Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7 – Past Traumas Losing Their Bite

Sasaki to Miyano episode 7 Review

This week Sasaki to Miyano addresses Miyano’s issues from middle school where he grew tired of people noting his more feminine face. Admittedly, this comes about after his class votes for him to their representative in a cross-dressing competition and could have been handled quite tackily. Instead, in true Sasaki to Miyano fashion, Miyano’s friends rally around him and Miyano slowly realises he doesn’t really object as much as he used to.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7

Of course, he has other problems still to mull over given he still hasn’t quite worked out how he really feels about Sasaki and whether or not he’s ready to step into his own BL experience. Admittedly, this week did feel like it was starting to stretch this plot thread about as far as they could without it snapping the patience of everyone watching. Episode 6 managed to ride feels and carry through but episode 7 is definitely pushing the limits.

Sasaki to Miyano needs to reach a turning point soon.

Fortunately, salvation came from the will I / won’t I drama as Miyano runs into the girl from middle-school that he had a crush on, and who crushed his tiny ego when she asked him to wear girls’ clothes. Turns out, like most anime romances, this whole trauma was actually a misunderstanding caused by appalling communication skills. She actually wanted to paint him as a model for her art class which is naturally why she just blurted out ‘wear girl’s cloths for a bit’.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7

Also convenient that her art class just happened to be buying supplies in the same shopping street that Miyano was walking down with Sasaki and that Sasaki just happened to go get a drink at that precise moment. Coincidence is kind of the cornerstone of most romances in the end but the trick is making them not feel too awkwardly shoved in. This one felt a little bit forced.



Though at least middle-school crush and budding art student seemed like a nice person. Sasaki to Miyano is actually genuinely full of nice people. They do have misunderstandings and occasionally nag or make snarky comments to one another, but none of them are mean or malicious for the sake of it. They are all just normal people going about their day with their own concerns and interests and while someone else’s misfortune might amuse them they don’t go out of their way to cause it.

It’s just kind of pleasant to spend time with characters who aren’t petty for the sake of creating artificial drama.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t individual agendas in Sasaki to Miyano. When Miyano’s friend invites Sasaki to the hospital to meet his girl-friend or to introduce her when she’s released the obvious goal is revealed in his thoughts as he walks away, his girl-friend would love to see BL in real life.

Likewise, Miyano’s middle-school friend has a really interesting reaction after Sasaki hauls Miyano away from their conversation in a fit of jealousy.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7

I will admit, visually this scene was great. Again, the animation not so much as Sasaki to Miyano skipped over a lot of it. But the way they softened the focus in time with a beating heart and the use of light and colour was just gorgeous.

And again, Sasaki realises he shouldn’t have reacted that way but at the same time it leads to such a cute exchange between the two characters.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 7

I’m really hoping we see more of Miyano’s middle school friend and I’m also hoping they move forward from the confession in the next episode of Sasaki to Miyano.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Karandi James


Sasaki to Miyano Episode 6 – Exams and Harder Questions To Answer

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 6

Sasaki to Miyano is one of those anime where weekly episode reviews aren’t really going to do it justice. Any given episode is a great watch but it isn’t so much about what happens as much as it is about the feels each episode is throwing off. And episode 6 of Sasaki to Miyano, as Miyano ponders (really hard) about his response to Sasaki’s confession, really leans into it being about the feels rather than actual events.

Sasaki to Miyano episode 6

The end result is I could sum up the whole episode by saying the boys go to school, sit exams, and go home from school rinse and repeat and that really doesn’t tell you anything about just how sweet and adorable this episode was.

Sasaki to Miyano either makes you go ‘aw’ or there’s very little to enjoy.

I can’t imagine how watching Sasaki to Miyano is for someone who isn’t totally swept away in waiting to see how the boy’s relationship develops. So little happens outside of their own introspection. Sure Sasaki is studying for exams and has been told he has to score high or else and Miyano has his own exams and his friends babble about their relationships, but all of that is merely the background dressing this week for Miyano to think through how he actually sees Sasaki and whether he can actually consider a relationship with a guy.

Sasaki to miyano Episode 6

And while in some stories this will he / won’t he holding pattern that Miyano has fallen into could get a little tedious, here it just plays out as adorable. Or maybe that’s just me.



