Woah, what happened? Where did the semi-gloomy anime that was Sakamichi no Apollon go? Because NO WAY IN NIPPON could this episode possibly be a part of the same series as the twenty-five minutes of somber grayness that kicked this anime off! I mean, just look at this opening. Just look at it!
No wonder it wasn’t used in the first episode! It sets such an opposite mood and tone that I would have felt betrayed by Episode 1’s slow pace if I had first seen this happy opening beforehand. It makes Sakamichi no Apollon look like a music and song party, whereas Episode 1 just made it seem like an anime about a depressing teenager overcoming his negativity.
So obviously I was also very surprised by the comedy (I know, right? There was comedy!) in this episode. There were two really funny scenes from Kaoru’s imagination (see left) that made it very clear how wrong I was to ever doubt that Sakamichi no Apollon could lighten up. In fact, this entire episode was the very definition of “lighten up.” The colors got lighter. The atmosphere was lighter. Heck, Sentaro basically told Kaoru to lighten up in the episode!
That’s not to say that it was all gags and fun, but that’s what made this episode really good: it was able to tone down for the more serious parts, like when Kaoru finds out about Sentaro and Ritsuko’s faith, which I thought was a very brave thing for the mangaka to include in the storyline, as discussion of any religion is very likely to touch a nerve with someone somewhere.
This episode was also able to ease out enough of the seriousness of Kaoru being cornered by bullies to fit it into its light mood. It was even funny when Kaoru tried to help fight back. Had something like bullying occurred in the previous episode, it would definitely have been drawn out and made the viewer infuriated with the bullies. I can’t attest to how appropriate it was for the studio to make light of what is in my opinion a serious social issue, but it was beneficial in building up Kaoru and Sentaro’s relationship, so at least it achieved its point.
Well, with a refreshing new outlook on this anime, I’ll be looking forward to the next episode.