OP Sequence


“Welcome, High School”

「ようこそハイスクール」 (Youkoso Hai Sukuuru)

Not K-On!:

Before you say it, no, Hibike! Euphonium is not the second coming of K-On! This is a novel adaptation filled with music, drama, and a dash of slice-of-life, seen through the eyes of a main character that feels very real. If anything, this first episode was more like Hyouka than anything else KyoAni has produced. I also got some Tamako Market vibes from certain shots and light flairs as well, but I think that’s more KyoAni’s current aesthetic than anything else. Going into this, I refused to buy the idea that this was going to be K-On!!! and would be nothing but cute girls doing cute things, with a bit of music on the side. Thankfully, I was right in not buying into that frankly lazy assumption. I’m very glad I’m going to be blogging this show and be able express my feelings as I go – I’m a self-confessed Kyoto Animation fan, but I haven’t loved all of their works. Thankfully, this one hit all the right buttons with this first episode.

A Main Character That Feels Real:

Every good story has a main character that you can get behind – ideally they need to have something unique about them, or just simply be likeable – and I’d say Oumae Kumiko (Kurosawa Tomoyo) is just that kind of character. What makes her unique? To me, it’s the fact that she feels real. Everything we see is from her first-person perspective, so it’s important that she has a narrative voice that stands out, and she does. She is blunt in what she thinks, yet can be silly when no one is watching; she wants to open a new chapter in her life, but she’s still conforming to the trends of her classmates; she can’t decide how to wear her hair to make the best first impression, so she ties it back to play it safe. It’s only at the end that she lets her curls sit freely, yet no one notices or says anything about it. To me, it felt like a subtle moment of acceptance, where she realises that no one is really interested in how she wore her hair, and that she didn’t have to ‘change’ herself upon attending high school. Kumiko is full of contradictions, aka, she acts like a normal person would in many of these situations, and manages to show a goofy side to her as well for good measure. Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed by a main character in the first episode.

The other characters were a little less realistic, but that’s okay. It’s only been one episode, and the introduction of these girls and boys is what’s most important, and I felt that after this episode we’ve got a fair idea on what to expect from these characters. Katou Hazuki (Asai Ayaka) feels like your typical well-intentioned best friend to keep you happy, Kawashima Sapphire (Toyota Moe) very much soaked up all the ‘moe’ from everyone else, and Kousaka Reina (Anzai Chika) gives off a stiff exterior, yet also displays how emotional she can be. Tanaka Asuka (Kotobuki Minako) was the funniest of the bunch, who definitely had me giggling whenever she did anything; she’s definitely one to look out for. We also saw two male characters, Tsukamoto Shuuichi (Ishiya Haruki), Kumiko’s childhood friend, and Taki Noboru (Sakurai Takahiro), a man (who looks like anime Ben Whishaw) who just so happens to be listening to Kumiko and Kousaka’s middle school performance. Even if I hadn’t read a synopsis of the story, I would be able to tell how this is going to play out, and how these characters are going to come together. Hint hint: it’s the concert band.

Beautiful Visuals + Sound:

It’s Kyoto Animation, so this was guaranteed to be visually impressive. And it was. I’d say it was probably their best looking premiere since Hyouka (which I don’t think will ever be beaten). But the sound was impressive as well, even when the bands playing was off, it still managed to feel all-encompassing. I didn’t expect anything less from the production, but I think it’s worth pointing out that, yes, this looks fantastic. Maybe you could nitpick that the characters designs are too similar to what you’d expect from KyoAni, and I wouldn’t disagree, but I wouldn’t think that as a bad thing either.

Novel, Not Light Novel:

As I mentioned earlier, this is an adaptation of a novel (not a light novel), and it shows. From the first few minutes, once we started hearing Kumiko’s inner thoughts and understanding her quirks, I could feel that this was a novel adaptation. That was likely where the Hyouka-vibes came from, since that was KyoAni’s last adaptation of the same sort. If this hints towards anything near the quality of Hyouka, I think Hibike! Euphonium may be a pleasant surprise to those who think this is just going to be another slice of life that they’ve seen by this studio before. And maybe it will be… but I don’t think so. Not after this first episode.

