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« Sakamichi no Apollon – 11

Sakamichi no Apollon – 12 (END)

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「オール・ブルース」 (Ōru burūsu)
“All Blues”

Whatever else you might think of the final episode – or of the eleven that preceded it – I think it’s hard to argue that Watanabe-sensei isn’t a directorial genius of the first order.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say I went into this final episode with a good deal of trepidation. I’ve had the growing sense that Watanabe-sensei has been fighting an increasingly frantic battle to keep Sakamichi no Apollon a coherent and powerful show. There’s just so much story here, and there’s so little time to tell it. And there have been cracks in the façade in the last few weeks – awkward transitions, time-skips that stretch patience, and a tendency for the characters to act in support of the plot, rather than vice-versa.

I can’t imagine that this ending is going to please everyone but, like so much else about this adaptation, it strikes me as the very best the director could possibly have produced given what he had to work with. I don’t know how faithful the ending was to the manga materially or spiritually – I can only assume it was seriously condensed at the very least – but it felt faithful to the anime, and that’s really all that matters. There’s a certain poetry in the fact that this is a series that depicts a time in our lives that seems to pass in a heartbeat, because that’s exactly what it felt like watching it.

That’s the paradox of youth, I suppose. We don’t have the experience to contextualize what we experience and what we feel, and in the grand scheme of life high school is but a blink. Yet what happens to us during that time is outsized in importance to the person we become – this small stretch of time casts a huge shadow, and that’s ultimately what I think this show is about. Thus when it comes to the “Romance vs. Friendship” debate I think the answer is, that’s the wrong question. In Sakamichi the romance and friendship are inseparable, and the central theme of the series is neither – and both.

Certainly, it was sad to see the romance aspect of the series fade out without much in the way of existential gratification. What we saw was that with Sentarou gone, Kaoru and Ritsuko grew apart – and I think it’s fair to say that Kaoru was to blame. In the end the one thing that Kaoru and Ri’ko had in common was Sentarou, and the feelings of the group were too confused for him to overcome them after Sen left. He might have been able to, but we never really saw the depth and complexity of Bon’s feelings for Ri’ko that we did with his feelings for Sen. As close as Sen and Ritsuko were, I think it was actually harder for Kaoru to move past Sen’s departure because of his inherent paranoia about abandonment. Whatever future there was with Ritsuko, Kaoru was simply unable to conquer his demons soon enough to find out.

Kaoru, predictably, goes to college in Tokyo – and the farewell on the platform is not as satisfying as the one between Jun and Yurika (and note that Kaoru is taking the “Sakura Sleeper” to Tokyo in these pre-Shinkansen days). This time the timeskip is a whopper – eight years – and when we rejoin his life Kaoru is a Doctor in Tokyo. Is he happy? It’s hard to say – he seems motivated at least, though perhaps driven would be more accurate. Seiji has struck it big as an actor/singer, Yurika and Jun have (surprisingly) survived as a couple and are expecting a child, and Maruo (I think) is a train conductor. But of primary interest is the photo Yurika shows Kaoru during their chance meeting, which shows a young priest in a marriage photo from back home in Kyushu.

I’m happy with the way Watanabe handled that final scene, though I suspect not everyone will be. It seemed fitting to me that Sen and Bon have their reunion musically, and then running down a slope away from the church were Sen is now the Priest-in-Training. It’s a guy thing, I guess, but both of them were always better at speaking through their music than with words. Bittersweet, for certain, but in the end we got something that seems at least open to any possibility. Once our childhood is over we can’t go back – but we can’t ignore the fact that it made us who we are as adults. And in the larger scheme of things, eight years isn’t all that long a time.

 

Final Impressions:

 

As a viewer, my relationship with Sakamichi no Apollon has been a lot more complicated than it has with its NoitaminA stable-mate, Tsuritama. I think Sakamichi’s highs have been the best of any show this season – maybe the best of any show for many a season, truth be told. But my affection for it has waxed and waned a bit with the ups and downs the series has taken. One cour really isn’t long enough to tell a story of this complexity with this amount of character development, especially an adapted one, and the series has sometimes paid a price for that.

