Fast Paced Festival:
We certainly shifted gears in this one, storming straight into the Sun Festival with no time to waste. It was odd having an episode as fact-paced as this one after the past four took a much more gradual approach. I wouldn’t say I disliked the fast frames and jump cuts, but I think if we got more of a balance with the pacing, then this episode could have been top-notch. Still, the festival came, and it was worth it, even if it was more about the build-up and the tension of the situation as opposed to the actual performances. Saving budget, or saving the best for later? I don’t know, but SunFes didn’t feel like it was meant to show the band at their best; they’re certainly improving, but I think it’d be too early for a “wow” moment from them. Though, it was rewarding to see the bystanders appreciate their performance – underdog stories are always the best that way.
Taki-sensei certainly has his desired effect on everyone in the band (some more than others), but I think it’s safe to say he’s done a good job so far. Of course, Aoi, who stood up for her own beliefs, isn’t going to stick around when she’s got other commitments, which I liked. I don’t know what else she can offer in the long run, but I do appreciate how she factors into all of this. Natsuki is still a curious one, as well. It seems that she was never suffering from any tragedy that prevented her from playing, as we saw her playing with no problems last week. This time, she commented that they’re already practicing much more than they did last year. It seems like Natsuki’s attitude up until this point has been ‘been there, done that’ and she’d seemingly given up on trying because there wasn’t much point. But now there is, so it’s good to see her coming out of her shell, even if I wish we’d spend more time on her.
A New Start – Afresh, from Scratch:
I’m rattling my brain here, but I think Kumiko may just be the best KyoAni main character. There are plenty of others characters that are more memorable and worth the attention they get, but as for one strong, believable central character, so far Kumiko has the rest beat. I said it in my post for the first episode, but it’s purely because feels real. She doesn’t feel like she’s been crafted in an anime lab to purposefully appeal to the otaku demographic (though I’m sure she does) – she acts like you’d expect a high school student to act: she’s cynical but acts like a goofball around Kousaka, is severely disappointed in her flat chest, and has a nice back-and-forth with Shuuichi, which results in them acting like childhood friends would – a little awkward, quite blunt to one another, and not all about possible love between them. Not only that, but she’s coming full circle with her reasons for choosing her highschool. She accepts her reasons for doing so as valid, and realises that she’s found something really worthwhile out of it.
Kousaka Reina & Romance?:
Much like Kumiko, I’ve got my eye on Kousaka. She borders between comic and serious even when she’s not trying, and her moments with Kumiko are always fun in a one-sided way, but this episode she certainly showed a new side. Straight away it seems like Taki-sensei may have been her reason for moving to the school, since it was brought up that she refused the light-blue demons to join what, on paper, seems like a lesser school. Did she know he would take over the band? And does that tie back to him listening to their middle school performance back in the first episode. Obviously these two aren’t going to have some dangerous affair, but this element of romantic feelings for your teacher (and not just because he’s hot, like everyone else says) could be very interesting to see unfold. Also, is it just me or did Hazuki seem a little glitter-eyed over Shuuichi? That would be a twist, especially since you’d expect Kumiko and Shuuichi to be the ones made for each other (though I think Kumiko x Kousaka is better, personally).
Overview – What’s Next?:
Overall, I thought the festival went by a little too fast. I liked the preparation for it as well as what we did see of the performance, and the nighttime outdoor scene with Kumiko and Kousaka was simply stunning (which explains the multitude of caps I’ve got for an otherwise short scene). Hibike! Euphonium is still delivering the goods – both visually and thematically – so I have no major complaints other than the shift in pacing this time around. I can’t wait to see where Kumiko goes from here, as well as if there is some romance and drama incoming. It can’t be smooth sailing from here out, after all.