The 11th episode of Apollon begins with reconciliation and ends with a silent departure under a tragic cloud. Kaoru was camped outside of Sentarou’s place and manages to stop him from leaving. After seemingly tolerating his father’s return, Sentarou returns with a push to out perform Seiji at the festival, even dragging Ritsuko in to perform as a singer. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes on the night before in the form of a motorbike accident which injured Sentarou, but left Sachiko unconscious in the hospital with an uncertain prognosis. Kaoru and Sentarou end up meeting again on the roof of the hospital to comfort each other, after that Sentarou disappears perhaps never to return.
I think it would be best to start with the sad parts of the episode first, and how well I thought this was handled. Sentarou’s run of bad luck continued in this episode with the bike accident. With everything building up over the previous 10+ episodes, it finally drove him over the edge.
The episode began with the fight between Kaoru and Sentarou, which was really more of a conflict between Sentarou’s thoughts that he had people who depended on him and that he had no place in the world. There were two moments either way that had an impact on him.
Seeing Kaoru and his siblings worried about him outside of his home after the scuffle would have convinced him to stay. However, that was quickly followed by the rather good welcome his step-father received upon returning home. He no longer had to worry about providing support for the children there, because he had it put in his mind that it was the parent’s job to do that. Sentarou still had the performance at the festival to keep him tied down. He felt he owed it to Ritsuko and Kaoru to give them a memorable performance for the last major event before they graduated. Then, in the preparation for the even, he wanted to make sure Kaoru was ready and ended up taking the ill-fated trip which hospitalized Sachiko and himself.
This led to the powerful scene on the rooftop of the episode. Sentarou was depressed to the point of wondering why he was even born. Kaoru unveiling the sheet where Sentarou was hiding harked back to the opening episode and wondering what Sentarou was looking for. I think he was looking to be saved. It’s been easy to see for a while that Sentarou had never really felt like he belonged, especially after the story of his childhood had been revealed. Everyday was a struggle, with fights with peers just because he didn’t look or act like them. The only people who made him feel he belonged were Ritsuko and his siblings. Then over the course of the series, his best intentions had left him with Ritsuko falling in love with a new friend and hurting those close to him.
So he left behind the rosary, the only symbol he had that reminded him of his mother, and his only attachment to the rest of the world. I think the feelings of those left behind were really well portrayed. The half-hearted belief that he would be okay was felt by everyone. They tried to distract themselves from trying to believe that they were not responsible for his decision to leave. These characters cared about Sentarou and wished they would have been able to have helped him. It’s that feeling of never knowing why that gets to all of them, and makes it that much harder to move on.
On a less depressing note, I did have some thoughts on the format of the episode. I don’t know if it is a rapid skipping over of chapters from the manga, but the first half of the episode seemed rather montage heavy. It’s great that they got the performance of “My Favorite Things” in there, as it wonderfully setup what could potentially be the last happy moment Kaoru, Ritsuko and Sentarou would ever have together. But the first half of the episode still felt really rushed.
With one episode to go, I think the stage is set for one of those unsatisfying life goes on endings. Will it be largely devoted to Ritsuko and Kaoru moving on without Sentarou? Will Yurika and Jun be revisited? Maybe everything will work out for these characters in an epilogue scene 20-30 years down the road. While I have seen arguments that the show has been overly melodramatic in recent weeks, I didn’t feel anything in this episode that wasn’t genuine.