What I see with Tsuritama is potential realized – a series that was built to spec, and achieved everything it might reasonably have set out to achieve. My enjoyment of Sakamichi is always tempered by the thought of what might have been, had Watanabe-san been given the space to deliver this story to us the way it was intended to be delivered. That might not be totally fair to Sakamichi but it is what it is. And the reality is that it’s only because what worked here was so magnificent that this gap between potential and realization is so inescapable. Miraculously, Watanabe was able to give us something magical while leaving much of the source material on the floor on the cutting-room floor.

And my goodness, so much of this really was magical. I’ve rarely seen an anime so convincingly convey a sense of time and place – this really did feel like the mid 1960’s. Change was in the air in a big way, and this pervades every aspect of the series – most obviously with the music, where we see Kaoru the classically trained pianist exposed to serious jazz for the first time. And we see the emergence of rock and roll as a new force on the scene, threatening jazz the way jazz threatened classical. Kaoru’s journey, musical and otherwise, is at the heart of Sakamichi. He’s a cloistered soul in every way when we meet him, conditioned to keep others at a distance and terrified of even being noticed by others. Sentarou is the catalyst for change in every aspect of his life, and for me, this is the relationship that defines the series.

It should go without saying that the jazz is a huge component of the show, and a highly successful one. I’ve heard complaints that there isn’t enough of it but I was never under the impression that Sakamichi was a musical. It’s a series about love (as most of the good ones are) and love of music is a powerful force in defining it. As a lover of jazz it’s wonderful to see it showcased so brilliantly by a director as knowledgeable and passionate as Watanabe. Jazz isn’t just the soundtrack for these kids’ lives, it’s a part of them – such as Kaoru’s use of “Someday My Price Will Come” to confess to Ritsuko. As with Sen, with Ri-chan Bon is more eloquent with a keyboard than with words – and this scene is arguably the jaw-dropping highlight of the season. Every jam session was a love letter from Watanabe to the music and the show seemed at its clearest and most poignant when music was in the air.

Rather than a seamless whole, I think I’ll probably remember Sakamichi in two ways – for the way it made me feel when it really clicked, and as a patchwork of the incredible moments that stood out during its run. I don’t think that’s entirely different from the way we remember our adolescence, to be honest, so perhaps that’s as it should be. When the disappointments and the regrets about what might have been have faded, it’s those feelings and the magical moments of genius that will surely remain. As a series that achieved a rare brilliance, even if only intermittently, Sakamichi no Apollon will be remembered and revered as a series long after less ambitious works have been forgotten.

 

ED2 Sequence

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June 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm
59 comments »
  • June 28, 2012 at 8:51 pmruirui

    pretty sure maruo was that train conductor!!
    also, i got chills when kaoru started playing moanin’ <3

  • June 28, 2012 at 8:54 pmbutterbean

    A satisfying ending, although I agree that everything happened way too fast and that it would have been so much better had the show had more episodes to flesh out all the character developments and plot points.

    It could have been so much better had this show been, say, 16-18 episodes. It’s too bad, though, that Japanese broadcasting restricts cours to 12-13 episodes, which results in producers having to force their shows in becoming either 12-13 or 24-26 episodes.

    It’s the same with a lot of shows, really. I think that a lot of shows would have been much better with 16-18 episodes. Japan should really consider making airing schedules more flexible, so that shows like Sakamichi no Apollon could be 16-18 episodes.

    I actually think that two cours would have made it too long. There are a lot of other shows that I think force themselves to stretch out their materials to fit two cours, Aquarion Evol, for instance, being an example of a show from this season that does just that. It’s another show that I think would have been better with 16-18 episode.

    Oh well. In the end, I think Sakamichi no Apollon is an exceptional show. Each episode was well-produced and enjoyable, if not consistently excellent.

    Thanks for the reviews, Guardian Enzo. You’re a great writer.

    • June 28, 2012 at 8:58 pmGuardian Enzo

      Thanks Butterbean (the Bulls had a great player with that nickname, Bob Love). I have to disagree about the two cours – from what I know about the manga, I think Sakamichi would have been a condensed adaptation even with 24-26 episodes. But it would have been a richer experience than the already amazing one we got.

