Kids on the Slope

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Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope cover.png
Japanese volume 1 cover art
坂道のアポロン
(Sakamichi no Aporon)
Genre Coming-of-age, Music, Romance, Friendship
Manga
Written by Yuki Kodama
Published by Shogakukan
Demographic Josei
Magazine Flowers
Original run September 28, 2007July 28, 2012
Volumes 9 + 1 extra edition
Anime television series
Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe
Produced by Koji Yamamoto (Fuji TV)
Masao Maruyama
Written by Ayako Katoh
Yūko Kakihara
Music by Yoko Kanno
Studio MAPPA
Tezuka Productions
Licensed by
Hanabee
Network Fuji TV (noitamina)
English network
Original run April 12, 2012June 28, 2012
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Kids on the Slope (坂道のアポロン Sakamichi no Aporon?, lit. "Apollo on the Slope") is a Japanese manga series by Yuki Kodama. An anime television series adaptation of the same name aired in 2012.[1] It is directed by Shinichirō Watanabe at MAPPA and Tezuka Productions with music provided by acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno, reuniting the two who previously worked together on Macross Plus and Cowboy Bebop.[2] The anime has been licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks.[3]

Plot[edit]

The beginning of summer, 1966; because of his father's job situation, freshman high school student Kaoru Nishimi moves by himself from Yokosuka to Sasebo in Kyushu to live with relatives. Until then, Kaoru was an honor roll student who tended to keep to himself, but meeting notorious "bad boy" Sentaro Kawabuchi starts to change him. Through his devil-may-care classmate, Kaoru learns how much fun it is to play jazz and finds the first person he can call a real friend.

Characters[edit]

Kaoru Nishimi (西見薫 Nishimi Kaoru?)
Voiced by: Ryōhei Kimura (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
Kaoru is a brainy young man who moves during the summer of his first year in high school from Yokosuka to his uncle's house in Kyushu. In fact, Kaoru has been moving from place to place ever since he was a little kid due to his father's constant departure to work on a ship. That, combined with his expanded family's expectations for him, causes him to become an extreme introvert. But after Kaoru encounters Sentarō, he starts to change, all while learning the joys of jazz. Kaoru is a skilled pianist, familiar with classical music until he meets Sentarō and he starts practicing jazz music with him. Kaoru has unrequited feelings for Ritsuko who loves Sentarō instead, until Ritsuko herself starts reciprocating his feelings.
Sentarō Kawabuchi (川渕 千太郎 Kawabuchi Sentarō?)
Voiced by: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Japanese), Andrew Love (English)
Sentarō is a wild 1st-year high school student who meets incoming student Kaoru at Higashi High School. Sentarō is mistakenly thought of as a thug by his peers, who fear him due to his tall and strong figure, but really he is a kind and bighearted person. In the beginning it seems he is the exact opposite of Kaoru, yet somehow they hit it off when Sentarō starts to share his love for jazz. As the child of an American soldier and a Japanese mother, Sentarō is shunned by his grandmother and foster father, but gets well along his younger siblings. The drums are Sentarō's instrument of choice.
