It's funny how Sakamichi no Apollon was never really one of those shows I'm seriously looking forward to this past spring anime season. I didn't want to look so much to it back then because the retro setting doesn't please me and the idea of music as part of it's genre discourages me but after a quick comment by Rei from Wan Abrar, I decided to seriously watch this series and even blog it(: And not to anyone's surprise, I wasn't entirely disappointed with this series.
The series opens with a typical scene. A guy moves to a new place with probably nothing in mind about making friends and such - yeah, probably the same thing goes for Tsuritama (the other noitaminA series this season). It's very typical, as I've said. But what' good about the opening episode is that it easily catches both music and slice of life fans. AND each episode, Sakamichi no Apollon just amazes me and makes me want for more of that music, that friendship, that romance and that drama. UNTIL (yeah, here comes the disappointing part) things started going a little fast pace by episode 9 or so. But despite the fast pacing, the drama stays the same. As I've said in one of my posts, Sakamichi no Apollon takes a one problem at a time route. I don't find it surprising for a slice of life anime but rushing all conflicts by the last 5 (or so) episodes isn't really a good thing.
As for the characters, I have to admit that the three main characters were really great. I'd say that they were all pretty well developed and each of them gives off natural feelings. It's pretty easy to relate and sympathize with them. There's no one in particular that I liked but the two guys: Kawabuchi Sentarou (Hosoya Yoshimasa) and Nishimi Kaoru (Kimura Ryouhei) are definitely memorable characters. This duo is definitely one that I'll never forget. Call it bromance or what but I guess seeing each other cry and knowing what each other is thinking is practically something that goes around my idea of real friendship. I'm pretty jealous of their relationship. Other than the three main characters, the side characters that greatly stirred the story were really great. For one, there's Katsuragi Junichi (Suwabe Junichi) who have made a huge impact to Sentarou's character. I wouldn't elaborate on other characters but in general, they helped so much in building up the story as well as Sentarou and Kaoru's friendship.
Now for the music, do I really need to say more? It's just outstanding. Really outstanding. Probably my favorite OST for the year (until I hear Bakuman. 2's first, I guess. LOL). I could name a number of tracks from the OST that I really liked but probably my fave is Mukae Ritsuko's (Nanri Yuuka) My Favorite Things. I remember hearing this song from The Sound of Music when I was in high school and hearing it in this series with a more natural sound to it is just so wonderful. Other than My Favorite Things, I also love the medley of Someday My Prince Will Come, My Favorite Things and Moanin'. When I heard the medley at the school festival, I just really can't get over it. It sounded a lot better in the anime but the one in the soundtrack also works (not that they sound different). Finally, I'd also like to give praise to the wonderful OP by YUKI. Whenever I watch this, I never skip the OP because I like reading the translations and I love the song in general. I've read somewhere that they dislike YUKI's voice but I'd say that I really love it. It reminds me of nano.RIPE although I'm not really a fan of them. But YUKI's voice seems just so unique and the song greatly fits the anime well.
As for the voice acting, I just have to commend how great the voice actors are when it comes to the Kansai (is it?) accent. In particular, the accent can clearly be heard from Sentarou, Ritsuko and Ritsuko's father which were voiced by Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nanri Yuuka and Kitajima Zenki respectively. I wasn't really surprised with Hosoya's ability to do the accent since he has done the same accent in Wataya Arata in Chihayafuru although he still did a really great job since Sentarou and Arata are pretty different from each other :D
Finally, for the art and animation, I have to say that at first when I was watching the PV, I've actually dislike the style of the art. Although the style gives off the old school atmosphere, it doesn't really turn me off the same way Nazo no Kanojo X has. Now that is really old school style. Sakamichi no Apollon's setting is 1960's and the entire artwork has really done a great job in showing it. For the animation, I'd say that it's pretty decent and smooth. There's no complaining there.
In an overall look at Sakamichi no Apollon, it's a really outstanding anime. Although it had a pretty rush ending, the characters, art and music were really great. This anime is pretty recommended for those who want some natural slice of life and real time drama. The music is also addicting :3