Sakamichi no Apollon – 03

Kaoru notices Sentaro has the girl he saved, Yurika, on his mind, and proposes a double date, with Sentaro asking her out, and Kaoru coming with Ritsuko. Sentaro screws up and tells Yurika Kaoru invited her, which she relays to Ritsuko on the day of the date. Even so, Sentaro clearly has the chemistry with Yurika, and Ritsuko gets upset, troubling Kaoru. He and Sentaro have a fight, but make up with a jazz session in Ritsuko’s basement at her behest. Later, Kaoru plays Bill Evans especially for Ritsuko and confesses, but doesn’t ask for an immediate answer.

Absorbing. Uplifting. Compelling. Captivating. Lovely. All of these things can describe this, our favorite episode yet of Sakamichi no Apollon. Such realistic and interesting depictions of groups of friends coming to terms with feelings for one another – and the challenges of those feelings not necesarily lining up – are rare, and should be cherished. But love triangles aren’t all that’s going on here; there’s those excellent, inspired scenes of jazz. First, Ritsuko misunderstands that Kaoru is feuding with Sentaro because he likes Yurika, so does the logical thing: lock them in the basement with a piano and drums and let them work it out, which they do.

No physical or verbal argument takes place: they duke it out with music. Then, Kaoru decides to do the same with Ritsuko: convey his feelings with a lovely and moving rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come,” a real song we think had moreimpact than anything he could have written (he’s still green, after all). When she still doesn’t get it, he tells her, and then there is no more misunderstanding. We don’t hear how or if she responds, but we can imagine as flattered as she is, she won’t immediately get over Sentaro.

Rating: 9 (Superior)