Let's do a trivia here! Are you someone who wants to know what it is like back in the 1960's? Ever wanted to build an escapism from the harsh reality of today's world? Want to just sit back and enjoy some old school music after a stressful day? Well, perhaps you've found a series worthy to invest your time into because Kids on the Slope is there and sure to give you something to think about.
Kids on the Slope (also known as Sakamichi no Apollon) is a story taking place in the beginning of summer, 1966. It stars the protagonist Kaoru Nishimi, an honor student
who tends to keep to himself. He has a rather reserved personality and hard to open up. That is until he meets the bad boy and future best friend Sentaro Kawabuchi. While mistakenly getting to a bad start, these two soon develop an unforgettable friendship based on respect, forgiveness, and of course, music. Later comes into picture is Ritsuko Mukae, a friendly girl who plays intriguing roles in the story ranging from music, friendship, and later love. The series follows three friends as they create unforgettable memories of the 1960s in the age of jazz music, friendship, and melody.
Now, you're probably asking yourself “why should I watch this series?”
Well, first of all this series contains the unification of icons Watanabe Shinichi (Series Director of Cowboy Bebop) and music composer Yoko Kanno. That alone can be seen as a good reason to start watching. While labeled as a coming-of-age drama, this series also contains a bit of the romance theme and of course, drama. So for those interested into the intertwined story arcs mixed in with misunderstandings, jazz critique, and love trials, then this could be a little added bonus.
[ - Story - ]
Kids on the Slope details friendship and is one of the most important element 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 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 makes 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.
[ - Characters ]
While the characters are animated plainly and simple, their inner character and style is what drives this series as why it's ranked into the #100 of MAL. Beyond the romance polygon are characters that balances 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 share 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 respects 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 an 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.
[ - Animation/Art -]
If there's one thing to forget, it might be the art. I'll say this in the most honest way as possible:
It is too plain and simple.
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 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 precise of an entire series is not always judged by art solely. At one point of watching over 100 series, it's just down right common sense.
[ - Sound/Music - ]
Ah yes, this is the main event, if for any reason to watch this series at all, it is this.
Music and life plays 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.
[ - Enjoyment - ]
This story is of the old school coming-of-age style so the pleasure of enjoying this series can vary. At first glance, one might decide to drop or put on-hold at its relative pace as well as its lack of the typical “shounen action”. But with so many of those airing these days (including this season), why not give something new a try?
It's more than just a high school story of kids falling in painful geometric shapes of love or the “friendship conquers all”. And of course, despite being hard to make it into the mainstream, it's one of those series that takes an unique and cultural approach of the coming-of-age genre mixing in with jazz music, friendship, and love all in a wonderful little package. The characters are unique and real with their backgrounds, contrasting personalities, and style. The story is easy to follow despite its intertwined arcs. The art (despite plain and simple) brings out the naturalism and culture of the 1960s. It's something not as complicated as the real world we face today because it's so damn right simple. Honestly, I miss it. And who can forget the relaxing music? Without it, this series would be dead. But with it, the series comes to life through realism and gives viewers something to talk about.
Again for those who are so into the shounen style battles, the fan-service of ecchi shows, or psychological mindfucks, this series can be something new to look forward to.
After all, there's an old saying that goes, “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." And once you open that box, you'll be surprised what you'll find. In this case, it's Kids on the Slope.
I love jazz. Some of my favorite memories of my time living in Florida have to be going downtown to listen to the local jazz festival. Sitting in front of that gazebo and getting into the spirit of the musicians is something you can only experience if you listen to jazz. It’s so different from any other musical genre and I was excited as hell to get to watch an anime centered around this amazing style of music.
The problem is Sakamichi no Apollon isn’t as much about jazz as it is about lame characters. There’s jazz in the series, and it definitely plays a part,
but it doesn’t play as large a part as I wish it would. This seems to be the theme of music-based anime, not paying attention to the music as much as the boring lives of the characters. Jazz is frantic, it changes with the mood. There are a lot of things about jazz that could have been played out in Sakamichi no Apollon that aren’t. That heart and soul of jazz are only seen during the portions where the characters play music. Other than that, the series falls flat.
Kaoru is a guy. He goes to high school. He’s a bookworm.
Sentarou is a guy. He goes to high school. He fights a lot.
Ritsuko is a girl. She goes to high school. I can’t discern her character besides “love interest”.
Together they are the three main characters of our little drama. Kaoru goes to high school as the new kid. He meets Sentarou who is a pretty violent guy who skips classes (the delinquent). Sentarou is a drummer who plays jazz with Ritsuko’s father and a guy named Jun. Kaoru, who can play the piano, joins in on the fun and learns how to evolve from his classical roots into the realm of jazz.
There are, of course, some bumps on the road. A couple of love triangles (those are the main plague that infest this anime), Sentarou’s problems with his father, and Jun’s becoming a good-for-nothing. The plot is really not that exciting. You’re watching this for the music more than likely, not the duo of love triangles that seem to give way to more of a bromance at the end than anything else.
This is where the plot becomes especially painful. The series plot is loose, and by that I mean nothing is consequential or matters. It’s there to hold the series together and give it a reason for being, but it’s mediocre at best. By the end, nothing really matters and the series goes back to square one.
“BUT RATCHET! WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?”
What music? There’s a little bit of music going around, but for a music based anime there’s not enough. As I said in the beginning of the review, there’s not a lot of music going on. There are a few songs here and there, but not enough to warrant being considered as “musically focused”. It’s more just a school life anime than anything else and suffers because of the fact it tries to be something it is not.
“BUT AT LEAST IS HAS GOOD CHARACTERS!”
All the characters were generic at best. While Sentarou was a decent character, I grew to hate Kaoru more and more as the series progressed. It reached the pinnacle when he nearly raped Ritsuko. Ritsuko wasn’t a bad character, but she didn’t actually have a lot of character there. She was just there as a love interest and a plot point more so than anything. Jun was okay, but he also had some issues that made him dislikable. His girlfriend, Yurika, was okay.
I wasn’t really impressed by anything that concerned the plot. I was impressed with some of the music (the little that there was) and the animation was especially good during jam sessions and concerts, unbelievably so.
I’m unable to say too much about Sakamichi no Apollon because it’s so average. It’s the definition of average. Good music and good animation, mediocre characters and plot, and an overall disappointment. If the series had been longer I feel that perhaps the plot and characters would have been more entertaining. But as it is, Sakamichi no Apollon is merely adequate. The last episode feels especially rushed and I assumed I was meant to feel emotions of some sort, but was left not really caring. And when, by the end, I could care less what happens, then I know that I’m not watching anything special.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a hesitant pass for me. It’s overhyped, and that hype is probably why you decided to jump on the bandwagon and check this anime out. There are some qualities that are enjoyable, but taken as a whole, it’s merely adequate in satiating the thirst for jazz, as well as the search for a good music anime.
