Martin-Sensei’s Guide to Jazz: Sakamichi no Apollon Episode 1
Yes, it’s here! It’s finally here! The show many of us have been anticipating for months!
Sakamichi no Apollon, or Kids on the Slope in English, is a new show airing on the Noitamina block. It is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who also directed Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. Yoko Kanno, who also composed the music for Cowboy Bebop, as well as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Wolf’s Rain, works once more with Watanabe, creating what hopes to be another masterpiece.
For the entirety of this show, Martinman, our own Jazz connoisseur will be teaching me all the knowledge I never got to learn from my jazz enthusiast father. This is already bringing back memories.
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Martinman: So…let’s start with the OP.
Martinman: I was not really happy with it.
Martinman: I expected jazz.
Martinman: It wasn’t a bad OP, just not right for the show.
Martinman: Why have a show about jazz, and then make the OP a fairly generic Jpop song?
Ghosty: To be honest, when I watched the second PV and heard the song I was a bit afraid that it would be too “poppy”.
Ghosty: After the vocals, it got better and it’s not a bad song like you said.
Ghosty: But it does seem a bit unfit for the show.
Martinman: The drum part was nice, and was the only really distinctive thing about it.
Ghosty: I do like the OP, and I thought the animation was really good.
Martinman: Same here.
Ghosty: I’ll end up listening to it on my own time once it’s released.
Martinman: The first part was kind of boring.
Martinman: New student shows up, blah blah blah.
Ghosty: Well, that’s pretty standard.
Ghosty: It allows for build up, I guess.
Ghosty: Although, I really liked how Kaoru and Yuki from Tsuritama have similar character traits; transfer student with some sort of anxiety problem.
Ghosty: And they’re both Noitamina shows.
Martinman: The first part that stood out to me was the massive ho-yay moment.
Martinman: Then there was the roof fight.
Ghosty: Oh, that was cool.
Martinman: And I got Cowboy Bebop flashbacks.
Martinman: I am happy to hear a more traditional jazz soundtrack for this show.
Martinman: Bebop’s was great, but it was a bit more modern, and KotS needs a more classic sound.
Ghosty: I really appreciate that they’re not trying to have too much variety
Ghosty: Not that there was anything wrong with Bebop’s soundtrack. It was perfect for it.
Ghosty: But something like that doesn’t seem like it would fit in with Apollon.
Martinman: I am sure we will hear more pieces as the show goes on.
Martinman: After the fight we got to the part where the three main characters start hanging out.
Martinman: I like the girl, she seems nice.
Ghosty: Oh, I think she is adorable.
Martinman: I like how the character designs are not made super attractive.
Martinman: It is a very realistic looking show.
Martinman: People are normally proportioned and not D cups with tiny waists.
Ghosty: Do you remember that part where she notices his eyes when he takes off his glasses?
Ghosty: I noticed that he took them off again when they were talking during clean up.
Martinman: Yeah, same here.
Ghosty: I thought that was a nice touch.
Ghosty: Anyway, I really like the character designs too.
Ghosty: It’s a nice change, since I’ve been watching the new Lupin the Third.
Martinman: Like I said, they look realistic, but it isn’t an ugly realistic like Perfect Blue or something.
Martinman: Sentarou is a total bro
Ghosty: Oh definitely.
Martinman: And has a good character design as well.
Martinman: Even if he looks very American.
Martinman: Although that may be intentional.
Martinman: Since he is the one really into American music.
Ghosty: I’m gonna be a bit of a fangirl for a moment.
Martinman: Go ahead.
Ghosty: He’s probably going to be my new husbando of the year.
Martinman: He is worthy.
Ghosty: I like his attitude too.
Martinman: I would totally hang out with him if I were still in high school.
Ghosty: Me too.
Martinman: And not having to deal with punks like him every day as part of my job.
Martinman: I have kids like that, they are a pain in the butt.
Ghosty: I like how people gave Kaoru the impression that he was a jerk, but he really just seems like a carefree bro.
Martinman: He probably doesn’t get along with most people, which is why they think he’s a jerk.
Ghosty: Although, this is in Kaoru’s POV.
Martinman: He’s just a misfit.
Martinman: Speaking of Kaoru, it seems like his family kind of sucks.
Ghosty: Yeah ;_;
Martinman: His mom left (?) them, and his aunt and cousin are terrible people.
Martinman: That was a nice piano though.
Ghosty: I think it’s nice that he thinks highly of his dad.
Martinman: Yes, he at least has someone to look forward to seeing.
Martinman: The series really picked up for me when they entered the record store.
Ghosty: Did any albums in the store pop out at you?
Martinman: I own at least half of them.
Martinman: Going up the top row we have:
Martinman: Dunno…a John Coltrane record? It looks familiar, but I can’t place it.
Martinman: Second from the left is Cannonball Adderly’s Somethin’ Else, which is a killer album.
Martinman: Then Bag’s Groove by Miles Davis.
Martinman: I don’t have that one.
Martinman: It looks like it was changed to “Beg’s Groove” to avoid copyright, lol.
