Anime Film ‘Given’ Offers Positive Queer Male Representation

Take a musical journey of healing this Pride month.

For better or for worse, boys’ love anime (hereinafter referred to as BL) has been slowly gaining attention from more mainstream audiences. It seems every season, there’s at least one BL series or movie in the lineup. Some of them even gain a fair bit of popularity, such as 2022’s Sasaki and Miyano and 2020’s Heaven Official’s Blessing. There’s really no shortage of BL titles to watch if you’re wanting to dive into the genre, but many of them are, admittedly, pretty cringe-worthy, and they can often include some rather poor representation. However, there is a fairly recent BL title that manages to avoid some of the usual pitfalls of the genre, and that is 2019’s Given.

Based on Natsuki Kizu’s manga of the same name, Given is the story of two boys, Ritsuka Uenoyama (Yuma Uchida) and Mafuyu Sato (Shogo Yano), as they grow closer during the formation of their band, aptly titled “Given.” Ritsuka is a talented guitar player but has grown bored with life. When he meets Mafuyu, the first thing he notices is the guitar in the boy’s hands. Though it’s a beautiful and expensive guitar, he soon learns that Mafuyu isn’t able to play it, and gets roped into teaching him how to play. During their lessons, Ritsuka soon realizes that Mafuyu has a gorgeous voice and decides he’d be perfect for the band.

Now, you might be asking yourself how this series is different from any other BL. On the surface, it’s yet another series that only focuses on two boys falling in love, without any real story behind it. It even has the age-old trope of touching hands while trying to teach someone to play an instrument. However, that’s where Given separates itself from most in its genre. One of the largest issues with BL as a genre for most viewers is the lack of positive and realistic LGBTQ characters. Often, men in the genre are never expressly stated to be queer, though the stories will completely revolve around the romantic relationships between men. They never seem to be any deeper than their relationship.

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Take a musical journey of healing this Pride month. For better or for worse, boys’ love anime (hereinafter referred to as BL) has been slowly gaining attention from more mainstream audiences. It seems every season, there’s at least one BL series or movie in the lineup. Some of them even gain a fair bit of…

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