Okay, the first episode of this wonderful show with tons of potential popped up about an hour ago, and I just had to write a review. (This is my first so cut me some slack, pl0x.)
First of all, I'd like to say that I have been anticipating the airing of this show for a while now, and so far, it has surpassed my expectations. The story begins with our main dude Kaoru who apparently moves around a lot due to his father's job, but I won't get too into that to avoid any accidental spoilers. Instead, let me fill the gaps what you can be
From the get-go, it goes straight to the opening sequence showing off some of the most vibrant and fluid visuals I have seen to date. The characters are very well drawn, the scenery is just beautiful. and everything just gives off this overall "jazzy" atmosphere. When I was around 10 minutes in, I nearly forgot this was part of a show because it was just so polished, I'd expect that sort of quality in a decently budgeted movie.
The other MAJOR thing this series excels in is the sound. From the voices of the characters to the random chatter, it really immerses you into the environment of that time. If you're looking for some time to kill, hell, even if you have barely any time at all, I suggest you take a peak at this creation, and restore your hope in anime.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a school drama from 2012. The original manga was written by Kodama Yuki. The anime version was brought to us by MAPPA & Tezuka, neither of which I've seen a lot from. I don't know what to expect from this one at all. So, let's just get right into it.
Our focus is on Nishimi Kaoru, a bright young student who plays the piano and moves a lot. He's also a complete drama queen, but we'll talk about that later. Nishimi suffers from social anxiety issues and feels the need to get some air on the roof after things take a
slightly unanticipated turn. Fortunately for him, he's able to overcome that within about five minutes of meeting Kawabuchi Sentarou. Aren't we all glad that plot point was there? I mean, it contributed so much to the narrative. He and Sentarou wind up becoming friends and playing jazz together while filling the time between sessions with melodrama.
Therein lies the massive underlying problem with the series. Everything has to be overly melodramatic. Dude falls in love after knowing a girl for all of two minutes? Better act like this is super serious and dramatic. Someone gets rejected? Total drama. Sentarou might play... rock music with a band made up of their class mates? This is clearly the most important disaster in history. Don't even pretend that worse things have happened. Although, in all fairness, the series actually acknowledges that that one is childish. To exacerbate things, however, the vast majority of these “hyper, ultra dramatic situations” get resolved, at least to a satisfactory degree, in the next episode. Probably would've worked better with fewer sources of drama that were ongoing.
Here's the thing, teenagers can be overly dramatic about stupid things but watching teenagers be overly dramatic about stupid things is really annoying. Especially when the narrative treats it like it's super serious. This shite isn't serious, it's dumb teenagers being drama queens. So, when two things that are actually serious happen in the last couple episodes they just don't have much weight. Especially when one, an injury, gets resolved in less than five minutes. The romance is honestly where it's at its worst. We start with a ridiculous situation where one dude likes a girl, she likes another guy, he likes a different girl and she likes this other guy. From there, we get a lot of overblown angst and aggravation because we can't pummel these wankers.
The only good parts of the series are the jazz jam sessions where the characters are just enjoying themselves for once. Unfortunately, these scenes are vastly outweighed by the scenes where drama is happening over something that really doesn't matter.
The characters in this are reminiscent of the worst people you knew in secondary school. You know the ones. They treat everything that's remotely upsetting to them as an unmitigated disaster. Then they get mad at you because you openly don't care and won't even remotely validate them. Kaoru is the worst about it, putting distance between himself and his friends on multiple occasions but always for petty reasons. Kodama, you do know that introverts don't have those kinds of rifts just because we're socially awkward and need to limit our time around people, right? Usually we just excuse ourselves from an event or don't go out for a while when we need time alone. And, trust me on this one, your friends will understand if you just tell them “Hey, I need some time alone. Can you try calling back tomorrow?” Yes, even in High school.
The artwork is one positive the series has going for it. The backgrounds are well detailed and look quite nice. The characters are drawn well. The animation is nice and smooth. So, I'll give them full credit on that one. They may not have produced something with a compelling narrative or tolerable characters but they made what they had look pretty.
The acting in this is passable enough. Our main cast is made up of Hosoya Yoshimasa (Reiner Braun), Kimura Ryouhei (Sorey) & Nanri Yuuka (Takakura Erika). Their performances here are perfectly fine. The music is pretty good, mostly. I won't pretend that I cared for the theme tune and its whiny sounding singing but the jazz is good. Kanno Yoko's soundtrack in general works nicely.
There's a little bit. Kaouru goes off on a tangent about how handsome Sentarou is at one point. And Sentarou calls him an angel at another. Bad dialogue writing or unexplored sexual tension, you make the call.
When it comes to the basics, the artwork, music and acting, Sakamichi no Apollon does just fine for itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't do so well in terms of the main content. The characters are overly melodramatic to the point of being quite obnoxious a lot of the time. The narrative is a lot of annoying, all too easily resolved melodrama with the occasional good jazz session thrown in. All factors considered, it's kind of a bad series. Although you might enjoy it if you like that High school melodrama. For myself, I lost all patience for that while I was still in High school and watching this was, more often than not, an irritation. So, for myself, I give it a 3/10. Next week I'll look at Wizardry.
First of all, I must say it's been a while since I've enjoyed a series as much as I enjoyed Sakamichi no Apollon.
The story itself has an amazing pace, and in my opinion, has the perfect combination of romance, drama and music. The developments feel very natural and there are no fillers. The only "complain" I can have from the story is that the ending might feel a little unsatisfying. Luckily, if you end up feeling unsatisfied like me, you can read the extra volume from the manga and I can assure you that you'll feel a lot better after reading it.
The art is okay,
I guess. It has a very realistic vibe, and fits the story really well. I didn't see any error in the animation either, which is always appreciated. Also, the animation during the musical scenes was particularly good. The soundtrack fits every scene perfectly, so kudos to the studio. It is always nice to have consistently good animation as well as a good soundtrack throughout a whole series.
There are two main characters in the series, and they are best friends even though they make an odd couple. I feel that the two main characters are really well developed. You can see how the two of them grow up as characters as the story moves on. On the other hand, except for one specific character, most secondary characters don't get a proper development. I mention this because there are a couple of secondary characters that I'm sure most viewers would've loved for them to have more screen time.
The series in general is very enjoyable. If you're into jazz music (or good music in general), you're definitely gonna love watching this series. Also, this is one of the few anime where the English singing is actually pretty good. I had a really good time listening to every single music piece played, as well as with the tons of drama generated from the different love situations that develop.
I gave the series an 8/10. I loved it, but I felt there were some things that could've been told better, especially the ending. I recommend this series a 100%. Actually, I'd say this is a must watch series. Also, don't forget to read the extra volume from the manga once you finish the series.
I usually don't watch josei but I decided to give this one a shot. Got tired of all that shounen crap some time ago.
Well, what can I say, there is a certain beauty about this anime.