Overview – What’s Next?:

Without an actual preview of the next episode, it’s harder to predict what’s coming next. But there are a few things that are for certain: they’re all going to join the band, Taki Noboru is going to be their new club adviser, and we’re going to see these characters find their destined instruments. Count me excited. This first episode was great, and I’m completely sold on Kumiko as a main character.

ED Sequence

ED: 「Kitauji Quartet」 (北宇治カルテット) by Oumae Kumiko (Kurosawa Tomoyo), Katou Hazuki (Asai Ayaka), Kawashima Sapphire (Toyota Moe), Kousaka Reina (Anzai Chika)


  1. Aside from a few lines of dialogue that felt a bit out of place or just there to be moe that was surprisingly good, beautiful to look at as expected from KyoAni and I did find Kumiko to be relatable and she really felt like a human being and not just a trope of a character. Overall, way better then I expected and I’m really looking forward to the next one.

  2. It is so much like K-on. I see many of features of K-on character design in Euphonium. Kumiko even looks like Ui from K-on and Kousaka Reina is a lot like Mio. KyoAni has found a formula popular with it’s target audience and the pedigree of the show is evident.

    1. I’m not going to say that KyoAni don’t stick to similar character designs that work for them, or don’t know who they are catering to, because clearly they do. What I will say is that from this episode alone it’s clear how different Euphonium is going to tackle it’s story compared to K-On! K-On! was a 4koma slice of life, first and foremost, where the music was an ‘extra’ every now and then. With Euphonium the music is the key driver of the plot – a plot that promises to be much more dramatic than anything K-On! attempted. The difference in source material and intention behind both of them is what separates the two series, even if both are presented in a similar KyoAni package.

    2. Other studios have a common resemblance with their works. A1, JC Staff, and even Ghibli does this.

      People give KyoAni too much flack when it comes to their character design approach and scream “K-ON sameface” when Ghibli can get more homogeneous than them.

    3. I think it’s kind of sad that KyoAni’s character designs are always reduced to K-ON, especially because K-ON’s character was a mix between Horiguchi’s and Kakifly’s style, one of their most simplistic character designs (just compare the hair in K-ON and Euphonium for example) and never was reused in another of their shows (in the K-ON movie the designs became even closer to Horiguchi’s own style).

      Here’s a good comparison of the different styles of the character designers working for KyoAni: http://i.imgur.com/4wkGe9g.jpg

  3. I was also impressed with the fist episode. However I’m probably going to have to see the second episode to see if this starts leaning to hyouka or k-on. I kept waiting to see Kumiko either talk to Reina or play her instrument but it didn’t happen.
    Hopefully you’re right about were this is heading though

  4. It’s easy to compare this to K-ON but I was reminded more of an old Japanese movie called Swing Girls, which also featured a band like this. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of the story unfold. Also aside from the main characters since this is a band, there’s so much more characters that I wonder if they’re going to explore them a bit.


    This side character in particular got my attention.

    And yes from the first few minutes of her appearance, Tanaka Asuka is instantly my favorite character in the series.


    One minute the main trio were observing her and her euphonium from the door and next thing you know…


    …she’s right in front of them getting all intimate.

    And personally I’m not sure what Sapphire’s issue with her name is. It sounds cute actually.

      1. There’s even a manga that touches on this as its main theme. Tenshi-chan to Akuma-kun. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.) At any rate, it’s a horribly embarrassing name to give a kid in Japan.

        Imagine the lamest hippie name your parents could think of when they were stoned. And then they came up with something WORSE. That’s kind of what these names are like.

    1. Yup! I definitely got the Swing Girls vibe from this show. Unfortunately, due to the connections (band anime + KyoAni), the comparisons between this show and K-On! are pretty much inevitable, to the detriment or benefit of either show. The atmosphere and approaches are very different and just a quick watch of the first episode would be enough to get a feel.

