Without further ado. . .
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)
On hold: Space Bros, Dusk Maiden of the Amnesia, Fujitits, Shirokuma Cade
Dropped: Zetman, Accel World, Kuroko no Basuke
LAND OF THE TERRIBAD
FAULTY BUT WATCHABLE
12. AKB0048 7.9
This show is stupider than Aquarion EVOL. Oh god the whole songstress thing. The thing is though. . . I like it. It also has the EVOL aura in which everything is taken seriously to the point where you realize that some parts are purposely dumb. Or just unintentional comedy but meh I like it. Oh god this whole paragraph doesn’t make sense. Kinda like AKB0048.
11. (14) Saki Achiga-Hen 8.2
Well it’s never gonna be as good as Saki but I’ve made peace with this series. They finally have mah-jong battles and some parts are pretty interesting. Some build-ups are paying off; some are still working on building up even more. Maybe this spinoff is just some commercial for the original series since when the real main characters appear, they’re really glorified especially Saki herself.
10. (5) Tsuritama 8.4
I like the whole fishing part of Tsuritama. The way this series presents fishing is very educational (sometimes slightly technobabbleish) though I am curious if Enoshima really has that much variety of fish. I also learned from this series that you can actually have artificial coral reefs. Anyway the plot of Tsuritama is picking up but I really don’t like some of the character interactions (or I’m still pissed at Natsuki for slapping his sweet sister). Haru’s slightly annoying too at times.
9. (6) Eureka Seven Ao 8.4
Maybe it’s just me but do all mecha series have great BGMs? Ao’s even better than Rinne no Lagrange’s. That aside, I really have to see the original Eureka Seven (or the six other eurekas). I’m really curious about Ao’s mom.
8. (10) Aquarion EVOL 8.4
AHAHAHHA the whole MIXY plot is stupid but I LOVE IT. Evol’s finally revealing some plot points that I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the series and it’s all coming together. I hope the last stretch really pulls this series together.
7. (4) Sankarea 8.6
This month in Sankarea had a lot of cracks, mostly because of content. It’s still great with damn fine execution, particularly in episode 8, but sometimes I do wonder what would happen if Sankarea’s staff got a better source material to work on. Anyways I do wonder how this will close off considering the manga is only up to chapter 26.
6. (7) Jormungand 8.7
It’s still fun, it’s still fresh, it’s still awesome. Anime about BANG BANG BANG is apparently always good. I just watched Black Lagoon recently and while Jormungand’s tone is slightly different, it has that snarky-devlish style that I really like. Also Jormungand’s writing is just flawless.
5. (9) Mouretsu Pirates 8.9
I finally picked this up. The refinement of Mouretsu Pirates is unrivalled. Its concepts and settings are well researched and I just love the way it’s used in this series. Bentenmaru’s tasks aren’t exactly the most pirate-ish (attacking luxury liners, saving princesses, guarding high school competitions) but the way it’s done is just brilliant. There’s also some form of mockery to other space operas with 5-6 episodes about High School girls managing Bentenmaru while eating cake and having parties. Moe in my space opera? Impossiburrruu!
4. (3) Fate/Zero 8.9
Kiritsugu’s backstory is very Kara no Kyoukai-ish. We got a view of the world outside of the Holy Grail War and it was slightly refreshing. It also helped that because of that backstory, the events that happened afterwards really hit hard. Kiritsugu will eat himself up by the end of this series.
3. (9) Hyouka 8.9
I have to admit, this is the series that has me excited watching each week. I don’t know why but it has this aura of perfection. Most KyoAni series have this but not as much as Hyouka does. Maybe this is why KyoAni always aims low. For perfection. Really though, Hyouka’s premise is so simple yet the way it’s executed makes it THAT MUCH BETTER. I mean when you have an episode just about Chitanda asking Houtaro why she got angry and you’re entertained, that’s something.
2. (2) Sakamichi no Apollon 9.3
I love how much stuff happens in an episode. It’s compact, concise while not losing the feelings and emotions. The romantic triangles actually go somewhere and the characters (especially Kaoru) go through so much maturity because of it. In any other season this would usually take the top spot but not when I finally found an anime that’s fit for my Top 10.
ALL TIME FAVORITE
1. (1) Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.7
This series is just AMAZING STUFF. Each trope in dating is deconstructed and turned into a way in which Tsubaki and Urabe become much more honest with each other. If drool is the way to make relationships work like this, then please every couple out there, exchange drools with your fingers NOW!
I’d say last month’s stronger but the good crop did get a lot better this month!