Kids on the Slope holds a special significance for me. Having played in the jazz band at my high school, all of these beautifully-animated jazz scenes conjure up a warm feeling of nostalgia somewhere deep inside, and I can’t help but be completely taken in every time it happens.
I’ll come out and say right now that the end of episode 7 of Kids on the Slope is easily, easily my favorite single moment from any anime this year, full stop. Nothing else even comes close. Everything I love about the show falls right into place. We get the jazz scene, stunningly animated by MAPPA’s team of Madhouse veterans. The song itself is a medley of all the themes that have built up significance in the series, merged together as if to bring all the conflicting points together in harmony. Sentaro and Richie settle their differences in that one moment, and just sit down and play. Everything, even the festival itself, gets thrown to the wind and the jazz, the freedom, the spontaneity, the music just flows. Every part of that five minutes oozes not only technical excellence, but the release, the raw emotional power that Apollon’s jazz is all about.
And then the last note just hangs there, echoing, while the entire school collectively searches the floor for their jaws. As the onlookers slowly build to a rousing applause, Sentaro grabs Richie and runs down the slope. All the anger between them, all the drama, it’s all gone. Vanished. All that’s there is those boys. Those kids on that slope. And the whole school is clapping, not for the music, but for them. Sure, the other students don’t know about the drama those kids on the slope had just overcome. But the emotional explosion, the energy and the passion and the feeling behind the music – that’s what they’re really clapping for. Every time Sen and Richie play together, it’s so much more than just music. They converse with their instruments, and the music they play speaks louder than any words they could speak. Through the music, through playing together, they come to understand each other better than they ever could otherwise, and it is that catharsis, that musical camaraderie, that is the centerpiece of Kids on the Slope.
No amount words or pictures can do this scene justice.
As if that wasn’t enough, the moment didn’t end there. It didn’t even end within the confines of the anime. I got to take that delightful musical nostalgia full circle into the real world. Shortly after the episode aired, my high school held its annual jazz night, with a time set aside for alumni to step up and join the band for the final two numbers. So I brought my trumpet. And I went up there. And I played some jazz.
…if only I’d had a slope to run down afterwards.