Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kids on the Slope - Episode 7

His childish tantrum has certainly but some distance between himself and Sentarou, but in other respects Kaoru's life seems to be going rather well as he becomes increasingly comfortable in his own skin, bringing him some surprising new-found popularity amongst his classmates and the like.

Despite this, there's still pain to be found in the rift that has developed between himself and his friend, who continues to rather half-heartedly carry on with his own classmate Matsuoka's band in preparation for the culture festival.  If this isn't tough enough for Sentarou, things are about to become a whole lot more problematic, as the love triangle between himself, Jun and Yurika comes to a huge head; a proverbial wave which crashes upon the shore and breaks everything to some degree or other.  We can even pretty much trace the exact date of this incident - around July 17th, 1967, the day of jazz composer and saxophonist John Coltrane's death.

Even with those relationships in tatters, and no sign of the fallout between Sentarou and Kaoru healing, the show must go on, with the latter working as part of the student's committee to organise the festival while the former finally takes to the stage with his new band-mates to give his big performance.  It all seems to be going pretty well too, until an unknown problem cuts the pwoer to the band's equipment, leaving them floundering.  As Kaoru is roped in to help track the source of the problem, he overhears the real reason for Sentarou's taking part in the band - just the spur that he needed to realise his own selfish foolishness.  With no sign of the technical hitch being resolved, Kaoru decides to buy time with an impromptu piano recital... quite the event in its own right for the onlookers, and even more so once Sentarou joins in to turn the whole thing into an impromptu jazz session.  Before we know it the whole school is trying to crowd into the hall to catch a glimpse of what's going on - nothing heals old wounds like good music, it seems.

After throwing so much melodrama at us over the course of this episode and part of the last, Kids on the Slope was certainly setting itself up to require a big pay-off - and boy did it get one.  Kaoru and Sentarou's impromptu session is pretty much the poster child for "simple but effective" - a basic, and even rose-tinted idea, but one which carried so much power and hope upon its shoulders that it worked utterly to make for a beautiful resolution to some of the current elements of its story.  The blend of likeable characters and great music carried off the whole idea with aplomb, always keeping it believable ("keeping it real" if you'd rather), and backing it up with animation to match.  If you want to know why you should be watching this series, the last five minutes or so of this episode lays it out more vividly than my words could ever hope to.

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