Hey guys, Samurai here! Yes, yes, I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, but I’ve legitimately been busy with a lot of offline projects, and I’ve also been busy with some things over at Sofakingnews. Oh, by the way, shameless plugging time: please check out my newest article over there. Five Reasons to Drop Whatever You’re Doing (Unless You’re an Obstetrician) and Watch Space Brothers. I promise you, it’ll be an interesting read!
Now, I know that I was supposed to be posting my review of Kids on the Slope, and OtakuAndrain was supposed to do a write-up on Nichijou. However, due to many delays and real-world issues that needed handling, that didn’t come about. So, today, I figured I would proverbially kill two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone and write-up two “Fun-Sized” reviews for both shows! More after the break…
A Fun-Sized Review of Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]
Long story short, Kids on the Slope is an awesome show…in the original Japanese dub. This twelve episode story of three high school friends and their love of Jazz music set in 1966 Japan is a nice, gentle slice-of-life tale with well done characters, and awesome music. Kids on the Slope has that special spark that comes with a show created by Shinichiro Watanabe with music by Yoko Kanno. With the exception of the opening and closing themes [which I found to be out-of-place with the rest of the show], Kids on the Slope is musically on point. Using real jazz pieces while creating special original pieces, Yoko Kanno once again makes us her willing hostages as she drags us into her musical world. The animation is warm and nostalgic, while still having a great look about it. What’s not so great is the dub.
I am gonna say this right now, and I say this with all due respect: Steven Foster should not have been allowed to touch this project. Period. End of statement. This dub does not work for me…at all. With regards to Andrew Love’s portrayal of Sentaro…the voice just didn’t work for me. It was too deep, too grown-up. Granted, Sentaro is not a puny guy by any stretch of the imagination, and it would stand to reason that his voice would be slightly deeper and different from Kaoru, but this is borderline ridiculous. Chris Patton as Kaworu is alright as far as acting is concerned, but as far as tone goes…he sounds just like he always does in almost every dub he’s in…except for the few characters he’s played in Funimation productions like “Soul Eater”. Rebekah Stevens as Ritsuko is a mess across the board. I hate to say this, but it’s got to be said. Her performance lacked any real emotion, she sounded wooden at times as though she was just reading the script, and to top it all off, during a key moment in the series where the character is supposed to sing a few lines of “My Favorite Things”, instead of letting the actress sing in her own voice, the director settles for using the original Japanese. Can you say “Cop Out”? I mean, come on….is it that hard to either get an actress that can sing, or take the chance that your current actress can at least fake it real good? That’s just sad. Lastly, David Matranga as Junichi is just…well…wooden again. It sounds like he’s trying to do an imitation of Steven Blum, and for me, it only makes me wish that Steve Blum was actually in this show to try to salvage it. So yeah, I’m not hating on these actors AT ALL because they’ve all done spectacular jobs in other projects…they just had a poor director at the helm.
Story Breakdown – 24/25
Characters – 25/25
Animation – 12.5/12.5
Music – 10.5/12.5
Performance and Production – 12/25
Final Score – 84/100 = 84% – (C+)
So, long story short, if you stick with the original Japanese, you will find Kids on the Slope to be a top-tier anime worthy of your time.
A Fun-Sized Review of Nichijou [My Ordinary Life]:
Much like it’s younger sibling, Daily Lives of Highschool Boys, Nichijou is a slap-stick comedy riot that takes place in a high school and follows the daily lives of those that attend. However, unlike Daily Lives, which has a more male-centered story, Nichijou tends to spread the insanity out over the entire student body, which makes the world of this series seem much larger. Everyone seems to go about their own lives, and the viewer tends to just follow along, stumbling into little crazy moments much like you would in life. The characters are simply adorable. Whether it’s the long-suffering manga-ka in potentia Mio, the cute yet absent-minded dingbat Yuko, the God-Tier Troll Mai, the chibi-braniac Hakase, the android cutie Nano, the sarcastic house-cat Sakamoto, or any of the insane cast that comes and goes as they please, you will find someone to relate to in Nichijou on some level…some weird, weird level. Animation wise, Nichijou is not really groundbreaking. It does the job well enough, and looks great, but it’s nothing too special. It’s what is actually ANIMATED that makes the difference here. With regards to music, the opening and closing themes are, hands down, some of the best performed and animated openings and closings I’ve seen in a LONG time. Seriously, you can watch just the openings and that’ll be enough to put a smile on your face. The closings are gentle and sweet and well animated as well. Sadly, there is no English dub of this show, nor is there any plans for it to be picked up by a big company, but I think that’s for the best, as the Japanese Cast are hilarious to listen to, even if you don’t know the language.
Story Breakdown – 24/25
Characters – 25/25
Animation – 11/12.5
Music – 12.5/12.5
Performance and Production – 25/25
Final Score – 97.5/100 = 97.5% – (A)
So, long story short, Nichijou is an awesome series that takes the premise of “ordinary high school life” and turns it on its head. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s well worth your time.
Oh, and for those of you who are interested, the “Nichibros” beat out “Nichijous” by half a point! The ‘bros come through again!!
Now that I’m relatively caught up, I suppose I should get back in my groove again and write-up a full-length review! Also, because we’re coming up on the TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY of this humble blog, I might need to plan something special! No spoilers, guys…mostly because I don’t know what that something special is. Heh. In any case! Since it’s October, and since I have the DVDs in my collection, why don’t I review last year’s “Best Televised Anime” award winner. [And, don’t worry, @_ShadowKitty_, I did not forget about that other anime…I’ll get your review done eventually!] So stick around as we go on lock-down and witness the madness that is…