      Personally speaking, I definitely enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to the next.

  5. Hyouka’s art direction was distinct from other kyoto animation series’ because it was a time kyoani really wanted to experiment with digital composition, cgi, and texture filtering. Id say what they did with Hyouka was quite successful. And since these things are pretty damn hard to do, not a lot of kyoani series will beat hyouka’s art direction. What other kyo ani series lack in superior art direction to Hyouka, they have made up for in beating it in animation and certain effects. A good example would be kyokai no kanata, which is an easy pick because there were fight scenes in that series so it had to consist of more complex animation frames and special effects (most of the time anyway)

  6. Honestly, this show was refreshing, especially after a disappointing Denpa Kyoushi first ep with really mediocre production values. Yes, KyoAni has its style, but damn if they don’t nail their marks when it comes to productions that have smooth animation and don’t look like they were rushed (even if they were.)

    It’s also refreshing to see an anime take on the band. Having been a band geek in Jr. High, HS and college, I understand the frustration of both winning and losing music competitions. If you’re serious about it, the highs are *really* high, and lows are *really* low.

    Hearing the HS band in this show, I feel Hazuki’s reluctance, because that band sucks. I’d probably be reluctant to join right away, too. Being in a crappy band when the other members don’t care if they suck or not is kind of a living hell if you care about wanting to perform well.

    I’m looking forward to see how this plays out.

  7. I played trumpet all the way from elementary school through high school, so this show is very nostalgic. And obviously, trumpet girl is best girl.
    …or maybe the magician girl. She’s cool.

    Can’t help but make comparisons to K-On, but unlike K-On, this show is taking greater care and dedication to the music and the band. It’s more serious. And I’m happy about that, even if I liked K-On, too. For example the sound of the band when they arrive at the school is perfect, as they sound not terrible, but certainly not good. Kind of what you’d expect to hear, honestly. Also loved the scene with using the mouthpiece. Little details like that go a long way.

    1. I played trumpet until about sophomore year in college, then I started dabbling in flugabones, baritone horns, and euphoniums. (We had a low brass ensemble that needed players, and I got 2 hours of credit for it.) I wound up switching to tuba in the end. I guess the euphonium is a gateway drug that leads to tuba playing.

      I kind of wish I had switched earlier– I didn’t really have a good embouchure for trumpet, but I could wail on a tuba. Turns out I just needed a bucket-sized mouthpiece.

      (One instrument I swore I’d never play is French Horn. Those things are gross.) 😀

  8. One thing K-ON! did that knocked my socks off was that the girls played real recognizable instruments and not some generic “almost” Gibsons or Fenders. I hope they keep that quality here where someone who plays trumpet can see that they’re using the right valve combination for the notes they’re playing (I won’t know but I’d like to know that they’ve taken that amount of attention to detail). I haven’t checked but the tuner that they show did look about right.

      1. Please read what I wrote again. I said they were NOT generic. The clerk even mentioned that the Gibson Flying V that they were selling had a modified tailstock. Hows that for attention to detail.

    1. Well, you can see the Yamaha logo all over the drums in the first ep of this show. I’m assuming Yamaha dropped a fat pile of cash to sponsor this. They’re big in instruments, from field percussion, to brass, and all the way through to concert pianos.

      And they DO make some fine instruments.

  9. I have the highest expectations for this show. Any other bandies here? The setting really gives me nostalgic vibes; Band was also the centre of my high school life. Trumpets Unite! I literally dusted off my trumpet to play a few notes after watching this. Going to have a swell time this season!

  10. Since comparisons with K-on are being made should point out that there is one thing Euphonium has over K-on: Its actually about the music. I feel that’s important to note. K-on has its characters say they want to play on Budokan, which is a big thing in Japan, then it barely addressed again

    Here we have characters who have music as part of their life. Kousaka for example is shown to be clearly upset about not qualifying. Then for Kumiko we see plenty of her perspective and how playing in a band meant something to her. The shot of her shelf showing all her music books for example, is subtle way of showing of showing how serious she was in the band. It’s things like these that remind that KyoAni is quite capable of being subtle and artistic when they actually care, and its the main reasons I’m willing to give this show a try. Its what made love Hyouka and I’m hoping they repeat that formula here.

