Back in May, I reviewed Given and concluded that it was precisely the kind of fun that I needed in my life. It was also a sign of more normalized, modestly budgeted LGBT anime on the horizon. And if the fancy title card for publishing company Blue Lynx at the beginning of Given‘s movie was any indication, they’re getting bigger and bigger.
I don’t think this will be a very long review primarily because this wasn’t a particularly long movie. I wouldn’t even bother calling it a movie. It was was more of an OVA. The budget didn’t necessarily increase. The CGI during performance scenes wasn’t great but wasn’t terrible either. This was more of what I liked and for a casual viewing on a Saturday night, I wasn’t disappointed.
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This film gives much needed closure to the love triangle from the series between supporting characters Akihito, Haruki, and Ugetsu. In the show, it was never quite clear what Ugetsu and Akihito’s relationship was, really. It was clearly sexual, but distant, as if they had very busy schedules yet still found time to be together. The movie pulls back the curtain to express that things are a bit more complicated.
I found the introduction of new information about their relationship to be unnecessarily expository. The purpose of this exposition is so that Mafuyu, the main character from the series, can become wise to the love triangle somewhat, which ends up helping him write another song about love. However, I would have enjoyed seeing the moments from that exposition experienced fully as opposed to seeing flashes of them with narration.
I have no problem with narration, but with limited time, I think paying off the tension built up from the TV series demands conversation and perhaps confrontation. This is why I actually quite enjoyed the last half of the film, which deals with consequences of characters actions in the present and stays there with little in the way of abridging.
Ugetsu and Akihito’s relationship is unhealthy as all hell. Both of them still are clinging to this attraction that drew them together while their different paths and competitive views of one another are making it impossible for them to stay together. The film explores how people cling onto things that don’t work and how something has to give if anyone is going to move on.
Then Haruki comes into the picture. The whole show they were silently in love with Akihito and when the first moments come when they might actually be intimate, they are under the worst possible circumstances. There’s a strain between them, because so long as Akihito holds onto the past, he can’t really be the persona that Haruki thought they were and wanted to be with.
At first, I wasn’t sure whether to consider Ugetsu an antagonist or feel sorry for them. However, the artwork presents him more distraught and mixed up than ever before, hitting home just how much this relationship, or the lack thereof, has affected him. By the end, I think the most emotional I got was watching how hard it was to reconcile his feelings and battle that urge to fall into old habits.
In the end, Given‘s movie left me feeling satisfied. Maybe not as satisfied as the show, especially with how much more time it had to win me over. Even so, this franchise has given me two incredibly sweet and maturely handled gay romances, well-acted, occasionally heart-tugging, and frequently charming.
I’m not sure if there’s much more that I want or need from this franchise, but I’m hoping that wherever the story goes, should it continue, it tries to push the envelope farther, for the sake of letting these kinds of love stories be seen.
Given the movie is available for legal streaming through Crunchyroll
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What did you think of the Given movie? Leave a comment below and let me know what other LGBT anime are worth watching!
Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I’ll see you next time!