      • June 29, 2012 at 4:17 pmshironeko

        Great summary and review of the series. I love the 60s era and this entire series was just really refreshing. It’s really been a while since I’ve seen a series like this. Watanabe-sensei did an amazing job, considering he had to cover the entire manga within 12 ep. I really recommend the anime fans to read the manga. Although things were cut out in this last ep where it was rushed…I still think the director was able to condense the very essence of what made the series so good with that last sequence in this ep. This anime/manga is great…leaves nothing but a warm smile on my face =) Thanks for covering this!

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:07 pmT9H5

    A pretty good ending to a fantastic series that intertwined the love of music and friendship so beautifully.

    Like @butterbean said this series could have done well with an extra 3-4 episodes, so the pacing of the series didn’t like it kept on skipping.

    Other than that excellent. I would really like to download the musical score for this series.

    I would finally like to thank Guardian Enzo for your review on this entire season.

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm…..

    Well it’s over. As I expected they changed AND dropped a whole a lot to finish this thing within 20 min it was given. There was just no way in hell Watanabe or anybody could’ve finished this without having done so. Just as I thought, they did come up with an anime original ending, but written in similar vein of the manga ending. The manga ending and leading up to it had more complex and lots of subplots -think of it as the manga last volume=textbook and the anime last episode=cheat sheet or summary page.

    (these aren’t manga spoiler since I’m just going to talk about a few differences here) ~spoiler tags added in case anyone plans to read the manga – GE~
    Show Spoiler ▼

    As for the anime ending. I’m fine with that, actually. They kept the main idea intact, so. It’s different from the manga, but I’m okay with that. I just have some issues with some of unnecessary rewrites, such as above.

    • July 1, 2012 at 1:24 amnn

      They made her pregnant to give her a believable reason to be at the hospital enough to run into Kaoru. They could have done this several other ways, but whatever.

      The ending was not as grand as the middle, but it was satisfying. This series was still a beautiful one, and I plan on reading the manga after to see just how much they must have cut out. Im guessing the background stories for a lot of the characters (esp. Kaoru’s mom and Sentaro’s history) were super condensed.

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:38 pmgrey

    After every new episode i read the corresponding manga chapters and man…
    even though it IS a happy ending i felt so devastated rather than sentimental by all the events that led up this moment, in both the anime and the manga.
    in the end, i was just SO emotionally devoted to these characters that it was just too depressing to think that it’s over. that both the manga and anime are over (i know there’s a v10 coming up but..it’s not going to be about the main cast i think?)

    sakamichi no apollon as a series has been one heck of a ride and it’s just downright special to me now.
    it kind of gives me a very ‘fruits basket’ feeling. it was happy, but in the end i wish i could just watch their lives forever..both series just wrapped up too quickly by the end.

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:41 pmClick

    Looking back, it’s brilliant what Watanabe did with Sakamichi no Apollon. Given the amount of material and the strict number of episodes, Watanabe could have easily taken the safe route by adapting half the manga. Fortunately for us, he didn’t. Despite the large blocks of time running by, the Apollon rarely had pacing problems. Pacing isn’t the amount of time which had passed, but rather the flow of events and how quickly the occur. And as time flew by, all the conflicts rolled seamlessly and meshed with only a few notable exceptions.

    I don’t have much to say about the characters, besides the fact that they’re all wonderfully human and relatable. I may not consider myself attached to any of the characters, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of their personalities. They’re all likable and as down to earth as can be.

    Even in this monster of a season, it’s easy to place Sakamichi no Apollon near the top of the list, with Tsuritama and Fate/Zero. Although it shares some of the same issues with its brothers’ (namely consistency), it still leaves a wonderful impression on me as a viewer.

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:46 pmzen Pudding

    Honestly, as a non-reader of the manga, I felt the large timeskips and the fervent pacing to be refreshing in an industry where sometimes stories drag far too long for comfort. I’d rather take a well-produced and artistically directed series cut short than a longer one with slow pacing in the name of “character development”.

