The 2nd episode of Apollon focuses on the developing friendship between Ritsuko, Sentarou and Kaoru. The episode begins with Kaoru trying to get an understanding on how to play jazz on the piano, which he picks up rather quickly from the record he purchased at the end of the last episode. Then after school, he is surrounded by a few of his male classmates who want to bully him, but his friends save him in the end. He then plays with a live session on the piano with Sentarou, Ritsuko’s father, and their neighbor Jun. Finally, the three meet at the start of summer vacation for some outdoor fun among other things.
There was surprisingly a lot packed into the 20 minutes here. I’ll start with Kaoru’s time on the piano at the beginning. I think most people who are dedicated to music try to mimic a sound they like at least once. Whether it’s karaoke or trying to learn to how to play Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, fans out there try this stuff. I did like Mariko observing in the background as he went from record player to piano and back repeatedly.
The fight scene was also notable for a few reasons. It fully establishes Kaoru as the outsider at the high school, who has to be punished just for being different. Sentarou can at least joke that he didn’t know any of the bullies were in his class to begin with. More importantly, was his comment when he arrived that he didn’t know who he was rescuing. For the socially anxious Kaoru it could be devastating, having been caught with his pants down by Ritsuko as well.
That made the next scene all the better. Ritsuko’s neighbor, Jun was home from college in Tokyo and that mean Sentarou and Ritsuko’s father absolutely had to play a session with him. With Jun on the trumpet, Ritsuko’s father on the bass and Sentarou playing drums, the latter coaxed Kaoru to play some piano. His piano playing was tentative at first, but he grew in confidence as he lost himself to the music. It was the perfect contrast to being cast as the outsider in the class because he was now part of creating something.
The following Sunday he was invited by Ritsuko to meet behind the church before they would do some homework. Whereupon he discovered that both of his new friends were actually members of the church. After the real purpose of the trip, to have fun on a Sunday, became obvious, the questions about the church created a barrier between Kaoru and the other two. So he went from being excluded from his peers, to being a part of a piece of music back to being excluded by friends. Sentarou, probably sensing that turned the attention back to having fun.
Which brings up the topic of first love. In the last episode, the idea of going to a girl’s parents house triggered the fantasy of secretly doing perverted things with her under a kotatsu. After being plunged into the water in this episode, the narration Kaoru does in his mind as he circles around Ritsuko in the water is fantastic. He was losing himself in her smile in the same way that he lost himself playing piano in the basement. Seeing her happy made him happy, and he wanted to do anything to make her happy.
For Sentarou, it comes out of nowhere. He’s just done the moral obligation of saving someone in need without knowing who it was again, and he catches a glimpse of her face. Much like that scene in Honey & Clover‘s opening episode where the moment Takemoto falls in love with Hagu is obvious yet amazing to Mayama, Kaoru sees the exact same reaction in Sentarou.
What will be interesting will be Sentarou’s next actions. I think his cool demeanor will be shattered as he struggles to express his feelings for the first time. I think his introduction in the first episode was his playing out that scenario. As far as Kaoru and Ritsuko, I think there’s an obvious barrier that will have to be overcome over the next 9 episodes. Then again, that thing Sentarou didn’t want talked about on the boat will probably come into play as well.