It should be no surprise to learn that this gloomy, dramatic episode was produced by the staff of Hyouka. This whole episode was lacking in the colour and vibrance we’ve come to expect, but the cloudy weather and bleak atmosphere was completely fitting for what occurred in this episode. The jokes where minimal – it was time for some serious decisions to be made, with our first dose of proper drama we’ve got from Hibike! Euphonium thus far. For me, it completely worked, bringing in the Hyouka director (Takemoto Yasuhiro) to storyboard and direct this episode, as well as the character designer and prominent animation director (Nishiya Futoshi) to direct the animation of this episode. Their touch was evident, resulting in a fittingly different vibe for an episode where it was needed.
Aoi’s Decision & the Aftereffects:
I’ve felt sympathy for Aoi since the very beginning, and especially since she stood up for her beliefs regarding what the band should aim for. Unlike many others, she didn’t give into peer pressure and lie to Taki-sensei, falling victim to his master plan. Aoi has her priorities, and I think it’s more relatable that some students just don’t want to aim for the best in their hobby, when they could be studying for college exams. High school band has very little importance to Aoi at this point, so I’m not surprised that she quit. In fact, I’m happy for her. Now she gets to do what she wants, and the band can carry on without a weak link.
It’s club president Haruka that is most affected by Aoi’s decision. Up until this point the kind, gentle president has been in Asuka’s loud, extroverted shadow, so I appreciated spending this time with her. Kaori (the apparent madonna of the club – despite her snacking habits) was roped in as well, giving her the push she needed to come back to the band refreshed and ready for the upcoming auditions.
But with Aoi gone, the aftereffects still linger, especially with Kumiko, who continues to get glittery-eyed whenever anyone is inspired by their instrument. Kumiko may have taken a back seat for this episode – which instead focused on the minor characters – but she’s still my favourite to watch. Aoi leaving the band affected her, but I’m confident she’ll come through this as a better performer because of it.
Last Year’s Band Dynamics:
We finally touched on what the heck was going on this time last year. Continuing the focus of minor characters, Natsuki is once again warming to her instrument – she’s even taking it home to practice! She always had the talent, but as she explained, last year she was on the side of the slackers. She’s grown since then, but it’s worth noting Aoi, Kaori, and Haruka’s position in last year’s split. It’s a good thing that the current first years are more inspired to succeed (thanks to Taki-sensei), but after having to deal with it in the past few years, Aoi has had enough. Haruka seems close to quitting her role, but she wants to succeed, and clearly gets something out of the band. Asuka was neutral to all the drama, but her moment in the corridor with Haruka was a strong one. She may have been a better president, but she didn’t want to be, leaving Haruka to take the helm. If Haruka was really so against the role then she could have turned it down as well. But she didn’t, and here we are now. Things are looking up for them this year, so I hope Haruka gets some recognition for her commitment and kindness (which isn’t a bad thing, no matter what she thinks).
I had a feeling this was coming, but the final scene of the episode sends the romance into the forefront. Hazuki has been developing feelings for Shuuichi over the past few episodes, and whilst he hasn’t paid her much notice (in favour for who he clearly likes), this should promise some interesting developments. I honestly don’t think Kumiko has any romantic feelings for her childhood friend, and wouldn’t be one to accept his confession, if came to that. Will Hazuki and Shuuichi end up together? Will this start a love triangle? And will Gotou and Riko get together while we’re at it? Time will tell…
Overview – What’s Next?:
The atmosphere was very different this time around, but it was for the better. I’m glad Aoi stuck with her gut on this one – leaving was the best thing she could do, even if it brought back bad memories for the other seniors. By the end, the ones who shall remain will be those who can perform best, and can perform because they want to succeed. Auditions should be just around the corner now, so we will see if Taki-sensei decides to shake up the band even further. They all better play their best if they wish to keep their seats. I’m just left thinking what Shuuichi’s comments about Asuka could mean in the future episodes. Is there something deeper behind her “best girl” act?