「かぜひきラプソデイー」 (Kazehiki Rapusodi)
“Rhapsody in Flu”
It may not have been last season’s equivalent episode, but we did get fluffy Kumiko instead. I just wanted to get that point out of this way: This was no episode 8 by the standards of last year’s Hibike! Euphonium. In complete contrast, this was the quietest episode of the second season, and probably my least favourite. I’d still class it as a damn good episode, but it felt like enough content for half an episode rather than a full one. That may be a result of stretching out the material so this second season adapts just the right amount of the novels, or maybe this current content just isn’t as compelling as it could be. Things are still bubbling beneath the surface, and I’m just waiting for things to totally erupt and the real drama to unfold.
That being said, it’s nice to have a Kumiko-centric episode, where her input and opinions are important to the content. Every episode at least had her as the point of view – whether as the centre of the drama or an outsider looking in – which is one thing this second season has balanced well, but it feels good to have some dedicated Kumiko time, especially some cute little Kumiko time. Her hair is fluffier as ever, and we finally see what made her want to play in a concert band in the first place: her sister. The contrast between their experiences with high school band is painful knowing where Mamiko goes with her choices, while Kumiko is currently doing what she enjoys and isn’t being pressured to give up her passion by the wish of her parents.
Mamiko went through what Asuka is going through right now, which ties these two family drama together. Again, it’s all good stuff, but I feel this episode could have been a bit… juicier. I hope that’s because next episode is saving up for the goods, which is very likely since “Hibike! Euphonium” is the title of the episode, which can only mean big things. Either way, the choices these characters have to make is being put front and centre. Mamiko clearly regrets her decision and wishes she stuck with what made her happy, but she knows she should have stood up more to her parents back then… yet I can see that she would feel pressured being the first child. It’s a shame she hasn’t gone to see Kumiko perform – likely due to the resentment she holds for her succeeding at what she wanted to pursue – but that talk with Shuuichi is sure to change things. In fact, it already has by the end of the episode.
Also, it looks like Shuuichi is once again a character of this series. Welcome back! His presence has grown these past couple episodes to the point where it almost feels like Reina is admitting defeat and losing the focus, even when she got the more intimate scenes with Kumiko and showed how true their bond is. Their scenes in Kumiko’s bedroom were sweet, but it looks like Shuuichi’s presence is here to stay, for better or worse. I don’t mind his character all that much, but I wish we’d seen more of him or at least knew who he was as an individual outside of his childhood crush for Kumiko. It’s cute enough, but compared to what we’ve seen with Kumiko and Reina, whether romantic or not, their relationship is simply not as interesting. Kumiko is still inching away from him whenever he appears beside her, which may be read as a sign of hidden feelings, or it may just be Kumiko being oblivious to his advances and just trying to get on with her high school life.
And to the commenter last week who pointed out that Kumiko sounded like she was developing a cold, good call! That’s exactly what it was. Another neat KyoAni touch, as expected.