Secret Santa Review
This is my review for Monthly Marathon Club's December event, where I was recommend (by Bluntjoker) three shows to finish by the end of Christmas. I picked this one because it was done by the same person who did Cowboy Bebop, one of my favorite anime, and I've been meaning to watch it since it came out.
As a heads up, I'm not a great writer.
There are a few spoilers in this review (story section)
The story, or lack there-of, was very simple. The new transfer student, Kaoru, becomes friends with a delinquent (Sentarou) and his childhood friend (Ritsuko), and discovers they love jazz music. Although his background is in classical music, he learns to play jazz on the piano to impress them. This leads to one of the sub-plots: Jazz! Definatly the more interesting half of the show, I loved every moment when characters sat down to play jazz music. At the US bar, the school festival, or just in Ritsuko's basement, these moments really stood out, and I image they'll be the only thing I remember about the show in a few weeks. I wish there were more occasions where their 'band' could have played together and that music was more of a focus during the show.
The second part of the story was the love triangle between Sentarou, Kaoru, and Ritsuko. I'm not a huge romance fan so this got old very fast, especially since it was overly-simple. Does she like me, or him? Does he like me, or him? Very annoying misunderstands that could be easily avoided if everyone just told their true feelings. During the last episode, all this effort is thrown out the window when the three end up being only good friends.
There are a few sub plots thrown in as well to make the show slightly more intersting, none of which are very interesting. The exception being the school festival which was saved by the music conclusion.
During the last two episode, I wondered how they were going to end the show, although I guess it would involve finding Sentarou. What I didn't expect was the compeltely beautiful final scene. At this point, with my memory of the show already starting to fade, I can tell this scene will define my memory of the show (so chances are, I'll remember the show being better than it was).
Overall, there was too little story. The love triangle was re-used and moved too slow, but the final episode almost saves it. I feel like the show could have used an overall goal to focus on, although for a slice of life it could have been worse.
To fit the genre and setting, the animation is simple, realistic, and has bland colors. The exception is Sentarou's shit and his drums, whose red stands out in a sea of black, white, and brown. The character designs were also bland, but in the end I guess they fit the setting so they're alright.
Opening was beautiful.
Sound is the best part about this anime. The jazz scenes and soundtrack really stand out and I'd recommend the show for those scenes alone. However, I only wish the music was more common throughout the show.
Opening theme was perfect, especially the trumpet near the end.
The characters were one of the weakest parts of this series. Most of characters were not very likeable, interesting, or original. Sentarou is the only exception. I started to like him immediately, because I'm a fan of 'delinquent' characters, but even after the writers totally forgot he was a delinquent, his personality and family made him the most fun. It almost feels like the show was build around him (and not the trio of friends) because he stands out so much. Everyone is is totally forgetable.
Overall, I really did like this show. Parts of the plot and simple characters slowed it down a bit too much for my tastes, but it's simplicity was still enjoyable. The jazz music was the heart of the show and I loved every time they played music. The first jam session they had had me ranting to my boyfriend about how amazing the show was, if only it was consistantly important to the show I might have rated this anime higher. Still, for all my complaints, it's a great show that I would recommend to people who don't mind slow-paced shows.