So Many Characters!:
After a rather personal first episode from Kumiko’s perspective, this one takes a different approach by introducing the band, and by extension, the many students that are part of it. I would point them all out for clarity, but there were too many to do so, and not all of them have yet been named. I suspect that these characters will show up every now and then – whether that be working as a unit or tackling their personal issues.
The first of the two named characters who I do think are worth bringing up is Ogasawara Haruka (Hayami Saori), the soft-spoken club president who manages to keep order and clearly hopes to reach Nationals. Her back and forth with the over-the-top Asuka is going to be fun to watch based on what we got this episode. Also, how great is Asuka? She may be comic relief so far, but she’s absolutely slaying it – her ‘Shut up!’ actually made me howling, as well as pretty much everything else she says, and all the faces she makes. So far she’s been very whimsical and extroverted in all her scenes, but if Hibike Euphonium lives up to its promise for drama, maybe we will see something deeper beneath the surface? That would be interesting, but for now, she’s damn hilarious.
Saitou Aoi (Hikasa Yoko) is the other new girl that I think is going to play a very important part. She’s Kumiko’s and Shuuchi’s childhood friend, she revealed Kumiko’s Euphonium secret, and most noteworthy of all, she was the only member of the band to raise her hand against striving towards nationals. That tells me that she has either given up on achieving the best for the band, or she simply doesn’t want to experience failure yet again. The fact that she stood up for her beliefs was a strong moment for her character; now I’m interested to see what makes her tick. I’m certain we’ll be exploring her backstory with Kumiko at some point.
The Instrument & The Goal:
Along with an introduction of new characters, we get a rundown of the instruments available. I’m a complete newcomer when it comes to being in a band (though I did play the drums and xylophone at school) so I’m very much learning about the instruments as we go. Having the upperclassmen plead their cases was a good way of portraying that – showing that certain personalities are better suited to certain instruments (but of course, you have to factor in how heavy it is, and whether you have the muscles to carry that weight). Kumiko trying to move away from the Euphonium once again calls back to this notion of her becoming a ‘new person’ for high school, and by the end she is forced to realise that she can (or has been forced to) stick with what she knows, what she’s good at, and what has been part of her up until this moment. I’m very interested in her character arc; she needs to realise who she is as a person and be comfortable with it – to find the balance between conformity and individuality. As for the great hair debate, whilst I think the ponytail really suits her, Kumiko having her hair down is too symbolic for her own self-acceptance, so I simply cannot support the ponytail. Sorry!
I touched upon Aoi standing up to the club goal of completing in nationals, but Taki, their new club adviser, brings up something that I think is going to be very relevant in future episodes. These characters have to create their own personal goals and aspire to them, whilst applying themselves to the band and doing the best they can. I’ll be keen to see who excels and who crumbles with these responsibilities, especially Kumiko and Aoi.
The Outdoors is Beautiful:
There’s always high expectations for production values when it comes to KyoAni, and for good reason. Simply put, they make the best looking shows. You can put that down to personal taste, but for all that people can fault KyoAni for, their dedication to and the execution of their aesthetic is not one of them. All of their shows are very pretty to watch, but every now and then there are ‘wow’ moments. I got many with Hyouka and Tamako Market (especially Tamako Love Story), but Hibike Euphonium can now officially be added to that list. Those outdoor scenes were seriously gorgeous, from the cinematography, to the lighting, to the immense detail put in to create a world that feels lush and real. The last few minutes of this episode were a serious treat to the eye.
Overview – What’s Next?:
A slower episode than the first, but an important one as we are introduced to many new characters and just as many instruments. The mood is still light, and Kumiko’s attempt to speak to Kousaka again turned out a lot easier than expected, but I know the drama is coming eventually (or at least I expect it to) and I can’t wait! Till next week~