    I feel like I saw plenty of development, enough at least to get me deeply involved in the story.

    also, the image of a priest jamming on drums is hilarious. XD

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:48 pmyohko

    Read the manga after this. A lot were omitted especially for the finale… But great series nonetheless…

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:02 pmNic

    For an anime-only viewer, this may feel like a good but rushed ending. For a manga viewer, this ending is an abomination. It tried and completely failed to adapt the final volume in 1 episode. Probably the volume most packed with stuff that should never be cut.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Overall, the adaption was good. But they completely butchered the ending of the series.

    • June 28, 2012 at 10:07 pmgrey

      yes yes a lot was taken out, but it was still really well executed and entire feel of the manga is still there.

      • June 28, 2012 at 10:15 pmNic

        No. I agree with you up to Episode 11. But episode 12 is a travesty because it didn’t. The main character is Kaoru and Show Spoiler ▼

      • June 29, 2012 at 7:42 amScruffy

        Just to be clear .. the manga also doesn’t show what happened to Ritsuko and Richie. Show Spoiler ▼

        Sometimes people are too used to being spoon-fed endings. What’s wring with wondering how they get to know each other again after a long absence?

    • June 29, 2012 at 7:34 amScruffy

      Personally I think the anime ending is much better than the manga. The time in Tokyo as Richie was studying felt like padded filler to me and the reason why they stopped writing to each other was just lame. The final meeting was much better as well.

      • June 29, 2012 at 8:18 pmKarmafan

        I felt the ending was unsatisfying in how their relationship ended. I so wanted Kaoru and Ritsuko to get together and not only did they not end up together they were not with anyone else either.

      • July 5, 2012 at 1:59 amFT5Havok

        ^FUACK!! I wanted them to be together !! :<

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:03 pminfinite

    For the amount of episodes to tell this story in I think SA ended the best way it could have. I think in a couple years this show will be a big reason for why alot of kids become more then a casual viewer of anime.

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:03 pmwebkid94

    All in all, a good end to a flawed, yet memorable series. I really think having Sakamichi and Tsuritama airing in the same timeslot was a genius move because they share a lot in common (socially awkward protagonists, themes of friendship, bonding) but one huge thing that seperates them is the presentation. Sakamichi is rushed, no doubt about that. At times I feel that Yoko Kanno’s wonderful music is used almost to hide the fact that this show is rushed. The whole bit with Jun and Yurika was the obvious victim of the episode scheduling. Of course, I’ve never seen Cowboy Bebop (and I’m hesitant to watch it – the last show that everyone wanted me to watch and had unanimous positive reviews, Eureka Seven, was a miserable failure), so I can’t comment on Watanabe’s directing but he did do a good job with the little time he had to do it.

    But I do prefer Tsuritama to Sakamichi, but they are Spring’s biggest successes in my book. It’s wonderful to see noitaminA come back after their worst lineup to date and with a lot of good things to say about both shows.I really liked Kaoru the most, because yes even though he did stupid stuff to bring Ri-chan and Sentarou together it’s realistically portrayed – of course you’d see that in real life and it was handled well. The ending was fine, but the timeskip was not as fine. The music was fantastic, even the animation for the drumming was stellar and the main three characters were developed well. The weaker parts were the animation as a whole and the Jun/Yurika stuff that was obviously heavily cut to save time. Still, Sakamichi and Tsuritama are by far the best series of Spring nothing that’s currently airing or going to end will even come within a 100 mile distance of these two.

    Ep score: 3.5/5
    Final score: 8/10

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:14 pmJel

    Could’ve used a lot more screen time, but with the time given it was greatly executed. The ending was actually satisfying to me.

    My favorite of the season has come to the end, and I’ll be missing this on Thursdays.

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:42 pmnicce

    ritsuko with shorter hair is so cute

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:57 pmLuxor

    Rushed or not–I think this series is absolutely brilliant, and if I weren’t a diehard drama fan, I might become one. It’s been one freaking delicious ride this season, and I couldn’t have asked for a better adaptation from anyone other than Watanabe-sensei.

  • June 28, 2012 at 11:10 pmChipp12

    Looks like I’m really hated there, but I can’t see my comment so I’ll post it again:

    http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/1076/clipboard01xzi.jpg
    this

  • June 28, 2012 at 11:24 pmJD

    There was a lot left out in the 8 years (which the manga had the luxury to delve into quite a bit) – and maybe this episode was just 60% faithful to the source material – but I have to say the anime left a better taste in my mouth than the manga. The overall feeling of the episode was more consistent to the story than the one in the manga. Maybe it’s the animation or the music. I had to hold back some tears (dammit why are they so shallow).

