「ひびけ!ユーフォニアム」 (Hibike! Yūfoniamu)
“Sound! Euphonium”

Whenever the title of the episode is the same as the series, you know you’re in for something special. And that’s exactly what this episode was. As I hoped, it was just what I wanted and what this second season needed. This is the only episode of this second run that matches with the highs of the first season. It took longer than I would have hoped – though in contrast, it only came a week early last year – but now I’m going to hope things stay of this quality like they did last time around. Before we had the perfect episode 8 that put Kumiko and Reina front and centre and showed just how electric their connection was; here we have that bond re-confirmed in the first half of the episode, while the rest of the episode finally cracks Asuka’s shell, and the contents of her true person spill before us with nothing for her to hide behind, and the result is wonderful.

First off, I’ll talk about Reina. She was arguably the star of the show last year (ignoring Kumiko, of course) but she seems to have faded into the background this time around. That works well for the other characters – old and new – who have gotten plenty of focus and development like Reina got last season, but it is disheartening to see her being put further down the ladder when she continues to fascinate even with her reduced screentime. I didn’t expect much of her this week, so I’m glad we got her and Kumiko’s best scene of the season in the hallway when all personal space was broken and she pointed out that Kumiko always knows more than she lets on.

These two knows each other so well, and their conversations flow without effort. Kumiko proves this week that she’s not good at keeping the conversation going when she’s with Asuka (and has shown this with many other characters too), but with Reina – who would likely be the hardest to get to know and talk with on a personal level – she’s an open book and doesn’t have to think twice before saying what she thinks. These two are a dream to watch on-screen, so it’s a real shame they haven’t had that same dramatic focus this second season. Here’s to hoping that corrects itself in the remaining episodes, though I suspect if drama is to return to their relationship it will come in the form of their potential romance/feelings for Shuuichi and Taki-sensei, which likely isn’t going to be much fun to watch.

Now, onto Asuka. Finally! We now know everything there is to know about Asuka – at least for the time being. There’s so much to discuss but I’ll focus on the major details: First, like Kumiko, Asuka pays attention and sees things that others don’t, and is able to make it seem like she is oblivious to what’s happening around her. But that mask drops several times in this episode, with the most startling being when Kaori bends down to tie her shoe lace. We get this grim and almost sinister shot of Asuka as she lets her true expression be shown when Kaori can’t see. She knows that her friends are trying to get involved in the drama with her mother, but she’s putting on that comedy act to make it seem like it doesn’t faze her. But Kumiko notices. If it were anyone else, perhaps they wouldn’t be so aware of the little moments were Asuka slips up – only to return to her smiles and cooky voice – but with these two that barrier is broken rather quickly.

We learn that Asuka’s father is actually a famous euphonium player who sent her that instrument one day in her youth. She doesn’t know much about her father, but it’s clear her mother doesn’t want her to, and is likely reminded of her ex-husband whenever she sees their daughter playing that instrument of his. I can see why she would be against her daughter playing for that reason, but that’s also a selfish reason that has hardened Asuka in a way she shouldn’t have to be. At least now we know that Asuka in fact wanted to succeed more than anyone else in that practice room. All those moments where I thought she didn’t care or just wasn’t as invested? Turns out I was wrong. Or at least, once she smelled the prize, all she could think about was winning, even if it meant cutting out those who weren’t right for the job, or giving out-of-character speeches. With her dad as a judge at nationals, I hope she is re-united with him, and after her scenes with Kumiko it seems likely that she’ll be re-invigorated to return to the band despite her mother’s wishes. It was amazing to watch Kumiko confront her senpai and have her admit that she does hate her mother. In a few seconds, the ever so smart Asuka let down her guard and said what was really on her mind, and from that moment onwards she was, like Kumiko said, a girl unlike her usual self.

That final scene with Asuka playing on the riverbanks was simply beautiful, and the closest equivalent to Reina playing at the episode of episode 8 last season. There’s many parallels with those two episodes in terms of their thematic importance and bringing two characters together (Kumiko and Reina, and now Kumiko and Asuka) in a way that’s sure to change everything going forward. I have my fingers crossed that the remaining four episodes will be of this calibre, because this was the best Hibike! Euphonium 2 has been, and I don’t want that to be a one-off occurrence.

On a final note, I’d like to point out that this episode was made by what is likely to be the main staff of Kyoto Animation’s upcoming anime, Violet Evergarden. It’s high-quality PV basically went viral when it was released, and if this episode is any indication, we’re in for some serious beauty with that upcoming project.


  1. You left out the elephant conductor in the room with Reina. The reaction when he toucher her hands to take the key had her rocked back on her heels. https://randomc.net/image/Hibike!%20Euphonium/Hibike!%20Euphonium%202%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2012.jpg At least she held it together and didn’t faint or throw herself at him. 😀 Of course they made sure we noticed that she saw the picture of him with his buds and the woman that was his wife (though she doesn’t know the actual relationship yet).

