best friends forevah

I used to walk uphill to school.

Sure, the plot could have been better. We could have had a final grand performance. We could have had a less deus ex machina-ish ending. We could have had our hearts ripped out of us Clannad-style. But, really, no. Sakamichi no Apollon is just fine the way it is. It’s not perfect, but it captures the essence of coming-of-age, slice-of-life, friendship genre so very well.

That’s the thing that really struck me about Kids on a Slope: it really is about kids on a slope. They find each other. They find themselves. They find their future. The central friendship between Nishimi, Sentaro, and Ritsu is the core of the story, and while the story isn’t overly complex or dramatic, it feels natural. It feels like actual things high school students would do and how they would approach their first brushes of love and hardship. Like when Ritsu rejected Nishimi and Nishimi went into his death spiral only to be pulled out by Sentaro, it felt like… youth. The central theme of “bad shit happens, but, hey, friends are here to help” is repeated over and over.

(Another anime the same season with the same theme? Space Bros. For everyone who thinks moe anime has taken over, you are wrong. We’re in a Silver Age of Friendship and Optimism. You guys just aren’t watching these shows because you’re secretly watching all the moe anime that you so much complain about instead. Of course, who needs moe anime when you have Chitanda?)

(The ending is a bit disappointing in that it is cut-off from the much better manga ending. Imagine the ending to Mahoraba where the anime just kinda ends while the manga has a time skip that features everyone grown up with plots threads finally closed.)

The jazz aspects of Sakamichi is interesting. I felt like the show didn’t need it. Sentarou and Nishimi could have been in the classics club or baseball team, and the series would have still worked. But the jazz aspect helps with two things: One, it makes the soundtrack easy, recognizable, and fantastic… much like how I associate Beethoven’s 7th with Nodame, I associate Moanin’ with Sakamichi. Second, it makes it a culturally interesting show. It’s set after WWII during Japan’s reconstruction, and these kids are finally having access to Western goods. What are they enjoying? The musical genre that came from the country that just defeated them. It’s interesting, and I wished the show played more to this aspect, with only really the one bar episode with military men having used this aspect of the plot.

The choice also shows that Watanabe is as huge of a jazzophile as Michael Bolton is a cinephile. Though it is interesting that most of the featured music in his prior works were all original collaborations while in Sakamichi it’s mostly already produced stuff that he integrates into the show. But it works well. So while the show may have worked with a different club activity, the music becomes the extra character. It gives everyone, corny as this may sound, extra soul. You, the viewer, actually feel calmer and more relaxed seeing Sentarou and Nishimi jam out a session.

I highly recommend this show. (Andohbytheway, there’s a lot of freeze frames of Sentaro and Nishimi running off that I want this in every future Gundam series.) It’s not something that you would want to watch more than an episode per sitting though (even though you’ll be tempted to since every episode ends on a cliffhanger). I found it best to let the episode rattle around in my head and savor it a bit like a fine wine. Though it’s a great cure for moe anime blues.

3 Responses to “best friends forevah”

  1. I think I would’ve liked it better without the 8 years after epilogue. It would’ve left a bittersweet taste in the same vein as 5 cm/s. The time skip felt like really out of nowhere :(

  2. (Tho I have to add, even despite that, I loved the hell out of this anime)

  3. The time skip is in the manga, but they did not animate the final chapter that time skips a few months past that point. Let’s just say it does end with a wedding and one hell of a jazz session.

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