  • June 28, 2012 at 11:47 pmEunichi

    Most of what I want to say has already been stated above. I’m really happy that Watanabe-sensei took the helm of this series, if not, I might have dropped it a long time ago since there’s only a handful like him that can compress so much material into 12 episodes only.

    I can’t really help but to compare it to Tsuritama. SNA was my favorite for the fist half of the season,then Tsuritama snatched that place on its latter half when it finally connected me emotionally. If I’ll choose what’s better, though it’s very hard, I’d base it on what ending is more fulfilling, and more engaging.

    Both of them will join Chihayafuru in my top 5 list this year.

    I just hope we’ll have these kind of shows this coming season. I know but there’s nothing I’d lose in wishing for it.

  • June 29, 2012 at 12:24 amSoo

    Not comparing, but I associate this series with the list of great romantic/josei series like Kare Kano, Honey and Clover, Nana and Nodame Cantabile. Those five to me are the ones that truly hit the heart and make you feel like you’ve changed after watching the end. Sakamichi no Apollon is so wonderful, I will love it forever.

    • June 29, 2012 at 4:06 amrufe

      Those are probably in my top 10 or 15 of all time as well, especially if we exclude movies and the like. It’s amazing that there are some series that stand the test of time…I would put Maison Ikkoku, Massugu ni Ikou, up there as well.

      I have to admit I was iffy about the latter half of Kare Kano (anime) though…

      Honestly, I think Sen-Priest isn’t the most reasonable way for Sen to work out his issues, though

      • June 29, 2012 at 4:07 amrufe

        post cut off mid sentence, though there’s not much else I planned to say…

      • June 29, 2012 at 10:47 amSoo

        Haha yeah b/c of financial reasons the production of Kare Kano went sort of downhill. But I’ve read the whole manga of it (21 volumes) and it is fantastic. I read all the mangas for the animes I mentioned before except Sakamichi no Apollon which I will eventually read. Just want to mention again how much I love this series. ^^

    • July 1, 2012 at 3:27 am…..

      umm, I have to disagree about Sakamichi being the same level as Honey and Clover, Nana and Nodame Cantabile. Those 3 are the masterpiece of Josei anime. Personally my favorite is Honey and clover, but the other two were great as well. Sakamichi is nowhere near that level. It’s good, but not great. Kare Kano anime was very good and highly entertaining before it turned to a disaster (I don’t need to explain the history since most knows it).

      • July 1, 2012 at 3:41 am…..

        To elaborate more, I was comparing the final product of anime in all of them. I still insist that Sakamichi is not at the same level as HC, Nana, and Nodame Cantabile -then again it’s only got 12 measly episodes to show what it’s worth while the others had 36 episodes, 47 episodes, and 3 seasons respectively to do so, so perhaps Sakamichi is at disadvantage here.

        Sakamichi was about friendship anyway, unlike the other Josei greats you mentioned. The others’ main theme is romance with friendship in the background while Sakamichi is the exact opposite.

  • June 29, 2012 at 1:03 amAngelus

    That’s the paradox of youth, I suppose. We don’t have the experience to contextualize what we experience and what we feel…

    Or as George Bernard Shaw expressed the paradox, “youth is wasted on the young”. But really, isn’t this why the parent/child relationship evolved? There are reasons we don’t kick our kids out of the door as soon as they can walk and talk, and one of those is that as parents we can help to contextualize things for them.

    However, Sen and Kaoru didn’t do very well in this department with their various family circumstances, plus this was time anyway when the pace of societal change (especially in Japan) started to become so great as to invalidate a lot of the experience that parents could bring to bear on issues. So now we just stand impotently by as we watch our children face crisis after crisis that we ourselves didn’t have to face – I think actually the young are welcome to their youth these days!

