Given's anime only just released its first season in 2019 and it has already launched itself into my growing top anime of all time list. Without giving away too much, Given is an anime about finding the light in the darkness. It's also very much so an anime about discovering oneself and the way the characters do that in this series is through music.
Before I get into the full spoiler-free review though, I want to give you guys some quick background on Given!
Given by Natsuki Kizu was first released as a manga and it was first published by SuBLime with English translation in 2013. For those of you who have yet to experience the manga, I highly recommend checking it out as well. If you are looking for the volumes, you can pick them up for low prices on Right Stuf!
Given was later adapted into an anime in 2019 and it quickly became one of my top anime of 2019. Given's anime is animated by Lerche, who's previous works include anime like Assassination Classroom, Astra Lost in Space, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, and many more.
The Given anime movie later released in the 2021 anime season and it is a sequel to the first season. So if you end up loving the first season of Given's anime, you have the movie to look forward to watching after as well! Want to see our thoughts on the movie as well? Check out our review of the Given anime movie!
Now let's get into why I think Given is worth watching!
What's Given about?
Given starts out with Mafuyu Satou, who is napping on a staircase alongside his Gibson guitar. Ritsuka Uenoyama, a fellow student and guitarist, finds Mafuyu in his normal napping spot. In this first encounter, Uenoyama gets on Mafuyu for allowing his guitar strings to get in a sad state, which cause them to break.
Noticing how much Uenoyama knows about the instrument, Mafuyu begs him to fix the strings and teach him how to play. Uenoyama turns him down, but eventually gives in due to Mafuyu's repeated pleas, and finally invites him to meet his other band mates, bassist Haruki Nakayama and drummer Akihiko Kaji, at their next practice.
Eventually, Uenoyama hears Mafuyu sing, and is stricken by the beauty of his voice. It inspires him to ask Mafuyu to be the lead singer of the band, but he is rejected. The tables turn and Uenoyama has to work to get Mafuyu to accept his invitation. Mafuyu is greeted by a friend from his past, which pushes him to finally become the lead of the band. Without knowing how to fully play guitar still, he has a lot of work to do, but its the mysterious circumstances that led him to be its owner, that are the biggest thing he'll have to overcome.
Why you should watch Given
While Given falls within the BL, slice of life, romance, and drama genres, I believe that every anime fan, no matter which genres they're a fan of, should give Given a chance. Aside from the amazing musicianship displayed by the characters and the original music, which is created by Centimillimental, Given has so much to give in terms of its storyline, and its characters and their lives are ones you'll truly become invested in.
I've been known to stay away from shows because they look too sappy, and while that wasn't the case with Given, I must admit that I was worried this would be just another run-of-the-mill romance. As someone who typically doesn't give anime like this one a chance, I quickly learned that I'm missing out on some phenonmenal series after finishing its first season.
As I mentioned earlier, Given is an anime about finding the light in the darkness. But, it's also very much so an anime about finding oneself and the way the characters do that in this series is through music. The music in this show, even though it's mostly instrumental, is some of the best I've ever heard.
Over the course of the season, you'll hear Mafuyu humming a melody, and he does it so much so that it will be stuck in your head. The moments associated with this melody are some of the best scenes in all of the show. But, the best scene comes when they have their first show together as a band. That moment, in particular, is really one to behold. I don't want to give away too much, so you'll have to watch it to understand why.
If you are into music, Given really digs deep into what it means to be a musician in a band and even more so, how you would get started as one. For instance, Uenoyama takes Mafuyu to a music shop to buy his first pedal. Over the course of the season, you'll learn things about music and the instruments they play. Given accurately follows how someone would start off as a musician in the real world and the struggles they face. With characters that show off their amazing musicianship, Given is as fun as it is touching to watch.
As you learn more about Mafuyu and his connection to the guitar, you'll find out why this anime is so profound. As he falls in love with music, he falls in love with life again, which in turn, allows him to connect with himself and others, and it's a truly beautiful thing to witness.
You'll watch the band's relationship build, while at the same time watching their romantic relationships grow. Music has the power to connect us, and even more so, the power to heal, and Given's portrayal of this makes it hit all the right notes.
Where Can I Watch Given?
Given's first season and the anime film, which is a sequel to season 1, is currently streaming on Crunchyroll!