Kids on the Slope
Sakamichi no Apollon
(2012 ~ 12 episodes)
I’d never done the Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. While my Secret Santa was given a link to my MyAnimeList (MAL), I know that my taste in anime’s quite varied (my “favorites” range from horror, to sports, to music, to romance/drama) so I figured I had a good chance of winding up with just about any genre being suggested to me. I was given a variety, to match. My suggestions where Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon), Girls Und Panzer, and Azumanga Diaoh. I’d heard of both Girls Und Panzer and Azumanga Diaoh (I read some of the manga for it) before, so I decided to try Kids on the Slope on a whim after reading the MAL description.
I honestly can’t sum up at the moment how glad I am I was recommended Kids on the Slope and how glad I am I chose that recommendation to watch and review. I have had a tenth “favorite” spot open on my MAL and I have happily filled it with Kids on the Slope. It was a show I likely never would have stumbled into on my own. The MAL description says it’s “a heartwarming story of friendship, music, and love that follows three unique individuals brought together by their mutual appreciation for jazz.” I initially read that as a kinda’ cookie cutter feel-good show, with some jazz (which is a genre I was neutral toward prior to this) added in.
I’ve gotta’ say that MAL’s description really doesn’t do the show justice. This show doesn’t just cover friendship, music, and love. It tackles feelings of not fitting in even in your own home. It looks at the fact that sometimes friends do part ways, not because they stop caring, but because their lives are just heading in different directions. It reminds us that some friendships really can stand the test of time. Even its portrayal of love isn’t what I’ve come to be used to from anime – this one was more raw and real than many shows’. Having at least some dating experience under my belt, I was totally able to empathize with the messy, confusing love this anime portrays.
Due to this portrayal of love – romantic, yes, but for the most part, just love between good friends – this anime messed with my emotions on the same level as Anohana, Clannad After Story, and Angel Beats. Episodes eleven and twelve were brutal emotionally. I had mostly held it together, but eleven broke me and twelve gave me no chances to pull myself back together. I had become so attached to the characters – especially Kaoru, as he reminded me of myself in some ways – that just like in the other shows I mentioned, I found myself crying one moment and beaming the next. While I usually am a crier in movies and whatnot, when an anime reduces me to full, silent sobs where I almost can’t cry, I’m really invested. This show did that for me.
I think it’s also worth nothing that I’m going to have the tune of “ Moanin’ ” by Art Blakey stuck in my head for as long as, if not longer than, this anime’s opening and ending songs. (I am actually listening to it as I write this…) As I mentioned earlier, I was totally neutral towards jazz prior to this. Now? I’m probably going to be buying some for my iPod (in particular, “ Moanin’ ”). Not to mention I have a nagging compulsive urge to learn how to play piano now… partially just to play that same tune Kaoru plays. My Secret Santa included in their reason for recommending it that “The music will hang with you long after you’re done. ” They are most definitely not wrong!
If you can’t stand romance and/or drama and struggles between friends, or if you can’t stand jazz, then you probably won’t appreciate this anime. However, if that’s not the case, then I’d seriously recommend checking this show out. Judging by the high score it has on MAL it’s relatively well-known and I’ve just been living under a rock or something, but to me it was a hidden gem. Thank you again to my Secret Santa for this recommendation! I now have a new anime tied for a spot in my top 3 favorites!