Sakamichi no Apollon – 02

Don’t sweat the details, just jump in!

 I-it’s not like I’m happy tagging with Jrow or anything like that! *///*
Sorry for not responding to comments from last week’s impressions. It’s great to have my Natsume buddy anaaga with me for this week’s episode of Apollon, or following the recent trend of attaching Bros to anime names, Bros on the Slope.

Kaoru’s aunt goes grocery shopping, giving him an hour’s worth of time trying to perfect “Moanin'” on piano. Unlike today where we could put the track on an iPod and Airplay or watch youtube videos and find sheet music, Kaoru is playing, running up and down the steps and writing the sheet music himself from listening to the 33 1/3 record. He’s trying to etch it in his brain, even using muscle memory during class which Sentaro notices. All for the love of music? Haha… it’s always about a girl.

We probably still do stuff like this today, but wireless technology has made this arduous process so much easier. Seeing Kaoru learn it is far more enjoyable than me clicking the GarageBand icon today.

We get a bully scene with neck-cracking dude from last week. I thought he looked more like a tough guy last episode, but I guess most people seem like small fry compared to Sentarou.

Not only was it fun to hear some music play under what almost looked like a Benny Hill routine for 5 seconds, but to see Sentarou almost literally fly in with a dropkick. I counted, and it’s 20+ steps he jumps down from. Sen was right to ask if he was alive; hell, he himself should probably be feeling just as much if not more pain.

Poor Kaoru, having to be rescued by Ritsuko while his pants are undone. The show is really pitching the romance part between them by having Kaoru on a couple of occasions step in to try and impress. When Kaoru came running to get involved, I was reminded of Shouma from Penguindrum, who Ryohei Kimura also voiced.

Are your fingers ok, bro? Cause you’re gonna need them for this next scene. We’re back in the basement of Welcome Records where “Brother Jun” Junichi is downstairs. Along with Ri-chan’s dad, the four boys do a live session.

We all were probably tapping our feet or something while they were jamming; I certainly was. It’s fun to hear great music in anime, but when you see it actually being played as it is in Apollon, it’s more engaging.

Of small interest: The Breakfast at Tiffany’s vinyl with Audrey Hepburn on the cover when they cut to Ritsuko and her dad.

Musical Intermission

A rare moment in anime. Also a beautifully shot scene with significance to Sen later on.

Kaoru – “Please, indirectly kiss me instead!”

Kaoru successfully asks Ritsuko to have a “study date” with him. With friends and music, this summer should beat out all other summers in terms of fun. He waits for them behind a church, but notices Ri and Sen are inside, surprised that the two are Christians. At some point, he realizes that there will be no trip to the library as Sen gets a boat and the 3 go for a little ride. We see yet another moment of Kaoru’s fascination with Ritsuko as he goes ahead and lets Sen have his lollipop (i.e. indirect kiss). He later asks about Sen’s cross, but before Ritsuko can get a word in, Sen stops her.

The difference between Kaoru and Sen can be seen in their choice of undies.

If you’re interested, I go boxer-briefs. Anyways… Ri’s swimsuit is what passed off for stylish in the ’60s, I guess. I don’t think any girl would wanna be caught dead wearing something like that pattern today. A fun swimming scene with Kaoru and Ri swimming away from Sen after he threw/kicked them into the water; Kaoru’s fascination with her goes up another notch as he circles around her. Great underwater shot also.

Kaoru’s inability to row a boat properly might not have gotten him cool points with Ri, but it may be the best thing to have happened to Sen. After shooing some more bullies away from a little lady (Yurika), Sen notices her and his eyes widen in the wake of her beauty.

The bike rider that came by a little earlier in the episode returns at just the right moment during this final scene.

…at first sight? Sen’s eyes widening was another great moment.

“Jazzing it Up” with some extra screens:

If only getting the girl was this easy

This summer vacation hopes to be much less foreveralone.jpeg for Kaoru

Extra Ri-chan because she’s so pretty

As a self-proclaimed musician (not really), I was overjoyed when I found out that there will be a slice-of-life anime that somehow has relation to music. There’s always La Corda D’Oro for the classical lovers, but the amount of drama in that anime overshadowed the musical aspect of it to the point where it’s beyond horrible… Anyhow, jazz is the genre that I haven’t fully explored because of my focus on classical, so I was expecting a lot from Sakamichi no Apollon to enlighten me about jazz. Boy, I was ecstatic when I listened to all the jazz treats that have been given in episode one and two. Moreover, there’s no this “I’m-a-genius-but-I-can’t-play-jack-shit” scenario unlike a certain anime, so I’m satisfied with the semi-professional treatment the musicians has been giving to jazz. Finally, there’s an anime where the characters are taking music seriously without le drama! Those who have watched/read La Corda D’oro will know what I’m talking about.

Kaoru has got to be the most loveable character of this anime. I’m pretty sure he is that loner in an anime who will undergo a great character development thanks to his circumstances. Oh look, two episodes and his character is changed already! Kaoru was just a new emo student who hates everything about his life. And yet little pushes, such as jazz “rivalry” with Sen and Ritsuko, enables Kaoru to see something better in his life. Moreover, it seems that the relationship among the three will be more complex now, seeing how this new female character is stepping into Sen’s life.

The one thing I’m concerned the most right now is the romance. That is an important factor for each character to develop, and I want the characters to develop properly from their adolescence. Yet I can’t help but feeling disappointed with the existence of romance in this anime. I expect Sakamichi no Apollon to be a slice-of-life without having the need of romance, but there is Sen, in love at first sight with a woman because of her gorgeous pose. Damn it, I don’t want romance! But I can’t help admitting that the romance will be a huge factor that’s needed in this anime. Ah, too bad. All I can do is accepting defeat and let the romance be there.  Besides, I don’t think the romance between Sen and the older woman will work out anyway.

