Posted on 30 June 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

Reading this volume of the manga makes me appreciate the ending of the anime even more: they actually successfully stuffed one entire volume of 180 pages in just one 20-minute episode and cut things out brilliantly. More on that below though, because first I wanted to talk about the rest of Kaoru’s years.

What I loved was how Kaoru returned to his mother, and how the two developed a healthy relationship. Beyond that, we’ve seen Kaoru grow up very well through college, and him seeing his family back was also very memorable. The manga had a lot more room to fill in a lot more details, and show how Kaoru subtly changes. Instead of randomly running into Yurika by accident, these events were all set up by Kaoru first running into Jun (that was another part that I loved here, as they showed two different versions of musicians growing up into normal jobs; his change was one that I really missed in the anime version). But as for the question which version I prefer, I’d have to say that I consider the anime ending to be better.

The way in which the love triangle was solved didn’t really work for me . It was all just too concrete: instead of everyone going their own ways, there is this random twist pulled with Ritsuko’s boyfriend turning out to be just some random dude she invited, and at the end Kaoru goes back to where everyone was and the love triangle moves from “resolved” to the eternal “will they won’t they” again.

What I loved about the anime ending was how much it focused on leaving things to the imagination, and how much effort it put in saying as much as possible with as little as possible. The entire college years were cut, but that doesn’t matter when you see the grown up Kaoru: him choosing to be a doctor was also cut, but when you see him it all makes sense. He must have built up a new life in Tokyo with his own friends and when he finally hears of Sentarou again, he can’t resist the urge to see him again ad telling Ritsuko all about it (there only was one shot of a letter, but that was enough to show that they had been keeping up correspondence), cutting out that pointless twist with he boyfriend completely. What happens after they see each other again? Who knows? There were no romantic hints whatsoever unlike with the manga ending, so things really could go anywhere: they will probably remain in contact with each other while living their own lives.

Another thing that the anime changed was how we were introduced to Sentarou. In the manga, the chapter starts and we see him again. In the anime however, we’re slowly introduced to him through the story of the people that he has been living with for the past eight years. We never see him cause trouble, but with his character we can imagine what he has been up to. And yeah, with music the church scene works so much better. He hears the organs playing, and knows immediately what’s going on. That was a perfect example of how to condense an entire volume into just one final episode.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Sakamichi no Apollon



Last year Kunihiko Ikuhara of Utena fame made a surprise comeback after many years of absence. This year, it’s the turn for Shinichiro Watanabe to direct his first full series again after Samurai Champloo. Sakamichi no Apollon is a full drama. He already experimented a bit with this with the surprisingly good Baby Blue of Genius Party (much like how Masaaki Yuasa’s entry there became the prototype for Kaiba), but here he could go all out with a 12-episode Noitamina series.

Now, this series is a teenaged romance, which unfortunately is a very, very over-saturated genre, so the creators really had to do something in order to stand out. They found several ways. The first way is bringing in music. Playing instruments is a huge theme for many characters in this series, and it deserves to be praised how well the musical performances in this series look. the creators made use of Rotoscoping in order to make the animation of every single musical performance play synchronous with the actual music. This is something i have never seen before in a Television-series, especially with so much detail. Because of this, the creators are able to say so many things throughout these performances alone, and they often are the stand-out moments for every episode.

Second of all, there is the way in which this series portrays its characters, which is a huge level above what you normally see. At first sight they look like the ordinary stereotypes, but they immediately set themselves apart through their acting and by how self-aware they are. The series very subtly shows many different sides of them. On top of that, the series is chock full of events that force them to change and adapt. These are by far the most well-rounded, dynamic and fleshed out characters out of any other series this season. Probably of the entire year.

This season of Noitamina was definitely what the time-slot needed after the disaster that was Guilty Crown. There is jut one downside to it, and that is the huge amounts of angst that the creators use to keep the story going. Kaoru in particular is a character who is hard to like due to his social anxieties, and there is this constant tension between the characters that depends a lot on this angst and social phobia. Unlike other series though, the characters are fully aware of this and it gets used brilliantly for their development, rather than stalling for time.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – Keeps the twists coming, very well paced for a Noitamina-series. A bit too much angst though.
Characters: 9/10 – Really well rounded characters in the end. Their acting is definitely a step above the norm.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Amidst all of the series with great visuals, Apollon stood out with its amazing rotoscoped musical performances. Plus, Yoko Kanno is awesome.
Setting: 8.5/10 – The setting isn’t the main focus of this series, but really allows the creators to do stuff with the characters that would not have been possible if the time period was any different.

