With the competition only days away, Kumiko begins to struggle greatly. Can she pull herself together in time?
Here’s my review.
The only thing that comes to mind when watching Hibike! Euphonium is: when will season 2 be announced? When you take a look at the story so far, there is so much that hasn’t been touched at all. Not to even mention the fact that ep 13’s performance is just another stepping stone towards the Nationals. They’re still so far away from their goal that they need a season 2 because this will be one hell of an open ending otherwise. But before I begin talking about next week’s ep and my expectations for it, let’s take a look at what happened this week.
It’s funny, Kumiko is the main character of this anime yet we’re just now getting an episode solely for her. Yeah sure we know a lot about her already, how she thinks and feels on matters surrounding the band and her relationships, but this week’s ep was one for her to take a look at herself and ask some personal questions. This all starts when Taki instructs the euphos to play a certain part of the song. As expected Asuka nails it on the first try, but Kumiko struggles to get it right. Kumiko realizes that if she’s not able to play well, then she’ll only be dragging the band down and that’s something Taki will not tolerate.
Out of the many gorgeously animated scenes of this ep, one that really stands out for me is when Kumiko is off practicing by herself. The lighting in this part is magnificent! I rewatched this part a couple times with the subs turned off just to experience how spectacular the animation is. I love how much detail they put into this part; the sweat dripping from Kumiko’s forehead, to the glow of her eyes, to the shadows of her face from the building, KyoAni has really pulled out all the stops in making this one of the most beautifully animated shows since the 2012 masterpiece Hyouka. Alright enough talk, let’s take a look at some screen shots from this part.
So while Kumiko is practicing hard, she’s visited by Reina to give her the much needed moral support. Kumiko also makes it known to Reina that she wants to improve her skills and become special, just like her. But in classic Reina fashion, she raises the bar for Kumiko, saying that if she’s going to become special, then she’ll have to become extra special. The part that follows this scene is Kumiko still practicing hard and her nose suddenly begins to start bleeding. Had Midori not come along to tell her it’s time to meet up in the club room, I’m not sure Kumiko would’ve noticed her bodily fluids dripping out of her nose. After doing a quick bit of research, you can indeed get a nose bleed from being dehydrated, something which I get the feeling I knew already but I just wanted to confirm it. So a lesson to everyone: stay hydrated when out in the summer heat! Kumiko would be fine though, as a quick rest and bottle of water later and she’d be back on her feet again.
A small but fun part that I really liked in this ep was when Kumiko was out late practicing by the river and hears Shuichi also practicing. The two, being on opposite sides, start going back and forth playing tunes. It was nice to see Kumiko and Shuichi talking through their instruments, but it still doesn’t mean I like them as a couple. I’ll direct you back to some of my previous reviews where I talk in length about why I feel Kumiko x Shuichi aren’t a good couple. Kumiko also runs into Aoi-chan on her way to cram school.
The middle segment is important as we see Reina doing some apologizing to Kaori and Yuuko for being so smug at the competition. At first I didn’t really get why she was apologizing, but after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that it was the right move to make, ironing over any small issues and making sure that the past is the past and won’t be brought back up again. Plus it’s a way of saying that they’re all on the same team and that there shouldn’t be any in-fighting like that again.
As things move on and Kumiko continues to practice her parts assigned to her, things are indeed sounding hopeful for her, Rika and Asuka praising her for sounding much better as well. But even when Kumiko promises to Taki that she’ll be able to play the part well, Taki shocks her and almost everyone else when he asks Asuka to play it alone. Not even stopping to say anything else, the band continues on with it’s practice, Kumiko sitting completely stunned by his call.
