Sakamichi no Apollon Review — A-

Kaoru, the son of a wealthy family, transfers to a high school in the country, where he befriends Sentarou. They come from completely different walks of life, but share a common passion in jazz music. Their bittersweet high school life filled with friendship, love and jazz unfolds.

Finally we have a show that knows how to do romance. Sakamichi no Apollon involves a love triangle, but it’s not one where characters become fickle and suddenly change their minds arbitrarily, as most do. Here, the characters don’t really change their minds at all, so much as that they come to understand themselves more fully. So Sakamichi manages to retain the drama and tension of a love triangle while avoiding the associated fickleness and induced desire to strangle all of the characters.

Even more than it is a story of love, Sakamichi is a story of friendship. And the portrayal of the relationship between Kaoru and Sentarou is superb. The part that made their friendship so interesting for me is how they come from completely different walks of life. Kaoru comes from a wealthy family; Sentarou from one that is poor and Christian, with an alcoholic father and a ton of brothers and sisters. At school, Sentarou is perceived as a loner and a bully while Kaoru is at the top of his class. Yet they became the best of friends as they complement one another with their differences.

Another aspect of Sakamichi no Apollon that makes it stand out is the setting. The show takes place in the 1960s, and we see the tensions taking place with the American military and the peace movement, the latest musical fashions, and teenage pop musicians prancing around in togas.  The show brings the era to life.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention Sakamichi’s music. It has several extended jazz pieces, all of which were enjoyable. My only complaint is that they didn’t use jazz for the OP or ED!

Apparently, the creators of Sakamichi no Apollon took a lengthy series of novels and compressed them into twelve episodes. They did a remarkable job, as the story is fluid and doesn’t feel like you’re missing anything. Sakamichi comes highly recommended.

  • Storytelling – A – Tells a memorable story of growing up. A few minor issues with portraying the passage of time.
  • Voice – A – Unique feel with the 60s and Jazz vibe.
  • Characters – A – Excellent. The three lead characters are all to die for in their own way.
  • Attention Grab – A – Kept my attention.
  • Production – A – Great music (except the OP and ED aren’t jazz) and a unique animation style.
  • Overall – A

Recommendations – The Place Promised in our Early Days, Yotsunoha, Horou Musuko,

9 thoughts on “Sakamichi no Apollon Review — A-

  1. The A- is deserved imo and I agree in particular re voice. I’d like to highlight the awesome 1960s outfits like glasses, sweaters, skirts and so on. Yurika was a further memorable character for me, although her romance with Jun was rather a side story and she was a bit cliché. I was quite a bit moved when the series ended with that pan over the island and sea. The only criticism I could have is that the art had too much computer shading for my taste.

    Still, this show is no match for the impact Hourou Musuko had on me. Not even close.

    1. Yep, excellent clothes along with the music and historical background. I didn’t like the Yurika and Jun sidestory for most of the show, but the ending for those two really won me over with how they ran away while realizing how stupid and difficult things would be (*cough cough* Toradora *cough cough*).

      This wasn’t close to Hourou Musuko in my opinion either. That’s a really tough standard to live up to though. That’s probably a problem in my reviewing system— out of the all the scores, A- probably has the widest gap between the top shows and the bottom within that range. For example, Ano Hana, Sakamichi, and Hourou Musuko are all leagues apart but they get the same grade. This has the advantage of making As and A+’s harder to get, but I could probably shift some of these down to B+’s… in my mind, A-, A, A+, D and F are quite distinct, but the scores in the C / B range tend to blur together…

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