The story: Certainly the cliched motifs of love triangles and rectangles and all the overused dynamics are in there BUT I was shocked to find that I actually enjoyed everything quite well.
For one, the relationships have much verisimilitude and show a more inexplicable human aspect rather than the KISS THAT SOLVES IT ALL type stuff. The thing with Sentaro, Yurika, and Jun-ni is definitely a BIG PLUS to the Ritsuko
Nishimi main plot. It's not just a side dish romance to make sure everyone's got their love life covered. It's a deep human experience full of inexplicable emotions and time that is needed for love to blossom.
(Ahhh.... I'm sounding like a josei fan now. Ok maybe I am becoming one.)
The characters: Ehhh Nishimi was one of those new student stereotypes played out in many other animes but he's still good. The true striker with this anime is that the character's backgrounds are revealed in a very subtle way... It's not full of lengthy flashbacks and background story time-wasters... Sakamichi really does well in that it delves into each character's past and background as the anime progresses in a not in your face manner. The inexplicable actions of Ritsuko, the Yurika Jun-ni sub-plot ahhh it's beautiful. Apart from the jazz of Ritsuko's basement, there is a quiet beauty that speaks to the heart in this anime.
Music: This is one anime where music speaks louder than words a lot of times. Jazz is such a freeform expression and I'm not a big fan of it but it is done so well. It's Nishimi's language of love, remorse, each clash on the cymbal is Sentaro's inner pain and struggles released. Jun-ni's trumpet arpeggios are too good. Not to mention Mukae san's upbeat bass.
Voice: It's solid and good work. Ritsuko's voice can get annoying but it has it's charm But the music overshadows it IMO.
Enjoyment: You'll be surprised. I'm a guy and I connected from the first episode. It's strangely good. I don't know exactly how to explain it. But aside from the jazzy improvisations and sounds there is a quiet beauty to this anime. go watch it now.
As someone who hasn't good much background on both Jazz music and Japan during the 1960s, I was wary of watching it at first.
And yet it succeeds in its combination of josei, drama and high school slice of life. The show features Kaoru, the socially-anxious new kid in a quiet, rather remote town, who has been blessed with piano-playing skills. Through jazz, he finds the greatest of comrades, a family and even romance.
The story, as most josei goes, isn't anything too intense. It just shows the life of a jazz-playing boy as he goes through high school with his friends. I love, though, its
take on that part of life. It's so realistic, I managed to relate to it despite the fact that I wasn't even part of band back in high school. The series starts as strongly and ends, if possible, even more.
Romance and melodrama is thrown here and there, and while it wasn't its strongest point, it just felt very REAL. I've been there, through all the confusion and inability to communicate feelings. At times I found myself wondering if it's odd for me to be able to relate so much to Japanese highschoolers in the 1960s when it's 2013 and I live in the Philippines.
The pace of the story is rather relaxed, as there really isn't much going on. But that's fine as you obviously wouldn't be looking for action here (it's an anime about high school jazz-players for chrissake). The leisurely pace it has is very refreshing.
The characters were all well-rounded. It makes use of archetypes but never just relies on it. Everyone feels amazingly real. It also helps that there is a very limited cast of characters and they were all given time to develop. They all have layers to them and are much much more than what can be considered their outer personality. Everyone is likable and unlikable in their own ways, just like everyone is. Another thing that I like is that there are quirks as easter eggs placed everywhere that they didn't feel the need to put out in the open, such as the fact that Sen is left-handed (I took note of this when they are studying for his make-up test!).
The art is rather... vintage. At times I wasn't particularly fond of it-- it sometimes came off as someone who just recently discovered the gradient and smudge tool on Photoshop-- but it did manage to set the tone for the show. It can come off as plain but it worked. It gave off a nostalgic vibe from which the show benefited greatly. The backgrounds at times, like when it showed the church or Kaoru's house, were exceptional. I wonder if it was rotoscoped because it looked so amazing. How I wish they could have kept it constant all through out though. Wonderful lighting direction was present all throughout the show.
You would expect music to be the strongest part but I wouldn't say so. It was fine, but not exceptional. The opening and ending themes were rather disappointing for a music anime but it wasn't horrible. Just not what I had in mind, I guess. The choice of music was good for the most part, making use of various jazz artists and the Beatles to make it feel more like the 60s. The jam sessions scenes were amazing, obviously.
Overall, if you want a simple show with solid character and story development, with good music and pretty art, then this show is for you. It is extremely well-made, a perfect example of a josei anime done properly. The ending didn't leave me disappointed which was what I expected at the first sign of the love polygon. It's worth a shot, at any rate, if you want a break from all the heavy action and overly cheesy harem animes.
Are you ready for a bromance so strong, you’ll feel friendship tingles down the shaft of your peen? For romance elements so complex, they are no longer love triangles--but instead, terrifying, ever-growing love polygons of doom? For jam sessions so boppin’ they could make the late, great, Sun Ra tap his foot in his grave? Then my friend, you are prepared for Kids on the Slope.
At a glance Kids on the Slope is nothing more than a high school drama, akin to the hundreds which flood contemporary media. While I’ll admit that I do enjoy a show that makes me feel my proverbial ovaries rubbing
against each other (it’s a guilty pleasure of sorts that I’ve acquired over the years) as well as the occasional bitch-tear from some of the more well put together dramas/slice-of-lifes that catch my eye, I often find the angst ridden filth which is commonly regarded as ‘adolescence in a nutshell’ to be utterly vexatious.
While easily misinterpreted as complaining, I do understand that I’m not a member of the target demographic for at least 90% of the series’ mentioned above and as a result of this I just tend to walk past that hypothetical garden of pubescent depression as opposed to trampling upon it and it’s eternally cherished flowers, despite people’s affection towards them being baffling to a man such as myself. With that being said, I’m also not a part of the target demographic for Kids on the Slope but that does not mean that I was unable to enjoy the fuck out of it. To put it bluntly, this is, at the moment, my favourite slice-of-life anime of all time.
And how could it not be? Set in the quiescent period of 1960s Japan, with a serene art-style and ataractic soundtrack, I often found myself lost in a sense of euphoria. While the pacing at first may seem quite slow, I believe that this is part of the series’ charm and works well to accentuate the insouciant nature of both the series and the era in which it’s set.
Accompanying its unmatched poise is the maturity (I’m sorry guys, but this translates to no prolonged gratuitous ass/panty/cleavage shots, unfortunately) in which the story is presented and a great set of characters. Not only could I compare almost every character to someone I’ve met in in the course of my life, I was also able to relate certain elements of each character’s personality to myself. Similarly, no character was your average cardboard cutout. Instead, each and every character had a very human feeling associated with them. Over the course of this journey, we’ll observe each of the main character’s flaws, attributes and eventual evolution into adulthood.