Suggestions:
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai
Nodame Cantabile
True Tears

Posted on with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

So, while Tsuritama may have edged Apollon in terms of the pre-finale episodes, in terms of the ending Apollon is far superior. In fact, this was by far the best ending of the season, and the type of ending that I’ve been waiting for a long time. The episodes leading up to this indeed were a bit soap-opera-ish, but this episode turns all of that around and completely makes up for them.

This was one of the best epilogues I’ve seen in a long while, and it made brilliant use f how Noitamina is aimed at an older audience. Because of this, it was able to give a great characterization to the characters in their versions of eight years later, in which they all went their own ways. In Tsuritama, the epilogue just showed random couples forming, or people chasing their dreams, but this was so much better, as it showed of nearly everyone how they ended up groing up and the people that they turned into.

I have been especially waiting for a romantic ending like this. I mean, romance endings are usually of two types: the characters finally confess to each other and live happily ever after, or nothing happens and they remain in a state of “will they won’t they”. Then this episode came along with Kaoru finally making his moves… only to screw up completely.

I love how that one played out: romance in anime is always made out to be this absolute factor. Here however, things just didn’t work out. Ritsuko had her moments where she really disliked what Kaoru did, but in the end she still likes him, just not enough to get into a relationship with him. Too bad. And after that everyone just goes on with their own lives. Thank you for this ending, Apollon. Your characterization was always a step above the rest, and this episode cemented that.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 22 June 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

For a minute I felt a bit cheated by this episode. Not because of the start though: I like how it turned the cliff-hanger of last week around by having Kaoru stop Sentarou at the last minute. After that though… Studio Mappa… a slide-show montage? Those are for lazy storyboarders who don’t know how to animate a certain part of the manga.

The real part that made me raise an eyebrow though was when Sentarou went off to return one of the music sheets that Kaoru forgot. You’re really going to end this lazily by killing him? It was all just too obvious. And don’t get me wrong: I really like a good major character death and they should be pulled more often, but this is just the complete wrong place for it.

What happened afterwards totally made up for it though: the revelation that it wasn’t Sentarou who was in critical condition in the hospital, but Sachiko. So yeah, Sentarou who was already facing huge difficulties in accepting his place in the family just drove one of his younger sisters into the hospital. It fits in much more with the themes of this series than just randomly killing him off, and the creators made excellent use of it. I really loved the climax, and it also created an absolutely wonderful set-up for the final episode.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 June 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

Apollon, I thought that you were too good to pull the “walking into naked”-card. Of course it was well explained and it was used well, but still this remains something that needs to die.

But yeah, this episode then proceeded to put in the same amount of development that most shows only manage in three times that amount. It got through the annoying, triumphant and calm before the storm stage by the end of it with Kaoru confessing again after a long period of dodging around the issue, even though that in the it only helped to return to the status quo.

The big twist for me in this episode though was Sentarou’s father returning, especially after how much effort he put into advancing to the third year thanks to Kaoru. I know that he hates his father and that he very likely sees that he loses his place in the family this way, but for him to disappear is quite radical. At first I thought that they were going with the predictable school festival ending, but this is a drama before this is a musical series, so this is indeed a great way to spice things up.

Speaking of which: no instruments were played i this episode.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 June 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

So Apollon decided to use the time before its finale in order to resolve the romance between the side-characters. This episode was all about Jun and Yurika, and actually a really good balance to the angst of the previous episodes, by finally actually resolving things, getting people to clear up misunderstandings and getting one couple together. After so many complicated feelings, this episode removed a lot of the different tensions and brought the cast back together, and it’s great that this is done before the finale.

Now we have three (yes, Apollon will be 12 episodes) episodes left for the three main characters. It’s here where all of the build-up needs to come together, and this series has to make use of its build-up. A great example of how to do this was with Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei. These three episodes will need to excel in this show’s own ways, most likely through impeccable acting and great character-development.

The rotoscoped scenes by the way look as good as ever. I mean, compare this to Tsuritama where it’s obvious that the biggest amount of budget was blown in the first episode, here the creators are still able to keep up a consistent animation quality up. The rotoscoped parts may not be as impressive compared to if they were had-animated, but still they look really impressive, and good unlike any other TV-anime out there.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 31 May 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

This really was an episode that focused on the different romances going on, to the point where the first couple has been formed. The end of the episode is pretty much the point where this series goes back to being a love triangle, but a very messy one at that, with character A thinking that character B likes character C while she is growing to like character A more unbeknownst to him, at a point when character C has realized that she had a crush on him.

These love triangles are very easy to screw up and devolve into a soap opera, but what I really like is how the creators made use of Rituko’s character development to further complicate things, rather than pulling some random twist for the sake of drama. The way she came to like Kaoru after spending a lot of time with him, knowing he has a crush on her, while trying to move away from Sentarou… it’s plausible for all of this to happen: over the course of the past episodes we were given enough reasons for her change.

