The Winter 2022 Preview Guide
Sasaki and Miyano
How would you rate episode 1 of
Sasaki and Miyano ?
Community score: 4.0
What is this?
Miyano spends his days peacefully reading Boys' Love comics and worrying about how girly his face is—until a chance encounter leads to a scuffle with his senior Sasaki. Intrigued by his feisty junior Miyano, delinquent Sasaki uses every opportunity he can to get closer.
How was the first episode?
Vignette-based storytelling is pretty tough to pull off. It tends to work best in comedies, where a setup and punchline replicates the traditional narrative structure of setting/rising action/climax/denouement. Slice-of-life and romance are trickier; when it works, it feels like we're getting glimpses of key moments as the characters go about their daily business. At least as often, however, the attempt at capturing the emotion of a particular exchange feels unearned without the hard work of building up to it. Happily, Sasaki and Miyano is one of the former rather than the latter.
A lot of that lies in how believable it makes the characters and their relationship. They're not super well-rounded, full people, but the traits they do have are grounded in reality rather than simple archetypes. Sure, Sasaki is a delinquent with a heart of gold, but that's not what drives his role in the world of the story. Instead, it's his blatant attempts to flirt with Miyano, which the smaller boy is tragically oblivious to. While it's unclear whether he knew he was attracted to men before, borrowing BL from Miyano appears to be both an excuse to talk to him and also a way to explore his possibly newfound sexuality.
Meanwhile, Miyano doesn't seem ready to admit the same to himself. He sublimates and abstracts his own queerness into an interest in BL, preferring a voyeuristic role. He does occasionally extend it to real people in his life, which is definitely a violation, even if him spying on a fight when Sasaki intervenes is the inciting incident. Still, I can't be too hard on him – the kid is working through something, and hopefully he'll stop once he comes to terms with himself.
My one issue with the premiere, other than weak production values, was the choice to show the events out of chronological order. That's probably how the manga was, since it's a common approach in web series, but it made it hard for me to get into the show until I started to actually get a feel for the characters. Who were these boys and why do I care that Miyano doesn't like sweets? I'm predisposed to like BL, but I'm not automatically invested in the idea of two boys touching hands without having a reason. As the episode went on and I got to know them, I did warm up, but it would have happened much faster if I'd seen the natural progression of their friendship instead of bits and pieces out of order. I also would have warmed to Miyano much earlier, since I'd have a better sense for the underlying causes of his voyeuristic tendencies.
Sasaki and Miyano is sweet simplicity: not groundbreaking, but a nice, pleasant little romance series where the characters treat each other kindly.
There's something refreshing about just giving up on “sub-text” and going with plain-old “text” instead. Sasaki and Miyano is a rather lighthearted “boys love” story about a pair of high school kids, the titular Sasaki and Miyano. The show starts by showing us things from Miyano's point of view—that he views Sasaki as the cool guy who is the “man of action” that Miyano only wishes he could be. He certainly looks up to Sasaki and values their friendship greatly—especially once he is able to gush to Sasaki about his secret passion for BL manga without being judged negatively for it. Yet, at the moment, that seems to be the limit of his feelings.
The back half of the episode, on the other hand, shows us things from Sasaki's viewpoint—namely that he has a full-blown crush on his petite underclassman. The problem is that he has no idea how to figure out if Miyano is interested in men in general, much less himself in specific. Oh sure, Miyano likes BL manga but that doesn't necessarily mean that he is gay. Thus, Sasaki finds himself treating Miyano as a potential romantic partner—giving him gifts and learning about his likes and dislikes. And, at the same time, whenever he finds that they are in what could be considered a cliché romantic situation—e.g., sharing an umbrella or sharing a drink—he tries to gauge Miyano's reaction while futilely trying to control his own. It's silly and cute—and even if you're not interested in homosexual relationships yourself, there's still a lot that's relatable in how the pair feel for each other. In other words, this looks to be a good entry point for those looking to dip their toes into the genre—especially if you're interested in trying one out that isn't at all raunchy (at least so far, anyway).
