Kids on the Slope
|Kids on the Slope|
(Sakamichi no Apollon)
|Genre||Coming-of-age, Music, romance|
|Written by||Yuki Kodama|
|Original run||2007 – 2012|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shinichirō Watanabe|
|Produced by||Koji Yamamoto (Fuji TV)
|Written by||Ayako Katoh
|Music by||Yoko Kanno|
|Network||Fuji TV (noitamina)|
|Original run||April 12, 2012 – June 28, 2012|
Kids on the Slope (坂道のアポロン Sakamichi no Apollon , 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. 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. The anime has been licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks.
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.
Other characters include Sentaro's kind childhood friend, Ritsuko, who is the daughter of a record shop owner; the upperclassman girl, Yurika; and Sentaro's "Brother", Jun.
- 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 kind and bighearted person. In the beginning it seems he's 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 Welcome Records, her family's record shop. The basement of the shop has a practice studio that serves as a hang-out 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)
- Sentarō idolizes Junichi, 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 Welcome 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)
- Ritsuko's father and the owner the record shop where Sentarō and Kaoru play jazz. He plays upright 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 Sentaro helps her out by chance. Sentaro 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
Episode list 
|April 12, 2012|
|Kaoru Nishimi moves to his uncle's house in Kyuushu and starts attending the local high school. He meets Ritsuko Mukae, the class representative, and Sentaro Kawabuchi, the class ruffian. The next day, when Kaoru askes 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, Sentaro is already there and won't let Karou play any classical music. Sentaro demonstrates his jazz drumming. Sentaro and Kaoru 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.|
|April 19, 2012|
|Kaoru finds that playing jazz is a lot harder than he expected. Ritsuko finds Kaoru in the grip of bullies and gets Sentaro to help him. Back at the record store, Sentaro introduced Kaoru to Junichi, a family friend who is going to college in Tokyo. Sentaro (drums), Mr.Tsutomu (bass, Ritsuko's father) and Junichi (trumpet) start playing jazz (Bag's Groove by Milt Jackson). Kaoru joins in after some encouragement from Sentaro. Kaoru asks Ritsuko out on a date, but Sentaro shows up too, much to Kaoru's displeasure. They take a bus to the beach and go swimming. On their way back, Sentaro scares off some guys who are annoying a long-haired girl named Yurika, and he appears to have fallen in love at first sight.|
|03||"Someday My Prince Will Come"
"Itsuka ōji-sama ga" (いつか王子様が)
|April 26, 2012|
|Kaoru decides to help Sentaro get together with Yurika, and at the same time distance him from Ritsuko. Sentaro 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 Sentaro, and he feels responsible for her discomfort. Sentaro and Kaoru get into a fight over a handkerchief that Sentaro got from Yurika. Ritsuko locks Kaoru and Sentaro 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". Kaoru sees Sentaro 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"
"Batto notto fō mī" (バット・ノット・フォー・ミー)
|May 03, 2012|
Kaoru is having difficulty with improvisation in his jazz playing. Junichi shows up with an offer for them to play at a bar at Christmas. Kaoru discovers that Sentaro's birthday is on Christmas Day. Kaoru goes to buy a set of drumsticks for Sentaro, and bumps into Ritsuko who had the same idea. They decide to buy one each for Sentaro. Kaoru kisses Ritsuko without her permission, and she runs away crying. Sentaro and his siblings show up, and Kaoru realizes that he is jealous of Sentaro's family, and runs away after yelling at him. Sentaro finds Kaoru and drags him off to the church, where he explains that he's actually half-American, and was often shunned by schoolmates and family. Kaoru regrets shouting at him, and they play the intro of "Moanin'" together on the church 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'. This angers Sentaro and he quits the stage. Junichi and Kaoru perform a redention of Chet Baker's "But Not For Me" to lighten the mood, and everyone is impressed with Junichi's musical talent. Junchi and Yurika awkwardly introduce each other while walking home.
