Sunday, September 15, 2013

Anime review: "Sakamichi no Apollon"

"Sakamichi no Apollon" (or "Kids on the Slope") won several awards last year and it is a josei, so it was given that I would watch it sooner or later. It turned out it was later.

"Sakamichi no Apollon" tells the coming-of-age story of three friends: Kaour (Bon), a rich boy with no friends, due to his often transfers and movings; Sentarou (Sen), a troublemaker who often misses school; and Ritsuko (Richan), Sen's childhood friend whose father owns a music store. For some unknown reason, Sen takes liking on Bon and the two of them start hanging out at Richan's place, playing jazz sessions. Because actually, Sen is a passionate drummer, while Bon learned piano since childhood. The three of them live through first loves, occasional fights and jazz music.

This is a pretty short anime, with only 13 episodes, so there is no long story like in "Nana" or "Hachimitsu to Clover". But on the other side, plot sometimes skip months and in such way covers really much time. In the end, it covers their whole high-school. It made me surprised several times, like with that early confession - I didn't really expect it so soon. The beginning was also good and got me hooked immediately: light, with no real subject, but hinting at drama and future topic.

The anime covers an unusual epoch - the 50s in Japan. This is the first time I watched anime covering this period of time. There is an interesting sub-story of Jun'ichi and Jurika, including political activism, student riots and Japan's after War history. Music is an important part of this anime, but not the main topic - character's relationships are what this really is about.

It is really a coming-of-age anime and it has some good drama. Not the usual awkward moments you would expect: Bon always says wrong things instead what he really wants, but it is so with most people. Anime doesn't go in making extreme emotional reactions, but goes lightly about it.

The ending was very surprising. Josei anime usually have some kind of bitter-sweet ending, but this really took me by surprise.

The animation and design is good, but not something extraordinary. Voice acting was very good, though. I don't like jazz usually, but even I was able to enjoy the music here.

"Sakamichi no Apollon" is a short but very good josei anime. Not among the best of genre, but with good and likable characters, fast story and some really nice drama. A good anime for everybody who likes josei.

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