Sakamichi no Apollon — First Impression

Our lead character doesn’t like to climb hills.

This was great! This looks like it’s setting up to be one amazing season…

Sakamichi really knows how to build its characters. We’ve seen introverts like the main character before— transfer students who don’t want to make friends. But this guy isn’t a caricature. For one thing, he goes and makes friends with the class bully. He’s not even socially awkward, he just freaks out occasionally.

The drummer is my favorite though. He’s the loner type who just lounges on the roof all day and skips class. Everyone in the class is scared of him, probably because he’s huge (by Japanese standards). But he’s actually a pretty nice guy. And he isn’t the usual kid with bad grades who’s a failure at everything in life. He actually is really good at drums.

And this is a big selling point of the show for me. These kids actually have a life outside of school, and hobbies! This is quite a twist for anime, where most students don’t do anything except study and fight monsters and crap. We actually have students with dreams and ambitions which don’t rely on them getting the best grades in their class! This makes the characters much more true to life for me.

I enjoyed the love triangle too (and it’s an actual closed triangle, of course). I’m not sure which of the three pairings to ship… although the drummer with his childhood friend is my least favorite.

One comment on the direction: this show knows how to use silence. Using silence properly is hard in an anime. I think the best example for how to do this right is Hourou Musuko (this show’s art reminded me of Hourou Musuko at times as well). If you’re silent for too long the show becomes boring. But if you never stop to let things sink in or for dramatic effect, the show also becomes tedious. Sakamichi struck the balance just about right, in my estimation.

One more thing to note: how can you have a show about jazz and have an OP and ED without any jazz?!

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  1. “One more thing to note: how can you have a show about jazz and have an OP and ED without any jazz?!”

    Yeah, indeed. That choice was a bit surprising. Although the songs aren’t rock or anything. They’re moody themselves and fit the atmosphere. Still where’s my Steve Conte?

  2. Well, I’m not a fan of bromance but I will definitely follow this show for the style and the music. I very much like shows which are set in Japan’s not too recent past. The main character’s glasses alone would make the show worth watching. And it’s indeed cool to have a class bully who turns out to be a decent and intelligent person. To me, this show feels much more like a live-action movie than like an anime. You are right, though, I missed the jazz music as well in the OP and ED.

    I also would recognize something from Hourou Musuko in the art, at least in the characters drawings. In both shows, the characters are drawn in subdued colours with clear lines and not that much detail and the different parts (e.g. the hair) are just filled up with some CG shading. Hourou Musuko also made use of a lot of lights in the hair which this show (so far) did not.

    • Exactly, I couldn’t really put into words why the art looked the same, but that just about covers it. Normally I’m not a fan of bromance either, but they have some great chemistry here (and it isn’t that really corny yaoi stuff).

  3. As far as characters surprisingly having interests outside of school, you have to take into context where these kids’ parents would have been at that same age. I’m more looking forward to what looks like a slice of 60s Americana in the most unusual of locations.

    • Good point, it’ll be interesting to watch this as someone who’s intimately familiar, for once, with the culture they’re interested in.

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