Sasaki for his part is as charming as ever. While earlier episodes indicated he might be a little too possessive and eager, here he is most definitely giving Miyano the space he needs to really come to his own answer. That doesn’t mean he isn’t turning on the full charm offensive at various points, but he isn’t pressuring Miyano to rush to a conclusion or continually rubbing the question in his face.

That said, Sasaki to Miyano can’t stay in a holding patter forever so either Miyano is going to make a move, Sasaki is going to get tired of waiting, or a third party is going to intervene (and given I was behind so the next episode is already out, I guess I can just go find out which way this will go).

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 6

It is odd though that this story has drawn me in the way it has. I’m not the biggest fan of slice of life stories where very little happens, yet for some reason, provided I’m buying into the romance story, I am happy enough for romances to take their time and meander to their conclusions. Sasaki to Miyano isn’t an exciting viewing experience and yet it is one I look forward to each episode.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 6

The one area it continues to excel in is the use of visuals. That isn’t to say it is an animation masterpiece because it isn’t. In the grand tradition of BL anime this one seems to be on a budget. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried to capture the feeling of each scene even if movement is pretty limited.

As we saw in Given, even a staircase can become a familiar and beloved setting if used appropriately and Sasaki to Miyano uses its soft focus and floating triangles and sparkles to amazing emotional effect episode after episode.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 6

Okay, I’m done babbling about this boy’s love story. I’m enjoying it but I want to know what happens next and I know there’s an episode waiting for me to go watch. If you haven’t tried Sasaki to Miyano this season it is very consistent in its delivery and quality and is actually quite the sweet romance so far.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Karandi James


Top 5 Boys Love Anime I Enjoyed

Top 5 Boys Love

I do enjoy a good boys love anime, though finding a good one is actually quite difficult (as was finding any that had been released in Australia not so long ago). Even now it feels a lot of these titles don’t get the episodes they need to really explore their characters or the budget that they need to tell their stories well. So today, inspired by my review of Given that came out yesterday, I’m counting down my top 5 shounen ai anime. I’d love to put Yuri on Ice on this list (it so counts) but for whatever reason it isn’t actually tagged as shounen ai. Still, we all know I’m for Victor and Yuri forever.

Anyway, given this is my personal list and based on nothing other than my own enjoyment, I’d love for you to share your favourites. It will give those looking for some boys love a place to start (though if there happens to be more adult content please place a sensible warning with the recommendation).

Number 5 – Junjou Romantica

junjou

Right, so despite owning this one on DVD (and how it got a DVD release in Australia I still don’t know but thanks) I’ve never actually reviewed it or talked about it in detail on the blog. That’s probably because there’s a lot of problematic content particularly in the early episodes that will put people off this title.

Throw in massive age gap, power imbalance, and essentially guy hired to tutor his friend’s brother who ultimately molests him before we’re meant to buy that they fall in love, and there’s so many issues there. Add in clingy and controlling nature and denial or being gay, as well as two other couples with their own baggage, and I’m sure you are now wondering why this one is on my list at all.

Honestly, despite the horrific starting point, and it is a horrific start to a relationship and in the real world I’d tell the main character to run to file a police report and then never go near that apartment again, once you get through that all three of these couples do grow on you. I also like that we spend a few episodes with this couple before cutting over to that one and so no one ever lingers long enough to get on your nerves too much.

Over three seasons all of these characters grow and progress and while there’s no removing their starting point and they are still dysfunctional in season three, there’s a lot of sweet moments as they travel along. Anyway, I liked this one enough that I jumped at the chance to buy it and while I don’t recommend it to anyone who dislikes the usual tropes associated with these kinds of stories because it essentially rolls everyone of them out, for those who are game to given anything a go, there’s definitely some better content as the series progresses.

Number 4 – Hitorijime My Hero

hitorijime6

This one I did review and I definitely made my issues with the series known through a plus/minus format. Basically we again have a major power imbalance with an age gap and the older person’s position as a teacher, however this series does try in some tokenistic way to address that. Outside of that though, its just a nice story with characters who are stumbling along and you kind of want them to reach a happy ending.

Again though, it takes awhile to get going and the early episodes don’t leave the best impression. If you start it be prepared to watch through and you’ll probably be happy with where it takes you by the end.

