Sakamichi no Apollon
If there was any show I was looking forward to this season, it was this one. As a massive fan of music, jazz in particular, I honestly couldn’t help but be excited for a show centered around it. There’s a certain charm in shows which dedicate such love to music, and Sakamichi no Apollon was looking to be a show with that love in spades. There was also some guy Watanabe and Yoko whatsherface working on this, first team-up since Cowboy Bebop, something something hype.
Taking place back in the 60′s, Kaoru Nishimi is a straightlaced navy kid who’s just moved Kyushu . While he’s not very adept at acquiring acquaintances, he catches the eye of the apparant delinquent Sentaro Kawabuchi. And it’s these two who then form a bond which stemmed from Sentaro’s love for jazz music. Yet as much as the show is about music, love of music is used as a tool to explore romantic love, for Kaoru it’s Sentaro’s childhood friend Ritsuko Mukae, and a love held between best friends. It’s these relations what make Sakamichi the show it is.
Which is to say, a very very good one. The growth of Kaoru as he’s exposed to more of Sentaro and attempts to pursue Ritsuko as something more than a friend, as he begins to understand the appeal of jazz and closes the distance he’s conditioned himself to keep with others. Most of Kaoru’s progression, and the focal point of the story, is his relation to Sentaro, and it’s these two characters who we do end up enjoying the most. The characters are genuinely endearing, never so much so as when they full force throw themselves into their music. And it’s a spectacle every time they play.
I’ll get to the music in a bit, but just the animation value during the jam sessions is something to comment on. The show holds itself to a simple charming style, but the energy that goes into music scenes is a sight to behold on it’s own. There’s a crazy amount of passion that went into this… man. Those are some nice drums. The rest of the visuals are not as enthusiastic in their presentation, but rather take a more subtle approach in which small details shape the scene from good to something truly memorable.
The score borrows from famous jazz pieces such as Moanin’ and But Not For Me, and the amount of passion that went into these arrangements is equally clear. The music in Sakamichi is it’s most defining point, and it stands out spectacularly. I cannot stress enough how outstanding the music is, furthermore with how integrated it is with the lives of those involved. Some songs, such as the aforementioned Moanin’ are used on multiple occasions, yet their sound can vastly differ on the scene they’re tailored to. Even the soundtrack outside of jam sessions are a joy to listen to, the show is a veritable masterpiece for the ears.
Not a single moment really feels unneeded, Sakamichi is likely one of the most efficient anime in a long while. It’s wholly refreshing to have the pace move at such a brisk pace, never stalling, never overloading the viewer with the unnecessary. It may at times move even a little too fast for it’s own good, but as a package Sakamichi is incredibly focused on what’s relevant. This allows for it’s highest points to truly shine, never much muddled or watered down by in-between babble.
The appeal of Sakamichi is in all of it’s sublimity, the many moments within which just strike you. As Kaoru’s first encounter with Sentaro’s jazz is a breathtaking experience, Sakamichi stole my breath away on more than one occasion. It’s a show capable of hitting the high notes multiple times throughout it’s run, so high few other shows ever do the same. Just as the great passion which was involved in its creation, Sakamichi is a show that I can’t help but love dearly.
Doofus’ Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great) (Revised from 10)
Dusk’s Score: 8.5 Meeps out of 10 (Very Good)