Sakamichi no Apollon 2 ~ monkey in the middle
April 19, 2012
Episode 2 of Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) is finally here, bringing us more of that crazy action, but, as Kaoru learns, you don’t always get the kind of action you were expecting. This episode opened up several avenues that will be interesting to see explored.
After the way his aunt acted in the last episode, I’m not surprised that Kaoru wants to try to practice while she is out of the house. I would avoid her as well.
I enjoyed the scene with Kaoru trying to learn Art Blakey’s “Moanin'” for several reasons. First there was an evident love of the stuff of music in the ’60s. There was animation of a record playing; someone from my generation handled a lot of records, but I haven’t seen one in many years. The piano in Kaoru’s aunt’s house is also gorgeous. There was even a shot of sheet music as Kaoru attempted to record using visual notation what he heard on vinyl. Then there was the comic aspect of what Kaoru was doing – running upstairs to listen to the record, and then running downstairs to play a quick snatch of music on the piano while it was still in his head. No wonder his cousin was watching him with such curiosity! But sometimes Music (and Love) can drive a man to do strange things.
Unfortunately for Kaoru, life doesn’t always go like we planned. Instead of getting to practice his piano after school, he gets jumped by a bunch of boys from class. Fortunately for Kaoru, he has friends looking out for him.
Both Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo had excellent fight scenes, so I don’t suppose it should be a surprise that Shinichiro Watanabe would be able to put something like this together. I just didn’t realize the material would give him an opportunity to do so. This is a pleasant surprise.
Again things don’t go as Kaoru had planned. He had imagined perfecting his performance of “Moanin'” and playing it for Ken and Ri’ko, but instead he is asked to sit in on an improvisational jam. Fortunately, he discovers quickly that playing Jazz with other musicians can be quite fun. Somehow I doubt he ever had an experience quite like this before.
Although Kaoru doesn’t get to go on his dream date with Ri-chan, he does get to hang out and have fun with his new friends at the beach. He also learns two interesting things. The first is that Ritsuko and Sentarou are Christians. Again, this isn’t something I had anticipated, but it isn’t unusual in retrospect, given Watanabe’s other work. Watanabe likes to put minority communities into his works, and Samurai Champloo included a Christian community that was located in the Kyushu prefecture. Nevertheless I had not anticipated this development, and I am interested in seeing where it will lead us.
The other major discovery is that Sen is not really competing for Ri-chan’s affections.
This was an excellent episode that delivered advancements all across the board. There was advancement in the “main” plot line of Kaoru and Sen playing Jazz. There was advancement in characterizations, especially of Sentarou and Ri’ko. There was even some growth in Kaoru from the first episode. Along the way there was some fighting action, and I barely had time to cover the events at the beach. We even were introduced to at least two new characters! Yes this episode was packed, but it flowed effortlessly.