Number 3 – Spiritpact

spiritpact12d

Never has a show proven to me more that you should put up with terrible beginnings than Spiritpact. Season one is plagued with terrible animation and humour and a storyline and tone that doesn’t seem to know what it is doing. The characters are all over the place and it is basically a mess. By the end of season one there’s a little bit of promise there though and season two delivers an absolutely gorgeous narrative with romance and personal growth and pain.

While there are occasional set-backs and reminders of some of the less admirable moments in season one, Spiritpact went from strength to strength throughout its second season and it was amazing falling in love with the characters and watching them grow closer together as the story progressed.

Number 2 – Dakaichi

DAKAICHI Episode 1 - Junta and Takato

It’s definitely a curse for this genre. Episode 1 of Dakaichi starts with yet another near rape (and the source material actually didn’t stop at a near miss). Yet somehow we’re expected to buy into the love story, and to be honest, Dakaichi’s recovery is a lot swifter than most of the anime on this list. It kind of helps that I was a huge Takato fan-girl while this one aired and by and large really enjoyed watching this anime.

As I said in my series review, if you can get over how this relationship starts, and the fact that every guy who meets Takato seems to want to sleep with him, then there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had as these two actors get together.



Number 1 – Given

Given8n

Well it was the anime that inspired the list in the first place so it was fairly obvious it was going to be pretty high up that list. Free of so many of the tropes and problems that plague the others on the list, Given’s only real issues are that it is very slow paced which will put off some viewers, and that the relationship is equally slow moving.

While that made for a fairly delightful viewing experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed watching these boys coming together, if you are more interested in what happens after they are a couple, season one of Given (and the only season we have) isn’t going to go there. Still, Mafuyu and Uenoyama are an adorable couple and the supporting cast has more than enough characters to ship for those who enjoy that aspect of the genre. Definitely a series to check out if you haven’t tried it so far.

And as I said at the start, this list is entirely based on what I’ve enjoyed so I would love for you to share your top picks for boys love anime.


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Karandi James


Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5 – Awkward Confession And Confusion

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5 Review

Sasaki to Miyano has finally reached the actual confession stage. Just as Miyano had managed to convince himself that he’d perhaps misheard Sasaki on the train all those months ago, Sasaki comes out with a blunt ‘I like you’. Of course the pair are then interrupted so Sasaki says he’ll wait, Miyano comes back a moment later and puts Sasaki on the spot asking him what it is about him that Sasaki likes to which he hastily answers ‘your face’ and then instantly regrets it.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5

While this could have been the catalyst for a fall out between the pair, instead it just leaves both of them a bit confused and anxious as this episode lets them really mull over their feelings.

Sasaki to Miyano always keeps things sweet.

The confession sequence ended up not being a brilliant out-pouring of emotions due to both of the boy’s getting flustered and distracted, but the lead up to the confession was kind of a perfect swelling of emotions. Sasaki to Miyano has moved us to a sports day and after Miyano’s race the two are sitting in the cool and just catting away (or shooting the breeze as the subtitles have indicated Sasaki said though that seemed like a really unnatural expression at the time).


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What is interesting during this part of the episode is that Sasaki’s internal thoughts perfectly capture what he likes about Miyano. He realises how fun it is talking with him and how much he’s going to miss these moments when he graduates. It is from that emotion that his unplanned confession more or less forces its way out. If only Miyano were some kind of mind-reader then he would have known exactly the depth of the feelings behind those simple words.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5

However the moment does pass and Miyano is left with Sasaki’s terrible answer about liking his face. And in the grand history of romance, particularly BL, he naturally doesn’t talk to Sasaki about it. Instead he broods about it on his own turning over the same information again and again and going around in circles. Though, the one question Miyano doesn’t ask himself clearly is whether or not he likes Sasaki.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5

Sasaki to Miyano though borrows another page out of classic romance stories when Miyano starts feeling a little sick and so is wearing a mask. This kind of echoes the story the two were discussing when Sasaki confessed as one of the characters kissed the other through a mask and then they both ended up sick (truly romantic).

Pretty sure it was Emma Stone’s character in Easy A who explicitly pointed out the trope of reading a text in class that was going to be reflective of whatever teen angst someone was going through.

While the two obviously weren’t studying BL in their classroom it is kind of the same concept, particularly when Sasaki later on has a small moment of hesitation about whether he should kiss the sleeping Miyano and whether it was okay because he was wearing a mask (fortunately some common sense kicked in and Sasaki realised kissing a sleeping person without their permission was not okay).