Ritsuko Mukae (迎 律子 Mukae Ritsuko?)
Voiced by: Yuuka Nanri (Japanese), Rebekah Stevens (English)
Ritsuko is a classmate of Kaoru and Sentarō and an old friend of the latter. This kind, always cheerful and charmingly-freckled high school freshman is also the poster girl for Mukae Records, her family's record shop. The basement of the shop has a practice studio that serves as a hangout for Sentarō, Kaoru, her father, and occasionally Junichi. She is a devoted Catholic just like Sentarō, and is in love with him. However, even though Ritsuko denies Kaoru's initial advance and confesses her love of Sentarō to Kaoru, she later begins to feel emotions for Kaoru as well.
Junichi Katsuragi (桂木淳一 Katsuragi Junichi?)
Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe (Japanese), David Matranga (English)
Junichi is idolized by Sentarō, whom he affectionately calls “Brother Jun.” In fact, the friendship between Junichi, Sentarō, and Ritsuko goes back to when they were kids. Junichi goes to college in Tokyo, but whenever he comes home, he always stops in at Mukae Records and jams on the trumpet, playing jazz with Sentarō and Ritsuko's father. Later, Junichi becomes involved with a political revolutionist movement; as a result, he stops attending college and becomes disinherited from his family.
Tsutomu Mukae (迎 勉 Mukae Tsutomu?)
Voiced by: Zenki Kitajima (Japanese), David Wald (English)
Tsutomu is Ritsuko's father and the owner of the record shop where Sentarō and Kaoru play jazz. He plays double bass and occasionally joins in with Sentarō and Kaoru (and sometimes Junichi).
Yurika Fukahori (深堀百合香 Fukahori Yurika?)
Voiced by: Aya Endō (Japanese), Maggie Flecknoe (English)
Yurika is a sophomore at Higashi High. Though the daughter of a well-to-do family, Yurika has a spunky, polite and strong personality and is brimming with curiosity. She becomes acquainted with Kaoru and the gang after Sentarō helps her out by chance. Sentarō falls in love with Yurika, but she takes a liking to Junichi instead, after she is introduced to him by his friends. Later, after Junichi becomes disinherited, Yurika begins living with him, which causes a drastic change in her life.
Shigetora Maruo (丸尾 重虎 Maruo Shigetora?)
Voiced by: Ayumu Murasae (Japanese), Greg Ayres (English)
Shigetora is Kaoru's seemingly dorky classmate who has a passion for trains. He is the one who arranges Sentarō's ticket when Kaoru travels to meet his mother and also becomes part of Matsuoka's rock band. At the beginning of the anime, classmates compare him to Kaoru in order to mock Kaoru.
Seiji Matsuoka (松岡星児 Matsuoka Seiji?)
Voiced by: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Japanese), Blake Shepard (English)
Seiji is originally seen with Yurika in the art club, Matsuoka's secret dream is to start a rock band to help support his family. He asks Sentarō to play drums at the spring festival with his rock band, much to the chagrin of Kaoru.
Mariko (まり子?)
Voiced by: Amina Satō (Japanese), Cynthia Martinez (English)
Mariko is Kaoru's cousin, who often acts bratty towards him and sometimes uses the favor of her mother to get Kaoru into trouble. It seems that she enjoys hearing Kaoru play the piano.

