One of the best discoveries of the year!
Everyone in this series is a disaster gay and I can relate. Music is the central theme of this series as it centers around a group of men in their late teens/early twenties who have started a band. Ritsuka Uenoyama is the lead guitarist and protagonist of our series. Uenoyama hangs around in a certain stairwell at school to nap and one day finds Mafuyu in his usual spot. Mafuyu’s guitar has a broken string, and he asks Uenoyama to teach him how to play guitar after fixing it. Uenoyama isn’t confident in his teaching abilities but he agrees, and the moment he hears Mafuyu sing he is both infatuated and convinced he needs to become the singer for his band.
The band signs up for their first big live performance and they ask Mafuyu to write the lyrics and sing for their concert. Mafuyu is dealing with a lot mentally and emotionally, all dying back to the death of a close friend. When Uenoyama hears someone gossiping about Mafuyu’s past, he has to confront his own feelings about Mafuyu as and find a way to make things work out before they hit the stage
I absolutely LOVED this series so far. The cast is full of likable, relatable LGBT protagonists who are trying to live their lives without being defined by their sexuality. This absolutely goes into some deep themes here, including suicide, survivor’s guilt, and moving on. It’s a great balance of using the darker themes in orde to make the story relatable while also never feeling too sad or too upsetting to the point of putting the book down. When I finished volume 2 I was legitimately upset we didn’t have the next available to read. The relationship between Oenoyama and Mafuyu is a nice slow burn where you know they like one another but something is holding them back. Once you read about Mafuyu’s art it all makes sense, and it makes Oenoyama’s acceptance and willingness to try with him even more enjoyable.
I also really like that this is a series that has high school-aged characters that don’t act like high schoolers. With Haruki and Akihiko being in the band and in their 20s, it really takes this story to a more mature level. They don’t act like immature teens. The characters actually act like people on the cusp on adulthood who are trying to figure their lives out. It was really refreshing and fun to read this and I will absolutely get the whole series.
Title: Given Vol. 1 & 2
Author: Natsuki Kizu
Pages: 202 // 186
ISBN: 9781974711826 // 9781974711833
Three Descriptors: Honest, Emotional, Hopeful,