Okay, this is not the blog post I had planned for this week but after watching this anime, there is no way to not write about it. Having just come out today, Given is hot off the tv screen, and I am already hooked. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
This year has already had some pretty good music-themed anime such as last season’s Carole & Tuesday and Kono Oto Tomare. This season, Given continues onto the trend of spectacular music-related anime that is very promising. It starts, like many anime, on a very simple premise: a boy who can’t play guitar one day meets a guy who is really good but lacks passion. It’s a premise that isn’t too spectacular (and is weirdly seen in a lot of sports and music anime), but it’s a premise that can usually lead to some really good characters. And y’know, after watching the first episode I both wasn’t impressed by the characters but also saw the potential. See, the first episode introduced our two main characters, Sato & Uenoyama. While Uenoyama is the aforementioned guy who is good at guitar but seems to lack passion, he comes off as very…generic. I’m honestly not sure how to describe him. It feels like he’s a character we’ve seen a million times over in anime, and there’s actually something about him that slightly reminds me of Chika from Kono Oto Tomare (and maybe a bit of another character from Kono Oto Tomare that doesn’t show up til way later in the manga), but he’s not a bad character. I think if anything, he’s got potential if it starts getting into more into why he became the way he did when he inevitably gets his passion back thanks to Sato (I mean we see it already). Meanwhile, Sato is…generic cute idiot right now. I don’t hate him, and he’s truly like a puppy so you can’t help but like him, but what I enjoy most about his character is that there’s definitely a dark backstory in him. The dream he mentioned alone, alluded to this, and if you’ve read a few of my reviews you know I love me a dark backstory. Uenoyama’s two other bandmates also seemed pleasant, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them which I’m good with. They definitely seem likeable.
Moving on to art the actual production—it’s not the most amazing I’ve ever seen, but it’s better than your average run of the mill. The production team behind this anime is Lerche, which brought you great anime’s like last year’s comedy series Asobi Asobase, as well as one of my all-time favorite drama-romance animes: Kuzu no Honkai. The animation in this is definitely going for a more Kuzu no Honkai art style, with focus on the way body parts move. What really was neat for me, was the way they carefully animated the fingers in a scene where Uenoyama and his bandmates play their instruments. There were a good 10-20 seconds of a shot of just the fingers moving to adjust for the notes being played, and it was a moment I was personally impressed with. To be honest, this is the only music-related anime that pays such close attention. While Kono Oto Tomare and Carole & Tuesday both attempt at this, there are lots of angle changes that allow for the animators to not have to show such movements, so the fact that Given took the time to show it was appreciated.
Another thing that Given does right that no other music-related anime has done quite as well this year is the music. Now. I know saying that alone is probably grounds to get me shot, but hear me out. I’m not saying that the music in Kono Oto Tomare nor Carole & Tuesday is bad or lackluster. I just think Given does it better. The reason being is the simple clarity in the tone. There is one scene in this first episode where Uenoyama’s band is playing a song for Sato and it is what really got me hooked on this anime. Uenoayama’s guitar is so clear and strong in terms of sound, which is totally different than the music in both Kono Oto Tomare and Carole & Tuesday, though both anime’s have stunning music in their own right. Still, both of them tend to have songs that sound muted, recorded. Which is weird to say of something that was obviously recorded, but the band practice in Given is so well balanced and strong, and each note is heard exceptionally well as if you were there in that room. Or at least to me, that’s what it sounds like. When his bandmates start playing, they don’t just immediately jump in knowing what to play, they have to all improvise to match Uenoyama, and that begins with some strong and distinct notes that the bassist tests out before he starts strumming. It seems somehow more realistic than the other anime this year, which feels strange to say as Carole & Tuesday also excels in making the instruments sound nice, but even they tend to get lost in longer songs as it’s the vocals that really outshine all else, and while all their songs are good they never truly give me shivers. This scene, however, gave me goosebumps.
Overall, I thought Given was off to a good start. I see some really promising things in this first episode, and I really hope that this anime turns out being really good. If anything, the music seems like it’ll be worth it. There are definitely other things to mention with—such as the fact that it’s 100% a shounen ai (which I love, but is not for everyone), and it certainly may not have the most exciting of stories at first, but I think it’s definitely worth a watch. So go out there, give it a go, and let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!
Til next time,
First Impression Rating – 7/10