Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Aporon)

Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Aporon) 2012

No preamble here, just two (and a half) reasons on why this short series joined my top ten the other month.

Kids on the Slope is a great romance with very few instances of manufactured drama, which is really nice in a genre that sometimes suffers from such contrivances. In a way, the series is almost about the cruelty of youth, where the sweeter, coming-of-age elements are contrasted with the mistakes that are all too easy to make when you’re trying to figure things out.

I found myself quickly invested in the lives of Kaoru, Sentaro and Ritsuko, and I wanted them all to end up happy. (I was even able to almost remember how it felt to be that young and unsure).

The second reason will probably be no surprise: the music – both literally, and the way it forms part of the storyline and a bond between characters. If you enjoy jazz, especially (but not only) Hard Bop or the Cool sub-genres, along with the piano of Bill Evans, this will definitely appeal. And yep, Kids on the Slope is another collaboration between Shinchiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno, but the OST isn’t as eclectic as say, their work on Cowboy Bebop.

Instead, I think Yoko Kanno looks after most of the incidental music and motifs, whereas a pair of young (certainly back in 2012) musicians perform the jams and standards. And the rotoscoping really shows fantastic fluidity in the performances – I’ll share one of the highlights at the end, but maybe if you want to see this series skip the youtube clip because it’s far better in context. (Elsewhere, the story really captures what it’s like to play in a group, another memory the anime managed to activate for me.)

And finally the ‘half’ reason!

Most of what I’ve talked about seems to be nostalgia, but it’s not just my own I guess – Kids on the Slope takes in a historical setting: sea-side Japan in the 1960s, and is fairly dripping with a nostalgia that I obviously cannot truly experience, but which seems to be captured so well in the settings.

5 Stars

Unpopular Opinions – Tag Post

Admittedly, ‘unpopular opinion’ posts are not exactly my wheelhouse but I’ll try because I’m keen to take on the challenge!

Having said that, I suspect that if you’re seeking some saltiness here then I may well disappoint… I tend not to watch/seek/finish things I don’t like. Still, as I’ve already said, I wanna give this a shot, especially since it’s been too long since I’ve finished a tag post and I’m way behind on a few of them.

Thanks to IER for tagging me – check out Curtis’ answers too, especially the part on Blade Runner and Deckard.


Popular Series I Don’t Like

Immediately I found this harder than I thought!

I know plenty of shows that are or were very popular, and of course we all do, but with the ones that don’t appeal to me, I’ve rarely tried them out…and thus I don’t know what they’re really all about.

Wait!

I think I could use Death Note here. I didn’t watch a whole lot, so it’s impossible for me to attempt any kind of thoughts on the quality, but I can say why I set it aside: basically, too much screen time for Light and not enough Ryuk and the world of the Shinigami 😀

Popular Movie I Like, but Everyone Seems to Hate

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is not precisely ‘hated’ but I think it represented a disappointment for a lot of folks.

And I know the film didn’t meet the expectations I myself had built up for it, but it’s pretty unfair of me to judge a new studio against Ghibli. Still, I enjoyed the movie a fair bit – I mean, it’s not in my top ten, but I certainly don’t consider it to be a failure or anything dramatic like that.

It was sometimes exciting, other times endearing and always bright and vivid even where it wasn’t distinctive.  

Love Triangle where the Character Didn’t End up with the Character I Wanted (Spoiler)

Maybe Kids on the Slope for this one… but only for part of the series.

And I hope I can quickly explain what I mean. Basically, Ritsuko likes Sentaro for most of the anime, and so while I feel bad for our pianist Kaoru (who kinda pines for her during these episodes), I wanted her to be happy. I wanted Sentaro to sort of truly ‘see’ Ritsuko, but things don’t quite take that path.

Yet it seems that everyone does end up happy by the of the story, maybe it’s just that the narrative sets things up to make two of the trio appear as kinda ‘fated’, which is maybe a bit of a tell, huh?

Popular Genre you Hardly Watch

If you’ve visited The Review Heap a few times, you’ve probably noted that Romance is an easy target for me since I haven’t reviewed much at all… and it could indeed be my choice here, but I think I’ll pivot to Sports 🙂

I know Slam Dunk a little and I love Haikyu!! – firstly, for the reasons that I enjoy most shounen anime, but perhaps beyond that, because I play indoor volleyball and there’s plenty of realism mixed in with the drama.

Still, I’m not very familiar with sports-themed anime, and tend not to seek it out, rather than having any kinda specific dislike of the sub-genre.

Beloved Character you Don’t Like

I’m not sure if Rintarou Okabe is ‘beloved’ or just well-known?

But here we go – I’m including him here as someone I warmed to, rather than someone I didn’t care for at all.

At the beginning, Okabe’s insecurities led to so much over-acting and posturing on his part, that it was nearly enough for me to stop watching… but he did change and so I kept going. And I’m glad I did, because I ended up catching a great show and it was nice to see some character development.

And yeah, I know – I turned this into a positive answer somehow 😀

Popular Show or Series I Can’t Get Into

Ah, now I’m on firmer footing!

I do a series of ‘Abandoned’ posts here on the blog that seem to fit this question nicely, and so I have plenty of options choose from… lemme just browse a moment, here we go. For this one, I’ll quickly mention a darling of the 2019 line up, The Rising of the Shield Hero.

So, what happened?

Well, in a way there’s not much of a story. Back in November I remember almost finishing episode one… but I didn’t. Maybe I was worn out on Portal Fantasy at the time, or I didn’t have the energy for a double ep, but 8 months later I still haven’t gone back to this series and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Perhaps because it seemed like a lot of classic tropes but no little extra thing that made me sit up?

Popular Show or Movie I Have No Interest in Seeing

I could probably fill this section with a few options, I think.

Generally, if a series has 100+ episodes or more, I will never get around to such an anime. And I guess it’s not just the impressive time commitment that I can’t handle, but my suspicion that the shows will have poor or non-existent endings, due to the nature of their endlessness.

To be specific, however, I’ll mention something far shorter: the Neon Genesis rebuilds.

I definitely understand the urge to refine and improve something you’ve made in the past, but I’ve yet to give these films a shot and probably won’t. I understand that the storylines diverge… but the first Evangelion series is complete enough for me, even with that bitterly polarising ending.

Popular Show or Movie I Prefer Over the Book

Ah, I can finally sneak some Studio Ghibli into this list, with Howls’ Moving Castle.

Here, as promised, I’m landing on the side of the film… just. Ultimately, I think it’s kinda unfair to compare two starkly contrasting art forms, but it has to be done 😀

For me, there are many fun and also interesting differences between the two texts, and the movie tends to be about trimming out and combining elements in terms of narrative and character, but omits pretty much all the satirical elements that really make Dian Wynne Jones’ book fantastic.

In exchange, there’s Joe Hishashi’s beautiful score and the vibrant colours and Miyazaki’s comforting direction, along with a stellar example of CGI integration in a film that has now (suddenly?) been delighting audiences for fifteen years.


And done!

*wipes brow*

That was tough – but I appreciated the struggle and now I’d like throw to the Otaku Author and Lita Kino if they’re not too swamped.

And of course, if you’re reading this and you wanna jump in, lemme know as I’d be keen to take a look!