The problem I have with series about teenagers is that there are too many of them: it gets harder and harder to stand out. However, when one comes along that is as well acted as Apollon, I’ll gladly shove these biases aside. That doesn’t change the fact that I want to see more variety in anime, especially considering that “seinen”-series that are supposed to focus on young adults feature teenaged lead characters more often than not. I can’t really fault the creators for picking an excellent manga about teenagers and animating it incredibly well.

But still, we’re currently in a very important half year for Noitamina: these are four series that really need to do well after the Guilty Crown disaster. Apollon and Tsuritama for being really well executed. Natsuyuki and Moyashimon meanwhile need to succeed in order to prove that there still is an audience for series about adults.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 May 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

And from out of nowhere…. the big concert scene of this series. And really: that was just amazing. On paper it could have been an incredibly cheesy episode, but those animators… they did an incredible job of bringing that performance of Kaoru and Sentarou to life. And Yoko Kanno, you are awesome. Everything just came together in this episode and it managed to surpass itself.

Awkwardness and being unable to talk to each other has been done before. Heck, it has caused a lot of annoyances in the past when characters just flat-out refused to talk to each other. This however; this was the best example of how being unable to talk should be done right. It should be incredibly uncomfortable. It should make the characters feel really uneasy. But at the same time it shouldn’t drag on for bloody ages as a way to pad out more romance. Yes, I’m looking at you, Kimi ni Todoke. The awkwardness in this series however changes constantly: it’s full of character-development and not just meant for the characters to overcome their fears at the end of the episode.

The characters: they all stepped out of their own roles. Sentarou got much more mature (he actually didn’t think about fighting at all; usually punks like him are shown as always easily ticked off. Kaoru meanwhile became more social, edged on by his classmates of all people, resulting in that wonderful performance at the end and Ritsuko felt more like an ordinary high school girl than any other episode so far. And there are still four episodes left.
Rating: ***+ (Amazing)

Posted on 17 May 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

Yeah, with this it’s yet again apparent that this show is a step above most other shows about teenagers. The bond between Sentarou and Kaoru is unique. This episode was quiet, but chock full of touches that bring tension to their relationship. It’s hard to describe, but most series with relationships like this have very clear borders between how characters behave: first they’re bickering for a while, then they are laughing for a while, and then comes a moment of being heart-warming. The changes in mood are all very simple. Here though, the tone that these guys use towards each other changes constantly. One moment they’re having fun, the other Kaoru’s jealousy plays up again. There are so many subtly different sides to how they act toward each other.

Including things I can’t recall having ever seen before. Like the point where Sentarou sternly lectures Kaoru talking down on that new kid with the mushroom haircut. That really hit me in a way that I don’t think anime has reached before. It’s also a scene that said so much about the two of them, which eventually culminated into the ending. I love how Kaoru was portrayed there and how he knew very well that he acted really childish, not knowing how to really get along with people due to the way he was brought up.

The rest of the cast also changed. Aside from perhaps the three new characters, but they were a great catalyst for change as well, even though they were a bit weird at first. The Jun subplot really got interesting at the end of the episode with that cliff-hanger, while Ritsuko is also visibly changing constantly after what happened to Kaoru with her.

Overall, at this point it really looks like Apollon is Noitamina’s big hitter of 2012. It has such a refinement that is unmatched and I doubt will even be matched by the shows that will follow this year, only if Matsuo Kou manages to surpass himself with Natsuyuki this can perhaps be changed.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 10 May 2012 with categories: Sakamichi no Apollon

Watching someone with a broken heart… isn’t the most interesting thing out there. That’s what most of this episode was though: Kaoru formally got rejected, and recovers at the end of the episode. Because of that I wouldn’t really say that this episode was among the highlights of this series. But the creators tried to make up for it in quite an interesting way.

This definitely was an interesting place to put Kaoru’s parents. First of all his father came back (something he longed for for quite a while now), and he also ended up meeting his mother for the first time since he was a little kid. This episode was necessary for Kaoru’s development so that he can finally move on as a character, and because of that mother the creators definitely didn’t waste a moment to do some quality character-building.