The premise for this slice-of-life drama was also quite refreshing, in the sense that the relationship which receives the most limelight is that of two males as opposed to a primarily romantic relationship. This unlikely bond between Sentarou and Richie will oftentimes amaze me when I think that this is the first bro-drama of it’s kind to cross my path. While for the most part, their friendship does reflect that of a lot of close friends; do expect some moments which gracefully tread the thin line between bromance and romance.
The animation in this series really is admirable, and this is most evident during the jam sessions. While concert performances and the like are no new occurrence in anime (especially as of late), in Kids on the Slope every drum hit, every piano note, every pluck of the upright double bass happens in time with the music and looks magnificent. The accurate animation of the instruments really helps bring home the notion that the musically orientated segments of this anime are not a gimmick but rather, help bring the characters together as a group while at the same time aids the characters in growing as individuals--as I daresay music does in everyone’s lives.
For those of you who feel as if you’re the paragon of masculinity but may want to try a slice-of-life, then look no further (there are multiple physical altercations in this anime, which is why I believe it’s a great starting point for those new to the genre). Similarly, those who merely enjoy jazz but find the genre a bit too intimidating to delve into will find some great artists and songs to add to your essential private shower performance repertoire. All in all, this anime is heartwarming, bitch-tear inducing and a must watch for any and all anime fans.
TL;DR? This may be a josei. However, it is a bro-tastic josei which can be enjoyed by anyone. I give this anime a 10/10 and while this is a highly subjective score, this anime objectifies everything I'm seeking when I make the infrequent trip to tear-jerker town. Its stylish aesthetic coupled with its awe-inspiring soundtrack serve to create arguably one of the best slice-of-life experiences I could imagine.
I saw this released awhile ago and never even tried episode one because it looked kinda boring to me. I gave it another shot and I already instantly started liking it.
The animation is really freakin' good, it is a 12 episode kinda show so I do expect really good animation, and this doesn't hold back. Whenever they play instruments, the animation looks smooth and solid and you can see them hitting the right keys and toms, no made up sounds. It is really hard to animate playing music (a lot of animes take shortcuts and show flashbacks to reduce animation time spent on playing) but
whenever they play, they never take shortcuts and go all out.
As for the story, I was speculating if I got trapped in another boy-love show, but I was safe because in episode one he already starts falling for a girl.
The girls in this show aren't that attractive, but whatever, they grow on you and find their charm. (I point this out because anime industry made it so every woman has to be attractive so it is good to clarify if some watchers would be put off from this, which they shouldn't)
This is definitely a drama, you will see slapping, punching, crying, etc. which is in my zone, but it isn't OVER dramatic... More like chill dramatic.
Love has a high point in this anime, but friendship totally overrides it in this one. It shows true bro-ship into the end.
I liked the characters, the glasses-kun is actually a main character and I dig it when he realizes instantly if he does something retarded or stupid.
Music is top-notch, obviously because this is an anime about playing jazz. Made me respect jazz a lot more than I did before.
Enjoyment-wise, I dig it and made me smile couple times, didn't make me cry or anything but it had its moments. It was good enough to marathon with no regrets.
The ending (whether good or bad, no spoils) was a good one, I get mad at dramas when they don't show an aftermath, and this totally has an aftermath.
The story consists of a lot of romance tropes, and really tends to play up it's character drama. I didn't enjoy the romance stuff very much, but I feel like the show worked remarkably well in portraying the tension of the relationship between characters through music. When the characters are playing music together, you really can feel their emotions come through, and I thought that was really impressive. The characters, and their interactions with each other were really the best part of the story, despite the otherwise pretty boilerplate storyline.
The art was very nice as well. Everything had a very detailed, realistic look to it
and there was a lot of really impressive animation as well. Things moved really fluidly in most cases, especially when the characters are playing their instruments, and really getting into it. Lighting and colors are used really effectively, too, and it sets a great mood. The only thing I didn't like about the art was the character design. Most of the characters appearances were kind of standard and uninteresting. The designs fit their personalities well, but there just isn't much visual appeal to the way they look. Taken at face value, they just end up looking like very generic anime characters, despite being more than that once you factor in the writing & their actual character depth.
The music is fantastic, Yoko Kanno does a fantastic job of re-creating these classic jazz tracks, and the whole show just has an incredible tone to it because of this. The music is the heart of this show, for sure, and it's what I feel really makes the show something special, and pushes it from "above average" into "really good". I watched it in Japanese, and the voice acting is also very well done. The actors have realistic, convincing performances that accurately portray their characters. Nothing sounds cheesy or over-acted, and it adds to the realism of the show. The overall mix of the audio is also professionally done, and the whole show just sounds great.
Overall, Kids on the Slope doesn't have much at it's core. The story or characters don't seem very interesting at first, and both are full of tropes. However, with some very nice presentation, and some quality writing, the characters actually become somewhat more interesting. couple that with some impressive art, and some fantastic, atmospheric jazz music, and what you're left with is a truly enjoyable show that surprisingly ends up being more than the sum of it's parts.
This is my first time writing a review here and I tried my hardest to leave out any real spoilers. So, here we go:
Sakamichi no Apollon started out with a powerful episode and ended with a powerful episode, but seemed to get lost in a tangle of badly handled and clichéd romance and some unneeded melodrama. The series also suffered from bad pacing, though that only really started to show itself toward the middle-end of the run, this was when the fast pacing became a double edged sword and affected not only the plot, but the characters as well.
So now, let me look at the
characters: I liked all of them individually a whole lot with the exception of Kaoru and one other character I will bring up later. He was a bit annoying and frustrating as a main character (he also did quite a few things that I would label as right out jerk-ish), but he was still very realistic and better than the usual generic main lead guy. Nevertheless, I felt that his best sides came out when he was hanging out with the other characters as friends.
But this is when the fast pacing comes it, it may have made the usual love triangle melodrama less prolonged and annoying, but at the same time it really didn’t allow me to see any of the romantic relationships build up. There was no good transitions from acquaintances to friends to lovers. It made it very difficult for me to care about the relationships found within this series.
Outside of relationships, the characters themselves suffered from the fast pacing. It made it hard for me to really connect to them, since I saw realistic characters, but I never really saw them evolve. They stayed within their character types and never really moved above and beyond them in any real significant way. Kaoru got some character development, but not as much as some other main characters have gotten this season. And the two other characters that got the most character development were side characters whose subplot gets rushed and they are gone before I could even really fully appreciate them.
Two other things that bothered me a bit in this anime was that one “accidently walked into the bathroom” scene, which was handled better than most of those types of fanservice scenes are, but felt like something that was unfitting for the type of series Sakamichi no Apollon was; the same goes for the character of Seiji Matsuoka. Generally I am usually fond of characters who are like him, but here he just felt so out of place, not only for the series but for the time period as well.
