So, I Was Wrong! Given: Mid-Season Review Pt. I: Facing the Past and Understanding Sexuality

Hi! So I have a confession to make…

I was wrong about Given. If you remember in one of my latest posts I told you, “I bet this is going to be cute”… but I was wrong. It’s EXTREMELY cute and HEARTBREAKING!!!!

Oh my God!! There is so much unexpected depth in this series that I have to make separate posts for this review! Holy cow! I am in love with this series!

I am so glad I finally got a chance to catch up on everything that has been going on in the world of Given. Thank the Gods for VPNs and cellphones! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to watch this amazing series solely because Japan doesn’t allow you to have access to Crunchyroll or really any streaming services with English subtitles.

If you are not caught up on given, I’m letting you know there will be spoilers.

But if you would like to proceed, FOLLOW ME!

So as you know this beautiful creature.

This one here

Is Mafuyu Sato. From the beginning I had my reservations about him. He was very soft spoken, very reserved, and always carried a guitar on his back…but didn’t know how to play guitar. I don’t know about you but to me this smells like something is up. But as the story progresses, we learn the reason why Mafuyu is so attached to this guitar and how it can affect the relationship he builds with this gorgeous boy:

Uenoyama

And that’s what today’s post is going to be dedicated to!

Uenoyama x Mafuyu: Facing the Past & Understanding Sexuality

So as you know, from the beginning whenever Uenoyama met Mafuyu he was actually pretty stoked to have him in his life. He never admitted it but the actions were there! He agreed to teach Mafuyu how to play guitar from scratch (something he said he would not do), he began to be passionate about music again after playing for Sato (keep in mind he hasn’t been passionate about playing music for a LONG TIME), he got worried about Mafuyu when he didn’t meet up with him everyday like usual (when really Mafuyu was just focusing on getting a job), and he wrote a song for Mafuyu to sing after being moved to tears by Mafuyu’s voice. These actions go beyond just finding passion for music again. His heart has been taken away by those beautiful eyes, mysterious personality, and that tear jerking voice.

So they are having a good time, they are always with each other, they are growing close… I love where this story is going! And then…

This guy shows up.

This guy above apparently is childhood friends with Mafuyu. Not only that, he points out that he just “fell off the face of the earth”. If that isn’t strange, guess what? He points out the guitar Mafuyu has been carrying and says, “What the hell? That thing on your back…is that Yuki’s guitar?”

After he says that, Mafuyu jets out. Not just running from that guy. But running, as if away, from what that guy represents to Mafuyu. Thankfully Uenoyama catches up to him and Mafuyu snaps out of it but now we were given the question: “Who is Yuki?”

The next episode we are given a flashback of a funeral and a lonely Mafuyu holding a guitar. To make matters even more interesting were given (haha! Given) a tiny flashback where we see a guy with his arm around another guy who appeared to be Mafuyu.

Okay! Hold Up! Too many clues are given to us without enough answers…Who the **** is Yuki?! Who is this other guy? Why the hell is their a funeral?!

Thankfully, we had an inside source brought to you by a classmate who has a crush on Uenoyama and got so jealous with the relationship between him and Mafuyu, she decided to be petty and kick Uenoyama down from Cloud 9 with this secret:

Now, if it were me, I would have told the girl to stay in her lane! That’s just petty of her to say that! However, Uenoyama isn’t really mad at her. He knows it was petty but thanked her for the information.

But this was a HUGE leap for the story line. Simply because, we knew that Mafuyu was hiding something. That he was keeping quiet about something in the past. Also, this wrench thrown into system…the news about this old flame really is a test for both Uenoyama and Mafuyu. It’s a test for Mafuyu because it forces him to realize that he cannot repress what has been done. No matter where you go or what you do, you cannot escape your past. The challenge that Mafuyu has ahead of him is moving forward with acceptance instead of moving forward with repression. He may think repressing is moving forward however it’s running away. It’s also a test for Uenoyama because his response to the news is what will reveal how he TRULY feels about Mafuyu.