This is another one of those where I probably have an unfair advantage in that I've read the manga. Unlike The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest, however, Sasaki and Miyano isn't so much flying through the source material or outright skipping major pieces of it; instead, it's hopping around through time, giving us past and present events without much indication of which is which. I suppose in some ways this could be seen as an effort to mirror the way that the manga alternates between full chapters and four-panel pieces, but it definitely works better in book form.
That said, I still very much enjoyed this episode. It captures the slow sweetness of the manga, which revolves around the process of the boys figuring out their feelings for each other. Or rather, Miyano figuring things out, because Sasaki by the end of this episode is fully aware that he's interested in and attracted to Miyano. The length of time it takes him to come to this conclusion does risk falling into one of my least favorite tropes in BL and yuri: “gay for you,” which is frankly nonsensical because bi-and- pansexuality both exist, but we can also read it as Sasaki just never having had a crush on anyone before or considered who he's attracted to. (Because demisexual and demiromantic also both exist.) It feels more like that from this episode, because there's really only cursory “but he's a guy” comments as Sasaki thinks about the younger boy.
It's also nice, from a manga reader perspective, that the term fudanshi is used in the subtitles here, because that's what Miyano is: a male fan of BL. He's also very, very secretive about it, so we have to assume that he trusts Sasaki to some degree right from the start, because he immediately lends him a volume of manga that he's clearly embarrassed to own. It helps that Sasaki readily admits to liking his sister's shōjo manga, so he's plainly not judgmental about genres and demographics. It's really that one line that shows us who Sasaki is as a person, especially when paired with the fact that he saved Miyano from having to break up a fight even though he's not that good at fighting himself. He's just a nice guy.
Admittedly Sasaki gets the bulk of the character development here, and only one of the secondary characters even gets a name. Neither of those are bad things, and I appreciate not having a whole boatload of names thrown at us right off the bat, but it would have been nice to get a bit more of Miyano beyond “embarrassed to be a fudanshi and doesn't like sweets or being called cute.” But there's time for that, just as there's time for the show to tone down the pastel rainbows and bubbles and random flying shapes, which are my biggest issue with the visuals. This is a slow burn, and it's not without its faults, but I think it'll be worthwhile.
Well isn't this just gosh dang adorable? Seems we're getting spoiled with romcoms this season between Takagi-san, My Dress-Up Darling, and now this sweet and fluffy little series. I certainly won't complain, as watching anime teenagers trip over their own feelings is one of the finest luxuries life can offer.
Granted, the "rom" half of the formula has only barely started to surface by the time credits roll here. Pretty much the entire episode is just watching our titular boys chat, hang out, trade manga, and occasionally break out in a beet-red blush whenever the other does something especially cute. It's most certainly going to be a slow-burn kind of romance, considering Sasaki is the only one of the pair to realize he's caught feelings for now, but that's just fine when the characters are this likable.
Miyano at first seems like the timid, quivering type, but it turns out that's only when he's afraid of people finding out about his interest in BL manga, and once he's established a connection with Sasaki he quickly becomes the more level headed of the pair. Sasaki, meanwhile, is your classic delinquent with a heart of gold, willing to take up fights when necessary, but always doing it to help others. He's also surprisingly sensitive, getting more nervous as he comes to realize he's fallen for Sasaki, and routinely zoning out as he reminisces about how they met. There's not really a plot to speak of in this episode, rather opting for a series of vignettes that slowly build the chemistry of our main couple, but it's all so charming that it never feels aimless. Most importantly it's just fun to hang out with these two, learning more about what makes them tick and what interests them about the other, and that's a sign you've got a good romantic dynamic going.
Overall this is just a really, really cute romance, and it's managed to be super endearing from the get-go. Doubtlessly things will get more complicated as new characters and stories get introduced, but as a fluffy dessert this more than hits the mark.
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