‘Don’t Waste My Time’:
I bet all the people who dismissed this as K-On! 2.0 are feeling silly right now. The introductions are out of the way, for the most part at least – we’re still picking up information at the same rate as the first years, like breathing exercises – so now we can get to the the performances. Even though I’ve been looking forward to seeing them play together, practice is most important, whether that be by yourself, or with your respective section. But what happens when some people just aren’t putting in the effort that’s required? It ends up a travesty. This isn’t K-On! wonderland, where time spent on tea and cakes corresponds to how well the student perform. In Hibike! Euphonium, those who don’t practice or simply don’t care enough to try end up bringing everyone else down.
Taki-sensei is a funny one. First off, he’s not anything like the other teachers we’ve seen from KyoAni, which I appreciate. He reminds me of teachers from my school who were both the best and worst at times; best, because they were approachable and relatable, and didn’t put a barrier between pupil and teacher; but also worst, because when they got pissed off or were disappointed with anyone’s work, you just knew that whatever they were going to say next wasn’t going to be pretty or easy to hear. You could argue that it’s easier just to have someone who is more traditional in approach, so you always know what to expect from them if something goes wrong – but having Taki-sensei say the words: ‘Don’t waste my time’ was more impactful because of that very reason. Going into this, I half-expected him to be kind and considerate with all his students, and never thought he would never push them out of their comfort zones. But he essentially manipulated them last week – or most of them, I should say – to strive for nationals. Clearly, his methods don’t match with his easygoing demeanour, and I like that.
There’s also the case of the missing second years, as well as those that remain showing little interest in the band. Natsuki in particular is destined to get an episode or two focused on her – from the moment she appeared sullen in the opening, I had a feeling she’d be a minor character worth shedding some light on. The harsh truth of it all is that many of the students don’t care enough, or simply don’t believe they have what it takes to get to nationals, and so won’t bother trying. Aoi was the only one to stand up for those beliefs last episode, and even if it goes against the purpose of the series, it’s hard not to have some respect for her. So many of them wanted to do the same thing, but were pressured by Taki-sensei’s methods.
The Truth is in the Details:
One thing I also appreciate with KyoAni is how much effort they put into the details, and how that makes for a more believable and immersive experience. Not many studios put so much into the little things that seemingly dont matter in the grand scheme of things – or at least they don’t if you don’t notice them. The biggest example of this is with Kumiko and her sister, in the short scene we have of them this week. The purpose of that scene was to show how her sister isn’t so keen on the Euphonium, and that both of them aren’t on the same wavelength. That becomes even more apparent when you look at the framing – whether we only see Kumiko’s reactions to the conversation, or we look down at the euphonium that sits between them. But the best moment would have to be the literal canyon between Kumiko and sister. For such a short scene, it was packed with fantastic imagery and framing, showing how distant their relationship is without making it seem forced or typical.
Overview – What’s Next?:
This episode was beautiful and depressing, which, if you ask me, was a perfect balance. I wouldn’t change anything even if I could. We’re going to go through some trials along the way with several characters, but I can’t wait to see how that all plays out. Also, the scene with Kousaku playing the trumpet over the school as the sun sets was stunning. There are some seriously impressive anime this season in terms of production, but Hibike! Euphonium has to be up there as one of the best. Looking ahead, I want to see Kumiko explode. Right now she’s taking a step back, witnessing those around her who aren’t trying, and is clearly disappointed by it. She says she doesn’t want to play the euphonium any more, but when her sister points out that she’s playing it again, her expression shifts in a way that has my curiosity piqued.
Full-length images: 08.