Sakamichi no Apollon launched on noitaminA, and as anticipated with many a title of their name, this one is an animation certainly unconventional – a tale of those unable to fit in finding common ground with jazz.
Transferring into a new highschool is our hero of this story – two specifics to note, he’s already done his fair share of such in the past, thus he’s not particularly bothered by it. However, this latest is different from the rest in that it seems to be Japan’s equivalent of a countryside area – a detail significant as our hero receives a “welcoming” which isn’t akin to any experienced prior.
Immediately, it’s clear he won’t get along well with many, if any, of the others – a few already ridiculing him from afar in a group, as is typical with cowards, yet our hero could care less about such lowly swine. Similarly however, he isn’t too interested in radios either – a topic which the megane freckled kid of the class attempts to introduce to our hero. The megane freckled fellow tells our hero of something other than radios once that lackluster topic is shot down – he warns him of the fellow who sits behind him, a kid who is apparently the resident bully.
Our hero begins to feel sick at hearing of such an individual – it doesn’t seem he’s worried, rather something slightly different as he’s legitimately looking as if about to vomit. However, an angelic face comes forward to tell our leading male that she’s to show him around the school building, the class president – the sight of her instantly relieves his unease, yet those feelings return quickly only a short while later after some petty children throw a ball at our hero.
He asks the class president for the location of the roof – and learning it, he runs off, dashing in several scenes of animation so beautiful as they transition and contrast in setting and background till our hero finally arrives to his destination, only to find a row of chairs curiously aligned with a sheet on top of them in front of the roof. He lifts up the sheet, and his hand is gracefully taken by some strange scar faced fellow – a misunderstanding it appears to be.
Scarface was seeking out a thief who apparently has stolen the keys to the rooftop – and a moment later, the thieves of such come forward. On a side-note, one might have noticed a notable trend prevalent being that the uncultivated individuals are always present at least in a pair – though regardless of their numbers, which in this case is three, the scar faced fellow beats them all down upon hearing that our hero wants the key.
For a second or two, one might have thought themselves to be witnessing a case of misunderstood student perceived as terrible bully when it appeared that Scarface was to perhaps give our hero the key he sought – however he does not, he simply pockets it himself and states he’ll sell it to our main man for a not so measly matter of 100,000 yen. Not willing to pay such an amount which he doesn’t have anyways, he returns to class – the scar faced fellow follows suit, and they incidentally happen to not only be in the same class, yet sit right beside one another as well.
Earlier, the one our hero was warned to keep away from proves to be Scarface.
And with that, once more does our hero get sick – he hasn’t the 100,000 yen, yet he requests to take the key from the scar faced fellow and after doing so, runs off. Scarface apparently thinks this might be an interesting side-adventure, and thus he tags along as well – jazzily running after our hero in a manner reminiscent to Monty Python’s Silly Walk. It’s raining outside – yet our hero doesn’t care, and scar face doesn’t seem to either.
Straight to the point, it’s the start of a beautiful friendship as they so say.
These two don’t explicitly announce a new pact of friendship – rather, it gradually becomes apparent to them both that they’re more similar than so thought. Getting soaked wet under the rain, they’re taken to the nurse’s office by the class president – and there, our hero learns Scarface takes an interest in jazz music, whilst on another note, his romantic route just opens up in his favor as the class president seems drawn in by his megane-less face.
Transitioning to another place slightly later in time, it seems our hero has issues at home – no longer living with his parents, but relatives who treat him unjustly. Moving ever so later in the day once more, as our hero admits to playing classical music, he asks the class president if she knows any shops of such music – it turns out her father owns a place, and her home is full of class vinyl records, thus she invites him over.
After school, they go over to her father’s shop – amusingly, her father looks to be what is perhaps best summed up as a real man of jazz, a slick haired man disgusted that his daughter has brought over some classical music loving pansy, yet this daughter of his has an attitude quite charming and innocent which can seemingly get anyone away with anything. She takes our hero into a basement – an action protested by her father till she mentions our hero to be a friend of Scarface, then his expression looks almost surprised.
Our hero goes inside, sees an incredible piano, and is baffled – yet the shock carries further once he turns his head and spots Scarface sitting at a drum set. Scarface starts playing – and intensity erupts all over the place, suffocating the room with epic. It’s not simply the lush sound of jazz percussion resonating – yet the visuals too are certainly jazzy in themselves, vibrating as if moving to the beat of the drums, and so fluidly as well.
This single scene manages to top nearly everything else in terms of animation this season – and in fact, it’s one of the greatest sakuga animated scenes of all time. A scene of life taken and turned up exponentially in value – the art of sound was embodied as a visual art within this short drum solo.
It’s not the viewer alone who will be overwhelmingly entranced by the drum bit – yet our hero as well finds himself feeling a strange sensation of admiration. After the impressive performance, the class pres insists our hero play some piano – however, Scarface asserts the room is exclusively one for jazz only. Scarface takes it upon himself to play a piano tune of a jazzy nature – our hero corrects Scarface’s keys however as he believes Scarface is playing the song incorrectly.
Scarface tells our hero the song has more soul the way he plays it – and hearing this, our hero is a mixture of insulted and inspired. In the end, he purchases a jazz record – the single one which Scarface knew how to play, and it seems he intends to master this theme of flavorful rhythm.
Throughout the following day at school, it seems the mini drum performance of Scarface has been playing throughout our hero’s head endlessly – he’s starting to like it more with each passing imaginary beat, and as he walks home, he’s now imitating the jazz walk of his scar faced friend. Indeed, it appears our hero can add Scarface to his diminutive list of friends right beside the class pres, as whilst walking home with said class pres, scar face expresses a friendly gesture of goodbye towards our hero.
Indeed, this is the beginning of a grand relationship – our hero doesn’t fit in with others for reasons not too difficult to scope, and Scarface’s reason isn’t too tough to figure either, he’s not interested in any who simply follow the mainstream. Now these two individuals are approaching a commonality amongst themselves – and this will make for a splendid anime of rising relations and aspirations. A series with characters who hope to get somewhere.
Even if jazz isn’t necessarily one’s preferred genre of sound, this remains one series quite rewarding to watch.