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.'
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.
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 what 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.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I decided to sit down and begin watching Kids on the Slope (KOTS henceforth). The reason I had even discovered it was when I looked up Anime directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (being a big fan of Cowboy Bebop, and Samurai Champloo). The last few years have been rough (in my opinion) on the anime world, offering nothing terribly noteworthy. Let’s look to see what this 2012 production brings to the table. ***SPOILER ALERT*** - I was not able to critically analyze this show without citing some spoilers, particularly about the show’s conclusion.
Art: 9/10 – While the production values of this anime are nothing outstanding, the art is more than sufficient, especially for a show that has almost no emphasis on action or combat. I actually really liked the artwork of the characters for this show. There were no gimmicky pink and purple haired characters, or bizarre anti-gravity hair-do’s, and I find myself appreciating that, especially for a show that takes place in a historical era (and not a fantasy world). Despite keeping the colors and figures more or less realistic, the characters still had more than enough integrity to distinguish them from each other, and without a doubt their expressions and body language were well drawn.
The backgrounds on this show were solid and well-enough detailed, so I do not have any complaints there, either.
I will most certainly applaud the show’s animation, which acted to quite acutely detail the character figures with the music they were playing. Sentaro’s cymbal crashes were in sync with the music being played, for instance, and it really helped give the show’s many jam sessions and performances a necessary organic feel. You were able to believe the characters on screen were playing their music, and not just completely “air syncing” over the background track.
I can’t really note any visual effects that blew my mind in this show – but I don’t see this type of show as needing anything terribly extravagent either.
Sound 9/10 – Watanabe is clearly a very musically oriented writer/director. Of the three shows I’ve watched of his, all three are almost entirely centered around music. While Bebop and Champloo had music as more of an atmospheric component, KOTS instead puts music (and musicianship) at the core of the story, and it created something pleasantly different, for sure.
The voice acting was sort of hot and cold for the secondary characters in my opinion, but the main characters were fine, and well portrayed, so I gave this section of the review a full score.
The OT to this show was very disappointing in my opinion. For a show mostly focused on how Jazz music brings the main cast together, it seemed disingenuous for the OT to not be jazzy. In fact, the OT seemed to really sell the show short, sounding more or less like a cutesy run-of-the-mill slice of life OT.
The musical themes were otherwise pretty cool. The cohesiveness of Kaoru and Sentaro’s performances truly did seem to develop as the show progressed. The jam sessions and most of the many other non-background musical themes were fun, and gave the show a unique flair. You could expect at least one solid performance, per episode.
The sound effects were outstanding. A little touch that resonates with me particular is when Sentaro drums on a street lamp while he’s trying to cheer Kaoru up. The sound effects (which I more or less include a lot of the percussive effects done within the show) were top notch.
Story 5/10 – The story of this show seems a little hollow. As with many slice-of-life coming-of-age stories, the show does not focus so much on a goal or a central premise, so much as it focuses on the characters, their interactions, and their decisions. While I do not fault this sort of style, necessarily, it still seems this show didn’t really have any premise. The characters had no goals, or objectives, and the story seemed to completely adverse in allowing any interaction between characters who were not main, or recurring characters. There’s a tangible divide between the characters who are important, and those who are not, and the show almost shamelessly fails to colorize all such characters who are not part of the main cast.
Despite having almost no premise, the show is quick to move all the parts together and set the story in motion. For a series of only 12 episodes, you don’t feel shortchanged with the amount that happens in that timeframe. In fact, by my count, those 12 episodes span some 10 years or so. Indeed, the show moves quick, but for the most part, it doesn’t ever feel like it’s moving too quick. I think the timespans help add a good deal of plausibility to the ever increasing strength of the relationship between the main characters of the cast.
There are times when the show feels melodramatic, where bullies are thrown in for the pure purpose of bringing the main cast closer together, or when characters over emote for things that are more or less trivial. Indeed the main characters’ emotions often feel over-exaggerated, but that’s hardly a thing to hold against a slice-of-life anime – I’m not looking to fall asleep in my chair for the pure notion of plausibility. Aside from over-emoting, and an over occurrence of dramatic events, the show’s plausibility is more or less fine.
