I'm gonna try and record my thoughts while they're still fresh in my mind-- I just finished marathoning the series after having some interest in it for quite a while. I rated Sakamichi no Apollon around a 3.5 in my star rating and here's why, without spoiling too much of what happens, though do read at your own discretion, as it does spoil things about the story even if its not exactly what happens.
The tonality, time setting, and the music is fantastic, and I had a lot of fun with it. Though not outstanding, the little flickers of how the love for jazz amongst characters is represented in the relationships the characters have with each other is heartwarming. I relate to this a lot, mainly because I always love sharing and playing music amongst my friends and loved ones. One of many cherished pastimes, and I believe this to be one of the series strengths, though minimal it was still nice to have.
However, as an audience, aside from the music and friendships portrayed, we are taken on a bit of a broken-down emotional rollercoaster in one form or another. Once I reached the end of the series the only thought I had was "Is that it? Was that really all worth it?"
To be harshly put, some of the things that happened between characters almost seemed useless because they were either never wrapped up or seemed just slathered in there to have some form of scandal. Take it away theres not really too much of a plot; theres parts but not much to have a series built on. A lot of other plot points that were built up were never really tied up either, adding to the uselessness of some of it. It wasn't too satisfying, and though to my own tastes and interpretation, a lot of the drama I found cringe-worthy and oddly cliché.
I genuinely love the main characters, and I cherish the relationship they have with one another, but the character development is rocky. Characters will make progress, but then do something and take a few steps back again, doing this more than one or twice. Tied in with odd story choices that don't really influence the end too much adds to my unsatisfied viewing experience. The ending is bittersweet, but confusing.
But, all technicalities aside; I do believe in this series and the potential it has, and I love the charm of it. Though a part from the music and some of the moments the friends have together when performing, there's nothing really too memorable about it, and I'm not sure if I'd ever watch it again or recommend it a lot. It is, in the end, up to any of those reading this if its worth watching it or not. I definitely would say it is to an extent if you love music and performing with your friends, and you think about the good old days more than once. It definitely took me back there.
Let me start with: this anime is a bit too emotional, idyllic for my taste, so the score to give maxes out at about 8.
This is an anime about musci, friendship, the sometimes ridiculous hardship for a kid to control and get to understand his own feelings.
Its one of my fiances favorites and I can understand why.
If you like the darker side of anime(and here I dont mean echhi and shit like that, but animes like Death Note and collegues), this is a genre-mix that will probably not appeal to you all that much. But from a critics point of view, its not flawles, but its the one that comes closest to it.
Sometimes the characters look like idiots, but to be honest, looking back to the time when I was in school, well, lets just say that sometimes I did truly laughable things of the same manner.
I dont want to spoiler much, I think I said enough to understand it. Ill spoil one thing about the ending, it fits perfectly and I liked it.
Ill warn you, the music here is secondary. Its not Your Lie in April where the musci is the main thing until the last 5 minutes when the story rips your heart out and steps on it. Here, there is a very well done "coming of age" story where the main characters happen to love Jazz. Also, I recommend it more to the female audience.
Music: Im not a big Jazz fandont get me wrong, I like Jazz, but classical and rock are more my things) and would have liked some more music sometimes, so 8/10
Overall: As I said, Im not a huge fan of the genre, so out of a maximum of 8, I give it 7.5.
Kids on Slope
I wanna talk about Sakamichi no Apollon.
I know we all love organized formats but this is quiet a special case, I can't judge it properly when thinking about the overall animation or sound when things don't go clean, so please let me tell you the experience I had, for you to put in your consideration.
The show starts extremely engaging;
The 60s, a great point in history for tons of people. The settings and environment is presented convincingly, the characters are portrayed so clearly and amazingly engaging with the simpleness. I watched a teenage coming-of-age story: 60s kids running on a slope, learning love and friendship.. oh and of course some badass jazz, making jazz sessions, performing in different places, making new challenges for themselves. How could one ever ruin such thing? Oh wait..
