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.