Live music takes the back seat this week.

Episode 5 of Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) changes the established pattern. It had become a standard part of each episode to include a “session”, a live performance by some members of the Jazz Quartet, that coincided with a dramatic highpoint of the episode. In episode 5, the quartet doesn’t get to play together (despite Sentarou’s best efforts). Instead the not playing itself is much of the story. However music is still at the center of the story’s action. One song in particular is featured in the background music (BGM) three times, is mentioned by name by one of the characters, and is even used as the title for the episode: The Lullaby of Birdland.

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Nothing beats a live Jazz performance. From left to right: Ri'ko's dad (bass), Sentarou (drums), "Brother" Jun (trumpet).

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.

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"His drums just wouldn't stop thundering in my head."

The Spring 2012 season finally feels real now that we’ve got the premiere of the Noitamina shows. Of course the show to which I have most been looking forward is Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope). With Shinichiro Watanabe directing, Yoko Kanno providing the soundtrack, and MAPPA doing the animation, we have the A Team on production. The setting is unusual, in that it is set in the recent past (1966). It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first episode already delivers.

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