Last watched 2015
Kaoru Nishimi is a shy honour roll student. His keeping-to-himself changes when he meets renegade Sentaro Kawabuchi who introduces him to jazz. Through this friendship, and through learning to play jazz, Kaoru learns that there is more to life than good grades.
I’m really underselling it there with the summary. Most anime I’ve seen tends to take advantage of the freedoms that come with the medium and include wild and fantastical elements to it; space travel or super powers and the like. Kids on the Slope is the total opposite end of the spectrum. It is very, very slice-of-life but it is no less beautiful. Each episode is named after a jazz song and the music in it is really only topped by Treme. It is also deeply satisfying to see someone so pent up slowly learn how to relax and let go.
There is also a really beautiful and compelling plot line around religion that I had to google for why it would be a plot line as well as discussion around the difficulties of being mixed race.
The only gripe I have with it – and this seems to be a reoccurring thing in anime – is that the queer character is horrible. It’s a super effeminate male kid and he’s cast as scheming and divisive. His camp-ness is played up for laughs but his character is pretty much created to despise. It’s not even a subtle queerphobia. It is very, very overt what it is doing. So
Pros: really beautiful music, especially for jazz lovers, mixed race plotline
Cons: queerphobic, not enough people of colour, doesn’t at all pass the bechdel test, very, very straight, some serious friendzone / nice guy tm plotlines
Genre: anime, slice-of-life
Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with queerphobic characterisations, a kiss without consent (there is lead up to it, you can see it coming)
Can be found: Netflix
Accessibility: subtitles 🙂