In my Spring 2012 Spotlight, I'll be shining some light on some of the series that I will be watching and series that I think will be worth your time.
Set in 1966's Kyushu, Kids on the Slope follows 15 year old Kaoru Nishimi and his relocation to the new town. Kaoru is the talk of the school, with rumors about him being a "spoiled brat", a "school prodigy", and a "nerd." This is not the first time he's moved to a different school district, rather, due to the nature of his father's work, Kaoru has been transferring between schools since he was a child. While his class president, Ritsuko Mukae, is giving him a tour of the school, Kaoru feels a bit nauseous. It is the same feeling that emerges whenever he feels even a bit stressed. He asks the class president where he can reach the balcony, a spot, found in every school that provides him solace and comfort. But before she can warn him about what he might find there, he races off, only to find a "storage unit" blocking the door at the top of the staircase. Impatient and annoyed, he tosses off the blanket that is covering the mysterious object, and reveals a sleeping, Sentaro Kawabuchi, the notorious class-delinquent. Sentaro opens his eyes. In a daze, he grabs Kaoru's hand and asks, "Ohh... So you're here to take me away?"
The two, surprisingly, become friends and more importantly, allies. Sentaro introduces Kaoru to his love of Jazz. And along with Ritsuko, class president and daughter of the local record-store owner, the trio develop an unlikely friendship, strengthened by a sincere and devoted celebration of music.
Shinichiro Watanabe, who directed Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, is a perfect fit to this manga-to-anime adaptation. His modern, hip-hop style is fresh and makes viewers realize the untapped, storytelling potential of anachronism. On the same vein of these musical luminaries, there's Yoko Kanno, handling the music.
Hold the phone! Yoko Kanno?! Yoko ****ing Kanno?! Game over. Anime of the year. Anime of the decade. Anime of the century. For those who might not have noticed, she is responsible for most of the recent Macross compositions, as well as Wolf's Rain, Genesis of Aquarion
Whenever the two meet, you can guarantee that their chemistry will make something amazing. Cowboy Bebop is an example of an anime, which Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno worked together on.
Kids on the Slope draws primarily from the manga, which has been in print since 2007. The target demographic is Josei, which targets women from the age 15-40. This should not put off any potential viewers off though. Too often is Josei confused with the Shoujo demographic, which is more, I hate to say it, childish with its topics.
Rather, I think this a great opportunity to test this idea that I've had about Josei in the past, that it is surprising how heartfelt and touching these stories can turn out. Here are a few popular series with Josei origins that you may notice: Honey and Clover, Usagi Drop, Nodame Cantabile
This series is set to run for 12 episodes, and will begin airing on the 12th of April.
My Bottom-Line: It's a unique, Japanese perspective on a southern United States phenomenon in the 20th century. Kids on the Slope is something that does not come too often: a fresh story with a proven to be talented production team at the helm.