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 5

Though just when you think the drama has played out in this episode of Sasaki to Miyano, Hirano gives Sasaki his phone so that Sasaki can call Miyano and clear up the misunderstanding, but Sasaki wimps out. Yes he calls Miyano but promptly drops a very short explanation about not just liking his face and then hangs up on him. For those who were anticipating the confession we should have heard at the start of the episode, instead we’re left with something even more abrupt.

Though, perhaps it was enough if Miyano’s blush is anything to go by.

Sasaki to Miyano continues to be a pretty adorable romance. The main characters have great chemistry and once they finally learn to communicate they will be absolutely sweet. Though, given this is only episode 5 I guess there are some more issues to come.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4 – But I Like Girls

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4 Review

There’s a whole pile of tropes that BL anime and manga pull out from time to time and some are better received than others. Sasaki to Miyano dives head first into the ‘but I like girls’ denial territory as Miyano spends a lot of this episode wrestling with his feelings after Sasaki’s whispered confession on the train (to a Miyano he assumed was asleep) and the school vacation.

What I kind of liked about how Sasaki to Miyano pulled this off was Miyano wasn’t using this excuse to deny his feelings. He was genuinely trying to reflect on his feelings and sort them out. Having previously had crushes on girls was just another confusing part as he also had to work through other issues such as whether he saw himself as a uke or seme. Incidentally, randomly opening a BL novel when in the midst of a sexual identity crisis probably isn’t the best course of action in terms of getting some heartfelt or useful advice.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4

Sasaki to Miyano keeps these characters adorable.

For the most part, the new school year has started largely uneventfully. Sure Miyano is wrestling with how to act when he sees Sasaki but when the two do cross paths on the train it is like no time has passed at all and the two more or less fall back into the same rhythm that they used to have. That said, they are both a little more aware of the other and there are copious ‘incidental’ moments that bring them together throughout the episode.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4

Part of me wonders if Sasaki is being considerate or just a bit of a coward. His confession was seemingly meant to go unheard and he hasn’t brought it up again, acting deliberately as though nothing has changed between them at all. It leaves Miyano with nowhere to go given he isn’t sure what to make of Sasaki’s words or even how he feels. Yet the two clearly are comfortable with their same old routine as they both smoothly slide into it.



Though Sasaki to Miyano isn’t one to waste the seasonal changes. Walking to school through the falling flowers Sasaki has to pluck a petal from Miyano’s hair. And did anyone else think it was coincidental that he waited until the boys walking toward them were in full view?

We also get another romance trope thrown in though again not in the usual way. Miyano unintentionally treats Sasaki to a kabe-don moment when he is knocked from behind, loses his balance, and catches himself on the wall. Sasaki’s reaction, checking to see whether Miyano has hurt his hand, is pretty adorable.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4

But jealousy is still running strong as the main antagonist in Sasaki to Miyano with Miyano speaking with Sasaki’s friend, the one who’s girlfriend is also into BL, and offering him advice, when Sasaki overhear the two talking and intervenes to prevent a potential head pat.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 4

Seriously, I like Sasaki but he has got to get his jealousy under control. He can’t try to leap out a window every time someone gets close to touching Miyano and he certainly can’t wrap Miyano in bubble wrap and lock him away from everything… Well he could but he really shouldn’t.

That said, it is hard not to admit that Sasaki looked pretty cool even if in real life you’d just have to ask him what he thought he was trying to accomplish.

Anyway, Sasaki to Miyano remains kind of adorable. While it is treading over some fairly common romance ground, BL or otherwise, so far it has managed to make the two leads seem pretty interesting and I am enjoying watching them kind of come to terms with how they are feeling.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3 – Do You/Don’t You Want A Real Life BL Experience?

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3 Review

Sasaki to Miyano brings us more blushes and sparkles as we progress another month in the story of these two adorable characters. With time passing we have white day where Miyano gives Sasaki a return gift after the Valentine chocolates from episode 2, and the closing ceremony for the school year but all of that is really background noise on a character driven episode that couldn’t have been more adorable if it tried.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3 Review

This week it is Miyano’s turn to realise he’s not just thinking of Sasaki in the way he thinks about other friends. He blushes remembering how an off-hand comment may have been misinterpreted, gets worried about how Sasaki will be seen by others, and has the realisation that unlike so many other boys around him, he doesn’t really consider Sasaki in BL situations.

