[Review] Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope episode 8 – These Foolish Things

A moment of silence for Jun’s hotness please.

Jun. Buddy. You were the hottest f-ing character in this show. When you sang But Not For Me back in episode 4 – heck when you even just said the English words “But Not For Me” – my heart fricking stopped with Yurika’s. I’m not saying your rebel streak isn’t good, or even that it isn’t okay to be down in the slumps, but for the sake of the last remaining shreds of your hotness, please, cut your hair. And take that cigarette out of your mouth while you’re at it. You’re too hot to get shriveled lungs.

Sentaro, poor baby, it’s alright. Okay, no it’s not, your first love got stolen by your brotherly role model, but at least you know that Ri’ko likes you now! Except that, no, she’s somehow crushing on the guy she rejected, since apparently chicks all dig a piano man. Messy business. With the way things are going, Yurika-Jun will probably make it to endgame, and since Kaoru, our main f-ing character, will definitely end up with his love interest, who does that leave Sentaro with?

Right.

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[Review] Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope episode 7 – Now’s The Time

Only the best opening line to any episode ever!

This episode rocked. I mean, any episode that begins with the line gloriously displayed above can’t possibly be disappointing, but seriously, it was great.

The two princes.

The meat of this episode is the live jamming Kaoru and Sentaro do in front of the whole school. People literally jumped out of windows to hear them play! Sure, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking (at least not to those who didn’t know Kaoru was playing My Favorite Things mixed with Someday My Prince Will Come mixed with Moanin’, which was all of the audience except Ri’ko), but it must have been the coolest thing to happen in that reserved uniform-wearing Japanese academy for a long time.

I did feel really bad for Seiji, but hopefully he takes the upstaging as an inspiration rather than  discouragement to his dreams.

Also, do I dare say Ri’ko’s friends… ship her with Kaoru? Haha. Oh, how oblivious they are to this anime’s unyielding cruelty toward ships. I mean, look what happened to Sentaro and Yurika in this episode…

[Review] Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope episode 6 – You Don’t Know What Love Is

can we all just admire Yurika’s painting for a moment

(From Wikipedia) Kaoru and the others start their second year of high school. Kaoru and Ri’ko are in the same class, but Sentaro is in a different class. Kaoru tries to keep Sentaro from talking to Yurika out of consideration for Ri’ko’s feelings. Kaoru and Sentaro run into Matsuoka Seiji at the art room. Sentaro asks Kaoru for advice on his upcoming date with Yurika, and Kaoru suggests that he not go. Sentaro goes out with Yurika anyways, but they just end up talking about Junichi. Matsuoka gives Sentaro a Beatles record to listen to. Matsuoka tells Sentaro that he wants to become a famous musician so he can support his family, and asks Sentaro to join his rock band. Sentaro invites Ri’ko and Kaoru to go to the beach with him, along with his siblings. Seiji shows up at the beach and is instantly popular with the kids, which causes Kaoru to feel like he’s being excluded. Sentaro agrees to join Matsuoka’s band for the school festival. Kaoru calls him a traitor, and runs off, saying he doesn’t need him anymore. Mr.Tsutomu goes to his regular bar and finds Jun there, drunk.

An awkward first date, the feeling of being excluded in a group, getting suddenly angry for petty reasons and knowing it all the while… this episode was incredibly relatable. I think this may be Sakamichi no Apollon’s biggest feat – it can remind you of your high school days without making you feel a tiring sense of déjà vu.

At the rate the story’s headed, everyone’s going to wind up with a broken heart. Kaoru already has one, and huge props to him for treating Ri’ko so well despite his heart twisting painfully inside him. It’s pretty obvious that Ri’ko won’t get anywhere trying to win Sentaro’s romantic affections. Sentaro should catch on with Yurika’s feelings for Jun soon, which will definitely hit him hard since all his toughness is in his muscles and not his heart. Jun seems like a mess, plus he hasn’t replied to Yurika’s letters, so Yurika will be crushed to realize Jun’s not the perfect Prince Charming she thinks he is. Wow, I really hope this anime doesn’t turn out to be a tragedy.

 

It’s also really interesting how Kaoru and Sentaro’s relationship has developed since episode 1. Remember when Sentaro seemed so powerful and domineering compared to Kaoru? Now, Kaoru comes up to Sentaro with a cool guy air and a mouthful of advice for love. They’ve got an interesting dynamic going.

[Review] Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope episodes 3 4 5

[3. Someday My Prince Will Come] [4. But Not For Me] [5. Lullaby of Birdland]

I’ve put off watching Sakamichi no Apollon long enough (the series finished airing already, forchrissakes), but there’s no way I can just not watch what’s supposedly the anime of the season, can I? So here begins reviews of long-aired episodes for any late watchers like me.

From episodes 3 to 5, the relationships between the characters progressed quite a bit, and what was originally a love triangle became… well, let’s see. Kaoru likes Ri’ko, who likes Sentaro, who likes Yurika, who likes Brother Jun, so uhh, a love pentagon? If only Jun would go gay for Kaoru, we’d make a full circle.

Meanwhile, though, Ri’ko has rejected Kaoru’s feelings, but he’s the main frickin character and you don’t just cut the main frickin character off like that when it’s not even halfway through the anime, so she’ll probably change her mind later. My personal favorite paring, Yurika and Jun, could work out, but Jun needs to fix whatever issues he has that sent him into hiding before anything can happen. Plus, it seems that Yurika reminds Jun painfully of a past love, but that’s no problem an anime character can’t resolve by the end of the season.

Overall, all the relationships and characters have developed nicely and realistically, and it’s not hard to see why it’s the favorite of the season. Incorporating the title jazz song into each episode is a great touch as well.

[Review] Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope ep 2 – Summertime

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.