Taki-sensei’s Methods of Practice and Understanding:
I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments last week, especially regarding Taki-sensei, and his methods and approach. Clearly, he divided opinions. Some thought he was too harsh, that he wasn’t doing his job as an advisor, and wasn’t assisting the students; others thought his blunt words were necessary for a band that had agreed to aim for nationals. It’s important that he got so many people riled up for all those reasons, because it shows that Hibike! Euphonium is doing a good job at creating an authentic band experience that others can chime in on based off their own personal experiences. And with what we got this week, I’m sure many of you experienced band members (which I never was, mind you) had some strong feelings about the practice sessions and Taki’s methods.
One thing you can’t complain about anymore is that he’s not even trying – he really is. It’s a busy week of parent-teacher meetings, yet he’s organising these exercises for all the band members in order to better their breathing, their commitment, and making sure they understand what they need to do to get better. Some of the stuff may seem a little out there, but it all becomes relevant once you look at the bigger picture. Each exercise or lesson is important for everyone; no one is excluded, which I’m very happy about – this cast is massive (sixty or so, I believe) and many will forever remain unnamed, but I appreciated seeing even the background characters get their time with Taki-sensei as he either told them what to do, or told them how bad they were. He’s harsh, for sure, and that smile seems like a big fat lie, but I thoroughly enjoy what he’s bringing to the group, and to the anime as whole.
Considering how divisive he is amongst viewers, it’s only fair that he be just as divisive with his students. Some of them still proclaim that they don’t like him, others – like the bass section – don’t have anything bad to say about him; they did have a very positive lesson with him, after all. But everyone came together in the end, whether it be to prove him wrong or prove to themselves that they were capable of it, and damn, they were! The performance at the end of the episode was brilliant. It still had errors here and there, but the work put into the sound production is evident – it sounded crisp and real, and I felt like I was there in the moment. Little touches like teachers hearing from across the school and seeing a students march to the tune made it seem even more real. In the end, the bandmates proved themselves worthy of aiming for festivals. As Taki-sensei says:
Kumiko & Kousaka:
Not only did we get the slow, gradual, but fantastic progress of the band coming together as a ensemble, but Kumiko and Kousaka actually talked to each other! Better late than never, yet the time feels like. Their first encounter near the river was just stunning to watch, even if Kousaka didn’t mince her words. It makes sense that someone as dedicated as her would appreciate an advisor like Taki-sensei; it would be very interesting if we get to see them both in a scene together at some point. But as for Kumiko and Kousaka, their relationship is still in a weird place, even after Kumiko steps forward and rambles on about how Kousaka inspired her and ends up feeling like she’s made a bad impression because it. Clearly that’s not going to be the case, so I look forward to these two girls again in future episodes, possibly as friends.
The Little Moments that Matter:
Kyoani have clearly done their research with this one, and everything feels genuine and authentic because of that. Even if I always appreciate their cut aways to other characters (I particular liked the interview-style moments when the students were discussing Taki-sensei) or their legs (leg fetish…), or the instruments they’re playing. Not only that, but we got some plenty of goofy and cute Kumiko faces this week, which are certainly a different style from what we’ve saw these past few episodes, but they didn’t feel out of place. Frankly, seeing the cynical Kumiko turn into a bit of a doofus when she’s around Kousaka was fun to watch.
Others moments that put a smile on my face were Asuka’s consistently hilarious one-liners (“Are you in pain?” “Are you pregnant?”) – god, she’s hilarious. But the standout minor character of the week has to be Gotou, with him blushing over his less than stellar singing voice. And clearly this girl (whose name I can’t recall, if it’s even been given) has a thing for him, and I sincerely hope something comes of it, even if it’s never a major plot point. The moments she’d look up at him as he blushed or spoke about his love for the tuba were just to die for. The details! The KyoAni details! Also, Natsuki is still going to get some major focus at some point – we keep cutting to this tired yet talented girl for it not to mean something. If I were to make a prediction, I think she’ll come alive when competition is around the corner.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Yes, this episode was slow paced, but it was near-perfect because of it. So many characters were shown, yet it never felt crowded. The Kumiko and Kousaka stuff is advancing at a nice pace, and all the musical parts of this episode sent goosepimples up and down my arms. For me, this was not only the best episode of Hibike! Euphonium so far – it was the best episode we’ve seen this whole anime season. Even if we don’t get anymore episodes that top this, this will still likely end up a great anime. If, however, it manages to get even better, this may just end up one of KyoAni’s finest.
Full-length images: 14.