Two Souls Lost
Wow. I normally don’t do episodic posts but this most recent episode of Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) wasso impressive that I had to blog about it. I have not been this moved by a modern anime in a while, as in at least 10 years. In my last post regarding the show, I stated it had the potential to be boring. This last episode crushed the fear soundly. I no longer fear it losing ground. I fear it tugging at my heart strings and sending me sniffling constantly. There were issues addressed in this episode that anime tends to ignore. The realism portrayed is simply astounding.
Racism. I incorrectly assumed that Sentaro came from a single mother household but I was accurate in my assumption that he was taunted as a child. What he was actually taunted for stepped outside the simple boundaries of growing up in a single mother household. Sentaro was bullied and ridiculed for being biracial. Not only was he subjected to taunts by his classmates but he endured the scorn of his grandmother. A grandmother angered that her daughter “seduced an enemy soldier”, produced a child, and abandoned him. This brought up the question that pops up every now and then when I watch anime, how do the Japanese really feel about Americans? The U.S. was the enemy and still has military footing in the country. The U.S. destroyed two cities in Japan by nuclear bombs
My heart shattered for Sentaro, though I expected underneath his harsh exterior was pain. This overflowed outwards with his reaction to the racist drunk at the cafe. The irate offender was angered by what he considered “coon music” and Sentaro refused to play because he did not accept “segregation”. Even though Kaoru cleaned up the racist’s words to sound nicer, Sentaro was still able to glean what he really meant. I don’t believe I have ever watched an anime that dealt with racist situations in such a serious manner. Usually, they are comically stereotypical in how they portray white Americans: brutes, big and blonde, and Blacks (American or non-American) big lips, bugged eyes, big foreheads, big bottomed women, extreme exaggeration of features.
Abandonment. Both Kaoru and Sentaro feel as if there is a void in their lives. Though Sentaro appears to be surrounded by a loving family of siblings and a mother; it is an illusion to him. He strongly feels the loss of his mother and the hurt of his father working away from home for years. Kaoru also feels the loss of his father and still feels alone though he has people around him. These are two individuals who feel isolated and alone even in a world that is crowded. Depression. Both are depressed and respond differently to their abjectness. Sakamichi no Apollon portrayed this brilliantly.
It was heartbreaking but beautiful. I haven’t addressed the other evolving relationships in the show; the relationship between Brother Jun and Yurika. Oh, yeah, there is something brewing there and I am not looking forward to the inevitable hurt of Sentaro. I really hope I’m wrong here. We have yet to find out what is really going on with Ritsuko and I wonder if they show will just focus mainly on Sentaro and Kaoru. Those two need each other more than anything and it is becoming more obvious with each passing episode. Understanding. They can grasp how the other is feeling better than anyone else can because of their similarities that are coming to the surface. I’m also amazed at how Sentaro is able to take Kaoru’s verbal abuse without physically lashing out at him. He seems to be maturer than his behavior implies and seeks Kaoru out to get to the root of the problem. This takes sensitivity that Kaoru appears to be lacking and while Sentaro comes across as the one with no social skills; Kaoru also fits the bill. Kaoru’s falling in love with jazz coupled with Sentaro’s current love affair with musical style helps them bond a stronger friendship. I get goosebumps thinking about this show and look forward to each episode. Don’t worry, I won’t do one of these every episode. I’ll try not to anyway. If you’re watching, I hope you are enjoying it. If you’re not watching, what are you waiting for?