Sasaki and Miyano – Episode 1

By: Dee January 9, 20220 Comments
Sasaki and Miyano crouch down across from each other. Miyano leans in excitedly while Sasaki watches him with surprise. Brightly colored lights and flowers burst out around them.

What’s it about? After helping out a fellow student who’s being bullied, covert geek Miyano and alleged delinquent Sasaki become friends. But there’s more to these two students than meets the eye, including Miyano’s passion for boys’ love (BL) manga and Sasaki’s growing crush on Miyano. As the two connect over fictional love stories, will a real-life romance blossom as well?

In a thus-far unremarkable winter season, I’m thrilled to say that Sasaki and Miyano’s premiere is a sweetly sincere young adult rom-com with confident direction, likable characters, and basically zero caveats. Isn’t it nice to have an easy add to the watchlist sometimes?

Miyano smiles brightly at Sasaki, blushing slightly. Subtitles read "I was nervous beause it's BL. I'm so happy to hear you say it was good!"
Consent issues are my forever BL No Fear/One Fear Meme, but so far, SasaMiya, so good.

Adapted from a manga by Sho Harusono originally published on Pixiv, SasaMiya isn’t technically a shoujo, but it sure does feel like one with its focus on interpersonal relationships, first-love jitters, and the way the anime delights in dousing the screen in sparkly bubbles whenever the leads are catching feels at each other. I say that as a high compliment, by the way—while fluffy friends-to-lovers stories aren’t everyone’s faves, as a fan of slow-burn rom-coms this premiere is very emphatically My Jam. (I think my only complaint with this premiere was “the jumps back-and-forth through time are a little confusing.” Harsh and damning criticism, I know.)

The co-protagonists are well-developed right out the gate, with a blend of personality traits and interests that don’t slot neatly into femme/masc gender roles. Fudanshi Miyano has a delicate appearance but hates sweets and dislikes being called “cute,” while Sasaki gets into fights and is always late to class but loves baking, enjoys shoujo manga, and spends a lot of time nervously thinking about how much he’s crushing on Miyano.

It’s too early to know if the series is intentionally pushing against traditional BL seme/uke archetypes or having a more general conversation about appearance versus reality and being your “true self” in front of others. Whatever the case, it’s always refreshing to see a series that’s so accepting of boys who enjoy “girly” hobbies like baking or reading BL. Hopefully it will keep drawing on those elements and encouraging its characters to accept themselves too—especially Miyano, whose internalized Geek Shame runs deep through this premiere.

A horrified Miyano is in a pop-up above an image of Sasaki smiling brightly. Subtitles read "Oure and genuine questions from a non-otaku! I'm so embarrassed!"
How dare they go back in time and steal this quote out of my teenage self’s brain, the nerve.

SasaMiya’s premise of “a BL manga about boys who bond over BL manga” feels like the kind of thing you could spend a long time untangling, given BL’s history as a female-targeted safe-space where girls self-insert as the male protagonist. While it’s a light touch, this first episode does seem at least somewhat aware of and interested in engaging with how BL manga does and doesn’t connect to real-world mlm relationships (although of course the “real-world relationship” is itself a BL fiction… like I said, it’s tangly, and we don’t have time to pick it all apart here). 

The way our co-protagonists both link and separate fiction from reality plays an important role in their stories as they navigate sexuality and heteronormativity. Miyano says he reads BL for fun and that he’s “not like that”—“not that there’s anything wrong with it,” he adds hurriedly. He also keeps half-joking(?) about shipping his male friends, which suggests he still sees queerness as more of a fantasy than a real aspect of many people’s lives. (This is also, importantly, the only time anyone scolds him for his love of BL, as if to remind the audience that there’s a big difference between shipping fictional characters and fetishizing actual human beings.)

Meanwhile for Sasaki, who’s already crushing on Miyano, BL manga becomes a place where he can both bond with his crush and see his feelings reflected through the stories’ characters. He’s still coming to terms with the fact that he’s attracted to a boy, and the way he talks about admiring a BL character for being “manly” suggests he’s grappling with his own internalized homophobia and stereotypes as well. None of this is explicitly said, mind you, but it’s woven neatly into the characters’ conversations and personal arcs as their relationship strengthens and Sasaki realizes his feelings.

A close-up of Sasaki, head resting in his arms, smiles gently. Bubbles burst around him. Subtitles read "I really liked that story."

I’m going hard on potential themes in this review because this is a feminist website and these conversations are important… But honestly, y’all? I didn’t like this premiere because of all that.

I liked SasaMiya because it’s well-directed and brightly animated, effectively establishing and endearing its characters to the audience. I liked it because it absolutely nails the feeling of being a teen geek whose interests don’t align with what you’re “supposed” to like, both in terms of how it depicts internalized shame as well as the delight of finding a peer who’s genuinely interested in your niche hobby. I liked it because it’s earnest and warmhearted and cute as all get-out.

The underlying conversations about gender roles, about heteronormativity, about how fiction can develop or stunt empathy and help you see yourself where you least expect it—all of that is great, absolutely, and I hope the series continues to work that into its narrative (and we get a really good article about it at some point). But mostly, I hope Sasaki and Miyano continues to be a charming series about good boys with good chemistry finding a place where they can be themselves. It’s certainly off to a very strong start.

About the Author : Dee

Dee has worn many hats at AniFem, including editor-in-chief, contributor liaison, and PR rep. She's mostly retired now, but the staff still lets her hang out and write sometimes. When she isn't facilitating Team Rocket's takeover of the website, she spends her free time devouring novels and comics, watching too much anime, and cheering very loudly for the Kansas Jayhawks. You can read more of her work at The Josei Next Door or hang out with her on Bluesky, Tumblr, or Twitter.

Read more articles from Dee

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