  • June 29, 2012 at 1:35 amBio D

    As I feared, the breakneck pacing started to hurt the series more than it helped in the last two-three episodes. The questionable story elements there (the car crash and the relationship between Richie and Ri’ko fizzling) didn’t help either.
    But the moment the first bars of “Moanin’” came from the church, all was forgiven. There’s something really powerful about the image (experience?) of jazz played in a church, expecially within the context of the series and when the dynamic duo rushed down the titular slope, no longer kids, not quite, but together again like a great jazz groove. . . magnificent.
    And while it was a little strange for such a normally realistic series to show everyone living some approximation of their dream, it sure was satisfying.

    Kids on the Slope may not have been a perfect show in the end but the emotion, the characters, and the music gave such a performance that I left each episode but the 11th fully satisfied and begging for more. This show had me cheering, hooting, and hollering more and louder than just about any other and I will always be thankful for that. I will always love it for that.

    • June 29, 2012 at 2:20 amBio D

      I would also like to thank you, Enzo, for your thoughtful posts each episodes. They’ve been a delight.

      • June 29, 2012 at 9:13 amGuardian Enzo

        You’re welcome, Bio D. Sakamichi was a delight to blog, too – always plenty to talk about.

  • June 29, 2012 at 2:08 amSlushiZ

    I breathed a MASSIVE sigh of relief when Richi (literally) got off the dark train and walked into that bright scenery, I couldn’t stand a depressing ending. I really loved the series as a whole though because in my mind ‘rushed/condensed’ gave this show alot of drama and excitement. Honestly the only thing i would have liked to see a bit more fleshed out was Richi’s relationship with Ritsuko and the reason Sen ran away from his dad. Oh and it was so nice to see that Jun and Yurika made it. I seriously can’t believe this show is over….I’d have been happy to watch every day of these characters lives forever.

  • June 29, 2012 at 5:05 am7godeohs

    This series SCREAMED for one more episode to faithfully follow the manga ending – although it was close to the manga. IMO the series is great, but would have gone to the amazing category with another 20 minutes. Much of the impact was lost in a massive rush to the finish, but people have to work within the constraints of the timeline they are given.

    If you read the manga you’ll see how far Kaouru falls initially, how he and Richan grew apart and events that led him to believe it was finally over between the two, the surprise introduction of Sentaro becoming a priest-in-training, the significance of the slope, and a wonderful final scene that was simple yet powerful.

    Regardless, this will definitely be a series that will stick with me for awhile in terms of what anime can really achieve.

  • June 29, 2012 at 5:20 amAni_BEE

    I kind of understand the musical foreshadowing lat episode now with the seen on the hospital roof. Also had a laugh at the drum set in a church as well.

    • June 29, 2012 at 5:21 amAni_BEE

      On to reading the Managa for this wonderfully executed anime.

  • June 29, 2012 at 6:55 amAlec

    Read the final chapter of the manga after finishing the awesome anime : I can’t say I like what I saw.
    It still had an awesome ending though

  • June 29, 2012 at 8:48 amrochichan

    This was an amazing series, but I felt as if the ending was so rushed, I couldn’t take it all in. It was going to fast will all the time skips and all. But, nonetheless, this anime was very sweet~

  • June 29, 2012 at 11:36 amkarem

    I haven’t read the manga yet, but the anime was really wonderful. Yep, sometimes there were some little skipping issues, but I can’t deny that in all the episodes there was always something memorable; Watanabe-sensei did a well done job.
    I really wish NoitaminA would think to do a live action, don’t you think? I mean, it’s always nice when you see the anime you like be flesh out into a good drama, maybe even have more time to develop the story. Nevertheless, Sakamichi No Apollon thanks to Watanabe-sensei was an amazing experience.
    Thank you Guardian Enzo for the reviews, it was always a delight to read them after watching the episodes.

  • June 29, 2012 at 11:58 amHenDarou

    Truly a beautiful show. I’ve rarely seen a show make such convincing depictions of the importance of friendship, love and the days of youth. Details may have been lost due to the shows short length, but what was there stood out to say the least.

