August 13, 2012

Anime Review: Sakamichi no Apollon ~Kids on the Slope~


Hello OR followers, it's been a while since I've posted! I had an awesome time at AX; and I will make a great post reminiscing on good times, in due time. But now, it's time for this Otaku Reviewer to, well , review!

Today's Anime of Choice -- Sakamichi no Apollon, also known as Kids on the Slope! Recent release and very game-changing in terms of genre (Historical Fiction/Music/Romance Comedy), this anime is sure to please fans in all categories of general slice-of-life! Have you ever heard of "Moanin'" or "My Favorite Things"? If you have, you're probably a Jazz fanatic, and what a strange mix of Otakudom and musical taste! Well, you're in for a treat, Jazz enthusiasts and normal Otaku alike!


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Sakamichi no Apollon, or Kids on the Slope, is a historical anime, more specifically set in the 1960s. Jazz has hit its peak in the States and has reached Japanese shores. The story focuses on Nishimi Kaoru, a book-smart frail boy of the upper society who moves to Kyushu to stay with his relatives, and finds it hard to fit in amongst the Kyushu accent and bumpkin lifestyle of his classmates. He finds a way to adjust, though, by finding true friendship with Kawabuchi Sentaro, the misunderstood delinquent with a huge heart for Jazz music; and finding a love interest in the form of Ritsuko Mukae, daughter of the town's record shop owner. Together they form a Jazz combi in the basement of the neighborhood record shop, and struggle through adolescence throughout.

You may be thinking "This anime doesn't really sound like my cup of tea," and to be honest it doesn't really peg any real Otaku demographics. But there's plenty of appeal to the series. If you've ever been captivated by "Honey and Clover" or "Nodame Cantabile," then just consider this a freshly tossed salad of those two anime! It truly follows in H&C and Nodame fashion, the opening filled with musical references and bursting with adolsecent notions (of course, with YUKI performing this was to be expected). And without spoiling too much of the plot, let me just say that the main characters have a great deal of romantic troubles, and the story is definitely a love story, homegrown and despairingly honest in nature. So if you're into that kind of thing, this anime is definitely up your alley.


Here are some trivia bits about Sakamichi no Apollon:

- Every episode titles is named after a famous Jazz song. I could only get 3 or 4 references. If you're a Jazz fan you may get them all
- Kyushu is known to contain a famous American military base in Okinawa. That definitely has some influence on what kind of music is popular in the story
- The title actually is relevant, you have to watch the series to catch the sparse references to the greek god of light, Apollo
- Kyushu accent is ripe in the anime: to the untrained ear it may sound like Kansai accent but there are some slight differences. Prepare yourself to hear something new!
- The music is produced by none other than Yoko Kanno, the composer of great songs such as Tank! (Cowboy Bebop), H.T. (Trigun), and Half (Rurouni Kenshin)




So in the end, you don't need to love Jazz or love slice-of-life to enjoy this anime. Apollon is family friendly (fanservice free), somewhat emotional and inspiring, but overall an ejoyable series! Even if the 60's character design puts you off, it's really a show worth giving a shot. In the end, chansu sez --



Highly Recommended!

-chansu

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This blog, "The Otaku Reviewers", was started in February of 2010 on this very same platform, Blogger. At first, it was a venture into the informational and informal world of comics, anime, video games, and Japanese culture. In other words, just a random blog.

Over time, the founder of the blog credited with the pseudonym "RPGhero" was joined by two fellow bloggers and friends with the names "Chansu" and "Deretsun". Together the three bloggers looked up interesting Japanese culture facts, recommended new anime, talked about their own "otaku" interests, and traveled across the United States to various anime conventions.

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