I have had my fair share of yaoi anime and shounen-ai in my life and most of them either started with an obsession, harassment or worse rape. In a lot of cases, the relationships become so toxic that it’s become so normal to cheer everytime a seme does something “normal” like you know, being a good boyfriend for once.
Today, we’ll talk about three things why Given is different from the rest and why this may be my new favorite yaoi anime of all time.
Awkward encounters, with funny results
At the start, both characters are awkward around each other. This comes with a lot of funny scenarios such as Uenoyama asking himself if he’s gay or not. This makes their interactions somewhat realistic as opposed to the forced relationships that most popular anime in the same genre. This makes it relatable to men and young men who also had to go through the same process, may it be initial denial of being gay for someone or being gay and eventually accepting it.
Organic relationship with real issues and experiences
Although Mafuyu at the start have his issues and baggage, the way that he and Uenoyama met was not forced. It was developed through time. There was no arranged marriage, no “special pheromones” or reasons of money as well as imbalance of power between them (like how a certain boss and employee relationship started, hint hint, nudge nudge). This leads to them supporting each other without a sense of entitlement. And frankly, I think this is how every relationship should work in real life and fiction.
Wholesome, consensual and generally light hearted
Unlike Junjou Romantica for example that started out as rape and gradually became consensual, Ueonoyama and Mafuyu started as regular strangers who did not coerced one to enter into a relationship. This is far cry from some of the more popular anime out there that only gave birth to a relationship simply because of unfair circumstances or coercion. This teaches us to be more discerning not just in our quest for gay relationships. This advise applies to everyone. And that makes it all the more a breath of fresh air in a world, both real and fictional, saturated with unhealthy and toxic relationships.
The main lesson
For all things mentioned, one overarching theme dominates. Relationships are forged and developed rather than forced. This makes consensual, healthy and free from entitlement. By being organic about their characters and tackling real world experiences that most young men goes through in real life, Given becomes a very relatable anime for everyone watching.
While there is some awkwardness, it’s precisely this stage of figuring it out, this uncertainty that makes the couple more appealing and even more relatable. Uenoyama’s denial of being gay then eventual acceptance is an all too real situation that some men of the same age had to go through. Furthermore, their relationship was consensual and developed organically, never using a heavy baggage of the past as an excuse to maltreat one lover.
In short, Given has “given” us quite a healthy relationship in a landscape rife with unhealthy obsessions and power plays.
It is a breath of fresh air that supplants even some beloved classics like Junjou Romantica. For sure, Given has not just given so much lessons, but has taken our hearts as well.