Sakamichi no Apollon 12 – Making Dreams Come True in ’76

Women dig men who know everything there is to modern railway networks

The final episode of Apollon takes place over the span of about 9 years from the aftermath of Sentarou’s departure all the way to the final reunion at the end. In that space in between Kaoru tries to burn his bridges with Ritsuko, then has an emotional departure as he heads to Tokyo. Then, 8 years in the future, characters make cameos which ultimately lead to Kaoru finding Sentarou on an island church where they play yet another set just as Ritsuko arrives.

Seiji will gladly sing his latest hit “Everything Works Out if You’re a Pirate”

There were a number of problems with how this series ended that go far beyond the fact that it appeared numerous details were skipped from the source material. The immediate one I can think of is that everything seems to go right for everyone by Sentarou choosing to leave. Kaoru is able to study and go to a university in Tokyo to become a doctor. The high school students get temporary happiness by being able to use the roof for the first time. Seiji and his band had a clear path to victory at the cultural festival which led to his becoming a celebrity in the future, and Maruo becoming popular before landing his dream job. Going back even further, Yurika and Jun ended up happy because of that performance he abandoned.

There’s a certain other group of kids that are omitted.

Notable in its absence, though, is the rest of Sentarou’s old family. While I’m pretty certain the manga may cover this and have his father become a good father to the rest of the family, it does seem like those he left behind did get tossed out for the new set of kids he gets to raise at the church. In the rush to have a conclusion, I think Sentarou could be seen as callous, even if it in no way resembles that in the source material.

Just being a doctor to pass the days until something changes

As for Kaoru, he seemed to be an interesting story in this last episode. I think prior to Seiji’s appearance on screen he had reverted to a role where he was doing what he was supposed to do, rather than what he wanted. He had to break ties with Ritsuko because he wouldn’t have been able to become a promising doctor in Tokyo, but he wanted to do it in a way so she would hate him. That was very much similar to Jun’s attempts to break away from Yurika, but Ritsuko’s circumstances were very much different.

At least there was no Hollywood-esque scenario where a crowd would gather and cheer him as he spoke to Ritsuko

The only break from that in the beginning was his farewell to her from the street in front of the record store. I think he just wanted closure on their relationship, but it had the opposite effect of another emotional farewell on the train platform. I think that scene could have worked for an ending, but it continued.

The ultimate conclusion of Ritsuko chasing after Kaoru’s train.

Eight years later, doing the daily grind of an intern at a hospital, Kaoru didn’t seem like he had any purpose. His life was on autopilot, and most importantly he wasn’t having fun. Following a string of cameo appearances from Seiji, Yurika, Maruo and probably some more I left out, he found himself chasing after Sentarou again. His life once again had a purpose for him that wasn’t chosen by others for the first time in almost a decade.

Oh Maruo, you could have been so much more.

As for other parts of the episode, I was glad that at least some of the characters seemed to display some change after the time skip. Yurika seemed to be an incredibly happy person living with the one she loved. I’ve already highlighted Kaoru’s change. Sentarou seemed a bit more mature, even if he still caused problems with authority. On the other hand, the shock that train otaku Maruo would end up working with trains was woefully predictable. Couldn’t he have become a rock god instead? That would have at least been more interesting.

Now as for the series as a whole since this was the last episode. I think there was probably enough time to fit the story into 12 episodes, but in the last 3 episodes if felt like large chunks of the story were chopped to try to get it in. Maybe 13 episodes would have worked better, but I don’t think that would have been necessary. As for the pantheon of works directed by Watanabe, I don’t think Apollon will live that long in the memory as a great series. That said, it’s far and away the best series of any duration that I’ve seen this year to date. At the very least, a proper conclusion to Kaoru and Ritsuko’s story would have sufficed.

10 thoughts on “Sakamichi no Apollon 12 – Making Dreams Come True in ’76”

  1. I’m kind of apathetic about the ending. Another episode would have been good to tie things up in less of a rush. The ending, ending with the jam session, I did like. That felt good, but it felt obligatory. Still love the anime.

    1. That ending seems to be continuing a trend of terrible endings this season. That may be due to a small sample size at this point, but I’m fairly confident it’s true.

  2. Well, it was unavoidable that they’d cut content. Like I said last week, I figured it would make me angry and sure enough, it did.

    *** MANGA SPOILERS WARNING ***

    Skipping the entire ‘Kaoru’ searches for Sentarou, meets Junichi by chance was disappointing but expected. What angered me of this botched ending is that they completely cut the church ending where the Kaoru meets Ritsuko again (and other things, read the manga if you want to know). The falure to tie up the loose ends between Kaoru and Ritsuko, and consequently fail to show that he chose to reject fortune in Tokyo to live as a small-time doctor to stay with her and Sentarou is an aberration.

    Noitamina seriously needs to extend its seasons if it wants to adapt series that are too long for its typical 11-12 episodes season. It just pisses me off how they give this treatment to such a great series but gave trash like Guilty Crown 2 seasons.

    1. There’s definitely no disagreement from me on Guilty Crown getting 2 seasons. Then again, that actually sold well which is just a further indictment on the people who buy that crap. Either way, I think it was obvious that Ritsuko chose Kaoru in the end, but the way it was portrayed it felt like they were restarting all over again. I would have loved to have seen Kaoru reject life in Tokyo as you say it happened, but they went for the safe ending with a shaky foundation.

  3. As you pointed out, the last couple of episodes have felt a bit rushed and this one was no exception. They must have crammed a lot of material into them. Nevertheless it still worked as a good story. Everyone gets some sort of closure and music still remains the binding element in this frienship. One of the better shows this year and a fine return to anime for Watanabe-san.

    1. I think that was about par for Watanabe. I think in general it suffered from the weight of expectations based on who was involved with it. The ending does just enough to provide closure, unless you wanted something more from Kaoru and Ritsuko.

  4. As I said, one more episode could have tied the ends up in a better way. I don’t see why they did not do 13, but maybe since it didn’t have little girls with little clothing, they were afraid to put too much into it. I would love to read the manga, but I don’t read Japanese and I don’t read scans, so I’m SOL. I will buy DVD(hope iit’s BD) Also, I have ost and it is brilliant. If you like jazz at all then get it.

    1. I think 12 episodes was pushing the limit for a Noitamina series within a single season, so I wouldn’t say it’s more an indictment of how it was produced rather than the consumer as a whole. I honestly don’t know if this would be worth a buy from me. The OST would be definitely be worth a look for fans.

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