    1. i’ve never understood the flak K-on gets about “not being really about the music”

      it was a slice-of-life anime about a group of girls that form a band in high school.

      no one ever said it was about a group of girls who become the next hit pop rock band in japan. it was never about being a fictional depiction of SCANDAL.
      moreover, because everyone used to bring up this example as “a real rock band anime”, if you want “real” the reality is K-on was a lot more “real” than Beck ever was.

      K-on IS what… 99.9% of what most kids’ high school rock band phase was.
      dreamers with childish ambitions…
      an excuse to hang out and play music…

      …and then everyone grows up and moves on

      it often seems like ppl’s issue with K-on wasn’t that it did the reality wrong, but more that it was too real relative to the fantasy ppl wanted it to be.

  11. Interesting. What is your opinion on K-On!?

    Great way to start this show. It appears this may have a legit storyline with some drama, and other times some comedy! Even when it’s technically still good news, I understand how it feels to word your feelings to your friend the wrong way, and having her misunderstand it in the worst way possible. So I suppose they didn’t make the nationals? I suspect this will put a monkey wrench in their friendship.

    Asuka is best girl.

      1. I totally agree with you. In fact it kinda annoys me how most of the people I personally know who watch anime where all complaining that this is nothing more than a K-on clone just because of the character designs and the fact that its about music. I’m actually a big fan of Kyoani’s character designs and I’m glad they did it this way.(yes I admit it so all you haters can bash me as much as you want). I was really happy when I read you review as it points out this show’s important points and looks past such minor details. Keep up the good work.

  12. finally kyoani is back, last time i enjoyed their work was hyouka and also maybe, just maybe, chuunibyou. well, watching the first episode, i can tell that this is gonna be a good ride

  13. I love Kyoto Animation, but if Hibike! Euphonium is anything close to Hyouka, I will love them even more, lol.

    Thank you for covering this series, Samu! o(-^o^-)o


    Random Thoughts:
    Kumiko looks younger with her hair tied up while mature with her hair down!

    Who has the other side of the red string tied to their pinky finger? Could this be hinting at a potential romance in the future?

  14. The characterization portrayed for the MC is fantastic. That’s what most high school girls are actually made of: cynicism with just a few dashes of apathy, sugarcoated with wit, political correctness, and politeness.

    And my god… Tanaka Asuka is hilarious. I actually had to gather myself together after laughing so hard. She’s the essence of Japanese humor.

    Petit Orenji
  15. She looks better with a ponytail haha.
    I’m glad the main character is not a over-the-top hyper-active cheerful girl but more down to earth.

    Already supporting the main character and her childhood friend!

  16. Definitely looking forward to more of this.

    And while Kumiko is definitely a great MC…I just fell for Asuka instantly, lol. Looks great and has a great, fun-loving personality, and look forward to more of her antics.

  17. I must give props to the sound team for this show: they managed to make the band sound bad in the way amateur middle/high school bands sound bad: not with any sort of comical obvious badness, but in a way that just doesn’t sound “right”. As someone who’s played in bands from middle school to college (and has listened to old recordings of our concerts), I know that sound all too well.

    Everything else is really great as well. This show is taking some really top-notch slice-of-life and adding in some wonderful nostalgia for my band days… I have a feeling this could become one of my favorite shows of all time.

    1. Yeah, it definitely had that “middle ground” sound to it like one would expect from a normal high school band (I was also a trumpet in band from 7th to 12th grade); obviously not hugely top tier, but also not over-exaggeratingly bad. Flawed, but not bad overall.

  18. Good review. You did well in noticing the subtle things like the fact that no one cared when she changed her hair. It’s something I kinda overlooked, but which says a lot about her feelings.
    Even though I can already guess how this story will go, I think it’s still a rather impressive first episode. At first I wanted to avoid this show because “It’ll just be another K-on like moe-blob” but after this episode I’ll have to change my opinion about this show. I’ll definitely keep watching this, and I’ll be relying on you to tell me about the stuff I didn’t notice in the reviews ^^!

