Sakamichi no Apollon – 11

Sensing something is up, Kaoru returns to Sentaro’s house to stop him from running away. After waking up both Sentaro and Ritsuko’s families, he doesn’t really have a choice. The next day Sentaro’s father arrives, and gives Sentaro a fountain pen as a gift. Sentaro and Kaoru begin practicing for the festival, recruiting both Ritsuko’s father to play the bass and Ritsuko herself to sing. The night before their performance, Sentaro heads out on his motorbike with Sachiko aboard, and they’re hit by a truck. Both survive, but Sachiko is touch-and-go for a time. Blaming himself, Sentaro disappears.

We thought we had been too hasty when we declared Sentaro gone for good in the last episode, and this one builds up a lot of hope and happiness and gives the trio of Kaoru, Ritsuko and Sentaro a few more days together before events take a turn for the worst once more. In the midst of one of Kaoru’s “favorite things” – being among his good friends – we thought there might be a return to the dizzying highs of Sentaro and Kaoru’s triumphnt jam session before the school, only with a bass and Ritsuko, whose English singing was so cute and endearing. But their concert never happened.

The incident that precludes it demonstrates why playing the blame game is most often unproductive and unfulfilling. Sentaro blames himself for letting Sachiko ride with him. Sachiko blames herself for insisting she ride (she’s old enough to know when she’s being willful). But if we look back at why Sentaro was on that motorbike, Kaoru could potentially blame himself for leaving his sheet music at the shop. The point is, something unfortunate happened, but it’s the last straw for Sentaro, who is convinced he’ll only bring further hurt to those close to him if he sticks around. It’s a deeply-engrained self-loathing that finally comes to the fore.

Rating: 8 (Great)