The conclusion to this story is a bit lackluster; everything just seemed to happen out of nowhere. One character, while rightfully upset in the moment prior to the conclusion, decided to just outright leave everything behind and apparently not return even after eight years. And the other main character sort of just quit on his only two friends and focused on his studies. It felt forced. It felt like everyone gave up on each other prior the conclusion, just to make the conclusion itself feel sweeter, but to me it just felt rushed, and overly contrived. The time-lapse felt more like a heart-string gimmick than it did plausible, and as such, I was a bit disappointed.
Characters 6/10 – The characters in this show are a bit of a mixed-bag in terms of their depth and how well they’re developed. For instance, I found Karou to be a fairly interesting character. He is 3-dimensional, often shifting from his quiet demeanor when upset about his friends, and he does show a fair degree of development besides. The same can more or less be said for Sentaro, whose macho demeanor will shift out during key moments as well. I hated the way Ritsuko was written. She just seemed like an object who existed only to facilate the love triangle. Her background was missing, who personality was drab, and the show didn't even bother to touch on her outcome in the ending, other than just making her... appear. She just felt brutally underdeveloped throughout the show, despite being a major character.
Though it is a short show, the backdrop on the characters was sort of lacking. Kaoru and Sentaro's pasts were glanced on, and talked about a little, but for the most part, the show didn't look too far back.
Still, I enjoyed Kaoru, and Sentaro. Their friendship was touching, and there character development was good, and well founded.
While I think some characters (especially Ritsuko) should have been more developed throughout the story, I find myself somewhat forgiving on account of the fact that it was only 12 episodes long.
Overall 7/10 - I feel like I liked this show a lot more than I think the show was actually good, or well-written. This must be because I really had a soft spot for the music. The music the two main characters played together just resonates with me even now, weeks after I had finished watching it. And I don't find that a fault of the show, that its music (which is a main focus), pretty much carried it. To be fair, the show has other merits as well. For a slice of life, or a romance, it's much better than the bulk of the crap out there. It doesn't fall into a stupid harem theme, and the interactions are fairly organic, and mature. No one acts dronishly in love, just because the plot says so, and the outcome of the love triangle (and the story in general) is not overly predictable or obvious.
While perhaps a little more theatrical than real life, you can't hold it against a show to ham up the romance a little - implausible is better than boring, so I don't hold the over-emoting against the show either.
If you're looking for something a little different from your average shounen, or a new-age blood bath, but don't want something overly stupid and immature like most slice of life anime, I think this show would be a good fit. If you're fond of jazz music, you'll most certainly enjoy it - for 12 episodes, it's certainly worth a watch.
Now for some scorings (thanks to Roriconfan for the template)
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (solid)
Character Figures 2/2 (memorable)
Backgrounds 2/2 (aesthetic)
Animation 2/2 (fine for this type of show)
Visual Effects 1/2 (fine for this type of show)
SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (mostly well-portrayed)
Music Themes 3/4 (OT was meh, but the music within the show was outstanding)
Sound Effects 3/3 (awesome percussive sounds)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 0/2 (absent)
Pacing 2/2 (very quick)
Complexity 1/2 (love and friendship were mostly maturely portrayed)
Plausibility 2/2 (sometimes a little overblown, but quite plausible)
Conclusion 0/2 (a bit rushed and cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 2/2 (strong)
Personality 2/2 (pronounced and well founded)
Backdrop 0/2 (mostly absent)
Development 1/2 (strong for some, absent for others)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 1/3 (fairly obscure by my observation)
Rewatchability 2/3 (quick pacing, good music)
Memorability 3/4 (beautiful music, memorable characters, a bit different)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (fine)
Sound 2/2 (great)
Story 1/3 (sort of missing)
Characters 3/4 (likable)