On Notable Anime Industry Names…and Sakamichi no Apollon.

As you may have heard, it’s been announced that Shinichiro Watanabe will be directing Sakamichi no Apollon, a coming of age story about a high school boy named Kaoru who develops a love for jazz music through the resident bad boy, Sentarou Kawabuchi. I’ve read the manga and I’d talk more about it, but screw that! Just watch the damn trailer before anything else.

Glorious, isn’t it? Pure class and style condensed into a brief 30 second PV. But you know how anime viewers are, no one’s going to comment how beautifully animated Sentarou’s drumming is. No one is going to say: “Oh, they really captured the mood and tension in that scene!” nor is anyone going to comment how it’s not everyday you see ‘airbrush-like’ coloring techniques applied. Heck, people are hardly talking about the music. (Not that I’m an expert in that field, I thought it was a pretty okay beat.)

No.

If youtube comments actually had an ounce of credibility in them, you’d think this was an anime about homolust and space cowboys. Okay, so maybe reading youtube comments is like pouring acid over your eyes while watching Mind Game so maybe they aren’t necessarily good enough a basis to form a legitimate complaint.

Besides it’s not like I’ve never made stupid assumptions before so maybe I’m the one who’s being irrational. Still, it bothers me the same way previous comments on Daily Lives on Highschool Boys have before it started airing. Some people readily dismissed it as another Kimi to Boku on the title alone.

Now imagine what a 30 second PV can do. Forget how uncomfortable male bonding makes other people (and from someone who’s read the manga, they do find themselves attracted to girls, thank you very much), it’s even more disorienting to think that one would assume that just because Watanabe has never directed a slice of life, he’s going to fail at it. I like the idea he’s trying a different genre, to me that shows a director’s willingness to step out of his comfort zone. I’m not a huge Watanabe or Kanno fan, but I do respect their work. I wouldn’t say they’re consistently capable of churning out masterpieces, but are they capable of ‘good’ work? Yes. I know there’s an equal chance this could flop but I doubt it. The manga itself is great, dealing with the bitterness of unrequited love as well as finding a place with your peers. It deals with these things with such sensitivity it’s difficult to imagine how badly they can screw this up. These themes usually annoy the crap out of me but Sakamichi no Apollon is surprisingly refreshing, somewhere being a cross between Nodame and Honey & Clover– two of my favorite Josei titles (and believe me, I don’t even like female targeted material all that much).

Another thing I can’t deal with is how Noitamina is like an anime’s death sentence. It’s not like we can’t get decent 11-12 episode anime shows anymore. I would’ve understood if the problem was that Sakamichi no Apollon is the adaptation of an on-going manga– that’s understandable. After all, how are they going to end it? While Noitamina hasn’t exactly been in top shape, it’s far from being dead. It’s had it’s share of mistakes, but this block and  the satellite channel, WOWOW are the two things that come to my mind when it comes to airing ‘unusual’ shows.

Lastly, this is really good source material here. What motivated me to write this post was how the 30 second PV exceeded my expectations. They really went beyond anything I had in mind.

Excuse the haphazardly put together comparison, but you know what I’m talking about. Having such a staff behind this manga was more than any fan could ask for. Not everyone likes Josei, Jazz, the 60’s or even coming of age stories so I’d understand if people weren’t looking forward to it for those reasons. But to go and doubt the staff’s ability just doesn’t sit well with me, given how you’ve got a some big names in that list. The people handling the script aren’t as prolific but that’s about it.

Most of what’s written here is fueled by a grumpy, jaded fan. I’m well aware people are actually happy we’re getting something like this. I don’t think Sakamichi no Apollon is going to change the face of anime as we know it but it does have the potential to be something great.

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12 Comments

  1. You had me sold at ‘Shinichiro Watanabe’. Fantastic man, and the fantastic trailer just confirms it. Definitely adding to my watch list :)

  2. BOYS HOLDING HANDS OBVIOUSLY YAOI

    Anyway, a slice of life series that Mira actually likes? With jazz music? On Noitamina? Where do I sign up?

    • OF COURSE THEY’RE YAOI HURHURHURHUR

      It’s unusual for me to like an SoL, isn’t it? One of the reasons I liked this one was because of the jazz theme and the erm, historical setting. I’m so excited for next season…so we can both sign up.

  3. It’s funny how much hate this has gotten just on the fact that it’s josei. It looks like it could be a solid show.

    Even if they weren’t attracted to girls, so what? Would that make it a bad show or them lesser characters? Sad that people seem to think so.

    • Unfortunately, that usually seems the case. Although people have been more open minded about josei, not too many are probably that comfortable two guys being this close in an anime. Which in itself is odd, I’m not even a huge reader of shoujo or josei but it seems silly to me.. I’ve read a few coming of age stories from Japanese fiction (more often than not, written by male authors), and I don’t find it unusual at all.

      Would that make it a bad show or them lesser characters? Sad that people seem to think so.

      Yes. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it, I enjoy Natsume just fine with the title character being so seemingly asexual hahahaha!

  4. Knowing me, I WILL try and read into some BL subtext here and there, but. I will most definitely watch this. No moe what so ever, historical, about music and the bad boy – not so bad boy (and meganes!!) dynamics… And last but not least… JOSEI *_* I’d say this is a must-see, and I’m already looking forward to it. ^^

    • Hahaha all is good! There are some shows this season that have a lot of yuri subtext but you don’t see people complaining about them. I’ve never felt uncomfortable watching yuri/yaoi subtext, so I’m a little sad some people do.

      • Trust me, there are reams and reams of people complaining about “yurishit” etc. They’re just not reading this blog because they prefer to stay in an echo chamber of shit taste.

        I have hopes for this one. It’s sad how rare non-moe-moe-kyun slice-of-life series are.

  5. Looks interesting. Maybe the anime will do for jazz what Beck did for rock n’ roll. Koiyuki and Ryuusuke also had that kind of brotherly relationship, but the music was always at the heart of the show. Coming-of-age stories have the potential of being some of the greatest stories ever, which is why I consider shows like FLCL and Beck to be anime classics. Who cares if its josei/seinen/shounen, intended demographics don’t mean a thing ; heck, just look at the my little pony fanbase.

    • It should be interesting. It’s set in the 60’s somewhere when there was a Jazz boom in Japan and Jazz cafes became popular too!

      Who cares if its josei/seinen/shounen, intended demographics don’t mean a thing ; heck, just look at the my little pony fanbase.

      THANK YOU.

  6. After getting caught up in the Hetalia craze, I haven’t gotten around to watching any anime anymore. It’s crazy because even if a battalion of otaku friends have already shoved numerous Bunny and Tiger (or whatever that supposed yaoi anime is called, sorry I never really paid attention to that series), it never really reignited the spark of following another fandom again. UNTIL–

    –out of the blue, a friend of mine tagged me to the trailer of Sakamichi no Apollon. HOLY. MOTHERF— SHIT. Just seeing the trailer made me bat shit crazy and hungry for more info about this series (in addition, I’ve also tried to look for doujinshis of the you-know-what kind). But I suppose, the djs could wait until we have a sufficient amount of episodes to establish the bromance and get the doujinshika’s hearts pumping.

    Your sentiments about the anime resonate with mine and I enjoyed reading your two cents on the series. Though, my main reason for watching is because of Yoko Kano and the gorgeous and masterful capturing of the bebop era of jazz in that anime.
    Kaoru’s discovery of jazz reminds me of how I was introduced to the genre when I was playing in the orchestra; so I could say the very premise of the anime (while setting aside the yaoi element as that JUICY, JUICY bonus point that no one would like to admit) touched a certain string in my heart.

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