Diagnosis – Definitely infatuation, may develop into love.

Sasaki to Miyano makes it clear both boys are struggling a little with their own feelings.

Rather than recount every blush, smile, sparkle and eye widening moment in this episode there are a couple of things I’d like to focus in on. The first is the use of background music in this episode of Sasaki to Miyano.



Now possibly this has been the same in the last two episodes and I just didn’t notice it, but this week I’m going to say the soundtrack was outright distracting to each situation. There was scarcely a sideways glance that didn’t get its own swell of music and honestly a lot of it felt like it came out of a 1940’s movie and really didn’t feel like it fit the soft, pastel look of this anime.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3

While a good and powerful soundtrack can cause an average story to swell into something larger than life that leaves a lasting impression, here I was nearly tempted to turn the volume down so I could just focus on the visuals and character expressions while reading the subs because the music was bumping me right out of the episode. It just felt like it was working so hard to make me feel emotional in the moment and it didn’t always quite gel with the emotions I was actually feeling.

However, where the music kind of felt like it wasn’t working so well this week in Sasaki to Miyano, visually, this episode sang. Admittedly, it is definitely relying on softer colours, lots of lit backgrounds, and a lot of close ups on character faces and expressions, but it definitely works and it crafts the mood and tone of this story very well.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3

There were also some stand-out moments in the dialogue. Okay, a lot of it is your usual tropey lines you get a lot of in romances but Sasaki declaring that BL is what made a story possible when challenged about whether or not the story could have just had a male/female couple was pretty solid. As was Miyano’s realisation that Sasaki was actually always pretty cool (or at least looked that way to him).

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 3

My favourite moment from Sasaki to Miyano came when Sasaki received Miyano’s gift and dashed back to his classroom. He crouched in the doorway and wondered if his heart had stopped to which Hirano pointed out would be bad because he’d be dead. It was such a well delivered retort and it just made me smile. Okay, Sasaki’s whispered confession on the train was pretty cool as well but given Miyano was either asleep or pretending it doesn’t quite count.

Anyway, with the exception of the music this week, I really enjoyed this episode of Sasaki to Miyano. I’m really enjoying watching these two boys grow closer together. And okay, they are both adorkable but I’m having a lot of fun watching them realise their feelings and hopefully we’ll see them grow a bit closer as the series progresses.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Sasaki to Miyano Episode 2 – Embarrassed, Confused and Feelings on Hold

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 2 Review

Sasaki to Miyano returns with episode 2 and continues to go out of its way to add sparkles and flowers to pretty much every aspect of day to day life. Actually, if you take away the dramatic pauses and visual accents essentially you have an episode where two guys occasionally meet and have kind of awkward conversations before they go about their daily grind. Which is why you really can’t separate how a story is told from your enjoyment of the story.

Because little is really happening in this episode outside of Miyano getting flustered by Sasaki’s questions about BL and fudanshi, there’s a visit to a bookstore, sharing pocky at lunch, and Sasaki dropping by Miyano’s classroom. And yet each of the encounters in this episode of Sasaki to Miyano adds a bit more to each of the main characters as we see Miyano is willing to eat the pocky even though he doesn’t like sweet things because Sasaki gave it to him and Sasaki is starting to feel very possessive of Miyano.

Sasaki to Miyano episode 2

Sasaki to Miyano isn’t in a rush and as a result the interactions between characters feel a little more organic.

If there is any red flag so far in Sasaki to Miyano it would come from Sasaki who regularly intrudes upon Miyano’s personal space and in this episode we see him taking actions such as hiding Miyano’s face after he overhears two other boys mention that his blushing face makes him look like a girl. We also see him realising his own feelings of not wanting to let Miyano go and so resolving not to touch him. However the post credit scene takes it even further where we see Sasaki getting jealous of literally everybody in Miayno’s previous class that participated in a Valentine’s event.

I’m kind of hoping Sasaki dials it down a bit because otherwise we’ll tip from sweet and straight into the usual kind of BL tropes.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 2

However let’s focus on the positive because mostly this episode was really just calm and enjoyable.