Regardless of these negative aspects of the series, Sakamichi no Apollon does have some extremely well done and beautiful parts too. First and foremost, the music is fantastic and it is utilized perfectly. The animation is also lovely and the art style is very nice to look at in general, especially when the jazz scenes are on screen. Next, when the series focused on aspects other than romance it tended to be very powerful. There was also the added aspect of Christianity, being portrayed accurately (at least in Japan and in comparison to other anime) and the fact that accents were kept in were great, too, since it really helped to make the anime feel like it wasn’t taking place in Tokyo.
These other issues that I mentioned above were all really great to see in an anime, but sadly they got pushed aside or brushed over quickly in favor of the romance, the time restraint and pacing didn’t help either. These issues came up and then passed so quickly that I didn’t even have time to properly digest them before they were already done and over.
This bugged me a bit, that romance got so much attention, when one of the themes of the series itself is that friendship is more powerful and important than that of a love affair, yet love affairs are what take up most of the series. Nevertheless, the ending scenes of this anime are still very powerful. This series didn't have the strongest or most fulfilling ending of the spring season, but it was still very poignant and on level with the first episode when it comes to impact.
As it stands, Sakamichi no Apollon is a perfect anime to watch with someone who normally doesn’t watch anime, since many of the usual things that make anime seem “weird” are not present. It is also a very well done and solid teenage romance drama, but it is still just that: a teenage romance drama. I thought it was going to focus more on the jazz and music aspects (and I actually thought I was not going to like it because of that, but in the end that was one of the strongest parts of the series), but then it divulged into the romantic aspect more than I thought it was going to.
This series was good, but not great, and I am actually a bit disappointed by that.
This was an anime that popped up in my recommendations for a while based off various other's I watched. I simply didn't believe it would be anything close to what I wanted and became frustrated seeing the same cover page over and over of which I wasn't to fond of. I refused to watch it time and time again based on my own superficial reasons until I finally said to myself "it's 20 minutes of my life, I'll watch just one episode." It wasn't just 20 minutes, it ended up being a good portion of the season before I had to finally
get some sleep.
Story- The story of Sakamichi no Apollon is one of the strongest I've ever seen in only 12 episodes. It gives a great back story as to why the main character (Kaoru) is where he is now and immerses you in the time frame of the story immediately. Although it's in the 60's and I was very skeptical of such a time frame, it's essential for the jazz fueled story of friendship that takes place. The story is truly touching and special as it addresses the great value of a deep bond of friendship as well as coming of age into your own person. There's certainly romance as well, although the most prevalent romance lies not with the main characters but with two supporting ones who in truth, really have their own amazing chemistry and story unfolding. This was one of the few plots that kept me invested, thinking and connected to everything happening at all times, it made you feel really heavy and then full of joy the next episode because of how much meaning the plot held.
Art- The art I was sorely mistaken on. I went in thinking for some reason it was going to have outdated animation purely because it was based in the 60's. In reality it was great quality animation, though I can't really pick out any instance where I was amazed by its creativity or colors. It does what it needs to do in this anime and depicts the time period of the 60's amazingly well, although it wasn't the brightest of times in Japan so I can see why it wasn't trying to be something it wasn't. The best part is the character designs as they're all crisp and perfectly fit their respective personalities. All in all the art compliments the story really well, but it's nothing to really to gaze at in itself.
Sound- This is what makes the anime other than the plot. I'll come right out and say it, I just couldn't handle jazz before, it didn't please my ears you could say. However, the second I heard Sentarou and Kaoru's first jam session together I was not only moved at how this music brought together the two most unlikely friends, it really gave me a new outlook on the music. Jazz is the driving force of this anime and this is easily the most important section of the review as there are so many situations that these characters must get through with their music. They even communicate with each other simply by being in the same room and playing their improv jazz, pouring out all their emotions to each other in instrumental song. For anyone who hates jazz, this show will at the very least make you tolerate it, they bring meaning to the genre for people who don't care about it in the least. Not to mention the theme song is the most fitting I've ever heard and the soundtrack is really something so unique and beautiful it needs to be experienced. I can rant on about how great the sound is for an entire review's length so I'll leave it at this.
Character- The characters are very well developed especially for a series that only spans 12 episodes. All of the main characters are very different but they all become bound by one similar interest in Jazz. While the typical delinquent meeting the quiet exchange student has been done before, both of these characters are far from common beneath the surface. Sentarou is one of the deepest characters in any show, and you can tell this almost right after meeting him, he had a feel to him that compelled you to be drawn to his story as well as the pure friendship between him and Kaoru. The seiyuu really bring these characters to life and add a great sense of realism to them to. Even the supporting characters play vital roles and all help the main characters along in their own way, as well as progressing their own stories in the time they have. What can be said overall is that there is not one annoying character or overly common one either. Every single character whether it be main or supporting has their own unique personality and goals that sets them all apart yet binds them together and that's what I find so impressive about the,.
Enjoyment- As you can all tell I thoroughly enjoyed this anime. It truly impacted me on a few different levels and really makes you think because there are so many real situations and desires you can relate to, despite it taking place in 1966. It just goes to show you that no matter the time or place, people will always have these issues to go through, and this show goes to show you how valuable having a deeply bonded friendship can be through that.
Overall- I highly recommend this to anyone who has even a slight interest in romance/comedy/drama/slice of life or even music. People who actually go into this liking Jazz beforehand will be on cloud 9 the entire way through. It drives home a message that I believe resonates with the majority that it will definitely leave you thinking deeply about it after you've finished. The only reason I did not give it a ten is because (and this is nitpicking now) even with these wonderful aspects I just couldn't put it on the same level as Steins;Gate, Honey and Clover, or Bakemonogatari. That being said it's extremely close to Honey and Clover, however H+C had amazing art while Sakamichi no Apollon had enough to convey its message.
Once again we are encountering a great anime. Kids on the slope is another combo between Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno. I can't imagine now if someone else did a screen version of Kids on the slope. But lets get to the point.
The story focuses around Kaoru, who is your normal geek, straight up alone and unexperienced when it comes to real life. He loves studying and playing on instruments. Because of that he apparently can't fight and stand by himself, and this is where another character is introduced to help Kaoru. Sentarou on the other hand is your typical badass character, who doesn't give
a shit about studying and can stand by himself. Both of them become friends and this is where things get interesting. For the whole 12 episodes we are watching how these two are growing on their friendship and how they deal with their problems. Kaoru is in love with Ritsuko, but Ritsuko isn't. She loves Sentarou. Yes, it creates a love triangle, but its so well done you won't be dissapointed.
The art of this anime is just amazing, not only its crispy looking, but the ACTUAL MOVES of the characters when it comes to playing drums and piano is animated. Yes, you can learn from it if you pay enough attention.
The sound doesn't need introduction, cmon guys its Yoko Kanno and the famous piece they play at the end of the anime is called Moanin, a jazz classic.
The characters are alive and never feel undeveloped or unoriginal. Every character is likeable and differ one from another, which doesn't make this series boring to watch.