Okay so the part that’s getting a lot of buzz is what happens later that day. Kumiko is now at her wits end, she’s poured her heart into practicing and even then she’s not at the level she wants to be at. Frustrated with the decision to let Asuka play it, but mostly frustrated with herself, Kumiko turns her walk home into a run as her emotions reach a boiling point. I gotta say, even though I loved that above mentioned scene with Kumiko practicing because of the amazing animation, the sequence with Kumiko running and crying tops that. Not only was this part animated so well, but I really love the pure heartfelt emotion that Kumiko’s voice actress, Tomoyo Kurosawa, put into this part too.
Upon arriving at a bridge, Kumiko lets out her frustrations by yelling “I want to improve!” at the top of her lungs. Shuichi also tries to join in and go two for two in this ep, but Kumiko isn’t up for games this time around. With so many emotions surging through her at that moment Kumiko utters words that are very familiar to her, something that will take us back to ep 1 of this anime.
“I’m so upset! I’m so upset, I could die.”
Remember who said that first? Yes that’s right, Reina did. Now it’s finally donned on her exactly how Reina felt that day many years ago. How it feels to practice till you bleed yet be denied the chance to shine, how it feels to put your all into a performance and come up short, how it feels when success is touching your fingertips bit just out of grasp, how it feels when you’re truly frustrated. Kumiko now knows this feeling but importantly she now knows it’s something she never wants to feel again. Kumiko knows that if she really wants to play properly then she’s going to need to get herself in the right mindset. Why does she play anyways? What’s motivating her to stay in the band? Like many things it boils down to her love of the euphonium (and maybe Reina as well). But that’s why she’s still there practicing till she bleeds, because she loves the euphonium so much and wants to be great at it.
“I suppose that’s what it’s like to have something you enjoy doing.”
As Kumiko forgot her cell phone at school and returns later to get it, she gets an extra shot of motivation from Taki as he talks very openly about his personal life and following in the footsteps of his father. He didn’t became the advisor of the school’s band just because he had to, he chose to do it because he liked it. And if she needed a little bit more motivation, Taki mentions to her before she leaves that he hasn’t forgotten what she said about being able to play the certain part he asked her. While it may have seem to Kumiko that he and totally pushed her to the side, Taki never did that at all. In fact he never forgot her words and his letting her know that is the jolt of motivation that she desperately needed. With new found energy and motivation, it’s finally time for the Kansai Competition.
Let the next piece begin.
We’re almost there! Only 1 more ep of Hibike! Euphonium remains! How will it all end? I wish I knew but we’ll have to wait till next Tuesday to find out. So looking back at what I said at the outset, the story in Euphonium is far from over. Remember back in ep 6 where Kumiko explains that they need to pass the prefectural competition before moving on to the Nationals? Well this Kansai Competition is just that, a prefectural competition, meaning that if they win this they can advance and continue playing. But wait, there only are 13 eps, so if they do win then what? A season 2 is a must because I highly doubt they’d lose in the last ep, this just isn’t that kind of story. So while there isn’t any word just yet, the chatter I’m hearing is that there are still more novels that could be adapted, meaning there is more material out there meaning that another season is still possible. But like I said, I haven’t heard anything official yet.
As character and story driven as this ep was, the animation (as usual) stole the spotlight and once again we’re shown some dazzling sights by KyoAni. After watching Euphonium I can safely say this is their best anime since Hyouka as nothing until now has delivered such attention to detail in terms of the animation and depth in characters and story as Euphonium does. So looking ahead here I can only hope for this story to continue on as Kumiko, Reina and the band have a competition to win as they strive for greatness towards the Nationals. It’s time to finally see if all the practice will pay off, time to put aside differences and just play some music, it’s time to reach out for success and finally grab it, it’s time to become special.
Are you ready for it?
So it’s not 2k words but it’s pretty damn close. I’d love to hear some feedback so light up the comment section below with your thoughts about the events in this week’s ep.
Up next it’s time for the final eps of Plastic Memories and Knights of Sidonia. One will be very exciting and the other potentially could be soul crushing. Either way I hope you can join me for those final reviews this weekend.
Thank you so much for reading this review, please enjoy the bonus pic and I’ll cya back here later this weekend!
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