First: I have I have serious respect for anyone who can play jazz on the piano as well as these guys do.
Second: one day I hope to jam like these guys do.
Sakamichi no Apollon is about a boy who doesn’t really have any friends. He’s moved around a lot in his life due to family circumstances and so never really made any friends. Because of this and his family’s expectations for him, over time, Kaoura withdrew into himself and became an introvert. However his life made a sudden change from grey to rosy when he transferred to Kyushu one summer and finally finds, through music, people he can call his good friends.
Story and Characters
Sakamichi no Apollon is a sweet coming of age story that deals with love, responsibility, family and moving on in life. I can safely say I wasn’t bored once in the entire thing. Watching the friendships bloom between Kaouru and the side characters was really nice to watch because it just felt really nice and almost nostalgic. The anime captured the different moods of the story really well as different characters went through both hard times and good, as it connected with me really well and helped me empathise with it and become invested in the story and the characters.
Kaouru’s character in particular was very believable as an introvert and somebody with trust issues. As someone who has never seen his mother and whose dad is never around, the writers clearly had his background into mind when writing the plot and how he reacted to certain situations and events.
Now, I say ‘side characters’, but they weren’t really. Kaouru is more just the main focus of the series as he does get more characterisation than the others and he is the guy with the inner monologue. However I would say that each of the other characters were both well-founded and had their own significant sub-plots. Each of the characters’ stories was engaging and it was interesting to see the effect it had on them, but they also all interlinked with each other plot. What was great about this was you didn’t get your standard episodic or arc-based anime with each arc each dedicated to a particular character, but instead you got a truly satisfying overall plot. Well – mostly.
A problem I had with the plot of this anime was actually the ending which left much to be desired. Whilst it did save itself by providing decent closure, Sakamichi no Apollon struggled form a rushed ending which then caused a significant lack of closure concerning the events leading up to it and why they took place. They needed to flesh it out a whole lot more to get it right. I felt like they needed at least one more episode to properly complete the story and provide such closure for the audience. Yeah, it’s hard to describe without spoilers.
Another small issue I had with the anime was a particular main character, Ritsuko, who is the romantic interest of Kaouru and best friend of Sentaro, was, unlike the other main characters, a little shallow, underdeveloped and didn’t really have much of her own subplot to herself. I hate to say it, but a harsher summary of her character would actually be just ‘a catalyst to cause drama and help kick start the story’, since she’s the one who introduces him to jazz and gets him to jam with the Boyz (what I call them) for the first time. That’s not to say she was pointless though. I liked her character too.
Animation and Sound
This show was animated beautifully. They didn’t waste any detail in this anime as was showed in the music scenes of the anime, which fully animated the characters playing their instrument down to even their finger movements, and it was just really nice to watch, and added to the atmosphere really well in terms of pace.
Talking of the musical scenes, these were all done fantastically. The atmosphere was done excellently and had me completely absorbed, grinning at my screen like an idiot. The rhythm, music and feeling of chemistry just made want to jump in there and play along with them, and in a way the atmosphere provided that feeling for me. Sadly, I felt like the musical scenes toward the end were less epic, but I think that’s because I enjoyed the earlier scenes too much (hehe x) ).
Funnily enough, other than the musical scenes themselves, there was practically only one track in the OST that I enjoyed listening to. Pity, because you’d this that a soundtrack from a musical anime would be great.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a great watch, even if the ending was a little disappointing. I’m gonna give this anime a:
9/10 for characters
8.5/10 for plot – could have been 9.5/10 if the ending had been done well.
9/10 for Art and animation
8/10 for Soundtrack – would have been a 10/10 if the tracks not used in the music scenes weren’t horribly average.
and a 8.5/10 for my overall enjoyment.
Give it a watch on Crunchyroll to support the industry that we all can’t get enough of 😉
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