|05||"Lullaby of Birdland"
"Bādorando no komori-uta" (バードランドの子守唄)
|May 10, 2012|
|Kaoru and Ritsuko are unable to look each other in the eye after the events of the previous episode. Yurika shows up to see them practice and seems to be infatuated with Junichi. Ritsuko tells Kaoru that she can't stay angry at him, but that she has someone else that she likes. Sentaro overhears their conversation. Kaoru leaves and stops coming to the record shop. Back at Karou's house, Kaoru's father comes home and gives him a letter containing the whereabouts of his mother. Sentaro convinces Kaoru to go to Tokyo to meet his mom, and tags along. Kaoru and Sentaro also go to Junichi's place in Tokyo, but are told that he's not been there for over a month. Kaoru meets his mother and after talking to her, feels better about being rejected by Ritsuko. Before leaving, he gives her a jazz record ("Lullabys of Birdland" by Chris Connor) and tells her to practice singing it in anticipation of the next time they meet. Kaoru and Sentaro return to Kyuushu and Kaoru starts going to the record shop to play jazz again.|
|06||"You Don't Know What Love Is"
"Yū donto Nō howatto rabu Izu" (ユー･ドント・ノウ・ホワット・ラブ・イズ)
|May 17, 2012|
|Kaoru and the others start their second year of high school. Kaoru and Ritsuko are in the same class, but Sentaro is in a different class. Kaoru tries to keep Sentaro from talking to Yurika out of consideration for Ritsuko's feelings. Kaoru and Sentaro run into Matsuoka Seiji at the art room. Sentaro asks Kaoru for advice on his upcoming date with Yurika, and Kaoru suggests that he not go. Sentaro goes out with Yurika anyways, but they just end up talking about Junichi. Seiji gives Sentaro a Beatles record to listen to. Seiji tells Sentaro that he wants to become a famous musician so he can support his family, and asks Sentaro to join his rock band and play at the school festival. Sentaro invites Ritsuko and Kaoru to go to the beach with him to help take care of his siblings. At the beach, Seiji shows up and is instantly popular with the kids, which causes Kaoru to feel like he's being excluded from the group. Sentaro tells Seiji that he's willing to join his band for the school festival. Kaoru calls him a traitor, and runs off, saying he doesn't need him anymore. Mr.Tsutomu goes to his regular bar and finds Junichi there, drunk.|
|07||"Now's The Time"
"Nauzu za taimu" (ナウズ・ザ・タイム)
|May 24, 2012|
Kaoru continues to give Sentaro the cold shoulder at school. Sentaro goes over to Yamaoka's house along with Maruo and Seiji to practice rock music. Sentaro stops by the record store, where he runs into Yurika. Sentaro takes Yurika to the basement and tries to kiss her, but is interrupted by Junichi. Yurika runs away, and Sentaro punches Junichi. Kaoru and Ritsuko are nominated to work on the executive committee for the school festival. Sentaro shows up to sign the rock band (named 'The Olympus') for the school festival. Kaoru tries to talk to Sentaro about Junichi, but isn't able to.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 Sentaro 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 Sentaro joins in on the drums. They play a medley of songs, including "My Favourite Things" (from The Sound of Music), "Someday My Prince Will Come" (by Bill Evans), and "Moanin'" (by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers). Their performance draws in a large audience from all over the school. After they finish playing, Sentaro grabs Kaoru and the two of them run out of the school.
|08||"These Foolish Things"
"Jīzu Fūrisshu Shingusu" (ジーズ・フーリッシュ・シングス)
|May 31, 2012|
|Kaoru's new-found popularity among female classmates after his performance with Sentaro causes Ritsuko to question her true feelings for him. 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. Junichi unsuccessfully attempts to scare her away. Yurika's stubbornness, even going so far as to cut her hair to prove her point, forces Junichi to remember his regrets during his time as a member of the Japanese Communist Party in college, and accepts her support. At school, Sentaro overhears students talking about Yurika's change in behavior and appearance and he assumes that Junichi had done something to her. He goes to Junichi's apartment to confront Jinuchi, only to discover Yurika is also there. Sentaro shouts at Junichi and leaves in tears. Back at the record shop, Sentaro tells Kaoru about what he had seen, and Kaoru scolds him for not being aware that there was already someone in love with him. Sentaro soon realizes that the person Kaoru had been talking about was Ritsuko.|
|09||"Love Me or Leave Me"
"Rabu Mī oa Rību Mī" (ラブ・ミー・オア・リーブ・ミー)
|June 7, 2012|
