Sakamichi no Apollon 01 – Living and Loving in the 60s

The 60’s is a special place in time for Japan. The country rapidly rose from the ashes of war and experienced what is popularly known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle.

This was also the time where a jazz boom was born. I could describe was a decade of rebirth, but that’s superfluous exaggeration coming from someone who has never experienced the 60s.

Period pieces are tricky. It’s like painting a picture of an entire time in history. But how would you paint a picture of the 1960’s? MAPPA’s Sakamichi no Apollon is remarkable because it manages to do what I think the manga didn’t– paint the story with nostalgic flair fitting of that decade.

What made this episode so compelling wasn’t what was found in the source material, but how Watanabe executed it into this beautifully polished package. It speaks so much of how passionate the people behind this series are. That is not to say the source material is weak, the wonderfully nuanced characterization is what sets it apart from most of it’s ilk. But what truly sets this series apart so far is the attention poured into creating an atmosphere and infusing the work with this powerful yet quiet energy.

Sentaro’s drum solo was the highlight of this entire episode for me. I found myself in Kaoru’s shoes during the entire performance. This is the kind of scene that won’t necessarily wow you in the manga, this is something you can only get with a talented key animator. The way the movement actually corresponds with the music makes this even better. I have a feeling there was rotoscoping involved particularly in more far off shots, which is highly preferred over panning over stills.

Some people are watching this without reading the manga, and I can only imagine what a surprise this was for those people. Even I was impressed with how well they improved upon the source material.

I’m looking forward to how this turns out for MAPPA and NoitaminA. Is it the next Honey & Clover or Nodame Cantabile? We’ll have to wait and see.

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6 Comments

  1. I’m watching this show without having read the manga and was well impressed. (I was deliberating for a while whether or not to read it first, but have decided I’ll wait until the show finishes since Noitamina’s not too long.) If it turns out to be as good as Nodame then I’ll be very happy!

    It does seem like the 60s were an optimistic era in Japan (US occupation long over, economic boom and the Olympics) featuring rapid westernization (hence the jazz boom?) – but probably also a poignant age of loss of culture for the older folk.

    • If it turns out to be as good as Nodame then I’ll be very happy!
      Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

      but probably also a poignant age of loss of culture for the older folk.
      I was pondering on whether or not I should’ve dabbled on this because somehow, Kaoru and Sentaro together is like putting together the new and the old– but then I remembered the manga and decided to put that aspect on hold for a while.

  2. I haven’t read the manga either and thought that the first episode was well crafted. It wasn’t anything new, the coming of age plot and friendship and music. But the whole thing was beautifully polished :)

  3. While the drums were undoubtedly the highlight of the episode, I think Sentaro’s line about Kaoru playing the piano was the most important line in the episode. I think comparing it to any other Noitamina show is a little premature at this point, though.

    • Sentaro and Kaoru are major forces in each other’s lives so yes, what Sentaro says about Kaoru’s playing is very important because it also mirrors Kaoru’s inhibitions.

      I think comparing it to any other Noitamina show is a little premature at this point, though.

      True. Even though I’ve read through most of the manga (which in all honestly really does remind me a but of both H&C and Nodame in general), I can’t guarantee the adaptation is going to be faithful to that manga. I just thought it’s mostly because I feel like Noitamina is really pushing this to be THE show to follow their footsteps.

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