Summer 1966: Kaoru Nishimi has moved to live with relatives in Kyūshū. He's been an aloof honor student his whole life, but that starts changing when he meets Sentarō Kawabuchi, the school's notorious bad boy. Through him, he learns the appeal of jazz and forms his first real friendships.
Kids on the Slope is a solid slice of life anime that showcases a group of really likable characters. I really dig the 60's setting. It's got this great old-fashioned feeling to it that makes for a compelling atmosphere.
The protagonist, Kaoru, works because while he's flawed emotionally, he never manages to become completely unlikable because he's always aware of his mistakes. There's never a moment where you go, uuugh stop angsting you piece of shit. Kaoru may be emotionally clingy to Kawabuchi (who is a bad-ass) but you always get the sense that he's trying to change and growing up even when he stumbles (admittedly, a lot).
It's good to hear Yoko Kanno's music again. Especially in a jazz setting, cause Bebop's music was so superb. The moments where the characters play jazz together are sublime not only musically but also visually, cause the animation is so slick. I love the visuals in this show; there's something very nostalgic about it.
I think where the show starts to stumble is how many different plot lines and developments it tries to fit together. Some of them pay off while others feel either shoved in or forgotten. There are some love stories going on, too, but not a whole lot of payoff (except for one exception). I think that's actually the biggest problem I had with the show. I think if there's going to be a ton of buildup, then the audience deserves some sort of payoff. And while the main storyline gets a nice ending, I felt others were just sort of discarded, even though I was really anticipating payoff. Admittedly, I do tend to get overly into romantic storylines, but still.
None of that is really Shinichiro Watanabe's fault, because he didn't make the source material. His direction is sharp as ever. He gives the show a wonderful cinematic quality. I am very excited to see more from him in the future.
The show does hit the right notes emotionally, though. You really feel for these characters at times. I complain about the abundance of storylines, but at the same time, they manage to do so much right that I can't really complain TOO much. It's a solid production. If anything, watch it for the music and the characters.