Overall, this a great addition to anyones list and should be seen imediately. I enjoyed it and wanted more, srsly. If it wasn't for shows like this, i wouldn't even watch anime in the first place.
Jokes aside, looking at the surface of Kids on the Slope, one might think that it is a just another music SOL anime such as K-On! or Tari Tari. After all, each of these series is about a number of high school students living out their normal lives, all brought together by music. Look a bit deeper however, and you will see that Kids on the Slope, directed by the famous Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, is a totally different entity entirely.
Kids on a Slope is set in 1960s Japan, a time when American Jazz was a powerful part of Japan’s musical culture. During this time, an unlikely group of students gather together, united by this one common interest. From here their story unfolds, and in some ways the anime changes form entirely; for at its heart, Kids on a Slope is not a SOL. It is, in fact, a romance through and through.
The series often forgoes the focus on jazz that it presents in the first episodes of the series to focus on the relationships between the characters. That’s not to say that the viewer isn’t treated to frequent jam sessions throughout the series, but it becomes obvious that the character’s connections are now the main point of the series. I’ll go into this a bit more later.
As far as the setting goes, it’s pretty easy to forget that you are in 1960s Japan. There are indications, of course; mainly music references, but also the cars, record players, etc. However, the series uses its setting almost entirely for the music, and I feel a bit of potential is lost where it could have brought out a bit more character of the era.
Animation - 8/10
The animation in the show is well above average. Gradients are used to great effect, and shadows on the characters faces and backgrounds show great attention to detail. Character designs are unique, perhaps even polarizing. While the character designs are well done, the backgrounds can be a bit plain, and the frequently revisited areas are disappointingly plain.
Animation itself is beautiful. Everything is very fluid, especially the scenes in which instruments are played. The level of detail during these scenes is absolutely fantastic, but it makes me wish they would have used a bit of the animation budget on more detailed sets.
Sound - 8/10
Despite my insistence that this is a romance anime at heart, that doesn’t mean that a huge amount of attention went towards the music. Famous jazz makes up the majority of the music focused scenes, and this is where Kids on a Slope truly shines. However, its original soundtrack is average at best, relying on popular music of the time to keep the viewer entertained. Aside from the jazz, early rock begins to make its way into Japan (and therefore the series) as well, and becomes a source of contention among the characters.
Characters – 7/10
Kids on a Slope has a main cast of three characters: Sentarou, Ritsuko, and Kaoru. Sentarou and Ritsuko are childhood friends, with Kaoru having started attending the same school as them. Being new and rich, he quickly finds himself a social outcast. However, when looking for the key to the roof, he finds himself getting along strangely well with the short-tempered Sentarou. When Kaoru reveals he is a classical pianist, they find themselves playing jazz together often.
However, Kaoru soon develops feelings for the overly kind Ritsuko, who is the embodiment of indecisiveness when it comes to her feelings. The relationship between them, with the complication of Ritsuko’s maybe-not-so-sure feelings for Sentarou, makes up the vast majority of the series.
The supporting cast is more of the same. Yurika, a brief love interest of Sentarou’s, finds herself involved with Junichi, an older friend of Sentarou’s, and her life begins to change as well.
The characters are a mixed bag, really. In one respect, the indecisiveness when it comes to romantic feelings in the teenage years is accurately portrayed, and the characters realistic and likable. On the other hand, this indecisiveness and the classic “misunderstandings” starts to get old after some time, and I found Yurika and Junichi’s relationship a bit exhausting. Your enjoyment of the characters in this series will largely depend on how well you can handle the usual tropes that comes with a romantic anime. A surprising level of backstory is given for relevant characters in a series of this length.
Enjoyment - 7/10
If you go into this series expecting a light-hearted comedy with a music focus, you may be disappointed. What it does present is a slow romance with a musical base drawing the characters together. A nice collection of jazz music, good animation, and a solid romance between the main cast was all tied up together nicely for a twelve episode series.
Some say there may be some gay undertones between the two male leads. I didn’t really see this, but it is Josei after all, so men aren’t at their manliest.
Sakamichi no Apollon (or Kids on The Slope) is like a breath of fresh air from recent anime developments and definitely stands out from the rest. I don't think a show could have impressed me this much just by watching the first episode, and it left me with a better feeling than any anime I've ever watched ever has.
The animation is super unique as well, and far different from the cutsie pop-art style that's used so often to the point where you can't tell one anime from another. To summarize it briefly, it's the summer of 1966, and a really reserved kid named Kaoru Nishimi
transfers from Yokosuka to Kyushu to a new school. I can't say too much without giving it away, but rather than the typical slice-of-life type of show, this story is pretty damn quality and unorthodox. I can't say much in this review, because everything basically starts in the first episode and doesn't wait too long to get into it.
The second thing you should know is that it's really music-centered. Specifically jazz-centered. If that's not your thing, turn back now. The OST is all jazz, the characters play jazz. The aspect of love is also explored as an underlying theme in this anime, and complicates things a bit, but that's all I'm going to say. Needless to say, I'm super excited about this anime and it's getting in the way of this review and I should wait to do it, but what the Hell.
Now the main characters are very ordinary looking. Apart from a few distinctions like glasses or a scar, they look like anybody you'd see on the street. You're not going to get any ridiculous hairstyles or clothes. They're also relatable and well-writen as actual human beings.
I'm not going to spend much more time on this. But I really suggest you watch it. This anime is just so extremely quality.
Set in 1966, Sakamichi no Apollon is centered on Kaoru Nishimi as he moves to Sasebo to live with relatives due to his father’s job. Naturally, he’s a loner, a great student, and completely isolated from people since he’s always been moving around; he doesn't try to get attached to people in case he must leave them again. But there’s something in the air in Sasebo, and it’s not just love or friendship, it’s a new sound (to Japan at least) known as jazz. Music isn't new to Kaoru as he’s a classically trained pianist, but jazz is certainly new and interesting to him, as
it takes him some time to ‘get it’. All the while he’s studying school and jazz, he’s also developing a social life with the school bad boy Sentarou, and his friend Ritsuko. Not breaking trope norms, Sentarou isn't a brute as his size implies, he’s actually a kind-hearted, caring young man. Ritsuko is in love with Sentarou, which obviously causes problems with Kaoru, as he loves Ritsuko. I know, I know, love stories and slice of life series are not usually my thing. I don’t often go for the dramas and similar ideas, but Sakamichi no Apollon does it so well, in every episode, that it’s hard to step away.
