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Kids On The Slope Episode #04 Anime Review

4 min read

The first gig is almost upon them, but there are problems to work through first.

What They Say:
Brother Jun invites Kaoru and Sentaro to be part of a quartet for a Christmas gig at a jazz bar, but they’ve only got one month to get ready. Also, Kaoru feels pretty sorry for himself and jealous of Sentaro for “having it all”, but comes to realize how paltry his own misery is when Sen reveals the secret of his birth.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As is often the case with most everything in life, it’s not all about talent but also luck. Luck comes in for Sentaro and Kaoru and the others in the little jazz group that’s coming together as they’ve managed to get a gig playing on the near the US base for some soldiers come Christmas. It’s a month away so they have plenty of time to practice and get it all going, but Kaoru is still struggling with it all. He’s got the jazz bug and loves the music and the flow of it, but he’s still trying to understand the technical of it all because of his classical training. What he needs, and is encouraged to do, is to find the spirit side of it and just let it loose. Thankfully, everyone else in the group is happy and encouraging in a mild jocular way that keeps it light but also helps to bond them together more.

One of the more enjoyable parts of the series is watching how Kaoru and Sentaro get along a they’re a mismatched pair that share a particular passion, even if Kaoru is struggling with it. What’s driving the wedge at the moment though is that there is a jealousy there on Kaoru’s part, which surprises Sentaro, because of the way the two have such different lives. Kaoru doesn’t see the money and what it brings him but he does see that Sentaro has a family, people that care for him and the time he’s spent with Yurika while Kaoru is struggling to make himself clear with Ritsuko about how he feels about her. Of course, Sentaro has his own issues, but it’s just a grass is always greener kind of thing.

But rather than draw things out, we get to the heart of one of the things that really separates Sentaro, thta being that he’s half American and half Japanese. His life has had its issues over the years because of it, especially in the family, and some striking and brutal moments as well that leave long scars. Bringing all this out does a number on Kaoru and helps to show him more of the real world and understanding that what he sees isn’t what’s always there. Something that he should know because of his own station in life and how he’s viewed and struggled against it. But in the end, it serves well to really draw the two together more with a greater understanding of both. Even though it focuses on Sentaro’s past, you know that Kaoru is growing and changing, very much affected, but what has been learned.

In Summary:
There’s a good deal of character material here that really brings both young men to life, both with how they interact with each other but also some tangents to the women in their lives. It dominates the episode and it does it really, really well. Where the show takes an really good turn, and a surprising but realistic one, is when we get to the jazz session at the bar in front of the soldiers and there’s at least one drunk guy out there speaking in English, throwing a racial slur, and demanding that they play some white music. It’s a pitch perfect moment that really makes it clear what some of the social issues of the day were (and still are for many unfortunately), and drives it home that it’s something we take all over the world with us. Still, the jazz music and what they follow up with is fantastic and really made for some exhilarating moments.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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