Sakamichi no Apollon – 02

After hearing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ “Moanin'”, Kaoru practices his jazz piano intently, wanting to Show up Sentaro. On the way home from school, he’s cornered by a gang of bullies; Ritsuko sees, alters Sentaro, and they both come to Kaoru’s rescue. Kaoru tries and fails to insert himself in the counterattack. The arrival of Jun at the record store leads to a jam session with Jun, Sentaro, Ritsuko’s dad, and Kaoru, who holds his own.

Kaoru asks Ritsuko out on a summer homework date, and when he arrives at the meeting place, he learns both Ritsuko and Sentaro are Christians. They take a bus to the sea, rent a boat, and dive off a cliff. Kaoru is frustrated by Sentaro’s presence, wanting to be alone with Ritsuko. Later Sentaro rescues a girl from more thugs, and the two seem to fall in love right then and there…

One of our favorite non-anime shows on television is Treme, in for no other reason than because for large chunks of the show, there is nothing happening save the playing of music. Jazz, Blues, R&B, Rock…Bounce…doesn’t matter; those moments are why I watch. No dialogue or plot can compare to the pure, primal, eclectic languages being spoken. This week, there was one of those moments: an impromptu jazz session; Kaoru’s first, which perfectly and effortlessly captures both his initial jitters, to finally settling down and having fun.

But there was a lot more to like this week: Kaoru may not be the strongest kid, but he isn’t going to sit back and let Sentaro do all his fighting (and rowing) for him. We like that beyond his wimpy looks, he’s got fire, and he won’t be cowed by bullies. We also like his interactions with Ritsuko. He seems to be falling for her quickly (he’s likely as inexperienced with women as jazz) but there’s a carefree beauty to their summer day in the sea that’s only blemished by the presence of Sentaro. By the episode’s end, the boy/girl ratio balances out at 2:2, which should console Kaoru. But we can’t help but think Ritsuko doesn’t quite feel the same way about him.

Rating: 9 (Superior)