This week's Friday Feature is a little different: the anime Kids on the Slope / 坂道のアポロン, / Sakamichi no Aporon. Kids on the Slope is the coming of age story of Kaoru set in a small Japanese town in the summer of 1966. Kaoru is constantly moving from town to town thanks to the nature of his father's job. It has meant he has few friends and has become very introverted. Kaoru expects to be just as miserable and lonely in this new town however Sen, the school's bad boy, takes a shine to him and has decided whether Kaoru (or 'Richie' as Sen likes to call him) likes it or not that they are not only going to be friends but jazz partners. Sen originally seems a total blockhead however the more Kaoru gets to know him the more he sees he is a complex, passionate, protective friend. Through his relationship with Sen, female friend Ritsuko and other visitors to Ritsuko's grandfather's record shop, Kaoru learns the power of friendship, the pain of love and music's ability to bring even the most unlikely of people together.
Kids on the Slope has three good things going for it:
1) As you can see the animation is film quality and truly a feast for the eyes,
2) The story and characters are deep and involving,
3) If you have even the most basic interest in jazz you will love the soundtrack. Each episode features at least one performance of a classic jazz standard and to get the animation of the performances as realistic as possible these scenes are rotoscoped from performances by real jazz musicians. The cherry on the musical cake is that the original score (also jazz) is composed by Yoko Kanno, of Cowboy Bebop fame.
What jazz standards are featured?
Lullaby of Birdland
But Not for Me
Blowin' the Blues Away
Someday My Prince Will Come
My Favourite Things
Featured Song: Kaoru & Sentaro Duo in BUNKASAI (Medley "My Favourite Things - Someday My Prince Will Come - Moanin'")
Where can I hear more?
There is a CD but it is a Japanese import.
Where can I watch it?
English subtitled version: http://www.crunchyroll.com/kids-on-the-slope
An English dubbed version has been optioned so will probably be available in 2013.
Next week: Back to music with Matt & Kim