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

Anime[edit]

An anime TV series adaptation of the manga started airing on the noitaminA timeslot of Fuji TV on 12 April 2012. The opening theme is "Sakamichi no Melody" by YUKI while the ending theme is "Altair" by Motohiro Hata. The anime series was broadcast on Viz Media's Neon Alley online channel on January 17, 2014.

Episode list[edit]

No. Title Original airdate
01 "Moanin'"
(モーニン Mōnin
April 12, 2012
Kaoru Nishimi moves to his uncle's house in Kyushu and starts attending the local high school. He meets Shigetora Maruo, the class nerd, Ritsuko Mukae, the class representative, and Sentarō Kawabuchi, the class ruffian. The next day, when Kaoru asks where he can buy records, Ritsuko invites him over to her family's record store. Ritsuko takes him down to the basement after he mentions that he knows how to play the piano. However, Sentarō is already there and will not let Kaoru play any classical music. Sentarō demonstrates his intense jazz drumming. Kaoru and Sentarō have an argument about how to play a jazz song on the piano, and Kaoru leaves the store after purchasing the record for that song, which happens to be "Moanin'" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
02 "Summertime"
(サマータイム Samātaimu
April 19, 2012
Kaoru finds that playing jazz is a lot harder than he expected. Ritsuko finds Kaoru in the grip of bullies, led by Ryunosuke Yamaoka, and gets Sentarō to help him. Back at the record store, Sentarō introduced Kaoru to Junichi Katsuragi, a family friend who is going to college in Tokyo. Sentarō, Junichi, and even Tsutomu Mukae, Ritsuko's father, starts playing "Bags' Groove" by Milt Jackson. Kaoru joins in after some encouragement from Sentarō. With summertime soon approaching, Kaoru asks Ritsuko out on a date, but Sentarō shows up too, much to Kaoru's displeasure. They take a bus to the beach and go swimming. On their way back, Sentarō scares off some guys who are annoying a long-haired girl named Yurika Fukahori, and he appears to have fallen in love at first sight. 
03 "Someday My Prince Will Come"
(いつか王子様が Itsuka ōji-sama ga
April 26, 2012
Kaoru decides to help Sentarō get together with Yurika, and at the same time distance him from Ritsuko. Sentarō manages to ask Yurika out with great difficulty, saying that Kaoru actually wanted to ask her out. Kaoru and Ritsuko join them on a double date. Ritsuko runs off in the middle of the date, and Kaoru sees her crying. Kaoru realizes that Ritsuko has feelings for Sentarō, and he feels responsible for her discomfort. Kaoru and Sentarō get into a fight over a handkerchief that the latter got from Yurika. Ritsuko locks Kaoru and Sentarō in the basement of her house to give them a chance to make up, which they do after a duet of "But Not For Me" by Chet Baker. Kaoru sees Sentarō modelling for Yurika's painting and assumes that the two have taken their relationship to the next level. Kaoru plays "Someday My Prince Will Come" by Bill Evans and tells Ritsuko that he is in love with her. 
04 "But Not for Me"
(バット・ノット・フォー・ミー Batto notto fō mī
May 3, 2012
Junichi informs Kaoru, Sentarō, and Tsutomu that a gig is being offered at a local bar on Christmas. After discovering that Sentarō's birthday is on the same day, Kaoru purchases a set of drumsticks for him at a music store, bumping into Ritsuko there, who had the same idea. Outside, Kaoru kisses Ritsuko without her permission, and she runs away crying. Kaoru sees Sentarō, showing up with his siblings, and develops jealousy for his family, running away after yelling at him. Then, Sentarō finds Kaoru and drags him off to the church, where he explains that he is actually of American descent and was often shunned by schoolmates and family. Kaoru regrets shouting at him, and they play the intro of "Moanin'" together on the organ. During their live performance of "Blowin' the Blues Away" by Horace Silver at the bar, they are interrupted by a drunk foreigner who insists that they play "white jazz", angering Sentarō as he quits the stage. Junichi and Kaoru perform a rendition of "But Not For Me" to lighten the mood. After the performance, Junichi and Yurika shyly introduce each other while walking home. 
05 "Lullabys of Birdland"
(バードランドの子守唄 Bādorando no komori-uta
May 10, 2012
Kaoru and Ritsuko are unable to look each other in the eye ever since he kissed her on that snowy night. Ritsuko cannot stay mad at him, but she admits to liking someone else, which Sentarō overhears about. Kaoru leaves and stops coming to the record shop because of this. Later than night, Kaoru's father comes home and gives him a letter containing the whereabouts of his mother in Tokyo. Sentarō swings by before then and later convinces Kaoru to meet his mother a day later. They pass by Junichi's place, also in Tokyo, but they are told that he has not been there for over a month. The next day as it starts raining, Kaoru and Sentarō meet Kaoru's mother for dinner. As Sentarō goes out for a while, Kaoru feels better from being heartbroken after a cheerful conversation with her. Before leaving, he gives her a jazz record entitled "Lullaby of Birdland" by Chris Connor and tells her to practice singing it in anticipation of the next time they meet. After the two guys return to Kyushu, Kaoru begins going back to the record shop to play jazz again. 
