A Healing Romance- Sasaki and Miyano (Series Review)
There is a lot of really bad anime out there in the BL/ Shounen Ai genre-- and I mean a lot. However, I'm happy to say that this year's BL anime, Sasaki and Miyano, was not one of the bad ones. Actually, in my opinion, it's among the top best BL anime series ever made. (The bar is pretty low, though; it's not difficult to do better than so many failures.)
This post provides a brief review of Sasaki and Miyano. In the future, I may write in more detail about the interesting and positive elements of this anime.
The visuals in Sasaki and Miyano are quite pleasant. The characters are cute, with angular faces, good expressions, and intense (or adorable) eyes. The colors are fairly basic but the lighting and shading are good and creative. Sparkles, floating lights and geometric shapes are abundant in this anime. It's also nice and funny when the animation changes styles to a cutesy, chibi version. It helps keep things light-hearted.
Now, if you don't like flowery animation that changes style or uses floating shapes to set a mood, naturally you won't like the style of Sasaki and Miyano. However, I enjoyed it immensely.
The story category includes plot, structure, originality, and themes, as well as series-specific elements such as humor balance or general atmosphere. Sasaki and Miyano has a simple and straightforward plot. Over the course of about a year, Miyano slowly falls in love with Sasaki. As for Sasaki, he liked Miyano from very early on, so his side of the story is balancing friendship and romantic feelings. There is nothing special about the plot progression or structure, nor are there any exciting plot twists. It's not that kind of story.
Sasaki and Miyano is fairly original for a BL anime. There were not as many overused tropes. Additionally, there were original elements, such as Miyano's love of BL manga. The themes explored in the story were great, too. Examples include self-discovery, learning to be assertive, and accepting people as they are.
There wasn't anything hilarious in this anime, but a few mildly humorous moments helped balance it. The atmosphere is gentle, sweet, and wholesome, so it's no wonder this series has been called "healing." Overall, the story category was good.
I don't have as much to say as usual about the audio category. While everything sounded pretty good, it was nothing to write home about. I enjoyed the OST scores, but I wasn't too fond of the opening song nor the outro. The intro, by the way, is called "Mabataki" by Miracle Chimpanzee. The ending song is "Strawberry Sunset," performed by the Japanese voice actors for Sasaki (Yuusuke Shirai) and Miyano (Souma Saito).
Speaking of voice-acting, it was decent. I'm not familiar with other roles by Shirai or Saito, but I recognized some of the supporting cast. (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka voiced the reliable Hirano-senpai.) Everyone did well. Note: I've heard lots of good things about the English dub, so maybe check that out if you aren't into the Japanese actors.
(Video: Sasaki to Miyano OST track #2)
The two main characters are well-written and flushed out. The supporting cast was a little bland, but not terrible. I enjoyed the character of Hanzawa-senpai. Going back to the main characters, Miyano and Sasaki have very different personalities, which makes for an interesting dynamic. (In terms of MBTI, Miyano is INFJ and Sasaki is ESFP.) I loved the insightful, contemplative personality of Miyano. It was easy to empathize with him as a fellow awkward introvert. Sasaki was a lot of fun, and I appreciated the more extraverted perspectives he gave.
I'm happy that Sasaki is so sweet and careful when it comes to Miyano. There are way too many aggressive, creepy guys in the BL genre, so Sasaki was a breath of fresh air. On a final note, while there is still a little bit of an uke-seme dynamic between the two boys, it's not rigid or toxic like what you normally see in this genre.
Personal Enjoyment: 9
You might be wondering why I enjoyed Sasaki and Miyano so much. These characters are too young and immature for someone my age to find hot/sexy, but that was never my reason for watching. No matter one's age or orientation, one can still enjoy this wholesome and sweet romance story. I tend to enjoy darker anime series, so I really needed something sweet to balance it out. Sometimes all you need is some fluff and sparkles.
Another reason I like this anime is that it's decent representation for gay and bisexual people. I'm under the bisexual umbrella myself, and I empathized with Miyano's self-discovery related to that topic. In Sasaki and Miyano, the presence of cultural background homophobia provided some realism. That being said, it was nice that Miyano's friends were not homophobic, so we didn't have to deal with bullying scenes.
We should wrap up this category before I start to ramble. There is a lot to enjoy in this anime, but for me, the two biggest factors were wholesome romance and positive LGBT+ representation.
Overall Score: 7.8 / 10.0
Sasaki and Miyano is currently enjoying a score of 8.24 on MAL. My score for the series was lower because it's the average of five different categories. In terms of personal enjoyment alone, I would give this anime 9/10. I highly recommend watching the series, especially if you are looking for a BL anime that isn't riddled with toxicity.
Thank you for reading~