No series packs as much swing in its plot as Sakamichi no Apollon – our protagonist’s life stumbles deeper into the recesses of failed romance, yet his mood picks up from the most unexpected of sources.
Richie made a poor move on impulse which left Ri-chan essentially despising him – he has trouble approaching her, although she doesn’t even want to see him. Once Richie heads to the jazz shop with Sentaro, Ri-chan runs out to a bakery simply to be alone – coincidentally, there she encounters the girl whom Sentaro has a crush on. And further engulfing the scene in a slew of irony, this bakery incidentally happens to be the shop of Jun’s family.
Perhaps sensing a reaction from Yurika when Jun is mentioned, Ri-chan suggests Yurika go watch the band as they practice – Ri-chan drops Yurika in a room with Jun and Sentaro, a complicated circumstance indeed, and then she runs off to avoid being in Richie’s presence. Every romantic relationship here is currently a complex, yet coherent mess – nothing noteworthy unfolds with Yurika and her pair of lovers, and so taking interest towards our main man Richie, he steps outside for some air.
There, he spots Sentaro’s imouto playing alone – deciding to join her, and ultimately giving her his own perspective on a matter which troubles her. Ri-chan intervenes, and by the end of the scene, Richie is told directly by her that she has someone else she admires – all would be settled there, yet an issue exists in that Richie appears simply unable to accept that his romance is unrequited. Or rather, he understands it – however, that fact depresses him.
Sentaro witnessed the scene enough to now know most of the story behind it – his buddy was shot down, and his female childhood friend happens to love someone unspecified. Many hints have been given till now which imply it is Sentaro who Ri-chan may admire – although one will merely have to wait and see on that.
As for now, Richie, whilst in his saddened state, no longer visits the jazz shop, nor does he say much at school – he’s not ignoring anyone, he’s just too troubled to have much enthusiasm in his demeanor. Sentaro doesn’t intend to leave his friend feeling somber however – thus, later in the day, Sentaro goes to Richie in a rather personality overflowing fashion which wasn’t exactly foreseen.
He calls for Richie from outside his window – seemingly having followed him home, as otherwise, he couldn’t have known where Richie lives. Yet it’s not the usual pebble at the window ordeal – Sentaro has climbed up a tree, and then he jumps into the window of Richie’s home without a second thought after some greetings. Sentaro insists they go practice – yet Richie is expectedly not in the mood for it. An overwhelming amount of emotion, particularly of the negative type, can be enough to break the equilibrium of one’s balance – whether for better or worse.
In the case of Richie, it is unfortunately the latter, yet greater worries come shortly thereafter – his father has returned home, and he comes bringing a letter. Sentaro delivers a bit of comic relief as he ducks under the covers to hide – meanwhile, Richie opens the door of his room to receive that letter from his father, a sheet containing the whereabouts of his mother. Richie’s mother abandoned him at a very young age – and Sentaro overhears this, among other details of Richie’s life, as he plays dead under the covers.
This isn’t a turning point per se, yet it is a moment of crossing the bridge – or in other words, progression.
The sheer bond which holds together Sentaro and Richie as friends goes unspoken, yet well realized. Notice how Sentaro has been doing little for himself recently, and more everything for Richie – and this ends up another of such instances, he manages to convince Richie not to pass up the opportunity to be with his mother.
Boarding a train the following day, Richie makes his leave for Tokyo to see his mother – amusingly, Sentaro is already seated on the locomotive, waiting for him. Prior to achieving their main objective of meeting Richie’s mother – a side-tour unveils an aspect of story which is bound to be significant later on.
Tokyo being where Jun resides, Sentaro was hoping he and Richie could relax there till the following day when they can see Richie’s mother – Jun isn’t anywhere to be found however. Rumor has it that he’s wanted by some shady faction – and his apartment is apparently abandoned, he’d not been home for months. Our protagonist pair spend the night with several hospitable fellows instead – though one is of course left wondering what Jun’s situation is.
No matter, that’ll be a topic for another time – as for now, upon the start of a fresh day, doused with rain, Kaoru ends up seeing his mother for the first time in what felt an eternity to him. They get along better than one could have anticipated – with many years apart, there’s an awkward gap, yet the two get along in a manner surprisingly close, as if an invisible thread of family lines binds them. Despite their appearances varying a bit, Kaoru’s mother still seems so well acquainted with him even though she’s in fact not so.
Immediately, she manages to pinpoint his problem of love – and once Kaoru actually thinks of his current state compared to his past, it all becomes humorous to both him and his mother. As he says himself, whilst he begins to laugh, all his worries seemingly disappear.
Kaoru’s mother managed to have a life-changing impact on him which leads him to return to his normal self by episode’s end – back practicing in the jazz shop once more. All ended well with that – though the questions now come in respect to Jun and whatever he’s entrenched in, as well as to whether or not Richie’s mother may have any more notable scenes to come. Kaoru did enjoy seeing his mother – yet he didn’t make the most of the opportunity, he still had so much he wanted to ask, and they hardly spent any time together.
Nonetheless, this is a fascinating story point regarding our protagonist which one can only hope goes answered before episode end – giving yet another facet to look forward to aside from the jazz music, and romance.