Watanabe Shinichiro, the guy who made Cowboy Bebop comes back with another wonder, but of a completely different sort. The only link? Jazz!
The scope for an anime based on teenage romance/friendship to establish itself as ‘unique’ is quite meager, the genre being oversaturated and all, but Sakamichi pulls it off rather easily. The starting scene gave me vibes of Clannad, but it was quick to set itself apart. The main plot follows the friendship between three high-school students of the 1960s: Kaoru (the nerd), Sentaro (the bully), and Ritsuko (the girl). Smell a love triangle?
Kaoru is the son of a man with a navy career, due to which he’s forced to jump from school to school quite often, and feels unwelcome everywhere due to his inability of developing intimate friends. He meets Sentaro, and Ritsuko, who also happen to be each other’s childhood friend. The way of portrayal of these characters is quite different from what you normally see. For example, most problems and quarrels are solved through group jamming sessions instead of words, which according to me is a HUGE thumbs up. And they actually play some awesome music.
However, the main reason I liked this anime is because of all of its subtleties. You have a guy trained in classical music being exposed to serious jazz for the first time. You have the new and growing rock-n’-roll genre supposedly corrupting good music. (There’s this scene where they refer to The Beatles as “popular music meant to attract silly teenage girls” which really hits you hard if you are a fan, but also makes you realize how subjective tastes really are.) You also have those sad-for-no-reason moments. Like the time Ritsuko talks about Sound of Music:
“Oh no, I didn’t see it. I wanted to, but before I knew it, it’d already stopped playing. I bet it was a good movie, huh? How could I miss it? I guess I thought I’d be able to see it anytime… I’m pretty dumb.”
Life in the 1960s has been quite effectively captured, though many aspects and problems related to that era have been left out. Over and all I enjoyed it and pretty much everyone would. This anime gives you a kind of ghibli feeling. A classic noitaminA series.
Overall rating: 8.0/10