Sakamichi no Apollon – 12 (Fin)

With Sentaro gone, Kaoru sticks to studying, not returning to the shop basement to play. He has a falling out with Ritsuko before graduation, and after apologizing, he leaves town for college in Tokyo. Eight years later, Kaoru bumps into a pregnant Yurika, who has a photo of a young priest that resembles Sentaro. Kaoru travels to the remote island village, finds drums in the church, and starts to play “Moanin'” on the pipe organ. Sentaro comes in and jams with Kaoru as the orphans he’s caring for listen with glee. Ritsuko, having recieved news Sentaro may be there, arrives at the island.

We expected a bittersweet conclusion to this often moody, sometimes elated, always musical series, and we got one. Never able to shake the memory of Sentaro, Kaoru elects to cut his ties and leave town, leaving Ritsuko behind. While we understand the guy’s gotta look after his education and future, we thought the two had something special, and it was a shame to see their relationship simply die not long after it started…not that we’re saying a long-distance relationship would have worked, either.

Anyway, the series takes huge leap forward in time, not one or two but eight years. We’re not quite sure why it had to be such a long time, other than the fact they wanted Kaoru to have become a rookie doctor in residence. You’re telling us he never went back to his former home once? Never wrote to or laid eyes of Ritsuko again? Harsh. The kids are no longer kids, but there is a slope, with a church atop it, where Kaoru goes on a hunch that turns out to be right, and we get one last triumphant jam session from the two (amplified by the church’s unique acoustics), and in the end, the three friends are reunited. We stop lamenting what could have been and start thinking about what could be – like the rekindling of friendships. Which is as good a note as any to end on.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)