06 "You Don't Know What Love Is"
(ユー・ドント・ノウ・ホワット・ラブ・イズ Yū donto Nō howatto rabu Izu
May 17, 2012
The second year of high school has begun, but Sentarō ends up in a different class separate from Kaoru and Ritsuko. After Ritsuko takes Sentarō to the infirmary to treat his wounds from an earlier fight, Kaoru goes inside the art room to see Yurika, who is still working on her painting, and tells her about Junichi's disappearance. Later at the basement of the record store, Kaoru suggest Sentarō not to go on a date with Yurika, but the latter ignores the advice, ending up talking about Junichi during their date. Seiji Matsuoka, who is in the art club with Yurika, tells Sentarō about his dream of becoming a famous musician so he can support his family, and then asks Sentarō to join his rock band and play at the school festival. Sentarō invites Ritsuko and Kaoru to go to the beach with him by bus to help take care of his siblings. Seiji, who also shows up there, is ecstatic when Sentarō agrees to join his rock band. Kaoru feels betrayed and storms out, riding back home in anger. Meanwhile, Tsutomu goes to the local bar and chances upon a drunk Junichi there. 
07 "Now's the Time"
(ナウズ・ザ・タイム Nauzu za taimu
May 24, 2012
Kaoru continues to give Sentarō the cold shoulder at school. Sentarō goes over to Yamaoka's house along with Maruo and Seiji to practice rock music. The following day, as Sentarō stops by the record store, he runs into Yurika, taking her into the basement in an attempt to kiss her, only to be interrupted by Junichi. This causes Yurika runs away, leading Sentarō to punch Junichi for interfering. Kaoru and Ritsuko are nominated to work on the executive committee for the school festival. Ritsuko leaves after telling Kaoru about what happened at the record store. As Sentarō drops by to sign up the rock band, named The Olympus, on the roster, Kaoru falters to talk to him about Junichi. The Olympus puts on a performance at the school festival, but the amplifiers for their electric instruments stop working halfway through. While searching for the cause of the problem, Kaoru secretly overhears Sentarō saying that he joined the rock band to help Seiji fulfill his dream of becoming a rock star and support his family, but only for this performance. Kaoru plays the piano to keep the audience from leaving, and Sentarō joins in on the drums. They play a medley of jazz songs, drawing in a large audience from all over the school. After they finish playing, Sentarō grabs Kaoru and the two of them run out of the school. 
08 "These Foolish Things"
(ジーズ・フーリッシュ・シングス Jīzu Fūrisshu Shingusu
May 31, 2012
Tsutomu tells Kaoru and Sentarō that Junichi was recently disowned by his father, since he dropped out of college after resigning from a political activism movement there. Meanwhile, Yurika comes upon Junichi and follows him back to his new apartment where she confronts him about a kiss they had shared at the record shop. He tries to seduce her in an attempt to scare her away, but to no avail. She then stubbornly cuts her hair to prove that she would change for him, which brings back his regrets, recalling when Arita was arrested and Muroi was injured, both of whom were members of the political activism movement. At school, Sentarō overhears students talking about Yurika's change in behavior and appearance, assuming that Junichi had done something to her. Sentarō discovers, after going to see Junichi at his apartment, that Yurika has been staying with Junichi, causing him to leave in tears. Back at the record shop, Sentarō tells Kaoru about what he had seen, and Kaoru scolds him for not being aware that there was already someone in love with him. He soon realizes that Kaoru was referring to Ritsuko. 
09 "Love Me or Leave Me"
(ラブ・ミー・オア・リーブ・ミー Rabu Mī oa Rību Mī
June 7, 2012
Sentarō and Ritsuko attend Christmas mass together while Kaoru decides to attend a Christmas party at Seiji's house, hoping to distance himself from them. Finally aware of her feelings for him, Sentarō apologizes to Ritsuko for not knowing how she felt, but the two end up renewing their conviction that they are just like family to each other. Junichi visits Yurika to tell her that he has accepted an offer to work for Arita's publishing company in Tokyo. Ritsuko talks to Yurika and decides to let Kaoru know how she feels. Kaoru insists that Sentarō should talk Junichi before he departs, but Sentarō displays an indifferent attitude. Sentarō sends Junichi a letter of challenge to one last session with the band. The two duke it out to "Four" by Miles Davis. At the subway station at night, Junichi is approached by Yurika, who begs him to take her with him, but he insists that they should part ways. Just before the train starts moving, Junichi hears Yurika's parents at the station, angry at her for leaving in the middle of a matchmaking meeting they arranged for her. Junichi pulls her into the train at the last moment, and the two embrace as the train leaves the city. Back at the record stop, Kaoru opens the piano fallboard and finds a pair of blue gloves Ritsuko knitted for him. 
