This was probably the most hyped up anime this season, and essentially the one that I was most looking forward to. Apollon is about high school friendship and love troubles set in the 1960s with a big healthy injection of jazz. The manga was a Shogakugan award winner (one of the most prestigious manga awards in Japan), the production studio is Tezuka Production (It’s TEZUKA, TEZUKA) with the legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe at helm. The main theme is jazz so they got themselves the most prolific anime composer of all time, Yoko Kanno. Also this aired in the noitaminA block, the block that dedicates themselves (or used to) to only airing good shit. Everything about this series sounded like a recipe for success but the big question was, “Will it deliver? “. Overhype really played in this series with people in the community proclaiming it to be “God’s gift to us” or “The savior of the noitaminA block”. Hey, when was the last time an anime was this hyped? HI THAR GUILTY CROWN. So with crazy expectations, did this series deliver?
YES. Yes it did.
One of the amazing things about this series is how well it’s executed. While it faltered a bit in the end, cramming 9 volumes into 12 episodes is no easy task. In fact, the entire last episode was Volume 9 itself. The last time an anime was able to pull off a dangerous task like this was Toradora (10LN volumes) and that had 25 episodes. It really shows how amazing the staff is for this series.
Also surprising was how well the characters were developed even with the rushed pacing. We got ourselves the OTP, Sentarou and Kaoru. Leaving all the gay undertones aside, the level of depth and detail to their friendship is really what stands out in this series more than anything else. We had love triangles and pentagons here and there but the aspect of friendship is essentially the one that was played at highest respect. This is really what sets Apollon apart from other romance anime.
You can’t talk about Apollon though with the jazz. I’ve never really seen anime be able to pull off instruments playing besides Haruhi and this is 10, no, 100 times better than that. It really feels like they’re playing. What’s disappointing though is the soundtrack itself. The soundtrack isn’t bad but it feels like Yoko Kanno just copypasta jazz classics in the soundtrack; the ones she made herself aren’t entirely memorable. Oh well, there’s always Aquarion EVOL for awesome Yoko Kanno music.
This would be an instant classic for me if it wasn’t for those last episodes. You can have so much legendary staff on your hands and you can shell out all the money you want, but time constraints will always be there. Curse you noitaminA for giving Apollon only 12 episodes (while Guilty Crown got 20+). This is like my gist with Anohana before, except worse. Apollon is amazing but it could have pulled off a much more amazing if it was given like 3-5 more episodes.
Negativity aside, Sakamichi Apollon is a very refined anime that’s absolutely amazingly executed. It tackles friendship in a level I rarely see in anime. It also has awesome drum solos. Yeah that’s enough to call Apollon an awesome anime.
Execution: 36/40 (Damn fine amazing considering time restraints and all)
Engagement: 26/30 (It’s so fast-paced yet I still managed to get attached on what was happening, especially on the first half of the series.)
Characters: 18/20 (Amazing cast. Sentarou and Kaoru are really the OTP)
Production: 9/10 (Amazing drum solos and all that jazzzzzzz)