|Junichi is offered a chance to work for a friend's publishing company in Tokyo and decides to accept, then visits Yurika to tell her he's leaving town. Sentaro 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 Ritsuko's feelings for him, Sentaro apologizes to her for not knowing how she felt, but the two end up renewing their conviction that they are just like family to each other. Ritsuko talks to Yurika and decides to let Kaoru know how she feels. Meanwhile, Kaoru insists that Sentaro should talk Junichi before he departs, even slapping him after Sentaro tells him to drop the subject. Sentaro then challenges Junchi to one last session with the band, to which he attends, and they 'duel' to Miles Davis' "Four". The train taking Junichi to Tokyo is about to leave when he 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 store, Kaoru opens the piano cover and finds the blue gloves Ritsuko knitted for him.|
|10||"In A Sentimental Mood"
"In a senchimentaru mūdo" (イン・ア・センチメンタル・ムード)
|June 14, 2012|
|Kaoru wonders if the gloves are a present for Sentaro, until he finds that Sentaro didn't get a gift from Ritsuko. He puts on the gloves and thanks her during a snowball fight with Sentaro. Upon learning that Sentaro is at risk of repeating the year, Kaoru helps him with his studies. During study break, Sentaro's young sister has an 'accident' while sitting on Kaoru's lap, and he takes a bath at Sentaro's. He doesn't realize it's a shared bath, and Ritsuko walks in on him while he's bathing. While in the tub, Kaoru questions her feelings for him, and she sadly walks away. Kaoru leaves but catches a cold on the way home, and Sentaro forces Ritsuko to pay him a visit. Kaoru gets annoyed at first, knowing that it was Sentaro who insisted on her visit, but upon knowing her true feelings for him, he reaffirms his love for her. Just before he kisses her, he collapses in her arms from his fever. Some time later, Kaoru and Sentaro learn about Seiji's challenge against them for the upcoming school festival, and the duo start practicing every day. However, after Sentaro learns that his father is returning home from his job in another prefecture, he decides to run away from home.|
|11||"Left Alone"||June 21, 2012|
|Early the next morning, Sentaro is about to abandon his house for good, but Karou is waiting for him and keeps him from leaving. Sentaro's reunion with his foster father becomes much more joyful than he imagined when he receives an expensive fountain pen from him as a present, confirming that he sees Sentaro like a son. Kaoru and Sentaro decide to train harder for the festival, and ask Ritsuko's father to join their performance. After hearing Ritsuko humming "My Favorite Things", they ask her to sing at the festival. At the night before the festival, Sentaro realizes Kaoru forgot some sheet music, and he borrows the scooter he uses at his job to deliver it to Kaoru. However, on the way he gets into a car accident. Right before the festival, the next day Kaoru hears about the accident from Ritsuko and rushes to the hospital. He finds that Sentaro is fine, but his sister Sachiko who was riding with him suffered a head trauma and is in critical condition. Kaoru comforts Sentaro on the roof of the hospital, but he wakes to find that Sachiko has awoken and Sentaro has run away. Kaoru tries to comfort Ritsuko, but realizes that Sentaro will never come back.|
|12||"All Blues"||June 28, 2012|
|Graduation is at hand for Kaoru and Ritsuko, and there is still no word from Sentaro. While studying at Ritsuko's house, Kaoru tries to get more intimate with her, but she rejects him after he tells her he is happy that Sentaro is not there to get between them. Kaoru apologizes to her, but he reveals that he is leaving after graduation to go to college in Tokyo. After graduation, he stands outside the record shop and tells Ritsuko that he's happy he met her. On the day of his departure, he is seen off by his aunt, his cousin and Mukae. 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 a resident doctor. One day, he meets Yurika and she shows him a picture of a friend's wedding on a small island, and he recognizes Sentaro in the photo. He rushes to the island, and learns that Sentaro is now a priest in training at the local church. Kaoru sees Sentaro's drums in the church, and starts to play Moanin' on the church organ. Sentaro hears, and goes to the church to join in on drums. The priest arrives and scolds Sentaro for playing the drums without permission, and Sentaro 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 Sentaro's whereabouts.|
Theme music 
- Opening theme
- "Sakamichi no Melody" by YUKI
- Ending theme
- "Altair" by Motohiro Hata
- "Yuki Kodama's Sakamichi no Apollon Shōjo Manga Gets Anime". Anime News Network. 2011-12-26. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "Apollon Reunites Cowboy Bebop Director, Composer Kanno". Anime News Network. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- "Sentai Filmworks Adds Kids on the Slope, Mysterious Girlfriend X". Anime News Network. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- "Inazuma Eleven, Apollon Win Shogakukan Manga Awards". Anime News Network. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Official anime site (Japanese)
- Kids on the Slope (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kids on the Slope (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia