Sakamichi no Apollon

Alt title: Kids on the Slope

Vol: 9; Ch: 45
2007 - 2012
4.256 out of 5 from 544 votes
Rank #543
Sakamichi no Apollon

Lonely Kaoru Nishimi has lost count of how many times he has moved schools thanks to his father's naval career. Newly landed in Kyushu, he finds most of his classmates instantly antagonistic towards him and suspicious of his elite background. Only two other students seem not to mind who he is – the infamously abrasive Sentarou and the gentle Ritsuko. Unbeknownst to Kaoru they have a passion for jazz, and they're about to pull him out of his stiff, joyless world into theirs of loose, swinging self-expression. Through friendship and frustration, love and despair, Kaoru will learn that life has a wealth of experiences in store for him!

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I don't usually write reviews for stuff I love, as I generally don't believe I could ever do them justice simply expressing it in a short review. However, Sakamichi no Apollon is from a genre whose works I rarely think of as above 7/10 or more than just, "yeah, I enjoyed that." This manga is one of three amongst the thousands I've read in my life that I'm comfortable calling a masterpiece (Freesia and Homunculus being the other two). Every character feels alive. There are no contrived or frivolous conflicts. Often times, when I read romance slice-of-life stuff I get hung up on the beliefs or actions of a character(s), or the characters are often without flaws and feel too unrealistic to realte. While I still enjoy those manga, they never resonated with me as much as Sakamichi no Apollon has. The characters are real, the pacing and progression is phenomenal, and it is a magnificent period piece (1960s Japan, still recovering from the war). The biggest hurdle for most readers will be getting over the childish design of one of the main characters and the cliche nerd-delinquent meeting that first occurs. But, even those things, I've come to love. Every single time, when a character makes a questionable choice, I think of myself in their position, and I come to understand why they made that choice or why the manga went in a certain direction. I don't want to keep rambling, so I'll sum it up like this: Sakamichi no Apllon is a gateway drug into manga - it can be shown to and loved by everyone - and it deserves every bit of praised heaped upon it.

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