Sakamichi no Apollon | Worth Watching?

Today we review, Sakamichi no Apollon or known by its English title of “Kids on the Slope”. This was an Anime I really enjoyed. I thought it was a wonderful Anime and in my opinion, is an Anime that more people should really know about. Hence, this review today. Sakamichi no Apollon, is labelled as a DramaJoseiMusicRomance, and School. So in terms of variety, there are tons and gives way to a lot of ‘untapped’ potential.

Kids on the Slope details friendship and is one of the most important elements of the series and should not be just seen as an aspect of the anime but in real life as well. Kaoru, Sentaro, Ritsuko forge a friendship through one common passion: the love of music and the bond that they share.

This series does not have a strong impression at first. From the first episode, there’s not much to say besides the typical high school drama and music setting. Furthermore, for those carving for action and psychological twists or for some who call it “mindfucks”, then this is the wrong series to look into. Thankfully, there’s an old saying that goes “never judge a book by its cover”. Damn right, you shouldn’t because this coming-of-age drama is sure to give you a surprising twist.

In the beginning, there is the common theme. Kaoru falls for the friendly girl, Sentaro falls for the graceful girl, and Ritsuko is already in love with the childhood bad boy. Then comes even more characters that make the already complicated geometric love shape even more complicated later on.

Kids on the Slope moves at a relative pace that can be considered neither slow or fast. Ironically, it starts off slow even though it’s kids on the SLOPE. Anything that flows down a slope relatively moves fast but in this case, retains a relatively average pace. So I’ll say this again, this series is not for the fans who carves the fast-paced action and psychological twists. If you want that, try Jormungand or something.

While the characters are animated plainly and simple, their inner character and style are what drives this series as why it’s ranked into the #100 of MAL. Beyond the romance, the polygon is characters that balance out the series.

First, we have Kaoru, the middleman who has the reserved personality. He is smart, he is reserved, and he has the talents to become a real star. Thankfully with some fate, he finds someone who also shares a similar love for the age of music. That brings us to Sentaro. Like the opposite of ying and yang, Sentaro is seen as the tough guy with the soft spot, the one that picks fights but also the guy who protects and values his friendship with the other characters from the bottom of his heart. His outer image covers up the fact that he is a deep down guy and cares for the people and things he truly loves; his friends, his family, and the children that respect him so much and of course, music. Finally, there’s Ritsuko. She is the cheerful girl, the one that builds bridges of friendship with friends and generally well-liked. Yet behind her outer image lies a somewhat insecure girl and sometimes jealous of others’ ability to be so outright themselves.

Later on, of course, there are other characters that enter the scene that have stark personalities and also not who they appear to be. I’d love to go on and on about these characters but this isn’t a summary is it? This is a review so I’ll leave you to find out. But trust me, you’ll love to get to know them once you see the realism behind their outer characters.

And speaking of realism, it is noticeable that the characters’ personal lives are conveyed in a way that can be seen and defined as quite real. Whether tragic, sad, or cheerful, we see the histories of the main characters that can be related to most of us. They all have background histories that brings the overall realism into the 1960’s and even towards today.
The animation is not rich and series airing this Spring Season like Fate/Zero puts it to shame in the art department. The animation, however, brings out a powerful feeling of nature and refines the 1960s style in its finest form. While plain and simple (Karou’s glasses, Sentaro’s shirt, etc), we can see that the culture it tries to convey of the 1960s is successful. Culture has indeed changed from the past to the present day as we can clearly see the lesser technology and more general and sophisticated themes. It is simple and not detailed just like how high school should be. It doesn’t need to be something special that makes us go “wow!” After all, the premise of an entire series is not always judged by art solely. At one point of watching over 100 series, it’s just downright common sense.

Music and life play a key role in this series and thus, one could expect the melancholy and drama the music lyrics conveys and delivers. With the ultra-talented Yoko Kanno in charge, one can expect a blockbuster hit and smash of the season. And she does not disappoint, neither her skills or the characters’ that plays both artistically and beautifully in the series.

In fact, the music in the series plays well, even in rhythm with the main characters. If you take careful notice, the way and style they play their instruments systemically match their art and moments. The way the characters play the music is natural and in the ways, they are of themselves, not for a popularity contest. To play music and bring pleasure to the ears is something to respect and take notice of. These kids really do have talent.

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  1. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, musical direction by Yoko Kanno (the Cowboy Bebop team). I like Kids a lot…it plays fair with the characters and lets them live real lives.

  2. This was a fantastic anime! I was initially turned off by the thought of yet another slice-of-life boys-to-men anime plus romantic triangle but it worked well.

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