoyama that Mafuyu’s voice is incredibly compelling and honestly that whole sequence was so raw and moving it was impossible not to feel like you were being suffocated by conflicting emotions.

of course Yuki means snow…

I don’t have much to say about the performance. I might be lying. It was everything I hoped for. I enjoyed the music, loved the voice and the flashback told me what I needed to know. It felt cathartic and like a grand release. Letting out a breath you hadn’t realized you were holding in. And it told a small story. I adore the small stories. Just two normal people find each other and holding onto for a little while. And then, suddenly, everything’s different and the world is colder. A story that happens all the time.

And one tiny little person was now all alone. Desperate to survive grief and guilt. To get to the point where he could even feel warmth again. So, he let it out in a song. That’s all I really wanted and that’s exactly what I got.


All the build up of Yuki and Mafuyu’s story, and all the parts we had seen already, seemed to come together in this performance, which is clearly what they were aiming for. It would have been a fine close for that whole narrative though the post credits sequence of this episode seemed to disagree but we’ll talk about that later.

I think the most devastating moment for me was seeing Ueno turn into Yuki in Mayu’s mind. I love Ueno (he’s my second favourite and most relatable) and that crushed me. Mayu’s not ready yet. Or at least he wasn’t ready. That’s normal. But it’s always a little difficult when people’s feelings have to adjust to each other.

beautiful screencap, I’m going to pin it

And then of course there was the backstage kiss. I don’t know if that’s what people are going to remember and talk about. I hope not. I did like it. It was quick and falsely casual. Oddly weightless. It was over in an instant and then gone. To me, it wasn’t the important point of the episode. Simply one of the many side-effects of Mayu’s first steps towards healing. But what about you?

It felt like such an impulsive moment for Uenoyama and I assume the two will have to figure out the implications later, but in terms of this episode, it really was a there and gone moment. There’s so much else that has so much more impact, and I felt this was a really good decision.

I still remember all the arguments over whether Yuri and Victor actually kissed in Yuri on Ice and I just felt the argument more or less missed the point that their relationship was so much more than whether or not the audience saw them kiss. Here Ueno and Mafuyu do clearly kiss but it is not treated as a big deal. Uenoyama realising he was jealous of Mafuyu’s former lover was treated as a more dramatic turning point for them. Whereas this seems more like an outpouring of emotions in the moment and then the moment passed and Uenoyama returned to the stage leaving Mafuyu to process… well, everything.

you ain’t seen nothing yet

I was glad we had a few seconds of post show celebration to enjoy. Kaji and Haru getting drunk as I like them best, Ueno getting back to himself and Mayu and Hiragii marking their journey together. I very fitting conclusion.

It was a nice wrap up even if we know that there’s clearly more to come and the implications of various things will have to be dealt with sooner or later. For now though, the characters deserved that moment of celebration.

When the closing credits started to roll, I literally screamed at my TV that there was “No Way”!!! And I was right! There was an extended after credits tag of a short date between Yuki and Mayu.

cause he liked him! So cute!

This sequence left me confused. I didn’t know how to feel about it. It was oddly grim and uncomfortable. I only realized this morning what was off for me. To me, it was as if Mayu was somewhat over his relationship with Yuki. He really didn’t seem that interested or into it at that point. While Yuki was still quite smitten. If anything, this is the opposite of what I had assumed, and it threw me off.

If that’s the case, it probably made poor Mayu feel 10 times guiltier!!!!

Karandi is out of relevant screencaps – my apologies, I only took twice as many as normal, couldn’t cover this episode still.

Yes, this post credits sequence gave us our clearest scene yet with Yuki and Mafuyu. Not told through someone else’s point of view or a silent flashback but an actual scene of the two together as they walked along that beach.

Again, this wasn’t what I expected as it felt like they’d closed the story, and yet I realise how perfect it was. We had never heard about Yuki from Mafuyu’s point of view and we’d never really just scene the two of them in action. Static images, flashbacks from various perspectives, the two as young children, but seeing the two together as they were was a new experience and seemed to indicate that Mafuyu can now face those memories.

the subtitle says it all

I didn’t take it as though Mafuyu was over the relationship though. More that he hadn’t given it specific definition. His pointing out that Yuki hadn’t asked him out and that others assumed they were together, though he didn’t seem to object to that idea, kind of felt like his usual difficulty in expressing himself or understanding his own feelings. 

There are two episodes of Given left. Despite what I have said, I fully intend to binge every manga volume available the second the season ends.

In the meantime, I have my galleries to keep me going….

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Kanata no Astra Review Episode 10


Unmasking the Villain


Astra Lost in Space Episode 10

Okay, we’re up to the answer to the question we’ve had since the beginning when an idea of the traitor in the midst was first floated in Astra Lost in Space so if you are wanting to watch this without spoilers I’d strongly suggest not reading this review.


Naturally we begin the episode with Polina demanding an explanation of the kids not knowing what Earth was and the planet Astra. This led to a fairly in-depth discussion about historical events, similarities and differences and the ultimate conclusion that Astra is the planet that the people of Earth evacuated to prior to it being hit by an asteroid.


However, it also gave us the conclusion that someone had deliberately altered the history for people living on Astra and there are some glaring inconsistencies that I guess we’ll find out the cause or soon. I did like that the sphere is nicely explained as is the kids’ appearance above the frozen and dead world (former Earth). It all comes together in a very nice manner so even though we’ve got questions still, this series has been pretty satisfying in how it has delivered on its mysteries.


Putting aside all of those thoughts, the kids arrive on the final world before the home stretch and immediately begin scavenging food when there’s a touching moment between Kanata and Aries, right before Kanata is chased by the sphere once again. This actually leads Kanata to consult with Aries and put together an actual conclusion about the traitor and he then puts into action a plan to catch him.


I’m actually not sure whether I like that it is the person who has been most suspicious for a very long time or not but I do have to accept that this is a very logical reveal. After all, he’d been cornered previously and talked his way out of it but it had felt a little off at the time:

“I’m not going to put money on it but it all just felt far too smooth. Honestly, it feels like Charce is playing them a little bit here and doing a great job of plucking just the right heart strings. That feeling was further reinforced when he went back to his room later and seemingly apologised to the picture.”

Episode 7 Review

This was another solid episode and as usual left us wanting more but still with a lot to digest. That’s probably where this is different from a lot of shounen shows that spend a whole episode in build up to leave you hanging but what you got is pretty thin other than setting up a fight or the like. Here there’s a lot to get through and to process so even though there’s more to come you aren’t left feeling as disappointed.

The full series review can be found here.

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

Want To Read More About Astra Lost in Space?

Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.

Given Episode 8 – Chorus


Laughing Rini

I love these shows. You know, the shows that sneak up on you. The ones you pick up on a whim without any particular expectations and then they build slowly. Layer by layer. Moment by moment. Before you know it, you’re wrapped up in all those layers, immersed in a universe you would otherwise never have had a chance to visit. You can’t pinpoint the moment it happened. You don’t know what exactly made you fall. But you’re in love. I love these shows. I remember when I fell very hard for a young man with a yokai cat.

Karandi - Avatar

That is actually a pretty good comparison and I’m feeling much the same way after this episode. Where other shows I’ve been watching this season have either plateaued or seem to be struggling a little in the mid-season, Given has gone from strength to strength and this episode was incredibly to watch. I’m not sure when I went from enjoying this show to loving it, but I know in the final minutes of this episode that I was completely in love with this anime.

You know, there’s a line in Natsume’s Book of Friends that has always stuck with me for some reason. After being shifted from foster family to sometimes abusive foster family, Natsume is talking to one of the very few acquaintances he seems a little more comfortable with. When they talk about his next family, she mentions that the seem like nice people. Natsume quietly says: They were all nice people. Those words got under my skin.

Kaji looks great holding a violin

Everyone in Given is a nice person. A really nice person in fact. They care about their friends and those around them. They’re respectful and accepting. They help when they can and tear themselves down when they can’t. Nice people can hurt each other the most. Seeing exactly that play out left me just a little bit of a mess and I liked it.

Yes, there’s no villain here. The characters are going through things and hurting but there’s no character you could point to as the bad guy. Even the petty girl at school apologised for stepping over a line and became just another nice person who made a poor decision when she gave into jealousy and the story quietly moved on. But, these nice people are hurting and it feels like they are about to tear each other apart. On the one hand I hate the thought of it and on the other I’m dying to know how they come out the other side of it.

even mayu’s pencils ae orange…

This is the closest thing we’ve had to an open conflict in this season of Given (like how I’m subtly implying there’ll be more?). Mafuyu seems to have hit a wall with the lyrics. He wagered too much on it. Promised to be raw and honest and now, everything he’s been avoiding in order to cope is hitting him in the face.  Meanwhile, the remaining band members can only sit and stew in their frustration…

Of course, it’s Given. So, the most dramatic confrontation we get is awkward silence and shortened tempers. The scene of Ueno accidentally running into a zoned-out Mayu in the street was adorably awkward. I have been on both ends of that interaction.

The interaction on the street, like most parts of this episode, was quietly awkward, and utterly heartbreaking. I think what really struck me, other than the glorious pacing this episode gave each part, dwelling just long enough on scenes to have the discomfort really sink in, was the way we started the episode with grey skies, then it began raining, and then it got darker and rainier in ongoing scenes. Sure, it is a little on the nose in terms of atmosphere, but I can’t argue against how effective this was in developing that sense of a storm brewing for these characters at the end of the episode.

this isn’t the same scene, but you get the idea – so much light!

So violin boy has a boyfriend. My guess is either Kaji never actually went for it beyond what we’ve seen, and he’s been living with a one-sided crush this whole time, explaining why he describes such a friendly relationship in such painful terms, or they did have a breakup but managed to remain quite close. They honestly seem like friends. What a refreshingly mature portrait. Despite my devotion to Haruki, this is possibly the first time something akin to a love triangle seems appealing to me. Karandi?

Seeing more of Murata this week, I love him as a character but I really don’t want Kaji getting together with him. Whether they did in the past or not is still ambiguous, but Murata seems like very high maintenance and too demanding for a relationship to really work out long term. Besides, he says of his boyfriend that he only likes his face. While it is nice to have such a blunt character in a story filled with more considerate ones, and it is nice he isn’t an antagonist, the idea of him with Kaji isn’t working for me. So, Murata for character that intrigues me the most, but I’m definitely shipping Haruki with Kaji. Whether that works out or not, who knows.

because he’s worth it!

Speaking of Haruki, he really does take care of everyone. Even has disposable umbrellas!

Yes, Haruki is so the band mum.

Band mums are not high maintenance…Just sayin’

Let me just say that on my part, I am loving Hiragi. I went on a bit about him in past posts both with you and in the gallery posts. I enjoy his characterization a lot. He more or less personifies all of Mayu’s pain and guilt yet it’s softened because the writers wisely gave him his own persona. He is frustrated and lost and dealing with his own difficulties and grief, yet he remains a kind and caring friend.  Balancing all those feelings out must have been exhausting and I’m impressed he came out not only bearable but actually impressive. It also made me really empathize with him even though we’ve barely seen him.

It doesn’t hurt that all the scenes he’s been in have been some of my favourites.

Yes, he’s been incredibly well written for a character with limited screen time. His impact has been fantastic and there’s a lot to think about with him and his relationship to Mafuyu. I really loved the scene with him standing outside of Mafuyu’s house and him holding the phone and waiting in the rain. It was quiet with just the rain and the buzzing phone and it lingered uncomfortably long before Mafuyu took action but it really gave us time to consider Hiragi’s character and what he wanted. 

But I like you!

So, we finally got a glimpse of the famous Yuki and what happened. Was it everything you expected?

I don’t know. I mean, it was great seeing their childhood and the developing relationship. It was wonderful to see the argument between them, because teenage boys are going to have silly arguments and normally that would be nothing but with Yuki gone it gives it a whole lot more guilt. 

