Story & Art by Natsuki Kizu
Translated by Sabrina Heep
Cover & Graphic Design by Jimmy Presler
Edited by Beryl Becker
Given had a promising introduction and its second volume aims to capitalize on that potential. The band is continuing to practice for their upcoming live performance, but Mafuyu and Ritsuka seem occupied by other thoughts. As the days dwindle down, both musicians must come to terms with their own emotions and why they wish to play music in the first place.
While Given centers on a band, it’s narrative is less about their music itself, and more so the intent behind their music. In the previous volume, Ritsuka realized that he had been feeling a sense of frustration around Mafuyu, but he’s come to realize that it was his own romantic feelings for him. While Ritsuka’s attraction to Mafuyu is important, the reveal isn’t dramatized within the narrative itself. When Akihiko notices Ritsuka’s feelings, he treats it naturally and even discloses his own bi-sexuality. It’s refreshing to see these topics handled in a caring and open manner, and it allows the story to dive into how Ritsuka’s attraction to Mafuyu is affecting him. Ritsuka used to aim for perfection with his own music, but around Mafuyu he’s noticed his meticulous mentality begins to fade. For Ritsuka, it’s that loss of perfection that brings him happiness. Being around Mafuyu and seeing his growth reminds Ritsuka of the unrelenting passion he had for music in his youth, and he values the return of those feelings.
As Ritsuka comes to terms with his own feelings, Mafuyu faces the regrets of his past. As he tries to write lyrics for the band’s song, he is constantly reminded about his deceased boyfriend Yuki. Mafuyu still feels that his last argument with Yuki led to his suicide, and as a result, he doesn’t know how to express his complicated emotions. SeeingMafuyu explore his own frustration and loneliness is fascinating, and it serves as an effective climax during the band’s live performance. Mafuyu’s music is an extension of himself and his memories.
Natsuki Kizu’s artwork is as impressive as always. Given tends to have fairly minimal backgrounds, usually only depicting nearby objects relevant to the scene. This choice helps maintain the reader’s focus on the characters, watching their changes in demeanor as they face their struggles. This volume also frequently transitions between the past and present events of the cast, particularly in the case of Mafuyu. The flashbacks feel distinct due to the difference in shading and screen tones, giving these moments a more dream-like aesthetic. Given has a solid balance of subtle visual techniques that pairs perfectly with its narrative.
Given has continued to be a gripping manga, as the characters explore their own emotions and channel it through music. Mafuyu and Ritsuka have reached a new stage in their relationship, and their growth as both individuals and musicians has been immense. You don’t need any sound to be sold on this band.