  19. Ponytail Kumiko and her ‘normal girl’ attitude reminded me so much of Kato Megumi.
    (Damn, I prefer the ponytail hair so much more)

    Wish there’s some, if not a little, romance in this anime, too. Just like with Tari-tari.

    I feel like this is more of a Tari tari anime than a K-ON! one actually.

    Red HeartGold ZX
  20. I watched yesterday the Episode, and i must say The Figures in this Anime are feeling alive for me. With their movements, with their Voice, with their Jokes. Yes, This Anime has much Soul, i think i fall in Love with this one.

    1/3 passed without Problems. This Anime gives you more then you expect

  21. Kyoani’s on a roll, after Amaburi.

    As you said Samu, the characters indeed felt very real, and Kumiko wasn’t overwhelming as a character. Even Asuka didn’t give off an over the top vibe for being the peculiar one in the episode.

    I’m very much in love with the pacing and the fact that the show is actually centered around music. For Kyoani this feels as plain as it gets, but I keep getting the vibe this show will really shine in the slice of life department. This ought to be good.

  22. Just wanted to point out that the school band was not actually a brass band but instead a concert band, as brass bands don’t usually have any kind of string (like the Midori’s contrabass) or woodwinds (like the flutes or the clarinets).

    Concerning the show, I was really glad to see how it turned out. The Hyouka-eske feel really draws me in much more than anything K-on-ish could ever do it. I’ll put it on my watch list.

  23. Before you say it, no, Hibike! Euphonium is not the second coming of K-On!
    Sorry, but it is K-ON with better visuals and different instruments. Just another moe show from KyaAni. Every single time I starting to watch their series with hopes of reborn of this studio, but every single time I drop their shows after few episodes. It’s to give up, there’s no hope for them.

    Also it’s worth noting that new Kei anime will be produced by P.A. Works and new Haruhi (I know, Nagato, not Haruhi)is by Satelight.

      1. It’s pretty clear the person didn’t even read the entire blog, much less actually watch the episode. Just saw the magazine scans, saw slight character similarities holding musical instruments (not even the same kind of instruments), and now just making assumptions.

      2. Good one. He don’t like what I’m = he didn’t watched it! KyoAni fanboys never stop to amaze me. So what was so good about this anime? Story? Interesting characters? Music? Oh, cute girls doing nothing being moe. It’s typical KyoAni show, like all of them since they created K-ON (well, except Free – but that was bad in different way): great visuals, bad story and “cute girls doing cute things”. At least they dint show naked ass in 1st ep like they did in Amagi.

    1. Forgive me, but this post was made this morning and it hasn’t been down-voted to oblivion yet? Do not worry, Child. There is MUCH time for as much down-voting as we need.

      1. Intolerant how? He stated his opinion in a polite manner w/out use of foul language. I didn’t downvote bec it’s just one man’s opinion, not a fact, and I like discussions where one can freely state their disagreements w/out being downvoted into oblivion. Episode discussions aren’t meant to be circle jerks.

      2. I disagreed but the post did have some truth to it. I up-voted for his bravery of stating the other side of the argument, as we all knew he knew he was going to get a few bashing from posting his different opinion. Intolerance is going to get you nowhere, sir.

        Petit Orenji
      3. If there was actual constructive criticism beyond stating what’s on the surface that anyone can note that would explain why they disagree and don’t like the series, it would be easier to accept, but being polite and not using foul language is no excuse for negatively judging the entirety of a series that is only one episode long so far. The person even asks, “What’s so great about this anime?”, as if it’s run has already been finished. All that can be taken away from their posts is “It just looks like K-ON! girls, but with different instruments, so not worth watching. KyoAni sucks. Everything they made since K-ON! is bad”, and even calls people who defend it or note anything good about it “KyoAni fanboys”.