I feel it is still a little ambiguous as to what the cause of Yuki’s actions were. It feels like there’s more to learn in this situation. What we got gave us enough to know that Mafuyu and Hiragi’s pain is warranted but it wasn’t enough for me to get a real sense of who Yuki is and the choices he made, if that makes sense.

It does, at least to me. We got to know Yuki just like anyone else who had never really met him. We got to know a memory of Yuki from people who really aren’t ready to remember him yet. 

I know I’m basic but little Mayu is heartmeltingly adorable

Aso, I have to say I’m not crazy about the Abuse angle. It was handled well. Yuki’s line that a real father doesn’t do that was perfect. But it’s an element that feels superfluous and unnecessary in an otherwise gregariously balanced story. Yuki’s passing is more than enough tragedy, they really don’t need to add on more. It does however quickly explain just how deep and important the bond with Yuki was for Mayu. Still, a rare misstep in my opinion.

This did seem like a little too much. I mean, it makes sense given Mafuyu seems to really struggle with interactions with others, but honestly I agree that it was superfluous. It was a rare moment of seemingly adding drama for the sake of it and Given has been very good about not just randomly piling on problems for the characters but letting them deal with their current issues in interesting ways.

It’s finally time for the show but somethings obviously off. Hiragi may have gotten things off his chest. In the long run, this will be for the better but right now Mafuyu’s in crisis. He’s once again retreated deep into himself, but he no longer had the luxury of ignoring his feelings. His suffering is seeping out and dragging down everyone around. The cracks are starting to show!

it felt horrible

I reality all that happened was that Mayu couldn’t sing at rehearsal and still hasn’t shared his lyrics (if he has any). It’s basically a case of stage fright. Yet all the patient built up and character development makes it feel like it’s the End Of The World! It’s a test for Mayu’s heart. If he can push through and open up, maybe he’ll find someone who can support and help him like Yuki did. If not, then he’ll have to fight through by himself yet again.

My heart was definitely breaking during that rehearsal and then as the band quietly waited. The final moments of the episode when Ueno finally turned on Mafuyu, totally understandably as a decision has to be made before they end up on stage but it might just be enough to break Mafuyu. Again, no villains, but a lot of pain here and I want both of them to be alright but I’m struggling to see how that is going to happen next week.

Question though, do you think they’ll even get to perform in the end or do you think they are about to entirely tear the band apart?


I’m an optimist at heart and going from the OP, I’m going to vote with Yes – they will perform. And change their band name to Given? Or maybe it’s the song name?

A great episode, one of my favourites so far. I took close to hundred caps which sounds unreasonable when you just say it like that, but in reality, it’s really unreasonable… It’s a good thing the show only has a few episodes left. I’m really putting that unlimited media storage claim to the test!

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Kanata no Astra Review Episode 9


The Answers (Or At Least Some of Them)


Astra Lost in Space Episode 9

Bombshell after bombshell this week in Kanata no Astra. It is interesting when an actual confession and engagement between two young characters is not the biggest news in an episode. I mean normally, characters actually committing to a relationship would be an explosion worthy event, but here, amongst the opening revelations and the final reveal (both of which have been heavily telegraphed but still worked really well) Zack’s declaration that he and Quitterie were getting married and that she was his fiancée just kind of felt like comedic filler to soften us up before the end.

Straight forward declaration of romance – we need more of these.

There’s no way to review this episode without spoilers so here’s the warning for those who haven’t been watching the show – I am about to go through the reveals.


The episode opened by confirming a lot of what we’d been suspecting and that is that all the kids are in fact clones and the reason they’ve been dumped in space is most likely because of the new law that got passed on their home planet. I kind of called it last week and had been wondering about it for awhile, but I did get one crucial thing wrong:


We also get some more wondering about how all these kids ended up getting spaced and after some blood testing results raise at least one interesting point I think we’re back to wondering about the whole new law on Earth and whether or not all these kids are cloned or part of some kind of experiment and are now being hidden from compulsory DNA testing.”

Karandi – episode 8 review.