  • June 29, 2012 at 12:31 pmkoshkosh

    WARNING LONG POST AHEAD

    Hi, I’ve been following your posts on SnA and the anime itself. I have also read the manga to the end, and I must say I agree with you; Watanabe did the best he could with the material he was given, and the time allotted. Of course, there is room for improvement throughout the series, but this has overall been a very memorable series, with its own quiet strength. I was entertained, I was touched, and I could relate. To me, if a series can do all three, flawed or otherwise, it has accomplished its objectives. I say, congratulations to SnA.

    I am going to comment with the perception of someone who has read manga first, and watched anime later.

    For anyone that is curious, the manga’s final volume goes like this:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    On the contrary, I DO see a central theme in SnA, despite the intermingling of romance. To me, SnA has always been more about friendship. “Friendship is for life”, and that eclipses the romances SnA has featured. It’s never easy to condense and adapt manga to anime, and overall, I admit I like the anime more, ending included, simply because it feels more faithful to the feel, and I believe- the heart of the manga. In fact, in the manga, and the way it was ended, I sometimes feel like the author herself gets sidetracked from the main message( friendship ) of her own series. I am thankful that Watanabe focused on Sentarou and Kaoru towards the end. Perhaps I speak for myself, and I mean no disrespect to fans of Kaoru/Ritsuko- but I can’t say I’m too convinced about Kaoru and Ritsuko lasting together as a couple as I am with all three of them remaining together as friends for life.

    I am completely convinced though that Sentarou and Kaoru will stay together no matter how the dynamics shift within the trio. In the manga, around the timeline where Kaoru and Sentarou meet Kaoru’s mother, Sentarou tells Kaoru’s mother this; Show Spoiler ▼

    The line “Friendship is for life” is again repeated in the final volume, written on the back of a photograph of Sentarou and Kaoru together. To me, the last episode was mirroring this a lot. Indeed, throughout the manga, I feel as if Sentarou and Kaoru’s relationship was truly the backbone of the series. Their chemistry and bond is so palpable, and with powerful scenes like their Show Spoiler ▼

    ; I find it hard to believe otherwise. Their bond feels real and has been the most fleshed out, throughout the manga. Ritsuko, despite being the romantic interest, and Sentarou’s childhood friend; takes the second place here- and true enough she herself says, “Kaoru is hit the hardest with Sentarou gone.”

    Comparing the final vol of the manga with the anime ending, there are various reasons why I prefer the way the anime ended. Essentially, nothing was actually happening in the final volume, and it felt as if the mangaka no longer knew what to do with the series. Events were occurring all over the place, and some of the developments felt unnecessary; such as the Show Spoiler ▼

    . The way I see it, Watanabe condensed the last episode by focusing on the events which actually moved the plot forward towards the finding of Sentarou. I also preferred how the anime ended, with Kaoru and Sentarou running down the slope together as opposed to the manga ending, where Kaoru Show Spoiler ▼

    That change felt more true to the essence of SnA. What I would have liked to see in the anime though, would be a little bit on how Kaoru coped with Sentarou missing throughout his studies. It would have been nice if they added in the scene on Show Spoiler ▼

    Phew, I’ll end here. but all in all, again, SnA will still be one of the most beautiful anime’s I’ve ever had the blessing to watch. Kudos to the mangaka, Watanabe-san, Yoko Kanno, and the entire SnA production team!

    • June 30, 2012 at 11:24 amGuardian Enzo

      Thanks for the excellent and informative post. And for putting the manga spoilers inside spoiler tags.

      • June 30, 2012 at 11:48 amkoshkosh

        you are welcome. :) I also appreciate reading your thoughts on SnA, after every episode I would lurk here to see what you had to say, haha… I was afraid that I would make no sense or come off as offensive to fans of the romance of SnA, haha. Not to say I have anything against it; just that the way I read the manga, I appreciated the friendship/camaraderie aspect a lot more. Would love more animes that feature pure love/loyalty amongst friends :)

    • July 4, 2012 at 4:25 pmFT5Havok

      OMG!! Why would Ritsuko cheat on Kaoru!! FUUAAAAAAAACCCCCCCKKK! NOO!!!!!! I can’t sleep now without thinking about this. :<

  • June 29, 2012 at 2:39 pmasdf

    Kinda disappointed that Kaoru relapsed into such a glum existence without Sentarou. I would’ve liked to see him take that time away to gain a little bit of his own spark. I mean, am I supposed to think that without Sentaro’s return he’d go on living in that drab existence without ever returning to Ritsuko or being passionate about anything? This isn’t what I’d call a “good end.” It’s pretty morbid that one’s happiness would be so hopelessly dependent on another’s presence even after such a long time.

