Any anime season with a BL adaptation is a lucky season, and fortunately we have one this winter courtesy of Sasaki and Miyano. Based on the manga by Shou Harusono, the series is a lighthearted romcom starring two wildly different high schoolers. Sasaki is a simple-minded troublemaker and Miyano is the earnest BL fanboy who causes Sasaki to have telltale “but he’s a boy…” thoughts. How does the anime compare to the manga? Does it make a good first impression?
One element that separates okay adaptations from great adaptations is the successful transference of an artist’s style into animation. I’m happy to say that the Sasaki and Miyano anime looks like the manga, and not in a stilted frame rate sort of way. There’s a softness and shininess to the aesthetics of both versions that reinforces the protagonists’ romantic feelings and the lighthearted tone with which the series approaches the subject matter.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the frequent use of background patterns. This episode is full of flowers, sparkly orbs, and other shapes that really channel the feel of manga screen tones and effectively convey Sasaki’s blooming feelings for Miyano. These patterns sometimes even overlay the characters themselves, making the young love feel all the closer and more relatable. It’s also worth noting the presence of lovely nature imagery at crucial plot points as well as certain frames’ resemblances to the manga’s color pages and cover art. All in all the aesthetic is relaxing and pleasing to look at, perfect for a story about young love.
Plot-wise the episode introduces the series’ titular pair, shows us their first time meeting, and provides a sense of what their relationship is like now. The very nature of the initial chance encounter is indicative of the pair’s differences: while they’re both conscientious, Miyano is more gentle and subdued while Sasaki is outgoing and blunt to the point of recklessness. This results in friction not due to moral disparities but due to Miyano’s anxiety and to fundamental contrasts in how the two approach communication. With such built-in contrast their relationship is off to a promising start, even if neither character is particularly dynamic or fleshed out yet.
Though they are a bit flat, the lead duo is still likeable. Sasaki doesn’t come across as too oblivious because it’s clear that his heart is in the right place, to the point that he has no shame in loudly talking about BL manga where others could overhear them. For Miyano, the much more consciously closeted of the two, such a thought is horrifying. With that said, he enjoys having said discussions in private. This plot point of the two bonding over shared BL manga is an interesting one. Asides from the meta nature of it, it allows the prospect of male-male relationships to arise first in a context of acceptance and legitimate appreciation. When it comes to his own feelings for Miyano, Sasaki has many “He’s cute…for a boy” type thoughts, but it’s clear that this isn’t going to be an angsty series at all. Your mileage may vary on how tiresome certain tropes have gotten, but at least the series utilizes them earnestly as vehicles for character bonding.
Overall, Sasaki and Miyano makes a solid debut. The lead pair are likable and the their relationship is already sweet. The art style also very impressively captures the feeling of the manga while still looking good in motion. With all that said nothing here is particularly deep or unique as of yet; it’s just a simple feel-good love story. But hey, there’s always a demand for fluff, isn’t there?
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