Anime Blu-ray Review: Kids on the Slope Complete Collection

Kids on the Slope Complete Collection is a set that collects all 12 episodes of the series together into one release, and it was made available as both a DVD set and as a Blu-ray set. This review focuses on the Blu-ray pressing of Kids on the Slope Complete Collection.

Kids on the Slope begins in the summer of 1966. Kaoru Nishimi, a first-year high school student, is a brainy young man who moves to his uncle’s house in Kyushu during his first year of high school. Kaoru has moved from place to place since he was a child, so he has become an introverted person; he’s also a classically-trained pianist.

During his first day of school, he meets Sentaro Kawabuchi, one his classmates who is mistaken by his peers for being a thug. Sentaro is tall and strong, but he also has a big heart. Sentaro loves jazz music, and is also a musician; he plays the drums.

Ritsuko Mukae is Kaoru and Sentaro’s classmate, and she has been friends with Sentaro since childhood. Her family owns a record shop called Mukae Records, and the basement of the shop has a practice studio. Ritsuko brings Kaoru and Sentaro together in the practice room, hoping to get them to play together. Sentaro says that Kaoru doesn’t understand jazz and can’t play it right.  Kaoru learns which jazz piece Sentaro is trying to play on the piano, and he purchases the record in order to learn it. Kaoru begins learning about jazz music and how to perform it, as well as what it means to have friends.

Complications arise when Kaoru falls in love with Ritsuko and he confesses his feelings for her. She tells him she has feelings for someone else, and Kaoru deduces that she loves Sentaro. Sentaro, meanwhile, meets a girl named Yurika who he falls in love with. Over the course of the 12 episodes, the drama and heartaches of teenage life are woven together with jazz music to create a compelling coming-of-age drama story.

The writing for the series works perfectly for the drama that it’s conveying. As the series progressed, I found myself invested in the characters and their stories.

One of the standout features of Kids on the Slope is its musical score. The music was composed by Yoko Kanno, and the pieces sound top-notch. Jazz standards are heard, such as “Moanin’” in the first episode.

The animation used for the series really brings the drama of the story to life. The writing, animation, and music come together to create an anime series that viewers want to continue following until the very end.

When it comes to the Blu-ray release itself, the video is presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9. The audio tracks include English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.

There are a total of seven bonus features included on this release. The first is “Japanese Previews,” which runs for three minutes, and there are five promos included. The promos have Japanese audio and English subtitles.

Next is “Interview with Shinichiro Watanabe,” and this featurette runs for 16 minutes. This is done in a way where the questions are printed on the screen, and then Watanabe answers the questions. During the course of the interview, he talks about the original manga, wanting to work with Yoko Kanno for the music, how he selected the performers, about the musical recordings, about the animation in the performance scenes, and about filming the live performance scenes. Probably the most fascinating part of this interview for me was the part about animating the performance scenes, because it really explains why those scenes in the series look rather realistic.

Then there’s “Interview with Yoko Kanno,” which runs for 21-and-a-half minutes. This is also done with the question on the screen followed by her answer. In her interview, Kanno talks about the original manga, what kind of music came to mind when she read the manga, what kind of orders she got from Watanabe, what kind of concept she had when she created the music, how they searched for the musicians, about the musicians, recording the music for the series, about the storyboard creation, the music recording location, how she felt after seeing the completed anime, about the opening theme, about the ending theme, and about the director. Kanno really gave a good interview, and she was really able to give the viewer insight into the music for the series. Considering how integral a component the music is for Kids on the Slope, it was nice to be able to know more about what went into creating it.

Next is “Interview with Takashi Matsunaga and Shun Ishiwaka,” which runs for 13-and-a-half minutes; these are the two musicians who were hired to play the piano and the drums. During their interview, they talk about the original work, what Yoko Kanno told them, what their first impressions were when they met, the storyboard creation process, difficulties about performing as the character, the school festival scene in episode seven, their thoughts on seeing the completed anime, and how they felt about taking part. Since both of these musicians were new to making music for an anime series, it made their interview an interesting viewing experience. Unlike Watanabe and Kanno, who are veterans in the anime industry, these two gentlemen were able to come into their interview with the insights of people who haven’t been entrenched in the industry. In that respect, it made for a bit of a different and refreshing interview.

The bonus features also include the clean opening, the clean closing, and the disc credits.

If you watched Kids on the Slope when it was being simulcast on Crunchyroll and enjoyed it, then I would highly recommend purchasing the series to add it to your home video collection. If you have the capability to watch Blu-rays, then I would recommend purchasing the Blu-ray release of Kids on the Slope Complete Collection.

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