Given – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Somehow, the guitar that he used to love to play and the basketball games that he found so fun just lost their appeal… That was until Ritsuka Uenoyama randomly met Mafuyu Sato. Ritsuka had started losing his passion for music in his everyday life, but then he hears Mafuyu sing for the first time. The song resonates with his heart and the distance between them starts to change. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Given’s 1st Episode paints it as another of those gay-romance shows that lightly dabbles in the same-sex romance, but never actually gets there overtly. It’s always through hints, subtlety and the like. In this first episode Given doesn’t even really get to the romance aspect of the series, instead focused more so on establishing our two main characters, Ritsuka, a prickly young man who lacks the drive to pursue his passions and Mafuyu, an oblivious, quiet and strange teen that stirs something inside Ritsuka. The formula for Given remains quite predictable, but manages to at least instill some real personality and quirk to its characters, keeping events engaging even if the overall developments are painfully predictable.
Linny: Ritsuka and his prickly nature is fine if a bit cliche, but Mafuyu is depicted as an extremely peculiar and airheaded young man, so clueless that he doesn’t even know guitars can be restrung, despite his extreme attachment to one and being clearly old enough to know better. This over the top naivety is often employed for comedic effect, sometimes making for an amusing moment but also raises the question of how and why Mafuyu can be this incompetent and ignorant. Unless the anime comes up with a solid explanation for it, there’s a real danger of this extreme personality trait coming off as a cheap attempt at giving the character some cute/comedy points. Seeing as Given seems to be aiming for an emotionally deep story, it’s important that it establish grounded and believable characters to really make that aspect work, and for now, Mafuyu feels like anything but.
Tom: For as lively as its characters can be, and as strong as its animation is in this first episode, Given’s adherence to Shounen Ai and Music anime tropes makes it difficult to outright recommend. You’re not seeing anything new here, and as lively as the characters are, they still don’t manage to suck me into a story I’m sure will be laden with predictable drama. However, if you’re someone who’s drawn to Shounen Ai, and doesn’t mind the typical lack of overt gay-romance, Given looks to have promise as a stronger title in that sub-genre, with more character and personality to set it apart from other, similar series.
Linny: The best moments of Given’s first episode are the interactions between its two leads, which are mainly comedic and gag filled for now. It’s clear that the show is aiming for the fujoshi type crowd, who’ll be shipping these two together and watching for heartfelt developments between them. Other than that, as Tom already said, there’s much too much predictable tropes and elements in the show for it to truly shine and grab anyone who isn’t already attached to those very things. But if you are the intended audience, the solid animation and personality filled leads might just make Given one of the better recent entries in its genre and thus worth a try.
Given is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.