I was thinking about episode 1 before this and how sound that episode was in terms of execution. There were a lot of great scenes to bring up with the drumming being the consensus standout scene. It’s kind of the same thing with episode 2 where there’s so many great moments to point out, but most will recall the live session as their favorite scene. From that live session, the music is the obvious treat (see link in summary), but it’s also in how Kaoru slowly drops his fear of mucking the session up and adapts to the tune before he gets in flow with them. He’s got work to do as Jun pointed out, but as he’s coming out of his shell more, he’ll have that swing he needs to really contribute to the band. Sentarou also has taken notice of Kaoru’s enthusiasm for wanting to play. That was a cool little moment when, after hearing that Jun had arrived, he came back to drag Kaoru down with him.

Kaoru really is a great main character to watch. His standard traits make him seem like most ordinary male leads in anime, but watching Kaoru do anything is a joy without the frustration that so many like him bring to fans. It’s in the subtleties of his character growing that are the most enjoyable, and the fact that we are where we are with him in episode 2, not episode 10, 11 or 12.

Also with Sen, the religion angle adds an interesting layer to his character. My initial impression was like many others, oh just delinquent type, but now having some inkling of knowledge that his faith is very important to him makes him all the more likable and intriguing.

All that romance stuff replaced ep. 1’s “bromance” as Kaoru and Sen start to develop a friendship/one-sided rivalry and Kaoru goes all textbook in “trying to win the girl over”. Any opportunity to do something hoping she will be impressed, he’ll do it even if it takes them in circles. He wants to fight alongside Sen so as to not appear weak, he takes off his glasses in hopes of looking cool in front of her (I would know…), and he even makes sure the indirect kiss doesn’t happen… and we’re back on the bromance train since Kaoru’s popsicle got chewed whole by Sen. In his head, they’re all but dating.

No previews are featured in Apollon, by the way.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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18 Responses to “Sakamichi no Apollon – 02”

  1. skylion says:

    Great review, to both of you.

    Jazz has always been about taking what you know, and then forgetting it, and letting the experience happen. It’s about learning, and then unlearning.

    This episode was so perfectly paced, I’m sure that Anno had a great deal of say in the production.

    This is one of the many reason that I always come back to anime. I surprises me with these sorts of gems.

    • Jrow says:

      That is an interesting point. Kaoru has probably learned or been trained a specific, technical way to play piano and with jazz he kind of has to be a little more loose. As you say, you gotta learn and then kinda unlearn.

      These first two episodes have really nailed it on just about every aspect. I think in terms of manga content, they already covered the first volume, so maybe the pacing is being picked up a touch.

    • anaaga says:

      Is that how jazz is? If that’s the case, it’s definitely the opposite of classical, where you have keep remembering

  2. Niveous says:

    There’s a preview for episode 3 on the Japanese site, if you’re interested. And from what I’m picking up, they’re aiming at a love square (Kaoru–>Ritsuko–>Sen–>new girl).

    This anime… is gorgeous, both in its art, its attention to detail, and its story!

    • tatsuya says:

      i disagree ..well the background is awesome but the character face seen weird and the water detailed is just normal

      • anaaga says:

        The character face is probably because of the art style. Some anime have unique art style right

    • Jrow says:

      Wow. That is a lengthy preview to the point of spoiling. Previews should not be as long as what that was for Apollon.

    • anaaga says:

      Ah, bleh. Love quadruple. Way to ruin the friendship aspect of it

      • Niveous says:

        Only if it stays competitive /shrug. If we’re lucky, they’ll all realize what’s going on, cope with it, and get back to jazz. I guess it just depends on how mature they are about it?

      • Jrow says:

        Your slice-of-life thought isn’t exactly right since this is a coming-of-age series and has been described as such. Romance is going to be a part of that process, and while we all wanna see music and friendship, that’s why I’m quite ok with a little b/romance.

        • anaaga says:

          I did mention that romance is necessary for the characte development, so I won’t be bothered too much about it.

          What I’m worried is how the romance element might make everything dramatic and cliche. It happened a lot in other anime, and it’s not impossible for that to happen in Sakamichi no Apollon

  3. Bob from Accounting says:

    Aside from that AWESOME jam, this episode had a nice mixture of romance and bromance. And as much as the romance is nice, I think I could kind of do without in favour of just having a group of friends with no romantic interest in each other. Sadly, that never seems to happen.

    • Jrow says:

      I do love when a series doesn’t have a romantic story for me to get involved in. Seems strange to type that I love series without love in them, but sometimes it’s nice. With Apollon though, I’m hoping for balance with the music and the b/romance.

      • Yeah, I mean it’s a fact that (super intellectual example coming right up) the dynamic between the main three in Harry Potter was way more fun before Ron and Hermione started lusting after each other.

    • anaaga says:

      This is how I was feeling. I don’t see the romance as something necessary for the story, but for the characters, yes. I just hope that it won’t turn into some kind of cheesy drama

  4. Joojoobees says:

    “the fact that we are where we are with him in episode 2, not episode 10, 11 or 12.”

    I really like this aspect. Now his character is less the guy who is afraid to try, and more the guy who tries (even if he can’t do it too well). I would rather watch someone struggle to get better (or even see hem fail), than watch them be too afraid to try.

    • Jrow says:

      If they try and fail, then we can at the least have sympathy for the character; at least they gave it the old high-school college try. If they don’t try, then I ask that they please go die in a ditch. Please Shu, just die… your spoiler isn’t enough for me.

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