I did like that Sasaki to Miyano hasn’t already forgotten how these two boys met (a common problem in romance where after the initial meeting and interest the story moves on without really acknowledging how it all began). Instead episode 2 directly references the fight where Sasaki saved Miyano’s class mate and it is acknowledged as a reason why said classmate isn’t concerned about this older student hovering around Miyano.



Also, the ongoing exchange and discussion of BL manga continues to hold the plot together as Miyano continues to provide volumes for Sasaki and even goes shopping for more. Sasaki even asks Miyano how he got into BL manga in the first place.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 2

Also, there are some really cute moments throughout the episode if you take your focus away from the central duo. At one point the two are having a conversation in the school hall and out the window you see the cat leaping up trying to catch a dragonfly in the background. Nobody in Sasaki to Miyano draws your attention to this moment it is just kind of there as the two boys have their conversation.

Equally, there’s a heavy focus on the seasons changing to show the passage of time with autumn leaves falling and covering the ground dominating a lot of tis episode. This is both pretty lovely to look at and also kind of sets up the final sequence where the boys walk past a Valentine’s display.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 2

Overall though, Sasaki to Miyano kind of suffers from the safe issues most school romances end up suffering from and that is these characters don’t actually say the important things. Which if it had only been a couple of days would make sense but as we’ve seen a fair passage of time in these two episodes it would make more sense if they’d actually had some kind of conversation about how they feel at this point.

Instead we’ll have to deal with characters blushing and getting frustrated until something pushes one or the other into blurting something out.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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Is Sasaki to Miyano Worth Watching?

Sasaki to Miyano episode 1 review

Sasaki to Miyano comes to us from Studio Deen that really has quite a diverse range of anime behind it but did give us previous shounen ai (boys love) titles such as Super Lovers and Junjou Romantica. Throw in the fact that the director of Sasaki to Miyano is Shinji Ishihira who also directed Super Lovers and at least there’s some experience behind this project. Though so far Sasaki to Miyano has stayed away from the problematic tropes that plague both the previously mentioned titles in their first episodes.

So yes, we have a boys love title that doesn’t have a major age gap between the potential couple (they aren’t in the same grade but they are both in high school) and within the first episode no one has made any inappropriate contact though Sasaki is definitely a more hands on guy than Miyano. Honestly it was kind of refreshing not to have to navigate the usual tropes that come up in first episodes of boys love stories though this isn’t the first title to do so when you look at anime like Given that have come out in the last few years.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 1

Sasaki to Miyano has so far been pretty standard high school romance.

If anything, the biggest issue Sasaki to Miyano might face after this first episode is it isn’t particularly memorable as it moves through the spontaneous meeting of the characters and cuts back and forth between where they are now (with Miyano recommending BL manga to Sasaki) and several of the events and encounters that led them there. I’m guessing the hook of this story was meant to be Miyano’s obsession with boys’ love comics and while the conversation between the boys about the manga Miyano leant Sasaki is cute ultimately there’s not much substance to this point, yet.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 1

This episode largely plays out like the first episode of any other anime romance with Sasaki realising he is developing feelings to Miyano and being very aware of him as they share an umbrella or a drink and the episode ends with him admitting to himself that he likes Miyano. About the only real difference is that Sasaki repeatedly reminds himself that Miyano is male throughout the episode.



And when I say it plays out like any other romance, I really mean it. Complete with sparkles and colourful backgrounds or bubbles floating past the characters. Though just looking at the promotional image with its flowers and sparkly visuals probably should have been a sign that this was the aesthetic that Sasaki to Miyano was going to go for.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 1

For me, Sasaki to Miyano was probably always going to end up on my watch list this season. There really isn’t that much boys love anime out there and unless something is unwatchable I tend to stick it out, and I was pretty happy with this first episode. The two main characters both seem nice enough and if it continues to play out the standard rom-com tropes rather than BL ones I wouldn’t mind that either because I do enjoy sweet romance.

Sasaki to Miyano Episode 1

Where this anime may have a problem is that so far this first episode has played it very safe and while it is competently put together it isn’t going to make much of an impact on people who aren’t already fans of the manga or BL fans in general. Hopefully it gets a bit more presence as it goes but if Sasaki to Miyano wants to remain this kind of low-key easily digested romance for the season I’d still be pretty happy with that.

Images from: Sasaki to Miyano. Dir. S Ishihira. Studio Deen. 2022


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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.

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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.

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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


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