Sasaki and Miyano
Episode 3

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Sasaki and Miyano ?
Community score: 4.3

Last time, I mentioned briefly how Miyano and Sasaki's shared interest in BL manga helped characterize the pair, but the further we get into this show the more evident it becomes that this is more than just some cheeky genre commentary. BL has long been a genre that embraces its surrounding fandom, to the point where it's all but expected for modern stories to incorporate fandom lingo. SasaMiya certainly does that some, with the running gag of Miyano mentally labeling his classmates as “Uke” or “Seme” based on their personalities, but it's when someone confronts Sasaki about his interest in BL that the show really brings it all together.

“I think BL is what made this story possible.” On the surface that's just a basic statement of opinion from Sasaki, that the manga stories he's reading resonate because they're about two men falling in love, rather than a theoretical straight couple with the same dynamic. Which is true enough—while queer love stories have as much potential range as het ones, the choice of telling a queer story in a society or industry dominated by heteronormative assumptions necessarily changes a story's nature in some fashion. But you can also read it as the story saying that its own genre is what allows it to be told. BL is not only the common point of interest that brings our leads together, but the means through which they poke and prod at the borders of their relationship throughout this whole episode.

The first, and most hilarious instance, is Sasaki's failed attempt at flirting when Miyano calls him “cat-tongued,” complete with an awkward little blep. There's not anything deep to pontificate on that part, it's just cute as hell. As is Miyano instinctively looking to his manga collection for advice on giving a return gift over Sasaki's Valentine's chocolate. (Though, on that topic, am I the only one confused on that? I could have sworn Sasaki didn't give those chocolates to him. Am I misremembering?) On top of being adorable though, it's also evident that both are looking to these fictional examples for ways to express or explore their developing feelings. That hits pretty close to home, and speaks to how fiction can shape people's perspectives. BL makes this story possible in- and out-of-universe, and that's pretty neat.

Of course, Miyano is still less than comfortable with all of this. For him, BL is both a sanctuary to play with his attraction to men, and a shield to hide behind whenever applying those feelings to real life comes up. He'll self-ascribe as a Fudanshi, but the moment Sasaki's classmate asks if he's “into that” it's time to flee in fear. And while this could eventually turn into a tiresome way for the story to stretch out the pair getting together, it's also pretty relatable. Coming out, even just to yourself, can be terrifyingly vulnerable, especially when you're a teenager scared of losing friends or drawing attention to yourself if anyone finds out.

Speaking of, this episode we also start expanding the cast, most notably Ogasawara, the classmate who gets all up in Sasaki's business. He's very much the kind of insecure teenager who freaks out over the thought of guys kissing. If you went to high school you've seen at least a few people like this, and while he could stand to cut out the microaggressions, I do like how the writing goes about defanging him. Getting all insecure over his girlfriend's interest in BL manga is hilarious, and speaks to a very typical kind of insecure masculinity that he could hopefully grow out of in time. Maybe a few years from now he'll experiment with his college GF and learn he's super into pegging or something. For now, though, he's a suitably grounded kind of homophobic for this story: not an aggressive or cartoonish bigot, but certainly the kind of guy who thoughtlessly uses “gay” as an insult and gets squeamish over guys holding hands. While I don't expect this show to have an extended arc about confronting him on all of this, I do think there's potential for an engaging and thoughtful conflict with him.

Otherwise, we're just digging into the central relationship, and while the story's gotten a bit of a jump start with Sasaki's overheard confession, we're still vibing along a lazy river. This week's Cute Detail Award goes to Sasaki's imaginary romantic moment with Miyano being in anamorphic widescreen, contrasted with Miyano's lace-and-flowers smothered shojo romance dream spot. Keep that up and these two are gonna kill me by the end of the season.

Rating:

Sasaki and Miyano is currently streaming on Funimation.


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