16 Apr 2012

Sakamichi no Apollon 1

With solid music already in a lot of the other new shows this season (including Lupin which Watanabe Shinichiro worked on too), it's easy to forget we had this coming as well. Sakamichi no Apollon definitely doesn't disappoint, even with the huge expectations a lot of people already had for it.

Nishimi Kaoru is used to transferring schools due to his father's job in the navy. However, the most difficult part for him are the staring and pressure he feels from everyone due to his city-boy status. He copes by going to the only place in school that helps him calm down: the rooftop. In this new school however, the rooftop is locked and a bunch of 3rd-year students hold on to the key for their illegal smoking activities. Enter Kawabuchi Sentarou, a notorious bad boy first-year student who also wants access to the roof. He fights and attains the key, but wouldn't give it to Kaoru for free of course. Back in class, class representative Mukae Ritsuko gets acquainted with Kaoru to help him get used to his new school. She is the one that brings together Sentarou, the laid-back jazz-loving bad boy, with Kaoru, the up-tight classically-trained piano player. Their rivalry seems to extend to love too, as both boys seem to show some interest in Ritsuko...

For a series about music, they did a great job in teasing viewers with snippets of classical and jazz pieces, as well as Sentarou's awesome drumming. That particular drumming scene is possibly the most fluid (and fastest-moving) music-playing scene ever animated! The two boys have been really great characters so far. The writers did a fantastic job showcasing their personalities very quickly by having them interact and draw out the stark contrast between them. Ritsuko acts as a simple catalyst this episode, but I wouldn't put it past them to flesh her out a lot more in the next few episodes.

While the episode did not look that great to me at first, a repeat viewing allowed me to appreciate the shots, especially the lighting and colours, a lot more. Just look at these screenshots!

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