10 "In a Sentimental Mood"
(イン・ア・センチメンタル・ムード In a senchimentaru mūdo
June 14, 2012
Kaoru, perceiving the pair of gloves were a present for Sentarō, finds out that Sentarō never got a gift from Ritsuko. Kaoru puts on the gloves and thanks her during a snowball fight with Sentarō. Upon learning that Sentarō is at risk of repeating the year, Kaoru helps him with his studies at his house. During study break, Sentarō's youngest sister wets herself while sitting on Kaoru's lap, making him have to take a bath there. Ritsuko accidentally walks in on Kaoru, who just found out that the bath is shared. Kaoru questions her feelings for him, and she sadly walks away. Kaoru leaves but catches a cold on the way home, and Sentarō forces Ritsuko to pay Kaoru a visit. After Kaoru soon realizes Ritsuko's true feelings for him, he runs to her to affirm his love for her before she leaves. Just before he kisses her, he collapses in her arms from his fever. Some time later, Kaoru and Sentarō learn about Seiji's challenge against them for the upcoming school festival. However, after Sentarō hears that his foster father is returning home from his job in another prefecture, he decides to run away from home. 
11 "Left Alone"
(レフト・アローン Refuto arōn
June 21, 2012
Early the next morning, Kaoru keeps Sentarō from abandoning his house for good. When Sentarō's foster father reunites with the family, Sentarō feels satisfied when receiving from him an expensive fountain pen, confirming that he treats Sentarō as his own son. Kaoru and Sentarō ask Tsutomu to perform with them for the upcoming school festival, and they later convince Ritsuko to be the vocalist of the group. At the night before the festival, Sentarō, realizing Kaoru forgot some sheet music, he goes it to deliver it to Kaoru by scooter. The next day before the festival, Ritsuko tells Kaoru that Sentarō got into a car accident the night before, prompting Kaoru to rush over to the hospital. Sentarō is said to be fine, but his younger sister Sachiko, who was riding with him, suffered a head trauma and is in critical condition. Kaoru comforts Sentarō on the roof of the hospital, but he wakes to find that Sachiko has awoken and Sentarō has run away. Kaoru tries to comfort Ritsuko, but realizes that Sentarō will never come back. 
12 "All Blues"
(オール・ブルース Ōru burūsu
June 28, 2012
There has still been no word about Sentarō, even as graduation soon approaches. While studying at Ritsuko's house, Kaoru tries to get more intimate with her, but she pushes him away his comment about him being happy about Sentarō's disappearance. Kaoru, after apologizing to her, reveals that he is leaving after graduation by train to attend a college in Tokyo. After graduation, he stands outside the record shop and tells an upset Ritsuko that he feels content since he first befriended her. On the night of his departure, he seen off by Tsutomu, as well as his aunt and cousin. Just as the train starts leaving, he sees Ritsuko running along the train, and they manage to exchange one last glance before he leaves town for college. Eight years pass, and Kaoru is now a resident doctor. One day, he meets a now pregnant Yurika, who shows him a picture of a friend's wedding on a small island, and he recognizes Sentarō in the photo. He rushes to the island, and learns that Sentarō is now a priest in training at the local church. Kaoru sees Sentarō's drums in the church, and starts to play "Moanin'" on the organ. Sentarō hears, and goes to the church to join in on drums. The head priest arrives and scolds Sentarō for playing the drums without permission, and Sentarō and Kaoru run out of the church and down the slope. Near the bottom of the slope, they reunite with Ritsuko, who is holding a postcard from Yurika about Sentarō's whereabouts. 

Reception[edit]

The manga series won the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Yuki Kodama's Sakamichi no Aporon Shōjo Manga Gets Anime". Anime News Network. 2011-12-26. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  2. ^ "Aporon Reunites Cowboy Bebop Director, Composer Kanno". Anime News Network. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Adds Kids on the Slope, Mysterious Girlfriend X". Anime News Network. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "Inazuma Eleven, Aporon Win Shogakukan Manga Awards". Anime News Network. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-01-23. 

External links[edit]