This episode also added to the rest of the cast. Ritsuko recovered visibly from the shock of last episode (she was particularly good at the point where she rejected Kaoru). It’s revealed that Jun has some serious issues and Mariko also visibly changed now that she’s in love with him. I do wonder where the creators plan to take things from now though: like I said before: Kaoru’s confession to Ritsuko happened bafflingly early. Did he really get over his crush in this episode and will the real meat of this series be something completely different, or will this show turn into some “will they won’t they” soap-opera?
Rating: *+ (Great)

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 08:15 PM)
    @Aidan Lol, Medusa was a different story- she had no known fighting tool by which she could be classified, which is why it was so easy for them to make shit up for her. Whereas with the heros we know what weapons they used, we don’t have as much leeway.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 08:02 PM)
    Alright I can get on board with Joan of Arc and Saber looking very similer, even mordred has a good excuse. But this is just a shoddy attempt to avoid not having the Fate/stay night poster girl in a game.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:59 PM)
    @K-Off, not really. I mean Medusa is a rider and the mythlogical beast is hardly know for riding a vehilce. All you really need to do is make there noble phantasm related to the class. Still would you even want anyone from the later centuries? The mythlogical heroes were OP as f*ck.
    Also Emperor Augustus has already been summoned as a servent. And get this…it’s red saber.
    http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Playable_Saber_(Fate/Extra)
  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:28 PM)
    Thing is, the whole system kind of breaks the fuck apart once you bring in people from beyond the 17th century. Swords weren’t a primary weapon anymore so there wouldn’t be any sabers, unless you count bayonets, lancers are obsolete, and the rest is the same as well.
  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:09 PM)
    @Emma Eh, George Washington, General William T Sherman, Guy Fawkes, Emperor Augustus, Julius Caesar, Andrew Jackson, Simo haya, Alvin York, the list goes on friend.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:58 PM)
    This leads me to ask, what historical people would you all think would make interesting servants in the grail war? Ones that haven’t been covered. What class would they cover?
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:22 PM)
    He wouldn’t be able to do much as an archer though, considering that it does not have presense concealment. But if he was summoned as a Assassin…hmmm…interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:18 PM)
    @Bam, there is a sniper class. It’s called Archer. It’s just that the archers in fate/stay night and Zero are not typical Archers. The Archers from Fate/apocrypha are more like real archers. And they would give Simo Häyhä a run for his money. Though funny enough I think Simo may actually qualify to be summoned as a servent of the archer class. Wonder what his noble phantasm would be?..
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 10:31 AM)
    The cast of FS/N should thank the heavens that there’s no Sniper class, otherwise all the masters would’ve been wiped out without even knowing who the fuck is taking them out. Shout-out to my man Simo Häyhä AKA The White Death.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:46 AM)
    @K-off: I’ve seen you’re a fan of westerns have you come across this film or read the book it was based on?
    http://emma-hime.deviantart.com/art/Review-The-homesman-496287407

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 07

As expected, this week we have another action filled episode. Queue the pretty explosions and fast paced fighting. It felt too short despite the episode length being just the same as the others. I often find that with a good episode of anime it makes you lose the concept of time as you watch. Making […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 07

  I will admit it, I laughed at the beginning. The episode started with a pretty funny joke related to Meliodas and Elizabeth sleeping in the same bed. Maybe because this one didn’t have a second agenda of providing fanservice at the same time. Actually I enjoyed this episode a lot more than the previous. […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 06

I was mistaken in the previous review. The action scene I thought we would be getting today has been postponed till next week. This week we have a calm before the storm episode as things seem to be setting up for the fight scene to come. I am a little disappointed with this weeks fare […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 06

There was quite number of still frames this episode so I hope that the animation budget isn’t starting to hurt. So our heroes triumph over the villains with a little help from Elizabeth. She showed some actual enginuity for once. As I was about to sigh as the villain was preparing to blab on about […]

Shingeki no Bahamut:Genesis- 05

Ah, the story progression that I was looking for. I finally find myself having a reason to get attached to Leone and Kaisar, because this episode devotes an entire episode to their rivalry and is just all around an improvement from last episode. I’ve talked about how the slow pacing hurts this show, and this […]

Parasyte-the Maxim- 03-05

Let me put up a disclaimer: When I first started to review this series, I didn’t foresee the obvious outcome that this show would end up so mediocre. I debated whether or not I should write reviews in groups of 2-3 episodes versus reviews that would drone on about the same issues every single episode, […]

Your Lie in April – 04 & 05

Episodes 4 and 5 of Your Lie in April were crucial ones in terms of how the series would develop. Episode 4 was a very important episode in the series as we see Kousei reintroduce himself to the music world after his mother’s death left him unable to play the piano. How the writers would […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 05

Always elegant. That is the motto of the Tohsaka household and the mask of Tohsaka Rin. The meaning clearly that no matter what you do, do it with style and grace. It is the creed which Rin upholds by playing the honor student. Though as you can see, at times cracks can appear in the […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 05

One of the problems facing this series is the presentation of threats. In many other shounen you can just bring out some powerful villain and have him force the protagonist to get stronger. In seven deadly sins however our main characters are already veteran legendary warriors with tremendous power. So just adding in a strong […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]