「めざめるオーボエ」 (Mezameru Oboe)
Gah, so good.
Apologies for the lateness of this post, but having three shows air so close to one another on a busy day of the week is proving tricky. But damn, I’ve got three excellent shows, and watching them back-to-back only re-affirms that anime isn’t dead quite yet. This season has plenty of anime that tickle my genre tastes, so I’m a content viewer right now, as Hibike! Euphonium is proving just as good – if not better – than its predecessor. Looking back, the initial episodes of the first season were impressive, but not enough to cement just how well-made this show is from tip to toe. Episode 5 was the first one to grab my attention, and then episode 8 happened, and everything that followed was a whole other level. While we haven’t had that ‘episode 8’ equivalent for this second season, we’re off to a stronger start this time around. Next week looks to finish the adaptation of the second novel, so if there’s going to be a climactic episode that’s sure to be it.
As for this episode, it effectively carried on the second-year drama, used Kumiko as a passenger to the plot unfolding around her, as she and we reacted to the band coming together to find an emotional resolution. The balance of the many side characters this season has been excellent, and shows that Kumiko and Reina aren’t the sole carriers of this story. Asuka, Nozomi, Mizore, and Yuuko have gotten major focus in this arc, and we’ve gotten to see multiple sides to them, showing that like real people, they differ depending on who they’re interacting with. In this case, the misconceptions and lack of communication are what caused this mess, which is all too common in these sorts of dramas, but the explanations for these miscommunications make sense and they didn’t stretch it out further than it had to be.
Kumiko tried her best to keep this from crashing down after learning more than she was comfortable knowing, but I liked that she didn’t have a say in how this played out. This isn’t her story to resolve, so having her witness this resolution is all she needs to do. The moment between Mizore and Nozomi was tense in a strange way; Mizore is nauseous at the sight of her friend from middle school who didn’t think to tell her she had quit the band, and essentially left her behind, while Nozomi doesn’t see what the problem is, as she didn’t think anything of it. Really, all these two needed to do was get together and explain their perspectives so they could resolve this issue. But that’s the problem: Nozomi didn’t see it as one. She removed herself, saw that the girl who she brought into the band was doing fine without her, and didn’t want to disappoint her by bringing her into the drama. But Mizore’s reaction is understandable, feeling left out and questioning why she was even there at all if the reason she joined was gone. Their coming together was lovely, and I’m happy this all got resolved.
In saying that, I think Yuuko is the one who comes out of this looking best. After her emotional outbursts regarding Kaori’s solo last year, she’s swallowed some of her pride and instead puts her focus on being a supportive friend. I can see why some find her annoying, but there’s no questioning that if she was your friend, you can bet she’d be a damn good friend who’d stick up for you no matter what, even when you may be in the wrong, and doesn’t hold back her on her passion. I’ve always had a soft spot for her, but after the past two episodes she’s shot near the top of the pack for me.
To top it all off, this episode was gorgeous. It’s a given with Kyoani, but there really isn’t anything that keeps up with the character art and top-class production values that Hibike! Euphonium offers. The premiere of Yuri!!! on Ice may have been a grand showing of potential, but the consistency seen here is a rare thing, and testament to the care, detail, and effective forward planning put into this project. Every one involved in this production – from the episode directors to the key animators to the inbetweeners – should be proud of the work they’re doing.