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Manga / Kids on the Slope

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Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollonnote ) is a manga series by Yuki Kodama, which was serialized in the josei magazine Monthly Flowers from 2007 to 2012.

During the summer of 1966, Kaoru Nishimi (voiced by Ryohei 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 Sasebo on the island of Kyushu (not far from Nagasaki), 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 manga won the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga. It was adapted to an anime series 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, as well as being the debut of MAPPA.

This series contains the following tropes:

  • 12-Episode Anime: Despite the fact that the manga is 50 chapters long.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Kaoru's thrown umbrella and piano-playing hands.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime leaves out many details, since there are just 12 episodes and the manga has 50 chapters.
  • Animation Bump: The anime's musical sequences.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Kaoru slaps Sentarou after he refuses to see Junichi before he leaves for good.
  • Asian Baby Mama: Deconstructed. Sentarou's mother had no choice but to relinquish her son to her brother and then leave town forever in order to avoid total ostracization. because Sentarou's father was White and American to boot.
  • Advertisement:
  • Babies Ever After: By the end of the manga, Junichi and Yurika have twins and Ritsuko is pregnant with Kaoru's child.
  • Beach Episode: Chapter 5/Episode 2. In the manga, they go to beach a few more times.
  • Big Eater: Sen.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Junichi.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Averted. Kaoru frequently takes off his glasses, usually to impress Ritsuko. One Impairment Shot shows that he's a bit myopic, but can see well enough to get around.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Kaoru's cousin Mariko, who asks Kaoru to play the piano in the morning, only to blame him and get him in trouble when his aunt catches him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Junichi for Sentarou, as of Episode 8.
  • Butt-Monkey: Maruo.
  • 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 of the manga, 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.
  • Camp Straight: Seiji Matsuoka. His flamboyant gestures even creeps Sentaro out.
  • Childhood Friends: Sentarou and Ritsuko.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Ritsuko has unrequited feelings for Sentarou.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Averted with Sen, who has decided to become a priest.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • 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.
  • Daddy 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sentarou.
  • 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.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Exaggerated. Because he couldn't get with Yurika because she eventually elopes with Junichi to Tokyo, Sentarou ends up becoming a Christian priest.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Kaoru towards Ritsuko, and Sentarou towards Yurika.
  • Face of a Thug: Sentarou. With his disctintive X-shaped scar on his face, taller build and overall fight-happy and devil-may-care attitude.
  • The Faceless: The eyes of Yurika's parents are never shown.
  • Fast Forward to Reunion: The last episode of 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.
  • Genki Girl: Ritsuko.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Ritsuko.
  • 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").
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Ritsuko shows signs of this when she notices how close Sentarou is to Yurika.
    • Kaoru is jealous of Sentarou for being the object of Ritsuko's affections, as well as for having a loving family. This changes once Kaoru learns about Sentarou's Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: A big problem for Sentarou. Being half-White and having naturally wavy brown hair, he suffers regularly from racism. So much indeed that his mother left town and let him in the care of his uncle so as to avoid being completely ostracized. As a consequence, Sentarou cuts his hair short so that his unusual hair colour doesn't show too much and to blend in better.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kaoru and Sentarou.
  • Japanese Christians: Ritsuko and Sen are both devout Christians. Sentarou even becomes a priest as an adult.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Jazz song titles
  • Imaginary Love Triangle:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jazz: What the series revolves around.
  • Josei
  • Last-Name Basis: You can tell Kaoru's really in a rough patch when he reflexively reverts to "Mukae-san" to declare "She Is Not My Girlfriend".
  • 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.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Kaoru has a crush on Ritsuko, who has feelings for Sentarou (but eventually develops feelings for Kaoru), who is in love with Yurika, who is more interested in Junichi.
  • Love Hurts: Any of the main romances in the Love Dodecahedron mentioned above can qualify as this, though chief among them must go to Sentarou seeing as he didn't get the girl in the end.
  • Luminescent Blush: Kaoru towards Ritsuko; Sentarou towards Yurika.
  • 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.
  • Meet Cute:
  • Missing Mom:
    • Kaoru's mother lives in a different area and he hardly see her.
    • Sentarou's mother died when he was very young.
  • 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 the original Japanese 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.
  • New Transfer Student: Kaoru frequently transfers schools due to his father's job.
  • 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.
  • Odd Couple: Sentarou and Kaoru.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Sentarou's rosary beads that were from the woman believed to be his mother.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Kaoru's father is usually away because of his job on a ship, and Kaoru's mother left him at a young age.
    • Sentarou's parents. He is actually a Doorstop Baby who lived at the church until he was three years old.
  • Precocious Crush: One of Sentarou's brothers has a crush on Ritsuko.
  • 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.
  • Real-Place Background: Even though the show takes place in the 60s, many current Sasebo locales can be still be recognized. The most notable examples are the high school (on top of the eponymous slope), the Miuracho Catholic Church and Meganeiwa.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sentarou and Kaoru.
  • They Do: Kaoru/Ritsuko in the manga. In the anime they get a Maybe Ever After.
  • Red String of Fate: The anime's ending theme is about unrequited love, which is probably why the sequence extrensively uses imagery of a blue string.
  • Rich Bitch: Kaoru's aunt.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: In the anime.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Kaoru and Sentarou.
  • 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.
  • Slice of Life
  • Surprisingly Good English: In episode 4, the drunk American speaks English very well, and at a reasonable speed. In the same episode Junichi's singing is also very well done.
  • 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.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Yurika is offended when Jun calls her Ojou-Sama.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Kaoru, Sentarou, and Ritsuko.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Sentarou loves watermelon.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Again, Kaoru, Sentarou and Ritsuko.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The series becomes even more interesting if you know a bit of Jazz history, as a few of the characters are most likely inspired by famous musicians.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sentarou and Kaoru have a more downplayed version of this dynamic. Ritsuko also compares their improv performance at the culture festival to this trope.

Alternative Title(s): Sakamichi No Apollon