Sakamichi no Apollon 08 – The Tragedy of Bad Timing

Those happy days can only last so long.

The 8th episode of Apollon brings with it the answer to Jun’s problems while also solidifying the direction the 2 relationship stories are headed. Very early on, it is revealed that Jun had quit college and had been disowned by his family, but he had moved to a small apartment nearby. Yurika sees where he is living and quickly their relationship steps up several levels despite her father’s objections. Meanwhile, Kaoru and Sentarou have new found popularity following their performance at the festival¬† while Ritsuko’s feelings appear to be wavering. Sentarou quickly finds out about Yurika staying with Jun and before long, Kaoru sets the stage for further confusion.

There’s no simple leaving the school as punishment for being the reluctant leader here.

There was an almost tragic feeling about this episode that the five characters at the heart of this story are unable to escape potential tragedy as a result of a single relatively minor or immature decision they have made. For the trio of Sentarou, Kaoru and Ritsuko, the worst that may happen to any of them would be a broken heart and having to move on. As far as Yurika and Jun are concerned, there may be no way back for either of them.

 

If we step back quite a few episodes, the first moment when everything started to go wrong was Sentarou’s decision to pursue Yurika after seeing her at the beach. From there, we had the group date, where Kaoru started to proactively go for Ritsuko. While it also led to Yurika being invited to the performance where she met Jun for the first time. Part of the way through this week’s episode had me thinking that had that initial encounter with Yurika never happened, she would have been spared and perhaps the trio’s friendship would not have been all over the place when romantic feelings entered the picture.

Defiance is clearly one of Yurika’s most obvious attributes.

Then again, that doesn’t even hold a candle to how unfortunate Jun’s timing was. Just on a whim, he gave a speech on how he felt university should be. Then just like that he was whisked away into the leadership of the Communist Student Union on campus, fighting for something he didn’t believe and hanging around only because he had friends who played jazz as well. When his sax playing friend had his fingers broken by the police, his friend was even more committed to the cause, however it meant that Jun no longer had a reason to want to be there so he went home only to find that his family wanted nothing to do with him.

The moment Jun was forced to grow up, he chose to run.

As for his relationship with Yurika, it gets even worse. Yurika can see right through his desire to drive her away. He reluctanly accepts her feelings more out of fear for what she would do to herself than anything. The memory of his friend giving up jazz to become a new person clearly haunted him. From there, she showed outward signs of changing to other people beyond just the haircut. She gave off the aura of someone who had lost their innocence. Her father wanted her to have nothing to do with Jun. Her mother even made her an appointment to see a gynecologist. To make matters worse for the two of them, Jun’s comrade from Tokyo found out where he lives.

This is going in a rather unexpected, and possibly terrifying direction.

I remain a little worried for the paths these characters are heading for. There’s Jun, whose attempts to escape the increasingly radicalized student movement may lead to action taken against him. Hopefully it won’t go as far as the real life example of the United Red Army, but it is a possibility he could be hurt badly. As for Yurika, the thought of inadvertent pregnancy had me immediately thinking of the shock conclusion of Season of the Sun. Surely, it can’t end that badly for both of them.

The moment where she realizes that she has feelings for Kaoru is when she fantasizes his appearance in a fashion magazine.

On a lighter if still tragic note, the main trio still keeps treading in a bad direction on its own. Ritsuko is effectively being thrown under the bus by Kaoru even if he doesn’t realize it. Had he done nothing, Sentarou could have just continued being a friend to Kaoru while eventually Ritsuko and Kaoru could be together. Everyone ends up happy that way. By trying to make Ritsuko and Sentarou happy, he has now thrown them into a situation where neither will end up happy. Sentarou now believes Ritsuko has had feelings for him all along, but because of recent times that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. The only way out of this would be for Ritsuko to make a decision that hurts one or the other. Without Kaoru’s involvement, she wouldn’t have to hurt anyone.

Excuse me while I ignore your feelings again.

As for other parts of this episode I found interesting, the music as Sentarou walks to Jun’s apartment struck me as rather odd. It doesn’t really fit with the time, but in the context of someone thinking about something important as they walked it did work for me. I also appreciated Seiji’s reaction to seeing Kaoru and Sentarou now being popular. He wants to go far beyond that. It actually makes him likeable in that he has a firm goal and always keeps the big picture in mind. Being popular in school simply doesn’t compare to fame on a larger scale. It will take him time, but he seems determined to put in the work to get there. Also, I am really liking the internal monologue from Ritsuko in recent episodes. I think it has really added another layer to her character that had been absent before now.

4 thoughts on “Sakamichi no Apollon 08 – The Tragedy of Bad Timing

    • I think there’s just a hope that everyone will be able to get out of this somewhat intact. I just think that it simply can’t happen because Jun can’t escape his past.

      • I don’t think things will end up too well for Jun either. I don’t think he and Yurika can continue their relationship under these circumstances. It’s a shame really. Yurika has really grown on me as a character. She’s smart and isn’t afraid to fight for what she wants. It can’t have been easy for a teenage girl to exhibit such independent behaviour in 1960’s Japan.

        And Kaoru really should have kept his mouth shut and avoid everyone a lot of heartbreak further down the line. It’ll be interesting to see if his relationship to Sentarou can survive this test.

      • Kaoru is definitely shooting himself in the foot. It’s like he’s thought that he’s forever stuck in Ritsuko’s friend zone. Personally, I don’t think his friendship with Sentarou will survive unless Ritsuko firmly makes a decision quickly. I can also see Yurika from both ways. While it seems like she’s independent, I think it could be argued that she’s willing to tolerate whatever comes with being with Jun. I personally think it is closer to the former, but it’s not as clear cut as it appears.

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