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Yeah, it is a big thing I got wrong here. And it wasn’t so much the idea of it being an experiment, though it wasn’t. It was actually a really horrible plot by a group of people who legitimately need the award for worst parents ever (though I guess most of them didn’t see themselves as parents) and it tied in with Zack’s father’s memory transference research and I guess we should have put that thread together. But no, the thing I actually got wrong was that it wasn’t a law on Earth.


End of the episode they finally can see their home using the newly repaired telescope and I realised that not one of them actually called it Earth. And then Polina saw the screen and she called it out. That wasn’t Earth. It wasn’t her home. But it was theirs.


So now we have to wonder is there a connection between Earth and the planet Astra where the kids have come from. Was Polina only in that capsule for 12 years, or given it is a different planet could it have been a lot longer. Like, she was searching for a new home for Earth because of some disaster and then she went into hibernation. Humans colonised the new world and many generations later they have now come across her? Maybe.


I love that despite getting a lot of answers there’s still so much to wonder about. I can’t wait for the next episode.

The full series review can be found here.

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

Want To Read More About Astra Lost in Space?

Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.

Given Episode 7 – Diminuendo


Laughing Rini

This show! This show is just not letting up! It’s just relentless with the subtle quality writing and light-handed yet profound characterization. How am I supposed to watch a romance series after this and not roll my eyes at teary outbursts over a missed call or something? I’m going to be even more ruined for drama than I was. This is mean.

Wait, are you not supposed to lay out the entire core of your post in the opening paragraph. Karandi, you know how to do this writing thing, help me out!

Karandi - Avatar

Nope. I’m with you. I’m utterly and completely glued to this show while it is playing and when the episode ends I feel a deep sense of loss. I want it to be over so that I can binge the whole thing from the beginning uninterrupted and just embrace every single moment of it. It isn’t that Given is flawless or that it will work for everyone, but it has captivated me at this point and I’m very happy to be taken on a ride with this story and these characters.

This being a love story, and a gay one at that in a time and place where there still is a taboo, having Ueno slowly come to grips with his feelings was always going to be a challenge for him. The end of the last episode set it up nicely, as he internalized and tried to digest his sudden jealousy and frustration towards Mayu. As the show itself says it, love isn’t always a particularly pleasant feeling. And for Ueno, there’s a lot to assimilate.

But the boy is a big dork and a somewhat childish one at that. Unsurprisingly those feelings came lashing out almost right away. Now I don’t *like* the fact that Ueno is being so hard on Mayu during rehearsal. If I knew these guys, I would tell him to cut it out. But I loved it as a bit of character building. That impatient and unfair bit of pettiness out of a generally calm and nice character betrays just how confused and lost he is. What’s your take on it, K?

good work Haruki

It is another moment where I realised how real these characters feel. This isn’t the tsundere nastiness from a character who will two seconds later internally be squealing that they didn’t mean it. Ueno is lashing out and he doesn’t really know what he’s doing or why he’s doing it. It is also great to see Kaji and Haruki reacting like real people to the situation. They don’t just stand there while one character verbally assaults another and then rationalise it that that’s just how that person is. They actively intervene in the situation and continue to monitor the two throughout the episode.

Let me set the scene real quick. With the upcoming live show looming, the boys have been practising like crazy but Mafuyu seems to have hit a wall. His guitar skills aren’t improving as much as Ueno would like and he hasn’t been able to make any progress on the lyrics. This is the excuse (but not the reason) for a frazzled Ueno to snap at him during practice, prompting Kaji to take him outside for a breath of fresh air and a frank talk.

and also a drink

Last week featured some of the scenes I was dreading the most. I.e. dragging out Mafuyu’s tragic past (and there may still be more of that to come). This week had the scene that had the most potential for disaster, in my opinion. The open talk about homosexuality. This to me was one of the biggest tour de force Given has pulled.

The conversation between Ueno and Kaji was a little awkward, a little silly, a little poignant. Given acknowledged the difficulty and uneasiness that comes with a non-traditional relationship then simply moved on. Kaji said, it’s not weird and instead concentrated on why Ueno was being such a brat and how he had to be supportive of a friend who’s struggling Because that’s what the important part really was. It sounds simple laid out like that, but it’s something few shows pull off. I almost could have missed this pivotal moment in story and character development. I was floored. And I even giggled a few times.

