Summer is coming to a close, but delayed movies are being pumped into the theater every week now that the COVID-19 pandemic has come to a steady halt throughout most of Japan. Originally slated for release back in May, the boy’s love film, Given (2020) saw its theatrical debut this August.
Picking up where the anime left off, Haruki enters their recorded live video (as seen in episode 9) for an amateur’s debut contest. The winners of the contest will be allowed to participate in an upcoming music festival as a special guest alongside more famous acts. This comes as a surprise to everyone else, who had forgotten that Haruki mentioned his plans when they decided on their band’s name. Haruki reveals they have already made it past the first round, and are climbing their way to the top in the second round, a round judged by fan-votes. With a position in the final round practically promised, Uenoyama and Mafuyu immediately get to work on writing their second song. Mafuyu, in particular, seeks guidance from Akihiko’s roommate and ex-boyfriend, Ugetsu, a talented violinist.
Meanwhile, Akihiko and his not-so ex-boyfriend, Ugetsu get into a heated argument, ending with Akihiko moving out, and into Haruki’s apartment. This is where Haruki must face his growing attraction to his bandmate before both of their own issues destroy their love of music.
While there are a few moments between Uenoyama and Mafuyu throughout, several sequences that were in the manga have been cut from the film. Given focuses mainly on the growing tension between Akihiko and Haruki as they sort out their feelings for each other. On one hand, cutting content from the manga actually works to the film’s benefit by keeping the central conflict of the film on-screen at all times. Between the music competition, Haruki and Akihiko’s relationship, and Mafuyu working alongside Ugetsu, having another subplot between Uenoyama and Mafuyu could have caused the film to feel disjointed and unfocused. The manga content was just a few small scenarios and internal monologues (partially from Uenoyama) that were, for the most part, unrelated to the other story arcs used in the movie. The cut content can easily be used in future anime projects, should Given be continued in another movie, or a second TV anime.
However, because of this, the film’s runtime is only an hour long. Leaving the theater, Given felt more like a glorified OVA than a feature film worth spending 1,700 yen on a ticket for.
Two pieces of theme music were written for Given. Centimeillimental returned to continue his work from the TV anime, writing both pieces of theme music and performing one himself (僕らだけの主題歌, lit. Our Theme Song). The second theme song (夜が明ける, lit. Day Will Break Soon) was performed by Mafuyu’s voice actor, Shougo Yano, for when the four take the stage at the end of the film.
Since his performance in “冬のはなし” and “まるつけ”, Shougo Yano has shown improvement in his already exceptional talents. It’s interesting seeing his range, performing as a character like Mafuyu who is usually soft-spoken, to suddenly belting out his lungs in rock power-ballads.
Both songs capture the themes of the film, expressing Akihiko and Haruki’s journey with each other until they can finally sort out their feelings for a hopeful, happy future together. Enjoyable, heartfelt, and easy on the ears, both “僕らだけの主題歌” and “夜が明ける” are sure-fire hits.
Despite the film’s short length, and a few plot cliches (more at the fault of the original author’s manga), Given is a delightful inclusion, complimenting the 2019 TV series well. Enough loose threads are hanging at the end for the audience to tug at, begging for further installments. While ending on a much deserved happy note, there is still a growing rivalry between the band Given and Mafuyu’s childhood friends who’ve formed a band of their own. Beyond the romance, there is plenty more for the story to explore.
For now, it would seem the film concluded the relationship-building arcs. While there has been no immediate follow-up project announced, with the series’s growing popularity, and the 6th volume of the manga hitting Japan’s bookstores, a second TV series or another movie might not be so far off. With Given out of the way, Blue Lynx is pushing forward next week with the release of their third and final boy’s love film this year, L’étranger de la Plage.
Off to the theater one more time.