Kids on The Slope is an Anime series that only came out today, and I admit that until this very evening I don’t remember even hearing about it, let alone having intentions of watching and reviewing it. But I happened to see 3 or 4 different people on my Twitter timeline praising it, and so thought I too might as well give it a try, so with no real expectations I dived in to the series.
For those curious as to what the Anime is about, here is a brief description:
“Summer, 1966. Kaoru Nishimi has moved to live with relatives in Kyushu. He’s been an aloof honour student his whole life, but that starts changing when he meets Sentarou Kawabuchi, the school’s notorious bad boy. Through him, he learns the appeal of jazz and forms his first real friendships”
For those interested, of note is the fact that this is the latest work from Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo director Shinichiro Watanabe, so if you’re a fan of his work then you will most likely already be aware or have an interest in this series.
But anyway, on to my actual thoughts on the episode.
As I said, I really had no idea what this Anime was or about when I checked it out. The only thing I knew was the title of the show and that it involved music, so I was going in with no real expectations and no idea what it would be like. After this first episode alone I find it difficult to rate since I need to watch more to get a proper idea of what it will be like, but my first impression is pretty good regardless.
The main character Kaoru has just moved in to town and to a new school. He introduces himself in front of the rest of the class, and is met by stares and whispers between students who are commenting on him being a rich boy and not being able to fit in with them since they were from the country while he is a city boy. Kaoru thinks to himself that this is the perhaps the worst feeling he has had from any of his introductions at the various schools he has attended.
Kaoru himself reminds me of a less extreme version of Keima Katsuragi from The World God Only Knows, in that he is pretty introvert and wants to remain out of the way and by himself. That said, as the episode goes on he spends some time with a girl named Ritsuko Mukae, who turns out to be a childhood friend of Sentarou. Sentarou is known as the bad boy of the school and for always getting in to trouble, so needless to say that when he sets his sights on Kaoru when he notices him in the same classroom, Kaoru himself is fearing the worst given the reputation Sentarou has.
In actual fact though, although they couldn’t be more different personality wise, Kaoru seems to have taken somewhat of a shine to the antics of Sentarou. One thing is that Kaoru starts losing his balance and feeling sick when he gets worried and stressed, and the way he combats this has always been to go on top of the roof by himself as it calms him down. He finds out at one stage that Sentarou is the one who has the keys to get out on to the roof, and he isn’t willing to give them away for free, instead asking for 100,000 Yen. Sentarou had got the keys back from some senior students who had stolen them so that they could go out on to the roof to smoke whenever they wanted, but to get them he had to fight all 3 of them as Kaoru stood there and watched it all unfold. As I said, he did get the keys back, but wanted payment in exchange for Kaoru taking them which Kaoru couldn’t afford even if he wanted to.
As the episode progresses however they end up bumping in to each other a couple more times, and although still far from what could be considered friends, they have definitely warmed a bit to each other, helped in part when Kaoru finds out that Sentarou can play music too. Sentarou likes only Jazz, whereas Kaoru had always been a fan of and played classical music on the piano. Near the end of the episode, Sentarou tells Ritsuko that if she wants to hear the piano being played, then he would do it for her instead of Kaoru. Kaoru recognises the song and interrupts Sentarou who was playing it wrong. Sentarou instead tells Kaoru that he doesn’t understand Jazz and that he was the one who was wrong. This all took place in a record shop owned by Ritsuko’s father, so when Kaoru went back upstairs in to the storefront, he purchases the record with the tune Sentarou was playing on so that he could listen to it and probably practice Jazz music properly for himself.
Basically, even though it’s a bit unfair to try and do so, to sum things up this is a short version of what I said above.
Kaoru is someone who keeps to himself and feels like he doesn’t fit in, and he ends up in the same class as a guy who is known as a troublemaker etc. While Kaoru initially fears the worst since they are complete opposites, through the episode they meet a few times and seeing Sentarou’s attitude is clearly making an impact on Kaouru’s own outlook. Later discovered is that they both play and enjoy music, only that Kaoru likes classical piano, while Sentarou likes only Jazz.
But yeah, I probably didn’t explain things too well which I apologise for, but this Anime is pretty hard to accurately describe since it’s not so much the content of the episode, it’s how and when it happens that is going to make up what the Anime really is and is about. My best advice is to watch the episode or at least one of the preview trailers to get a bit more of an idea for yourself.
But in any case, I definitely found myself enjoying this series in this first episode to the point where when the final credits came up, it took me by surprise as the time just flew past. It doesn’t happen very often to me, but when it does I always take it as a good sign since it clearly shows I must have been pretty engrossed by it. Obviously though if Shonen or battle Anime / Manga series are your thing then this has none of that to offer, but for those who enjoy this type of show (or are at least open to them) then I can see you getting plenty of enjoyment from it.
The thing is, although I can’t exactly place my finger on what made this good, I could definitely feel that there was something there and keeping me entertained. Considering I could easily have missed out altogether if not for a few of my Twitter followers, I am delighted that I was able to watch this on the day it came out, as I can see this becoming perhaps the hit of this season, and is something I feel is more than worth a chance if you’re looking for something new to watch.