        NOBODY has denied that the girls can be easily compared to K-ON! and that the musical instruments can definitely give more of that impression, BUT if the person bothered to actually read the entire blog, they would learn that it is different from K-ON! as well. And “cute girls doing cute things” is hardly limited to KyoAni, but the person seems to act like it is and that it’s the ONLY thing they do.

      4. @HalfDemonInuyasha
        Who cares if people accept it or not? Everyone has the right to judge a series based on the first episode if they want to. I watched the episode, read the blog post and still think this is another generic ”cute girls doing cute things” KyoAni moeshit garbage.

      5. @Alex

        You have the right to do so, yes, and nobody is trying to force you to watch it if you don’t want to, but then don’t come to places like this and expect others, who actually do plan to stick around to watch it, to then take your opinion seriously like you actually have anything to contribute, much less respect that opinion, because you make it painfully obvious that you know nothing about the series, or will bother to try to learn anything about it, beyond what you saw on the surface.

        Nobody is calling this a masterpiece either or even denying the general similarities to K-ON!, but merely that the first episode has established some good points for itself to get people to continue to watch the series and see what happens.

    2. So Sad, you can’t even spell KyoAni or Key properly. boohoo
      Sucks to you complaining a KyoAni animation which is adapted from a novel and trying to hope for the reborn of the studio. One day you’ll get sick of P.A. Works too and want them to reborn. lol

      Sound Hyouka Market
  24. Author Takeda Ayano must be feeling very proud of herself; as an upcoming author, her second novel already gets an anime! Most starting writers struggle just to get this kind of endorsement.

  25. OK, I’ve watched this three times now. Not something I normally do. Each time Asuka’s antics are even funnier. Not often you see the show’s beauty turn out to be the comedy relief too. I hope she gets a lot of screen time.

  26. the way i look at kyo-ani slice of life character designs are that they are all somehow related to each other and at least that way i can excuse the fact that they look somewhat alike.

  27. Yes, the Language of the Music every understand on the World. And all can speak a bit Italian 🙂 “Crescendo” “Forte” “Piano” and so on… If you ever wonder want language these “Music Words” are its Italian

  28. Good one. He don’t like what I’m = he didn’t watched it! KyoAni fanboys never stop to amaze me. So what was so good about this anime? Story? Interesting characters? Music? Oh, cute girls doing nothing being moe. It’s typical KyoAni show, like all of them since they created K-ON (well, except Free – but that was bad in different way): great visuals, bad story and “cute girls doing cute things”. At least they dint show naked ass in 1st ep like they did in Amagi.

      1. I didn’t mean that, could have worded it better I guess. I loved K-On! but the mood and tone is completely different here, more down to Earth as opposed to “moe moe kyun!”

        One is not better than the other, they are just different.

  29. It doesn’t help one bit I watched Aki No Kanade (Anime Miari 2015) before this. Just made this more mediocre than it already is. Wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but it was underwhelming with usual Kyoani style. But K-on this is not. It’s actually about music from the get go.

  30. I checked this out based on this review and I must say, I’m not disappointed. The main character is actually normal and quite interesting. Someone at the cross road of pursuing music, with one of the reasons being the mediocre band in her new school.

    Even though I can see why people would say this is the same as K-On, I’d have to agree with Samu that it isn’t as it seems to actually be about music. From the introduction of the future conductor, to the plot of getting from the bad to actually national competition level music, it seems to be dwelling in a much deeper level than K-On. Of course it’s just the first episode, so I may be proven wrong. But so far it’s looking good.

    The only disappointment was that the sound was actually pretty much standard KyoAni. Ever since I watched (hear) Kanon, I think they have a higher than average quality in the audio department. Same thing here, I guess I just expected more. I still don’t know what the floor of their school is made of.

    One thing I really noticed in the credits was that Yamaha is actually an official sponsor. I guess after seeing their products peppered all over KyoAni shows, they decided to actually sponsor one. I do wonder if there are any instruments that aren’t made be Yamaha here. I’ve played around with their MIDI synthesizers and I think they’ve got every instrument shown there.


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