    Just saying I would’ve liked to see him gain some of his own fortitude (rather than just mechanically moving into his “live to work” job), and I think an ending where he realized he could and then did accordingly (with Sentaro returning afterwards) would’ve been more suitable. Of course life is not so picture perfect, but it would’ve been so much more satisfying. Not sure what the manga’s ending is like.

    Still, this is one of the best anime I’ve watched in a very long time.

  • June 29, 2012 at 10:05 pmKumakaori

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHO~. That was awesome XD!.

    I loved when Kaoru unearthed the drums and burst into laughter. Moanin’ on the organ clues Sen into the obvious: Kaoru’s found him. The Resulting session … is /way/ too long in coming. Running into Ritsu on the way down the slope is contrived, but beautiful. I didn’t have terribly much interest in Jazz before this series. Too much listening to “KKSF Smooth Jazz” Too much Classical, Rock, Pop, or Techno and all of it’s subgenres in my musical diet.

    This good ol’ jazz. Mmmn amazing stuff. Need more, looking forward to this coming stateside. Here’s hoping NIS picks it up so I can purchase their beautiful, beautiful ltd.ed. sets <<;.

  • June 30, 2012 at 12:23 amNymphetamine2791

    Although I thoroughly enjoyed the series, the 8 year gap was just shrugged off. It didn’t feel right just jumping back into the scene as if nothing ever happened. We don’t know how Ri-chan and Richie were engaged over those past 8 years and it’s as if Sen never had any regrets leaving.

    So basically if they never got that postcard it just would have been a realistic ending where they never crossed paths again, but since this anime obviously wouldn’t end like that, we need a happy ending. If that’s the case imo Sen should have played in the festival and/or come back after running away. Then hey! No problems having an 8-year gap after that. That’s just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.

  • June 30, 2012 at 4:31 amLeticia

    Epic series is epic. I liked it from the beginning ’til the end. I wish we could see more series like this one, I love it.

  • June 30, 2012 at 11:45 amstaticphrase

    Anyone else cry at the end? As soon as they started playing the opening song, I completely lost it. Hands down the best series of the season, and one of the best of the past couple seasons. Things may have been cut, but it never truly impaired the anime in any jarring way.

    I can’t wait to see what Watanabe plans to do next.

    • July 1, 2012 at 3:43 amworstof2012

      Not me. I never cry over 2D shows for some reasons. I wonder why.

  • July 1, 2012 at 3:31 amNamzor

    As a on-again, off-again fan of Jazz, musically this show was just amazing. Often times after an episode, I would remember when I sat in during a session in a small Jazz restaurant near the Moulin Rouge in Paris. The story, while at times somewhat fragmented, as a whole was very beautifully and naturally done. It also gave the perfect sense of time and place. I didn’t mind the jumps that much, sometimes real life feels like that as well. Where you turn around and its 6 months later with nothing much having changed. All in all, I enjoyed this anime thoroughly and am proud to say, I now own the Soundtrack. (Thanks to the tip from the last Podcast.) Music always brings memories, and I’m happy to have some from a couple Kids on a Slope.

    (PS.) Just curious if you ever listened to the Bleach Jam Set Groove album Enzo? A couple songs are just awesome.

  • July 1, 2012 at 10:24 amish

    just one comment: they could have done without the ED song, for chrissakes. the OP song used for the final scenes was more than enough, and the sudden ED only made things a little anticlimactic. and leaves you the miserable feeling that they could have used more scenes/footage in its place…..

    • July 1, 2012 at 11:03 amish

      + we get a happy ending only to be disturbed by some gloomy sad song lol.

  • July 3, 2012 at 6:15 pmFT5Havok

    I watched this series in one sitting and it was so GOOD ! My only problem is that, we didn’t see Kaoru and Ritsuko get together.. I just want to know what will happen to them in the future.

  • September 10, 2012 at 8:42 amruth de jesus

    hi