Manga: Sakamichi No Apollon aka: Kids On The Slope
Sakamichi no Apollonnote literally Apollo on the Slope, although officially subtitled Kids on the Slope is a manga series by Yuki Kodama.Summer, 1966. Kaoru Nishimi (Ryouhei Kimura) constantly moves from town to town and school to school due to his father's job. Because of his intelligence, his wealthy background, and his nausea problems, Kaoru has been alienated by his classmates and is subsequently seen as an outcast. When Kaoru transfers to yet another school, this time in Kyushu, he expects the same things to happen as they always do. However, this time his luck begins to change as he meets seeming delinquent Sentarou Kawabuki (Yoshimasa Hosoya) and pretty class president Ritsuko Mukae (Yuuka Nanri), and the trio begin bonding over jazz music.The series won the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga and has been adapted to an anime for the Spring 2012 Anime season, airing on the noitaminA block. The anime adaptation is notable for being directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and music composed by the acclaimed Yoko Kanno.
This series contains the following tropes:
Adaptation Distillation: The anime leaves out many details, since there are just 12 episodes and the manga has 50 chapters.
Call Back When Kaoru leaves his mother, he leaves her with a jazz record to memorize so that they could perform it together when they met again. In one of the last few chapters, she started singing the song. She also mentioned before that she couldn't read or write, and one of her customers had been teaching her. Ritsuko, who had been revealed to be a former piano player, plays it while Sentarou's brother plays the drums.
Creepy Cool Crosses: Sentarou wears a rosary around his neck. Kaoru is surprised by this, and Ritsuko mentions that it's uncommon, but the priest allows only Sentarou to do this. Sentarou quickly ends the conversation, and for a second Kaoru senses there was a different atmosphere.
Cruel to Be Kind: Kaoru, who keeps telling Sentarou that going after Yurika is a waste of time and hurts his feelings when he says that Yurika wouldn't like someone of such low social standing, which makes him realize that he went too far that time and he apologizes. He was just trying to keep Sentarou from getting hurt because Yurika was in love with Junichi.
Cry into Chest: Sentarou cries into Kaoru's chest when they meet at the hospital after the motorbike accident, so they do not have to see each other cry.
Mommy Had A Good Reason For Abandoning You: The anime doesn't explain, but the manga reveals that Kaoru's mother didn't want to leave him. Kaoru's father's family treated his mother horribly because she was poor, while they were rich, while the dad just told her to suck it up. Since Kaoru's father was always away on business, their relationship suffered and she tried to leave with Kaoru. She realized she couldn't take him, since she thought she couldn't offer him a good life, and let the father's family take him in. She also couldn't read or write, so she couldn't even write letters.
Delinquent: Sentarou comes off as this and doesn't really help his case when he ends up in fights. Ritsuko remarks that as a second year student, he fought a lot less frequently, presumably because of Kaoru's influence.
Fast Forward To Reunion: The anime skips over eight years to show Ritsuko, Sentarou, and Kaoru reuniting. The manga is a bit different in that it actually shows Kaoru in college and him visiting his mother regularly, as she lives close by, and meeting up again with Junichi. Kaoru and Ritsuko.
First Name Basis: Sentarou and Ritsuko call each other by their first names and are familiar with each other because they are childhood friends. Ritsuko offers Kaoru to call them by their first names as well.
Freudian Excuse: When Kaoru throws a massive fit at the beach, after finding out Sentarou was going to work with Seiji's band. At first it seems unnecessary and immature, and Kaoru admits that, but then we are shown flashbacks of his childhood with other kids saying they want to spend less time together for a while, and end up not being friends with him anymore. He thinks Sentarou is doing the same thing, and Kaoru tries to end the friendship before he gets hurt.
Gratuitous English: Sentarou's rock band at the culture festival is named "The Olympus". There's a brief dispute over whether to adapt "the" as "ji" or "za" (which imitate either pronunciation of "the").
By the end of the first volume, Kaoru, who has feelings for Ritsuko, questions the nature of Sentarou's and Ritsuko's childhood friendship and suspects that there might be something between them or that one might like the other. He eventually comes to the conclusion that he just was over-thinking things until it's made apparent that Ritsuko does have feelings for Sentarou.
Ritsuko comes to the conclusion that Kaoru's fall out with Sentarou was because Kaoru has feelings for Yurika too (as it is mistakenly believed that Kaoru was the one who invited Yurika to their group outing and Kaoru's fight with Sentarou concerned Yurika's handkerchief). In reality, Kaoru was provoked by Sentarou's happiness over receiving Yurika's handkerchief because Sentarou is blissfully unaware that his crush on Yurika is secretly causing Ritsuko (who has a crush on Sentarou) pain.