I think the conversation between Kaji and Ueno was important but for me it was one of the weaker moments in the episode (okay, it was still excellent but that probably just indicates the strength of some of the other moments). For me, Kaji this episode felt like he was trying to impose his own romantic experience onto his interpretation of Ueno and Mafuyu and it felt a little off. Then again, it kind of makes sense given these characters all feel very real and a character judging someone else’s romance based on their own experience makes perfect sense. 

Did I just throw my own point out the window? Probably. 

window! nice

We pretty much already knew that Kaji’s dark-haired roommate was more to him than a simple friend but somehow it was still nice seeing it. There’s something more there. Kaji speaks in such painful terms of their time together yet everything we saw was pleasant and loving. The two still live together and apparently share the one bed but there doesn’t seem to be any romantic side at the moment. 

Maybe there never was. From what we saw, it’s not impossible that Kaji only ever had a once sided unrequited love. He may not even have confessed beyond that hug we saw. This might be why he’s so keen on helping out Ueno and why he seems to understand him so well.

this guy ruined my conspiracy theory that all anime violinists are blonde… nothing but trouble I tell you

Also, Kaji has the weirdest laugh!

Kaji’s past, despite getting quite a few glimpses of it this episode, still remains fairly ambiguous with multiple possibilities presenting themselves. Again, this is great writing. None of these characters are as simple as ‘tragic backstory’ or ‘failed romantic history’. They have these attributes but fleshed out into something that feels far more real and satisfying.

By the way, Murata, the roommate, may be my new favourite boy in this show, assuming of course he hasn’t done something truly horrible to Kaji in the past. Still, I wouldn’t mind him getting a lot more screen time.

I strongly disagree, he’s evil. More Haruki.

In the second rehearsal scene, Kaji suggests that they stop practising together until the concert so that each can just concentrate on their own part. Not a bad idea. And they split up, Kaji taking Mayu home and Haruki driving Ueno. Once again they are mixing up the characters in different groups. I love that. It really goes a long way to make them feel like they’re all friends, instead of two couples or one main character and sidekicks.

Absolutely. The relationships are a web rather than a line or rather than radiating from a single main character. It helps to make it feel like they all have an existence beyond the story and that they all are acting based on their own desire rather than because the plot made them. It is fantastic to watch and so well done because if any one of these characters dropped the ball it would hit the story hard.

I like him because of how lighthearted he is

I love all these boys but I have to admit, I got a soft spot for band mom Haruki. I’ve always been a big fan of the dorky good guy and he’s one of the most endearing examples I’ve seen in recent years. Violin boy is pretty and all. I’m sure he’s super talented. But I’m team Haruki all the way!

OOhhhh, can we get T-Shirts?

T-Shirts are always a good way to declare your allegiance to fictional characters. Particularly ones no one who sees you wearing it will ever get the reference to. Okay, I might have a small hang-up over the fact that nobody ever gets the Firefly reference on one of my favourite T-Shirts. A quote from the wonderful Wash and people just look at my shirt and wonder why there are dinosaurs on it.

Though I would probably love a shirt that had Protect Mafuyu on it. I could totally get behind that sentiment. I actually got a little nervous when Kaji seemed to be deliberately poking at his wounds. I get what Kaji is trying to accomplish and for the sake of the band they kind of need to get some resolution on the current situation, but still. I just wanted to hug Mafuyu and tell Kaji to go for a long ride elsewhere.

I can hug Kaji, Mayu’s already in good hands

It’s episode 7 and I’m starting to worry a bit about Given coming to an end. I have no clue what’s going to happen. I hope they wrap it up nicely. I’m going to need some memorabilia. Like a *t-shirt maybe….

Best I can find for this one at the moment is the soundtrack (affiliate link), though all things considered I wouldn’t mind that if it wasn’t quite as pricey. I don’t know what is going to happen either but I’m wondering if they are aiming to end this with the concert given there’s apparently only 4 episodes left.

This week’s screencaps have been brought to you by Karandi. I do have a whole extra bunch of them in my gallery post if you are interested.

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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