Given 1×11 Review: “Song2”
Alas, we have come to the end of Given. “Song2” is a sweet, fluffy, super chill conclusion to a surprisingly angsty story. I’m both thrilled and annoyed that it was left so open-ended, but I’m so happy that I got to go on this journey with these big gay disasters.
With the kiss in “A Winter Story” a full two episodes before the end of the series, I was glad to learn that there would be some time spent on the aftermath of what happened. Mostly because so many romances end with the kiss or confession and don’t bother to show much after, which I think does a disservice to the fans, but also because I was waiting for a specific scene, and it showed up finally in “Song2”.
Given has some amazing humor, which is on full display in this episode. From the conference of Ritsukas to the band’s absolute failure to take their promotional shoot seriously, there were some unbelievably funny moments in “Song2”. The Ritsuka Conference is probably one of my all-time favorite scenes from the manga; I was smiling like a lunatic the entire time. And when Ritsuka and Mafuyu were dumping on the Humanities in front of three Humanities majors. One of the things I liked was that by showing Mafuyu with his childhood friends, you get to see a glimpse of what he must have been like before Yuki died; he was sassy, wasn’t he?
Listen, I just can’t gush enough at how beautiful this series has been. It’s so refreshing to see a BL where the main pairing isn’t incessantly problematic. Ritsuka and Mafuyu’s relationship was allowed to develop naturally, with both boys fully on board and consenting and communicative about the change in their feelings. That scene in Ritsuka’s brain could have led to inner turmoil and conflict, and instead, he and Mafuyu just went to Haruki and Akihiko and were like, “We want to date.” And it was okay. It’s great that the issue isn’t that they’re both young men, but that they’re in the same band and that could cause problems, because that’s an issue that can affect heterosexual couples as well. They really are treated just like any other pairing, and I love it. This is the kind of representation the LGBTQ+ community needs – queer couples who are given the same storylines that straight couples would be – and I hope we get to see more of it. I hope the popularity of this series proves that we are crying out for such type of representation.
It’s the little moments in “Song2” that make their relationship so fantastic. I’m not just talking about Ritsuka’s stunned reaction at discovering that Mafuyu liked him back, which is something that he was fretting about last week. It’s things like Ritsuka offering to carry the heavy box of CDs for Mafuyu, or buying him something to eat at a festival, or Mafuyu suggesting that they hold hands for safety, or turning to each other at the same time and getting caught up in each other. They’re small in the grand scheme of things, but they make the relationship more genuine.
But honestly, these two are so in love that it’s sickening. I need a minute here.
Even with “Song2” being the final episode, there was still some good character development. Mafuyu painstakingly making his way through the CDs that Akihiko gave to him because he wants to listen to different kinds of music was a great way to hint at his upcoming attempts at songwriting. I think it’s telling that, even though both Yuki and Ritsuka were in bands, it isn’t until Ritsuka that Mafuyu really begins to understand what music is about. I think that’s because Ritsuka wants to share the experience with him. But not only that, when the series started, Mafuyu was so quiet and withdrawn, and now he’s making jokes (“Shall I sing a fight song for you?”) and stringing full sentences together. The growth is insane. I’m so proud of that boy.
Of course, the news broke earlier today that we are getting a Given movie, which is just fantastic, but it does make me a little sad that it makes a season 2 unlikely. (That just means you all have to buy the manga when it starts being published in English next year.) As I mentioned in last week’s review, there are still a lot of open threads, particularly related to Akihiko and Haruki. Well, the film will focus on Akihiko and his relationships with Haruki and Ugetsu, which is the arc in the manga that comes after the current storyline and is still ongoing.
There would not be enough new material for a second season for years, but by giving it a film adaptation, it can be released while it’s riding the popularity of the anime. (The Given movie was trending #3 in Japan on Twitter this morning after the news broke.) As these three characters are in college and are older than Ritsuka and Mafuyu, their story is much more adult and a little darker (which, when you consider the fact that Mafuyu’s last boyfriend committed suicide is saying something). It makes sense, therefore, that Akihiko’s arc would get a movie and not a series.
I’m glad that “Song2” is not really the end. Given has some fantastically developed side characters who are their own people and not just extensions of the mains. It will be great to see them get their time in the spotlight.
Given is quite possibly one of the best anime of the summer, and I’m sad that it’s over. But I am so grateful we got to see it animated at all, that they even went to the trouble of actually writing good music for the band. This is truly one of the more beautiful romances I’ve seen portrayed; the characters are real, and there are no ridiculous tropes to throw unnecessary drama into their relationship. From everything that we’ve seen so far on this show, I get the sense that these two kids are going to make it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to binge the entire series again.
Given season 1 episode 11 “Song2” Reaction!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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