“given” is the queer music anime I’ve been waiting for
Most readily, we see this act of giving in Uenoyama’s musical mentorship of Mafuyu. It is through this queer relationship of teacher and student, of friend and friend, of partner and partner, that audiences are shown just how significant and important it can be to give something to someone you love.
In teaching Mafuyu about music, from the parts of a guitar to the buttons on an amp, Uenoyama gives Mafuyu the ability to channel and to redirect the trauma and grief he has experienced into a queered form of music therapy. These music lessons not only provide Mafuyu with compelling tools to heal from the death of his boyfriend Yuki, but they also provide him with dynamic ways to take his feelings and to make new meanings from them.
And, by taking the melody repeating in Mafuyu’s mind (a melody that was also once echoing in the mind of Yuki’s), and finishing it to completion, Uenoyama also gives to Mafuyu a piece of his memories made sonic, a vital opportunity to revisit, to relive in, and to finally reconcile with those precious moments he once spent with Yuki.
We also see acts of giving when Akihiko shares advice with both Uenoyama and Mafuyu in their specific times of need.
Akihiko’s frank, yet humorous, check-up with Uenoyama after a practice, and his subsequent advice, does important work in normalizing queerness.
His capability to empathetically meet Uenoyama where he’s mentally and emotionally at (a place of high-strung tension and confusion) shows his dedication not only to maintaining the longevity of their band, but it also shows his dedication to the actual well-being of Uenoyama as his friend, too.
Akihiko senses that what Uenoyama needs most in this moment is not an elaborate argument, but rather a gentle acceptance, a given truth. A truth that simply says, “no, there’s nothing wrong with being queer. There’s nothing wrong with being queer because I’m queer, too”.
So, when we finally hear Mafuyu sing the lyrics for the song Uenoyama has written for him at their band’s first show, when we finally hear and see him give to his band and to the audience access to the most intimate parts of himself he has been so scared to confront and to articulate, it’s nothing short of amazing.
When I first watched this scene I cried.
I cried simply because it was just that beautiful.
It was truly incredible to see just how wonderful and frightening it can be to give yourself over to the power of music, to give to others the most human and vulnerable parts of yourself.
And it’s not pressure to get back out there that Uenoyama gives to Mafuyu after they walk offstage together, it’s not a sharp demand, or a seething bite of criticism: it’s understanding. It’s a soothing compliment.
It’s a kiss.
Uenoyama knows how hard it must have been for Mafuyu to do what he just did, to give to the audience and to his bandmates those tender parts of himself through music. To see him do this finally gives Uenoyama the confidence to give to Mafuyu the most intimate, human, vulnerable, and tender part of himself, too.
And that part, that part is not simply just a kiss, but rather, ultimately, his love.