Watanabe’s direction, storytelling, and pacing are just so excellent, and there’s rarely a dull moment in the entire 12 episode run. Everything is well planned out, and leads to a satisfying climax. There are a few moments and questionable plot devices that get thrown in near the end that aren't really for the best, but looking back, they weren't too pivotal and quickly forgotten anyway. Sakamichi no Apollon is a strong long at not only a new sound in Japan, but religion in Japan also. Something rarely discussed or mentioned in many of the series I’ve seen; at least, something besides Buddhism or Shintoism. Sentarou and Ritsuko are both devoted Catholics, and while it’s not impossible for Kaoru to understand this, it is still a little bewildering for him. It’s never the focus of the main story, and there are a handful of moments about it, so it’s never force-fed or heavy-handed, but it’s still a prevalent component to Sentarou and Ritsuko’s characters. The series starts to show some weakness just before the finale, but it quickly pulls itself together by the end to produce an ending that’s not to be ranked ‘one of the best, or most original, but it’s satisfying and gives nice closure to the entire story.
Now accompanying every scene and poignant moment, Watanabe got the best Japan has to offer in the composition department and tasked Yoko Kanno in the role of handling it. And she absolutely killed it in the end. Sakamichi no Apollon’s soundtrack is gripping, but subtle, aware, but hidden. It’s all there, and even when you do not want it to, it will knock on the door to your feelings and come inside and affect everything found within. There are perhaps a few tracks that may seem out of place due to their sound Rosario is one that stands out for me), but they’re still exceptional tracks and they help make the scenes they’re used in so much more powerful. Yoko Kanno and the team she collaborated with to not only make the tracks for scenes, but for the jazz pieces too; they’re incredible. I usually don’t care for jazz, in fact, I really don’t like it, but this series, and the sounds and implementations of it, made me care (at least while watching the series). Yoko Kanno has always been on point with her soundtracks, and Sakamichi no Apollon ranks up there as another glorified treat for fans.
Another feast for the senses comes from the animation teams over at MAPPA and Tezuka Productions and their brilliant (and likely expensive) use of rotoscoping to animate several scenes in Sakamichi no Apollon. Rotoscoping is the process of tracing over live-action footage, then animating it for a more fluid, life-like presentation. A lot of Disney films used this over the years, and a few anime studios have done so too, but it’s a time-intensive and expensive process, so very few studios will opt-in to using it. For Sakamichi no Apollon though, it works, because the minute details of keys strikes, drum patterns, and plucking of the bass matters, and with the help of this animation style, they nail it. It’s used sparingly, and in other instances when not overtly necessary, but its uses never distract or hinder the rest of the show. Rotoscoping is truly a treat for the eyes, and I wish more animation were still done this way, because it invokes a natural, almost realistic production that pulls me in more.
Sakamichi no Apollon is still relatively new to the anime a few years to see if it stands out as one of Watanabe’s best, or sit on the shelves as just another series that exists. If you’ve read this far already, you’ll know what I think: you should be watching Sakamichi no Apollon. It’s likely unlike anything you've seen if you’ve never delved into romance or coming-of-age series, but it is well worth the venture.
How much you enjoy Sakamichi no Apollon is largely dependent on your level of emotional maturity.
Sakamichi no Apollon translates to “Apollo of the slope,” not “Kids on the Slope,” so whatever translation you want to use really doesn’t matter. Kids on a Slope may look on the surface like a typical clichéd romance anime with lots of misunderstandings, too much drama, love polygons and people sort-of-but-not-really changing who they love. You may be tempted to think that’s all Adolescents on an Incline is, and you should give in to that temptation because that’s exactly what it is.
Juveniles on a Slant, by the way, is totally
NOT GAY. It’s completely normal for male friends to hold hands, embrace each other crying, run out of school together, eat out of each other’s hands and the like. At least I hope so because me and my roommate may have had a small sexual encounter the other day so PLOT POINT: my childhood friend who I secretly love read that and is now crying so I headed over to her house but PLOT POINT: my father who I thought was dead meets me along the way and tells me he wants to be a real family from now on but PLOT POINT: my roommate accidentally bumps into him and knocks him into a cement plant and starts crying because PLOT POINT: my roommate was actually in a relationship with my father but PLOT POINT: there’s a meteor headed toward earth and I have to decide if I want to spend my last moments with my dying father or childhood friend.
You may have gathered from that somewhat cryptic paragraph that Youths on a Declination has no story, what it has is a string of barely connected random events as a cheap attempt to cause an emotional reaction in the audience. The other point I was trying to make is that Striplings on an Oblique Surface has quite possibly got the single most forced plot I have ever seen in anime. The story is hashed together with every situation the creators think could possibly pull on someone’s heart strings, natural story development be damned. The result is some completely artificial Frankensteinian monster. You can almost hear it sob “Please…kill…me” as it stabs your eyeballs trying to get you to cry any way possible.
As the plot lurches through its various stages it manages to amass quite the collection of plot holes and inconsistencies. For the most part however, it manages to hold itself together as a pretty stereotypical Josei. It does treat themes like coming of age and friendship acceptably. If you happen to really, really love drama and romance then maybe you’ll find a way to enjoy it.
The setting of late-60’s Japan deserves special attention in this review, because it didn’t get any in the show. Whippersnappers on an Acclivity really missed a chance to be unique and interesting by capturing the flavor of the era. Instead, there is barely anything there to distinguish it from a typical modern anime, I half expected a student to pull out a cell phone at any time. There are a few token times when the show tries to masturbate to its own classiness, old-style desks, records and such, but there are so many anachronisms that it winds up just being annoying.
The art is not very attractive. The characters have faces only a mother could love and objects and backgrounds can look plain and simple. But Minors on a Gradient has one secret weapon up its sleeve: animation. I could use words like fluid, smooth and beautiful. One test I use to determine how lazy a studio is in animation is music scenes. That is, whenever someone is playing an instrument, do their movements match up with the song? Even an amateur can tell if the beat is on (which it often isn’t). Here, the piano parts are matched to the characters fingers. It shows great attention to detail that is present throughout the show, which compounds the great animation to look spectacular.
Wait, WHAT? 3!? What the fuck is wrong with you John, giving a music anime a 3 for sound? Well, Tykes on a Cant’s soundtrack is lousy. That isn’t to say there’s no good music, it’s just all 30-60 second outtakes of jazz classics. I like jazz more than most, but no points for unoriginality, especially if it’s tied together with a second-rate OST. The voice acting is underwhelming but passable. Ultimately, if you came for the music, go listen to music and give this one a pass.
The translation “Kids on the Slope” may not be faithful to the Japanese, but it’s very faithful to the characters, because they act like children. The main pair: Kaoru and Sentarou, have an interesting relationship. They are best friends, not because they are alike or get along or anything lame like that. No, the show just declares them best friends when they barely know each other and from then on they stick together for better or worse.
SIKE! They spend more than half the show not on speaking terms, and they have at least one fight an episode. I seriously hope nobody views this as a model of a healthy friendship. The way they hate each other makes it even more bizarre and surreal during the few times when they inexplicably love each other.
Now flawed characters are a good thing, but the biggest flaw of Squirts on Uneven Ground’s characters is that they don’t feel like people, not at all. They certainly carry out the orders of the story well, but they have no depth OR consistency. The few times when they acted like human beings was lost on me since I was completely unattached to them.