So, it seems as if the producers just dove in, made a great job, looked up for a second at the response of the community, saw things were going really well, got excited and ambitiously tried to make drama from nowhere, literally shitting the show off. Since one main character left, called Brother Joon, everything goes to chaos just for no reason.
It seems as if they knew they had to make at least 12 episodes to complete the format but didn't know how to finish it; If I told a child to improvise on the place the result would've been the same: [read in child voice] "and then she wants Sen!... and then... she wants Richi.. and then she wants Sen! and then Richi! and then he just walks away dramatically and Sen also walking, and they all live in an island happily ever after THE ENNDDDD!!"
Seriously? I'm not even talking about how the drama was forced, it was so random so it seemed like they tried to keep you watching even though they had nothing to show so they made random things happen to keep you focused.
I think from episode 9 it got really crappy; Episode 8 was the transition, all of the characters just instantly lost their back-bones, even Sen which was a prescious presious character to fuck up this way. The sessions were paused for a while, but that meant we also had no sessions and so the show just quit the entire facade of 60s, jazz, friendship and went to focus on the potentially interesting charracters, but played with them irrationally, making things that don't fit them; By the last episode non of the characters are the characters but some blank template with graphics ontop of it to decieve you. In the last episode there were NO characters, just bullshit. The last session reminds you one last time the start just to make sure you won't give bad reviews, cause they figured they fucked up. As if I would buy that, additional to the white blanket revealing for the milionth time, and the bipolar disorder of Richi and Rico.
I don't even
Just don't go past episode 8. Finish the show with the great festival performance.
This way, you can get my reccomendation, though the Overall score shall be 6.7 for the great beginning, but just remember kids: you can't like a show just because of the get-go. I say: enough with the fooling those cheap bad producers, look at what you're looking right now rather what you watched 7 episodes ago.
Now pardon me while I listen to Moanin'.
The jazz track not the.. you pervs, you...
Oooo another Anime about music I sure hope it has…..ok waiting for it…..maybe….so this doesn't have that much to do about music, does it?
Story - 7/10
While the film does lightly focus on Jazz music it's mostly there as a catalyst to move the slice of life story along. The focus really is a school friendship and young love. While those might seem extremely common themes among anime series, KotS took a much more realistic take on it.
When it comes to love I haven't seen any anime that really tries to focus on the complexities quite like KotS did. While some touch on the confusion, Beck comes to mind, none look at the way it changes friendships and how it can hurt people.
Another very rarely seen topic they touched on was the way children of mixed heritage were treated at that time in Japan and it's connection to how "outsiders" are often treated in cultures around the world. Granted when used in the series the topic would either pop out of no where, with little back story or would just fade off. They had something very original but only used it for a could lame moments.
There really isn't much to talk about since there wasn't much to the series, but for some reason I just kept wanting to watch. Maybe it was the fact I just came off of a series I completely disliked, or maybe because it just seemed that much more real than any other series, but it just had me wanting more.
Animation - 7/10
The character designers did a great job of using the characters to remind us of the time period. Despite being an anime created in 2012, the style did mimic the simplistic look of older anime titles from the 70s and 80s, which is a bit later than the date this took place in, but still helped keep you out of the now. They also kept true to the spirit of the story, where normally a realistic anime taking place in Japan may have characters that look like they're from all over the world, KotS tried to remind you that the only character who truly looked different, Sentaro, looks that way because he was very different for that time and place.
The coloring style was also very interesting for a newer anime. They used very bold plain black shadows against very flat, singular, colors. While on it's own that technique looked great on the characters, it did cause a problem for the show. With duller, but more detailed, backgrounds, the characters never really feel like they're in their environment. They almost always seem as if they're floating just in front of where they're supposed to be.
The animators did a great job with the little they used. While they could have overloaded you with things to remind you of the time, I think their choice of simplicity did a much better job.
Sound - 7/10
Even though there wasn't as much music in the show as you'd assume, where it did appear it was mostly great. The opening and closing songs don't match the jazz theme, but are your standard anime themes, the first being a female helmed pop song and the ending a slow piano ballad, with the ending theme being much better than the opening and something I could actually see as a hit song.
