A story is expressed through the perspective of the storyteller. In Sakamichi no Apollon, the perspective of the story is shown through Kaoru’s eyes, meaning every event or occurrence is shown through him. As a result, we’re allowed access to his thoughts, emotions, idea, and impressions and these influence how we view the story and the other characters. But because of this inflexible perspective, we’re essentially limited to see the story through the eyes of only one character. Sentarou and Ritsuko both have their own personal perspectives and would tell the story of Sakamichi no Apollon differently despite seeing and experiencing the same events and characters. So how would switching the perspective to these two other characters influence how the story is told and impact the story itself?
Weighing and comparing the perspectives of the characters not only enhances each event adding more than what we saw but it can also explain certain scenes or expand a character beyond what we are intended to see. Certain scenes may have a specific effect or magnitude for one character but an entirely different one for another and lead the emotion or impression of that scene to be dissimilar than the one intended. By substituting the normal narrator with another character, we experience the same story in a somewhat new but entirely different way.
However, there must be some level of assumption and guesswork added to these perspective changes since we never do see the anime through their eyes. Without actually seeing the anime through their perspective, it will always carry some level of uncertainty with it. There is another bit of weakness in this exercise, too, since the characters we see are already through one perspective (everything we see in Sakamichi no Apollon goes through Kaoru first), so these examples already have some angle or lens to them. There certainly is room for error or debate given each viewer’s own opinion on how they interpret the character, too, so this isn’t a complete version but rather a means to generate thinking about how the other characters are experiencing the story of Sakamichi no Apollon and what goes through their minds through each event in the story.
Perhaps the juiciest or most remarkable scene to re-experience would be the group date in the middle of the episode though a number of other candidates, such as Kaoru playing for Ritsuko in the basement or Sentarou waiting in the basement before jamming with Kaoru, would be valuable given the time. Through Sentarou’s perspective, the date was entirely about him and Yurika, his recent crush. No matter what Kaoru or Ritsuko said or did, his attention was solely honed in on Yurika and there was little that could happen that’d change it. Though he did respond to the others when prompted, they were all preceded by Yurika in some form or another. Seeing the group date through Sentarou’s perspective would have pushed Kaoru and Ritsuko away and provided more detail on Yurika’s character which would’ve helped explain the scene near the end when Sentarou and Yurika were alone in the art room. However, in doing so, the impact on Ritsuko’s character would have been missed. We would’ve seen her leave crying but we would’ve missed the powerful shot with her in the woods, alone with her two streams of tears, that reinforced the scene and strongly influenced Kaoru’s character. Through Sentarou’s eyes, we would have sacrificed the impact on Kaoru and Ritsuko’s characters and romance for the continuation and progress of his and Yurika’s budding relationship. The direction that would have occurred thereafter would’ve lead the remaining half of the episode to an entirely different route but the growth of their love will remain concealed for now.
Seeing the scene through Ritsuko’s eyes would have also left a different impression on the group date, too. Though her expression never explicitly showed and as she tried to hide it as best she could, the whole date was extremely hard on her for seeing the man she loved be close to an entirely new girl. Without even knowing it, the boy she grew up with had already moved on without any opportunity for Ritsuko to defend herself against the sweet Yurika. Since we saw the scene through Kaoru’s eyes, we never really noticed when it turned from paradise to pain for Ritsuko nor could we listen in on her thoughts throughout every shot until it culminated in her fleeing the party and weeping in the forest. Of particular interest would’ve been seeing her before the group date, too, and being able to see what she expected for the outing and how her dreams were ruined by the new girl. Seeing this scene through Ritsuko’s perspective would have cast a negative shadow on the entire group date despite the successful development of Sentarou and Yurika’s relationship. There also would’ve been little insight into Kaoru’s character, too, since she largely ignored him to focus in on the close couple, so the development of Kaoru’s feelings for her would have gone unnoticed. Without that added sense of Kaoru around, the disclosure of his feeling near the end of the episode would have had the added effect of feeling impulsive and more influential (though I assume most of us would’ve known when he invited her to a private session in her basement). Viewing the group date through Ritsuko’s eyes would have left and entirely different impression of the group date in our minds than what we saw, switching the emotion from frustration and failure to missed opportunities and sorrow. However, the scenes thereafter would have shown Ritsuko’s recovery and the strengthening of her character and resolve which is something I honestly would’ve loved to see.
The exercise could continue onto Yurika’s character and explore what her thoughts and impressions would’ve been and how they’d influence and direct the scene but her character is rather unknown at this point and her connections with the characters are rather simple, so there is not as much to gain through her than with the other two main characters. It would, however, show more insight into what Yurika thinks about Kaoru since she believed it was he who invited her (and thusly likes her) rather than only Sentarou.
Examining other scenes would be the next logical step but that can be reserved to one’s own time and pace rather than extending this post further than it needs to be. There will continue to be scenes like this in every episode that brings everyone together for an important event that affects the characters each in their own personal way. And these effects would continue on to impact the audience had we the opportunity to experience the anime through their eyes rather than the singular pair that we use. By doing this, we might be able to explain or explore more about these characters, their relationships, and even their love of jazz or Christ or whatever and get more out of the story than what we are currently provided with this anime.
Similar to a love triangle, a love square has formed in Sakamichi no Apollon that places the four central characters of this anime in their own corner. However, such a shape would have never developed had for one scene gone differently in this episode. Had Sentarou not fumbled around his opportunity to invite Yurika on the group date, there would be no misunderstanding on who invited the beautiful sophomore out on a picnic. Doesn’t help that Sentarou confused the situation further by claiming it was Kaoru who was inviting her out, too. How differently would the romances develop in this anime had this scene gone differently and how would the story progress from here? Such a seemingly inconsequential scene is going to have a colossal impact on the remainder of the anime now. With this screw-up, however, a stable love square has formed where each character chases another until an event decides where it stops and who ends up lucky and who ends up not. For the purposes of drama and storytelling, a love square is more fascinating than immediately resolved relationships or whatever the outcome would’ve been if Sentarou had stayed on script. It’s amusing to think what would’ve been had just a few lines gone differently but that’s what happens in life and we must deal with the consequences of our actions.