Important Haircut: Sentaro has one in the flashback, shortly after he gets into his first fistfight over being only half-Japanese.
Yurika cuts her hair in front of Junichi, in an attempt to stop being The Ojou.
When he leaves, Junichi is considering letting Yurika cut his hair, which had gotten longer.
In-Series Nickname: Ritsuko is referred to by Kaoru as "Ricchan" and by Sentarou as "Rikko," and Sentarou refers to Kaoru as "Bon" (short for "Bonbon-dono"), which is the Kansai dialect for a green or naive man from a well-to-do family. Both official subs naturally adapt this to "Richie".
Indirect Kiss: In Chapter 5/Episode 2, Sentarou asks Kaoru for a bite of the latter's ice cream. Kaoru declines, so Ritsuko offers hers; Kaoru, realizing that that would be an indirect kiss, hastily offers his ice cream instead.
Yurika and Junichi, when he takes a cigarette from her mouth and starts smoking it.
In-Series Nickname: Ritsuko is referred to as Ricchan and Rikko by Kaoru and Sentarou, respectively.
Sentarou calls Kaoru Bon, who calls him Sen.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: One of the factors that alienates Kaoru from his classmates. When he recites a passage in fluent English, one of his classmates mutters disdainfully that he's showing off.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kaoru who keeps trying to push Ritsuko and Sentarou together. Sentarou sees that there is something between them and tries to push Kaoru and Ritsuko together.
Japanese Christian: Sentarou and Ritsuko, to Kaoru's surprise. Sentarou trains to be a priest at the end.
Jerkass: A guy that Ritsuko goes to school with who likes her but doesn't realize she's still in love with Kaoru, who calls her while the guy is in her room. The guy picks up the phone and tells him not to call her again. Later, while Ritsuko is hanging out with Sentarou's brother, the guy doesn't take no for an answer and grabs Ritsuko, who almost goes with him because she doesn't want the kid to get hurt.
Lonely Rich Kid: Kaoru's family isn't very loving, his father seems to be the only one who cares for him, but he is always away on business. His father's side of the family is more concerned about keeping up appearances, which is why they push him to be a physician.
Meaningful Echo: Kaoru is the one that tells Sentarou that since he loves children so much, he will be "surrounded by children" (as in having a large family). He remembers this at the end when he is surrounded by the children of the church where he is a priest in training.
Meaningful Name: In the anime, Yurika qualifies for this trope because her name phonetically sounds like "Eureka!", and she is the reason Kaoru, Sentaro, and Ritsuko find each other in the end.
Mood Whiplash: When Sentarou buries his face in Kaoru's shoulder and appears to be crying, Kaoru tells him to cry as much as he needs to and tells him that when he was rejected he cried for three days. Then Sentarou starts laughing and says three days is a bit much, even for a girl.
Mythical Motifs: See title. Yurika uses Sentarou as a model for Apollo in a painting. The story's All Love Is Unrequited plot is also compared to the tale of Apollo and Daphne. Additionally, Sentarou joins a temporary rock band called the Olympus for the culture festival in second year.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kaoru's attempt to help Sentarou get closer to Yurika results in a heartbroken Ritsuko, who has a crush on Sentarou.
Not What It Looks Like: Kaoru walks in on what appears to be an intimate moment between Yurika and a mostly naked Sentarou in the art room. He assumes that they are going to have sex and runs off. When Kaoru questions about it later, Sentarou reveals that he was just modeling for Yurika's oil painting.
Race for Your Love: Happens a few times, though on trains instead of airplanes. With Jun and Yurika, he ends up taking her with him. Later, in one of the "bonus tracks", he ends up returning the favor when she decides to move out.
Also happens with Kaoru and Ritsuko, when he is going to Tokyo.
Technician Versus Performer: Kaoru starts off with classical piano training but Sentarou slates his rendition of "Moanin'" as lacking "swing." Later while performing at a piano bar, he becomes bored and wishes to have someone to jam with. He gets his wish when Junichi shows up.
Rule of Symbolism: In the manga when Seiji sees Yurika's painting of Sentarou he interprets it as being symbolic of Apollo, who is crying over his unrequited love for Daphne. In-Universe, it wasn't meant to be symbolic as Yurika had accidentally dropped paint near the eye so that it looked like a tear, although it did happen when Kaoru told her Jun may have been staying over at a girl's house, so it's something akin to a Freudian Slip. It does, however, symbolize Sentarou's unrequited love.
Shipper on Deck: Several girls in Kaoru and Ritsuko's second year class try to push them toward each other. So does Sentarou, who forces her to visit Kaoru when he is sick and hides while they are on the beach so that
Shout-Out: Sentarou's bird is named Sarah Vaughan. Yurika named her cat Chet, after Chet Baker, after finding out Junichi is a fan of his music.