In the show there are few instances of the guys actually playing Jazz music. They practice a few times as a trio and a foursome, but we only get a few seconds of jamming. When they finally do have a show it turns into the same thing, 10 or so seconds into a song they're interrupted and never finish playing, but then they switch to a lounge song instead.
The only real instances of them playing nearly full songs are when they play My Favorite things and Moanin' at the school festival and Moanin' at the end of the series. Both of these performance really give us a glimpse at how good this show could have been if it focused more on music. Both renditions of Moanin' are great because although they are played the similarly, the change from piano to pipe organ gives the song a whole different feel. Their version of My Favorite things is also one of the best adaptations i've heard, they could have easily copied Coltrane or Brubeck's version, but they went their own way.
The voices for the series were all done pretty well, with only Kaoru's cousin Mariko really just grating on you (but then again she is supposed to be an annoying little girl) Everyone else's body really fit the voice given to them. Along with the voices, all the mood music and sound effects were also standard for anime, but still very well done.
The only real musical downside to the show was when they practiced My Favorite things with Ritsuko taking over on vocals. They choose to kept the Japanese audio for the English version and it just sounded terrible. It's a Japanese girl, singing in english so it just sounds like Ritsuko had a few drinks or hit her head. I could understand using the different audio if it was sung in Japanese or was done very well, but it wasn't, so just add it to the VO session and let the english cast try their chops at singing, like in Beck.
Characters - 5/10
For being a more recent series you'd think they'd do away with the overdone new guy in school nerd and friendless bully characters, but they really ran with it here. As a whole the characters are very unoriginal and not contracted very well. We learn a few things here and there, but their backstories are often left incomplete after we've been given a major plot point that includes their back story.
Despite not being very original, they did manage to make the characters as real as any I can remember in an anime. Their take on teen love was rare for a series, where normally everything is happy and fun, even in rejection, here they made sure to show its effects on friendships and how it's very rarely back and white.
And while I know he was there to move the story along a bit, I don't there's been a more useless character in an anime series than Brother Jun. While he's the big brother figure to Sentarou, they never use him to show how he's influenced Sentarou outside of Jazz, which he still might have picked up from Ritsuko's father. Maybe he was meant to play a bigger role deeper in the series, but having him there almost purely to attract Yurika and cause confusion in the friendship seemed like a weak fix for a plot line that could have been better thought out.
Overall - 7/10
Much like series I've watched before, I'm looking at you K-On!, I was disappointed by the way they pulled you in with music, but then just sporadically sprinkled it in. The difference was the story here still kept you attached, despite the time jumps between episodes. There was a ton of filler and truthfully the series would have been better as a long movie or short OVA cluster, but the length of it and the shinning moments when it came to music gives it a good rewatchability.
Sakamichi no apollon isn't the most amazing anime in my opinion.
the story plays mostly in the 60's (I know because john coltrane died in 67 and it's mentioned) so you can see that the classrooms are mostly wood colored and old fashioned. the story is decent and gave a 'this could actually happen to someone' feeling that a lot of anime really don't give. there were some funny bits, some embarrasing, some emotional but most of it is slice-of-life stuff. and even though towards the end it seems like things won't end well they manage to get a happy ending, which in my opinion was the best part of this anime.
the animation isn't done very well, one of the main characters, Ri-chan (a girl), definitely has the face of a boy. (if you don't believe me then get a frame where you can clearly see her from the front and block the tails on both sides of her head). I also always pay attention to the eyes they use for anime and though I have seen worse than what was used here I've also definitely seen a whole lot better. also in one of the episodes a lot of students were runing but kinda weird as if their feet were going too quickly and they're bodies had tocatch up.
about the sound, overall it was alright but seeing as I'm not a jazzfan most of their sessions just sounded like noise. there were still a few nice pieces being used that even I could appreciate though.
apart from Ri-chan having the face of a boy and some characters I really didn't like, they did manage to get a wide range of personalities in the story. they were wel done and felt realistic compared to other anime.
I gave it 3 stars, which I would translate to say: 'At least try to watch it. I didn't think it was the best but I enjoyed it and I'm sure most people would.'