Synonyms: Sakamichi no Aporon, Kids on the Slope
Published: Sep 28, 2007 to Jan 28, 2012
Authors: Kodama, Yuki (Story & Art)
Serialization: Flowers (Monthly)
Score: 8.721 (scored by 1860 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page.
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Apr 30, 2012
Music. Do you know how powerful can it be? C'mon, I bet music changed your life or your day, at least once. Now, jazz songs. Jazz is contagious, you hear it and starts tapping your fingers, moving your shoulders or doing weird footsteps under the table. It's magical! In the end, you're smiling and you don't even know how that happened. You're just smiling, even if you got some problems here and there... And this is what this manga is talking about.
In the late 60s, we got a freshman high school student Kaoru, who not so coincidentally looks like a American jazz pianist, Bill Evans, in the early days. He's our honor student kind of character and just moved to Kyushu to live with relatives. In school, he's not the most social guy, but destiny brings two new friends, Sentarou and Ritsuko. Sen introduces him to jazz music and after being told he can't play other music style, 'cause he's a "piano-classic-songs boy", Kaoru accepts the challenge and try to learn how to play jazz, without knowing he'll not only change his music style, but change inside, change himself.
The story goes by. New characters appear, revelations, some little plot twists that make you feel a tightness in the heart. It's a slice of life, don't expect action or explosions, don't expect the answer to the Universe. This is simple and pure slice of life. Their lives, their thoughts, their feelings (oh, their feelings!) and their problems. That kind of manga you read and say: "oh man, I'm this character" (hey, Kaoru, I'm with you!). The characters aren't ORIGINAL, you have seen a lot of characters like them, "big brother mentor", "childhood friends", "delinquent", "cute girl" and "megane". Yes, they aren't original, but they're UNIQUE. Little details makes you love them... I like how things happen, isn't your "oh, let's put 60 chapters and solve things, I don't know, in the 59th chapter". It's your "Oh my, is this really happening? But it's only chapter 14... Oh, oh, go for it! But wait, oh my" (I'm sorry, that's my inner self talking).
So, you ask me: "Why should I read this manga?" Because it's good. It has quality! Doesn't matter if it isn't the most original one, it's unique. Introduces you to a Japan in the 60s with culture and costumes being corrupted. We got japanese christian, which it's the first time I see it in a manga. We got a imaginary triangule and "love hurts" from a new perspective, not your shoujo-type "He hates me, sniff sniff, I want to die". This is Josei, people are dealing with their problems, they're facing past issues, changing little by little. The art is a little retro too and I like the artist style. The music recommendations are the best too! So, please, give it a try. If you don't like it, I'm sorry, but I'm in love with this story.
Put some jazz, read it and travel with the characters to the beginning of japanese summer in 1966.
** This isn't yaoi or shounen-ai. Bromance? Well, maybe a little, if your idea of "friendship" is "boy huging boy? gay!", but for me is just friendship, two friends laughing, facing life and being comrades. I watched the anime first and I got to say: the anime exaggerates a little bit if you compare it with the manga. But, well, that always happens! read more
Dec 8, 2012
That definition also best describes Sakamichi No Apollon.
As the winner of the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award for General Manga, I don't think you could really expect anything sub-par. Kaoru, a stotic, young, freshman in highschool during the 60's, began living at his aunt's house as a result of his father's excessive moving. He has no means of making friends or memories, since he has always been transferred out of the class before any true friendship could blossom. And yet, the two people he meets on the first day of school, Ritsuko and Sentarou, eventually manage to change his way of thinking, and his way of life.
The characters and the development in this series is excellent. The world of jazz manages to pull the unexpected three together into a friendship for life. And get this –it isn't sappy. The feelings, the conflicts, the misunderstandings, and the (very) young love is realistic and sensible. Their relationships were the best part about it; a whirlwind of fast-paced feelings that are similar to the nature of jazz. Many of the characters are based off of high school tropes (ie: the quiet boy with glasses), but there are little flaws and characteristics built into each one in order to make them unique. This story is mainly character-driven, and as you could probably tell from my total rating, they are done extremely well.
Though Sakamichi No Apollon is a slice-of-life that focuses it's plot on the different, social situations, it never falls into generic high-school tropes. And despite the fact that the slice-of-life genre can be the longest, and cover the most in a character's life, this manga downplays it quite a bit. Sakamichi No Apollon is focused on the experience and little changes in Kaoru's life. And it only takes 9 volumes to do so. He's a piano player who changes his style from strictly classical to jazzy 'swing'. He falls in love; something he probably thought he could never do. He changes from an outcast to a pretty social guy. Sakamichi No Apollon chronicles the little things in life. One may say that there isn't a true plot to this manga, but I beg to differ. This manga covers Kaoru's life during the early years in high school. I mean, it's high school in the 60's, for crying out loud; it's the time of his life!
I don't really have much to say about the pacing or the narration, other than the fact it's superb. The ending was a bit rushed, but the concept of it was still meaningful. The atmosphere and the setting too: I don't think I could give a accurate description of it, except that when everything is over and done, you'll be left with a soft, fuzzy image of two boys running down a hill, living for every moment in their youthful lives.
Sakamichi No Apollon (aka. Kids On The Slope) was magnificent. The effort, the creativity, and the teens who are ever-so naive – all of it is packed within a story which parallels the world of jazz. It's a fairly simple story, but then there are the characters, who, being teenagers, are always so complex. And it's something surprising for a josei; it doesn't primarily focus on romance. So because it allows the reader to slip into the lives of the characters during the 60's with realistic ease, it deserves a 9.0 / 10.0.
(To add a side note, I'm sure we've all read a manga before with music involved. They usually tell you the lyrics and the title, and that's as far as the musical impact goes, right? Sakamichi No Apollon really, really lets the reader get involved with jazz. Even now, the melodies of My Favourite Things, Someday My Prince Will Come, and, of course, Moanin', are memorized. So definitely read this, and you'll get to experience 60's jazz.)
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Mar 31, 2013
The story takes place in a small town with a warm, cozy atmosphere (around 1960s I think) and you really feel you're there! The characters are very realistic. There's one girl and two guys but the story is not cliché. The girl is a timid, sweet small town girl who's still friends with her childhood friend, the "delinquent" Sen. Then the city boy/ good student comes into the picture and music pulls them all together. The main guy is not this amazing, cool type but he has his goods and bads, he's human. And Sen is an amazing character, you would have to read.
From the way the characters meet to the way the mangaka turns romance between characters upside down throughout the manga, I think the right word for this manga for me is "believable". There's no crazy romance with lots of drama but your regular romance you would stumble upon everyday, equally mixed with music and a strong friendship between the two main guys which is rare to find in common literature. I just loved this, made me feel warm stuff :) read more