Do you get emotional easily? Do you cry when you see road kill? Are you a pre-teen girl? If any of these are true, you may enjoy Youngsters on a Rise. But if unrealistic story and characters causes you not to get emotionally invested, I don’t think this is for you. The make or break here is drama. Many people will think the drama is excessive, but if you’re easily affected then maybe this is worth a shot.
I may not be the biggest fan of the romance genre, but (Baby+15)/(mx+b) was a real let-down. It didn’t so much strike me on a sour note, mostly I was just bored watching it. I definitely enjoyed some of the music scenes, but mostly I just want my six hours back.
When anime fans see the name Shinichiro Watanabe attached to an anime they usually get excited due to his excellent work making Cowboy Bebop. So going into Sakamichi no Apollon there is a certain expectation given to the show. Unlike Watanabe's previous animes, this one does not have any action in it at all. Instead, the focus is on romance and drama.
Sakamichi no Apollon captures the setting of 1966 Japan well from the classroom to the clothes the characters wear to the style of music that is played. The backdrop for the story is great and unique as it is very rare to ever see
an anime based on 60s Japan and jazz. However, while the setting may be unique, the story itself isn't. The romance is cilched with the usual misunderstandings, melodrama and love triangles. This detracts from the quality of the show as the romance becomes the focus of the plot. Nevertheless, Sakamichi no Apollon portrays the tension and emotion involved with love triangles well.
The best part of the show is the jazz and music. With Yoko Kanno in charge of the soundtrack, it is expected that it will be high quality and she delivers in every way. Not only is the score great to amplify the emotion and tension in scenes, it also delivers when the characters are playing jazz together. This is what holds the show together. The scenes where the characters are in the basement playing their instruments not only entertains due to the high quality of the music, but gives a great insight to the characters as their emotions are connected to the music they play. It is here where we see the bonds between the characters grow and it is through music that the characters heal their wounds. The opening theme is excellent and sets the tone well while the ending theme seemed a bit out of place.
The art style is also a high point of the show. With a slightly older style of character design, the art style helps immerse the viewer into the 60s. The animation is fluid, especially during the music playing scenes as the anime is very accurate in showing each note played by the characters. There is also no fan service at all which for me is a bonus.
The downfall for Sakamichi no Apollon is the protagonist, Kaoru. In the early episodes where there was more comedy, it was more enjoyable to watch as Kaoru's internal struggles are countered by the antics of Sentaro. However once the anime changes focus to the romance, there is far less comedy making Kaoru difficult to watch. In most scenes he can be rude, selfish or melodramatic, and with no comedy to counter it, the audience isn't left with much to enjoy when he is on screen. The other characters are much more well rounded and entertaining. Their growth is more visible and their flaws were realistic. Perhaps this may be simply because their inner thoughts are rarely verbalised, unlike Kaoru who is usually repeating the same thoughts of self doubt and pain.
While this may seem like a negative review of Sakamichi no Apollon, it shouldn't be taken that way as there is a lot to enjoy. There are no filler episodes, the story is concise and the music is wonderful. The ending is perhaps a bit rushed, but that seems to be a case of there only being 12 episodes. Nevertheless, this anime is easily accessible for anyone, anime fan or not. The series may not be the most memorable, but it is worth a watch, even just to experience the nostalgic feeling of change during high school.
Set in 1966, Sakamichi no Apollon tells the story of three close-knit teenagers growing up in small-town, seaside Japan. The main conflicts and problems in the plot involve the drama inside this group. Put simply, if you are not a fan of drama and romance (and jazz, but we'll talk about that later on), you most-likely won't enjoy this show.
The art and animation is fluid, smooth and detailed, especially during the performance scenes, where you can truly see it shine. The drumming scenes with Sentaro particularly impressed me, showing off a sheen characteristic of Tezuka Productions. Watching the sticks perform fills and rolls, flourishing on
the drum kit was incredibly satisfying.
Jazz music in Sakamichi no Apollon is the butter to the drama's bread. All the music in the show compliments and most importantly, intensifies the emotions felt throughout the show. Classic jazz musicians are referenced throughout the show (Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, John Coltrane), and episodes are named after song titles (a practice that Shinichirō Watanabe does frequently, most popularly in Cowboy Bebop). It is somewhat disappointing that besides the opening and closing, there is no original jazz songs created for the show, as that would have been exciting.
The characters and their development throughout the episodes is great. There are many twists and turns in their relationships, a few that you won't see coming, and ''like jazz, unexpected.'' By the end of the show, I truly came to cherish the friendship between the three. A main concept I picked up from the show is ''love is temporary, friendship is forever.''
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this show, and would recommend it to any drama fan, jazz fan, or even better, both. It's a bittersweet and simple slice-of-life that expresses and soothes the pleasures and pains respectively, of growing up, and finding love, and it uses the medium of jazz music and performance to send these messages. The show gave me goosebumps, made me tear up, made me laugh, and reminded me to cherish my friendships and my youth.
We all walk the slope everyday, but someday, when we stop, we will realise how much we miss it...
I only watched the first few episodes of this series, though i think i'm able to write a review about it.
First of all, i'm not someone who is pleased easily. I don't watch many anime, in fact i don't watch TV or Movies all too often, because they are, well let's say ... crap. When i read and heard about this anime i was eager to watch it, for it promised not to be "mainstream" (as i like to call it). Also, Yoko Kanno was on board as well, so that held my hopes high enough. It's really hard to see this promise not fullfilled.
Well, yea it's quite rare to see such "good" characters, so early on in a series, but episode 4 already had signs of your typical "Slice of Life"- Bullshit. To be honest, even the first episode made me worry. These "mood swings". Don't get me wrong, character developement is not a bad thing, but in this case, it is not believable, and more importantly, it is too fast. Kaoru's character developement in particular. It's almost hilarious. First, he is depicted as a loner, who doesn't give a damn about anything in school, or rather life. In this and the following episode he slowly "befriends" Sentarou, the tough guy everyone is afraid of. He also developes a crush for Ritsuko, an old childhood-friend of Sentarou. Wow. And with that, one might think the "Love-Triangle" is set. Well, we thought too soon. Another girl appears on the stage, Mariko. Sentarou saves her from some guys and, yes you guessed it, he wants to get into her panties.
And that's just the beginning. I could still bear with that, i even was okay with it, but the thing that really struck me was what followed soon after, or rather, what DIDN'T follow. To keep it almost spoiler-free i'll just name it the "Kaoru-Ritsuko-Resolution". It's like little girls drinking tea, if you know what i mean. I just can't relate to that. The series is called "Kids on the slope", but they aren't THAT little, are they? I mean, i tried to continue watching it, but i just couldn't. This anime left a bad taste in my mouth.
Anyone just wanting to watch their new season anime, go ahead, have fun with your routine. I can't watch this, seriously.