Introverted classical pianist and top student Kaoru Nishimi has just arrived in Kyushu for his first year of high school. Having constantly moved from place to place since his childhood, he abandons all hope of fitting in, preparing himself for another lonely, meaningless year. That is, until he encounters the notorious delinquent Sentarou Kawabuchi.
Sentarou's immeasurable love for jazz music inspires Kaoru to learn more about the genre, and as a result, he slowly starts to break out of his shell, making his very first friend. Kaoru begins playing the piano at after-school jazz sessions, located in the basement of fellow student Ritsuko Mukae's family-owned record shop. As he discovers the immense joy of using his musical talents to bring enjoyment to himself and others, Kaoru's summer might just crescendo into one that he will remember forever.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a heartwarming story of friendship, music, and love that follows three unique individuals brought together by their mutual appreciation for jazz.
Anime Review : Sakamichi no Apollon
Sakamichi no Apollon, better known as “Kids on the Slope”, is a spectacular coming-of-age anime that beautifully touches upon friendship, love, and the magical realm of Jazz music. The story is set in the summer of 1966 and centers around Kaoru Nishimi, a classically-trained pianist who has just moved to Kyushu for his first year of high school.
Kaoru has always been the loner type, dutifully immersing himself in his studies and music. That is, until he encounters the notorious bad boy of the school, Sentarou Kawabuchi, a wild yet incredibly talented drummer. From an unlikely friendship, the duo embarks on an exciting journey of self-discovery, blossoming romance, and music. Sakamichi no Apollon is a rollercoaster of emotions, blending soulful Jazz with touching storytelling in an unforgettable way.
Story & Thematic Depth
From the get-go, Sakamichi no Apollon paints a detailed portrait of life in the ’60s, reflecting on the era’s social movements, evolving fashion, music, and more. There’s an authenticity to this period drama that adds a rich undercurrent to the narrative. And right in the center of it are Kaoru and Sentarou – two seemingly opposite youngsters who, through their shared love for Jazz, come to grips with the highs and lows of growing up.
Animation & Soundtrack
The animation by MAPPA studio is distinctive and vibrant, capturing the true essence of the ’60s and the live sessions of Jazz effortlessly. But where Sakamichi no Apollon really stands out is its music. Much like the impromptu sessions of Jazz in the show, the soundtrack, courtesy of Yoko Kanno, is mesmerizing and feels like a character in itself, enhancing the overall narrative to greater heights.
The series takes pride in its nuanced characters who are, much like Jazz, full of surprises. From Kaoru’s journey of self-discovery and breaking away from his isolated shell to Sentarou’s struggle with his identity, the characterization in this series is remarkably rich and engaging. Even the supporting cast plays a pivotal role in the story, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.
Final Thoughts & Recommendation
Sakamichi no Apollon is a quiet masterpiece that resonates on multiple levels. Its poignant storytelling garnished with dynamic characters and a flair for the Jazz era leaves an indelible mark on the viewer. Whether you’re an avid anime watcher, a Jazz aficionado, or just someone who appreciates a good story, Sakamichi no Apollon is beyond rewarding.
Should you rent, buy, or stream? Well, if you’re passionate about quality anime, music, and heartfelt narratives, considering a purchase wouldn’t be a bad idea. But regardless, this series is undoubtedly worth streaming. Fall in love with the captivating world of Sakamichi no Apollon. You won’t regret it!
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