|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Sakamichi no Apollon
This is quite easily my personal favorite title that I seen for the Spring 2012 season. Taking place in late-1960s Japan, Kids on the Slope believably depicts the major norms and events of the time period mixed with the complicated developments that take place in the bonds between Kaoru, Sentaro and Ritsuko. Spanning the length of three years, Kids on the Slope explores the developing relationships between the three friends as they have their quarrels, develop friendship and even some romantic developments as Kaoru finds himself smitten with Ritsuko. A major part of this bond comes from Sentaro's love of jazz, which is strongly emphasized through the songs that Sentaro and others usually perform with him coming from famous musicians like Bill Evans, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Chet Baker and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Yoko Kanno offers up her music composure talents in pulling off these Western musical pieces for Kids on the Slope and as usual, they are quite excellent to listen to. |
The major characters of Kids on the Slope are well fleshed-out as you become familiar with their upbringings, personalities and backgrounds. Characters make foolish decisions that can be risky or risk a rift in the bonds established which occur naturally and could actually happen with anyone in real life. In particular, the actions of one of the major characters in the series relates to the student protests taking place in Japan during the late 1960s connected to the country's relations with America which were still touchy following Japan's loss in World War II to the West, a nice touch in believably depicting the events of the time period.
The only flaw I could find with Kids on the Slope came in the form of its final episode where events felt rushed and it left some details on the developments of some characters rather unclear, especially in the case of Sentaro.
In terms of animation, the series features beautiful and well-detailed settings of the various Kyushu locales that the characters settle or go through and features fluid animation in many instances from anything like high school students walking to school to close-up shots of characters playing different musical instruments. Character designs are well-designed and detailed as well, though the facial designs of characters looked a bit rough in close-up shots.
Overall, I'm quite glad that I had a chance of seeing Kids on the Slope as its excellent fleshing out of characters, accurate portrayal of 1960s Japan and Yoko Kanno's musical presence definitely stuck out for me. This is quite easily one of my favorite titles of 2012 thus far.
Last updated Thursday, June 28 2012. Created Thursday, June 28 2012.
Sakamichi no Apollon
(All episodes watched):|
My first impression of Apollon was that this might be fun. In episode one it looked like KOTS might be a grim tale of bullying, but before long characters started to develop and the things which happened weren't particularly unlikely. A friendship begins to develop between two guys who seem at first to be a complete mismatch: the intellectual nerd Kaoru and the burly Sentarou. What they have in common is an interest in music. Judging from the OP sequence, what would happen was that a band would be formed. The cute girl who acts as an intermediary between the two guys was a definite plus, as was the 'sixties timeframe. I'll be watching, I decided.
Episode two ended with a hard to describe moment at which I felt that what had just happened only made an interesting show much more interesting yet. Where would things go now? And, not only how would this event affect the people who were directly involved, but two other characters as well? That's the sort of show that KOTS is. One thing I didn't like about episode four was Kaoru getting upset instantaneously at one point--there hadn't been much of a hint that he was extremely jealous of Sentarou, and the problem went away as quickly as it appeared. That's not good storytelling. KOTS in general strikes me like an interesting story which unfortunately has been rushed and compressed to a certain extent, so that there are few hints that the characters are about to undergo important realizations and changes of heart. That makes the story less entertaining and more difficult to follow, but it remains fairly intriguing nevertheless. It could have been better, but it is good.
The same thing happens in episode six. Dammit, why the hell is Kaoru so mercurial regarding his moods? It's like he has an extremely hot temper but normally manages to keep it under control and a secret. And it doesn't make sense: being seperated from Sen scares him--so he seperates himself from him? This show needs to foreshadow these crises rather than just have them pop up out of nowhere every now and then. And whatever it was that angered Kaoru, in episode seven it fades away almost as quickly as it appeared. For a show which is as good as KOTS is in every other way, this bad habit is a glaring fault.
Rather than a romantic triangle, this show involves a sort of romantic chain: this guy likes this girl, but she likes another guy, but that guy likes another girl, and so on. Episodes seven and eight got things moving again, as interesting developments come about which aren't spoiled by inexplicable mood swings on the part of Kaoru. The trouble Jun has gotten into gives the show a little 'sixties flavor. Almost right up to the end, I had little idea what the long-term plot was going to be, however; maybe nothing more than how the guys and girls pair up. Because events are so loosely strung together, rather than melding into one another, there didn't seem to be much of a 'flow' to the series and even going into the final episode it didn't feel like a conclusion was anywhere near. But the show did manage to pull a pleasing resolution out of a hat. It had a sort of old fashioned feel to it, like something you might have actually watched back in the 'sixties. KOTS strikes me as sort of an adult, thinking person's anime, like the stuff from Noitamina. It seems to rely partly on nostalgia to attract viewers, but is enjoyable for everyone nevertheless.
Last updated Thursday, July 19 2012. Created Thursday, April 19 2012.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://www.noitamina-apollon.com/|