Sakamichi no Apollon

Title: Sakamichi no Apollon
Genre: Slice of Life
Rating: 8.5/10


Summary: The coming-of-age story of “love, friendship, and music” follows a naive boy and a scruffy boy in a provincial town in Nagasaki Prefecture in the late 1960s. In the early summer of 1966, Kaoru transfers to the local high school from Yokosuka. Thanks to his family’s nearly constant cycle of moving from town to town, Kaoru has only known school as a difficult place for readjusting every time. However, on his first day at this new school, he meets a boy and begins a new direction in life.

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Review: There comes a time when a slice of life anime airs and I actually find myself watching very intently. Many of you know that I’m a fan of the genre, but generally watch it for it’s laid back pace and somewhat relaxing mannerisms. Rarely do I find myself enjoying the solid story telling and  characters, especially when there is drama. Characters tend to become very whiney or annoying in a slice of life anime when you introduce romance. I’m happy to say that Sakamichi no Apollon did it right and took into account that not everyone is a brain-dead hopeless romantic.
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The art style for Sakamichi no Apollon was something that could pull any decade jumping audience member because it did a great job taking the viewers back to the time period it was meant to take place in. The characters looked a bit gritty and the streets were paved in litter and dust, the broken down houses housed multiple people and the clothes almost from another world. The art also showed the brighter, more simple times. I know that may be hard to fathom but it was something about the beauty of a scruffy haired, freckled girl and hole ridden uniforms matched with bright smiles that made the anime pull you out of your modern day and into a non-tech savvy past. Among all this was something that the anime centered around, something that any and every decades enjoys, music. It wasn’t only fun listening to the soundtrack, but also watching it come to life. The anime studio did a great job bringing life to a music genre known for having fun, jazz.
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I’m happy to say that the soundtrack and art weren’t the only things that I enjoyed about this anime. I can’t say that it was for everyone, in fact I’m sure a lot of people found it boring or depressing. I found it to be realistic and emotionally connecting. The characters, especially Kaoru, were relatable in their actions. The problem that I have with most slice of life are the extremes leaning toward slap-stick comedy or unnecessary dramatic back stories. They were normal kids with a passion for music. Sakamichi no Apollon also did what most slice of life fear doing, having multiple themes. When most people read the summary they probably think that it will be a boring coming of age story; well they were half right. It was a coming of age story about a boy who tried to be something more than the bookworm, anti-social, dork he was. He found something that truly excited him, and people who brought more to the table than the boring normals he saw walking down the halls of his school. Kaoru first seemed like a character I would absolutely hate with this annoying, bitter attitude and poor social skills. However, he soon grew on me once the anime started picking up pace. He was logical, understanding, and didn’t whine about the smallest mishaps in his life. Kaoru wasn’t perfect though, and his change of attitude came from his unlikely friend, Sentarou. Their relationship was very well constructed because unlike most anime it wasn’t a confusion between lovers and best friends. They supported each other when things got dark, and kept each other smiling to keep the good times rolling. There was never a point in the anime where I yelled at the screen, “Why did you think that was a good idea?! What were you thinking?!”. It may sound cliché but I felt very attached to all the characters, each reacting exactly how I would have in similar shoes. Even the ending was bittersweet but left a heartwarming feeling in my chest.
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The soundtrack was absolutely amazing. Other anime which have a music centric theme don’t always have the best soundtrack. I feel that Sakamichi no Apollon had a heavy musical theme much like arcs of Angel Beats. It was something that brought the friends together but didn’t keep them together. The reason I feel the soundtrack was so great was because it made me listen to a genre I hardly ever touch, jazz. It became something more than just random sounds and difficult to follow beats. Jazz was brought into a new light for me, one filled with dancing, beauty, and a sense of togetherness. Sakamichi no Apollon turned jazz into something fun and exciting. They didn’t skimp on the art either. I enjoyed seeing Kaoru playing the piano and Sentarou jamming on the drums. Truly an aspect of the anime that brought out a lot more than just fancy melodies.
Sakamichi no Apollon - 08_Apr 14, 2013 8.42.39 PM Sakamichi no Apollon - 09_Apr 14, 2013 8.45.34 PM Sakamichi no Apollon - 09_Apr 14, 2013 8.47.02 PM Sakamichi no Apollon - 10_Apr 14, 2013 8.48.44 PM Sakamichi no Apollon - 10_Apr 14, 2013 8.48.58 PM Sakamichi no Apollon - 11_Apr 14, 2013 8.50.48 PM
Final statements: Sakamichi no Apollon has easily become one of my favorite slice of life anime of all time. It also became one of the better anime I’ve seen of late across all genre. It was wonderfully written and had some of the best character development I’ve seen. I would give this a high priority watch for any anime fan.

One Comment

  1. This was one of my top 10 for 2012! I’m not too fond of slice of life but the music and the story pulled me in. I was also hesitant at first because of the art style but it grew on me and came to perfectly fit and portray the era the story is set in. I came to love jazz music during the show’s airing and I still love hearing Moanin’ and the festival duo by Kaoru and Sentaro.

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