After Uenoyama heard the news about Yuki, he stopped talking to Mafuyu and tried to avoid contacting him. But why? Why is he trying to run away from the person he worked so hard to get close to the second he hears Mafuyu had loved someone in the past? Well, thankfully I have this scene to tell you everything.

CAUGHT RED HANDED!!! Wow. So Uenoyama admits he is jealous. And you know what? It makes sense. Uenoyama has never really fallen in love before. Especially with another man. Adding that layer of attraction to the same sex really can add some confusion for a teenage boy. Especially Uenoyama who finds out this guy he likes is still in love with someone from his past who (to add another layer) committed suicide.

Literally, what’s going through Uenoyama’s head is: “I actually like this guy. Oh my God. Something about him makes my heart race.” (He finds out about Yuki) “What? He loved someone? Is he still in love with this person? He loves someone who isn’t me? I’m jealous but I don’t know why! Why am I jealous over another guy?! Is this okay?” And because all these questions come up, he tries to avoid Mafuyu because he does not want to confront his emotions. And when does have to be around him, he gets frustrated with him when he doesn’t do one thing right and externalizes his jealousy on him in reactions of anger, shouting, or unfairness.

So now we are at this point of discovery for Uenoyama. He wants to deny this part of himself but cannot help but to feel this way. This denial sort of roots down to the Japanese culture. It’s not that the Japanese people turn their heads in disgust of guys who like other guys or girls who like other girls. It’s just in the Japanese culture, it is not really thought of. There is already so much pressure in their culture (especially from their parents) to have a successful career, a good education, and have a family. That’s it. There’s not really much room for them to think about relationships, understanding if they are queer, or even understanding sex. Also, gender roles are still are used in the Japanese culture. The man goes to work and the woman takes care of the children, clean the home, things like that. So when you have two men in a relationship, it leaves a lot of people to think, “How does that work? That’s not good for the child.” Thankfullly, my boy Akihiko (who I’ll have to do a separate post on because Holy Cow!! Such a good character) comes in and says this:

What I respect so much about this anime is that IT WENT THERE! It actually talked about the building relationship between Mafuyu and Uenoyama without oversexualizing it and fetishizing which is unfortunately not what most anime out there do. This series is actually displaying the situations and possible hurdles when teenage boys are trying to understand their sexuality very well. I love that! I also have gained a newfound respect for Akihiko. Throughout the series we realize he is wiser than he appears but when he states, “I’ve thought if this was wrong myself but I’ve been with guys too. Are you gonna say there’s something wrong with me?” I fell in love with Akihiko! This shows a completely different side of him than the dense dog that we were given from the beginning of the series. This talk he gives is not your typical, “It’s okay to be gay,” kinda talk. This is more of your, “Hey, I’ve been with guys. You have always seen me as the same Akihiko without knowing that. Are you saying you are going to treat me differently now that you know I like guys?” Coming from a young man who identifies as gay, I didn’t really have that kind of friend when I was a teenager in high school. That would have been awesome if I had that influence. To have someone tell me, “Hey I have thought about what you thought about, but did you look at me any differently?” It adds such an awesome perspective for the other person because part of the reason why young guys don’t want to accept they may have sexual or intimate feelings towards other guys is because they are worried that they would be seen differently among their friends and treated differently.

I am so into this anime and what it stands for! I am so amped for it that I am making a part two and maybe even a part three for this review each headlining different topics of what we have been given so far. Such as the story behind Mafuyu’s past and how it will affect his lyrics, the topic behind Haruki and Akihiko’s relationship, and a character analysis on Akihiko.

Tell me what do you think of Given so far? Fans of what’s happening? Think it could be better? Let me know what you are thinking! Until next time!

Itekimasu!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Karandi says:

    I’ve absolutely been loving Given and the slow build toward a relationship between Mafuyu and Ueno has been incredible to watch. I’m also continually blown away by how real these characters feel and their reactions to things.
    Thanks for sharing this, it was fantastic to read. Looking forward to a pt2.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Thank you so much! I couldn’t agree more! There is such a reality to these characters you don’t often get get! Whew! Looking forward to your next post! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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