Ghosty: I think I recognize a few covers.
Martinman: After that is another Miles Davis album…one of the live ones, Four and More. I have that one too, it is pretty good.
Ghosty: Miles Davis, of course.
Martinman: He decided to play the show for charity, and it really pissed his band off.
Martinman: Yes. His band had Herbie Hancock (piano) and George Colman (tenor sax) on it.
Martinman: I think Tony Williams was on drums.
Martinman: I’ve heard that it is George Colman’s best recording.
Martinman: Anyway, to the right is Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.
Martinman: AKA, the greatest album ever recorded.
Martinman: By any human beings.
Ghosty: There’s one on the shelf I recognize.
Ghosty: It’s the second record on the second shelf, but I don’t know who it is. I’m pretty sure my dad owned that one though.
Martinman: I remember getting Kind of Blue back in high school.
Martinman: I was meh on it until I was listening to it in the school parking lot at 7am one day while waiting for school to start.
Martinman: I was just sitting there chilling and I realized how great it was.
Ghosty: Don’t you love when that happens?
Martinman: After Kind of Blue there is Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock.
Martinman: Another great album.
Martinman: I’m pretty sure George Colman is on that one too.
Martinman: I own that one as well.
Martinman: pretty sure that is Maiden Voyage.
Martinman: To the right of that is Saxophone Collosus by Sonny Rollins.
Martinman: One of my favorites.
Martinman: I have listened to it sooooooo many times.
Martinman: One of the classic tenor sax recordings.
Martinman: I can’t recognize anything on that hidden shelf.
Ghosty: None at all?
Martinman: Which really surprises me.
Ghosty: The second one is bothering me.
Ghosty: I know I’ve seen it in the house before.
Martinman: The one with bits of red and yellow kind of looks like Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis.
Martinman: But I’m not sure.
Ghosty: Well, if I find any info on that bottom shelf, I’ll let you know.
Martinman: I think those may be rock records actually.
Martinman: The yellow one looks like a Beatles album or something similar.
Martinman: With those haircuts.
Ghosty: It does.
Ghosty: I’m sure we’ll get more record store scenes.
Martinman: I hope so.
Martinman: Moving on with the show, that basement scene was what made the show for me.
Martinman: That drum playing was sick.
Ghosty: I thought the drum solo was animated very nicely.
Martinman: It really was.
Martinman: You could tell that it matched the noises coming out of the speaker.
Martinman: Which really amazed me.
Ghosty: And I appreciate that they put a lot of effort into it.
Martinman: They had to have recorded the solo first and then made the animation to match it
Ghosty: I’m sure there was some sort of rotoscoping involved too.
Martinman: I am not familiar with rotoscoping.
Ghosty: They probably filmed someone playing the drum solo and animated it from that.
Martinman: Makes sense.
Ghosty: Rotoscoping is basically drawing and animating over live action movement.
Martinman: I also liked that they gave Sentarou an actual jazz drum kit
Martinman: And not a more visually impressive rock kit.
Martinman: With tons of drums.
Martinman: A typical jazz drum kit has exactly what we saw there.
Ghosty: Oh, yeah. I can see that now.
Martinman: A couple cymbals, a bass drum, a snare, a floor tom, and the little drum attached to the bass drum.
Martinman: Having less stuff forces the drummer to be more creative.
Martinman: So after the drum solo, the guys decide to start playing the Art Blakey version of Moanin’.
Martinman: As opposed the the Charles Mingus version, which is impossible to play without a beast of a bari sax player.
Martinman: Anyway, that record Kaoru bought, the Art Blakey one, is another good album.
Ghosty: Oh, that’s the song name. Same as the episode title.
Ghosty: I wonder if the episode titles will be named after songs.
Martinman: Moanin’ is the name of the album that song is on.
Martinman: I hope so…having them named after songs like in Cowboy Bebop would be a nice touch.
Martinman: Well, that pretty much concludes the episode.
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Ghosty: Any thoughts on the ED?
Martinman: I don’t even remember it TBH.
Ghosty: The song doesn’t really catch my attention.
Ghosty: I remember liking the animation.
Martinman: Other than that, I don’t remember anything.
Ghosty: I’m sure it’ll get stuck in my head after a few episodes.
Ghosty: But I don’t feel an overwhelming desire to look it up and find the release date.
Martinman: It’ll happen when it happens.
And now we conclude our review with some notable jazz tracks Martinman selected.
“So What” by Miles Davis – The first song on the Kind of Blue album, and probably the most famous. This particular album was mentioned earlier by Martinman and was displayed in the record store scene.
“St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins – The first song on Saxophone Collosus; a very fun song to play. Martinman used to be able to play the first minute or so of the sax solo before it gets harder. This particular album was also featured in the record store.
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“Moanin’” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers. This was the song that Kaoru and Sentarou attempted to play on the piano.
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“Moanin‘” Charles Mingus version. Not related to the episode, but it’s a pretty sick track. I definitely got into this one.
And that concludes Martin-sensei’s jazz lesson for the week!