Kids on the Slope is twelve episode animated adaptation of the manga series 坂道のアポロン Sakamichi no Apollon by Yuki Kodama. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe with musical accompaniment by acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno. (Whom together previously worked on Cowboy Bebop). KOTS follows high school student Kaoru Nishimi in the Summer of 1966. After moving to Kyushu to stay with relatives he meets bad boy Sentaro Kawabuchi and Ritsuko Mukae things begin to change. Essentially, a coming of age tale set to the key of Jazz.
I binged watched Kids on the Slope the day after I lost my job. And one of the things that really stuck with me, other then the music itself was a scene in episode 4. Sen and Kaoru join Brother Jun and Ritsuko’s pops for a live performance at Stella Jazz bar. Which is a popular stop among-st American soldiers. A drunken audience members screams out Coon. In both the Japanese and English versions. I chuckled and cringed at the same time. It was refreshing, and at the same time shocking as hell. I would have never thought to expected American racial tension between Whites and Black through the scope of Japanese animation. But reflecting back on it now, it’s makes perfect sense. The American influence is pretty prominent. Seen through the music itself and through the commemoration of John Coltrane death which is also mentioned in the anime. But also because music reflects current times. It holds historical elements.
Aside from all of that Sentaro experienced racism because of his American ancestry. Which is another scope, that I hadn’t quite expected. As well as the presents of Christianity.
One of the things I really loved about Sentaro was his strength towards his convictions. He was outraged by discrimination that wasn’t even targeted at him. And when most would have ignore it. He gets up and walks off stage.
I also like how every episode was named after an iconic song. Someday My Prince Will Come,Summertime and Lullaby Of Birdland to name of few. A few of these titles even show up within the anime and on the soundtrack as well. Such as My Favorite Things and Moaning by Art Blakey.
Yoko Kanno, THE GOAT. Did a phenomenal job with the music score for this anime. It felt old too me. It felt like lives irony. It felt like love. You felt what coming of age tale should feel like. Ups, down, good times and bad. There was a taste of it all.
Her version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic My Favorites Things, was hands down my favorite song from this series. Moaning was another song that stuck with me. The music was dope . This I can not stress enough.
All in all, i would highly recommend Kids on the Slope.