    Then again for you Reina/Kumiko shippers there’s always https://randomc.net/image/Hibike!%20Euphonium/Hibike!%20Euphonium%202%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2009.jpg

    1. Yeah, I could have talked more about that… but that part of the story doesn’t really interest me. File that under me saying: “I suspect if drama is to return to their relationship it will come in the form of their potential romance/feelings for Shuuichi and Taki-sensei, which likely isn’t going to be much fun to watch.”

  2. At 1st I thought they should mind their own business and stay out of Asuka-senpai’s business but after hearing about her father (and her life growing up) for sure the stars are aligning for an emotional end to this season so Kumiko needs to help fix things so Asuka-senpai can go back to band.

    1. I wouldn’t sacrifice this episode’s beauty for anything, but it WOULD have been nice to have comedic episode of Kumiko and friends sneaking around like secret agents carrying out the operation. 🙂

  3. ishidate taichi worked on this episode which if you guys dont remember, he was the one who directed beyond the boundary. I was skeptical of his talents at first; but then his directorial effort on the beyond the boundary movie made me realize that he just had a bad day with the tv show because the dude has got talents. he really understands storytelling on a cinematic level in the same way naoko yamada does. Ishidate is handling violet ever garden and if he brings this quality into that series or movie (they havent decided what format it will be yet…i want movies) then we are in for a treat. This episode was easily the best of the season and probably beats ep 8 of season 1 (then again i didnt love that ep as much as other ppl even though i did think it was solid)

      1. yeeeaaaa i dont know about that; trust me im one of those people who really wanted to like the series because of the potential it had. If the entire series had been like the movie, we may have had one of kyo ani’s best works

    1. Ishidate is a talented director. He did great work with Kyoukai no Kanata, it’s just a shame the series could only go so far with his direction. With the acclaim Violet Evergarden has received I expect this will be his time to shine.

      1. Yea he seems to be very comfortable as an episode director and doing his own pieces of key animation in the episodes he works on directorially. Again, i thought the tv series of kyokai no kanata was mediocre but i felt more positively about its mediocrity if that makes any sense. Mostly because i knew of its untapped potential which the movie delved into. It had seemd that at that point, ishidate got more comfortable being a main director, indicating that the dude can learn fast and adapt accordingly

  4. I think this might be the best episode yet in the second season. It’s good to finally learn more about Asuka’s rough past, have to say her mom is a bit nuts and controlling

    Also the part between Reina and Taki-sensei was great, seeing Reina getting a little flustered. Of course there was the yuri tease between Kumiko and Reina to balance things out

  5. Also to note is that it’s Asuka’s father who is the one who plays on the CD that Kumiko listened to before, and that Reina bought her when she was sick. You also notice that the letter that was addressed to Asuka with the Euphonium (doesn’t even look like it was opened?) was torn, but taped back together, so chances are that Asuka’s mother may have torn it during their “big fight” that Asuka brings up, and chances are also high that the reason for Asuka’s mother’s sudden appearance and adamancy on Asuka quitting the band is because she learned about Asuka’s father being one of the judges for the Nationals this year and clearly connected the dots and so is, once again, trying to keep Asuka from coming into contact with him for some reason.


    I wonder what was going through Asuka’s mind. I mean, she looks like she wants to put a hatchet in Kaori’s head or something x_x

    1. Based on the mom’s actions (slapping, screaming act), she’s an emotional basket case and her husband probably walked out because he couldn’t take the drama anymore. The mom resents (hates) him because he left even though she drove him away. Probably paranoid enough that she’s afraid the dad will “steal” Asuka away from her and that may even go back to when Asuka was very small.

  6. Did anyone pick up on Asuka noticing Kumiko looking at Kaori’s legs and almost point blank asking Kumiko if she thinks Kaori is hot? Somehow I’m thinking that Asuka is more of a kindred spirit to Kumiko in that sense. My guess Asuka’s knows she herself is batting for the other team and wondering whether Kumiko does as well.

    So glad there’s so much proper subtext in this series. Makes a joy to watch 🙂

    1. Interesting. I took her “She’s cute, isn’t she?” as more of Asuka channeling her annoyance as her typical upbeat behaviour. It had a double meaning in a way, being that it’s cute Kaori was trying so hard to meddle with Asuka’s issues, and the fact that she is physically cute (which is what it seems like she’s saying on the surface).

      1. Hmm. I felt in the context of the shot before where Asuka was looking down at Kaori, her response to Kumiko about Kaori being “cute” was condescending on how Kaori was being meddling and shows how Asuka is annoyed by everyone putting her on a pedestal. And apparently, Asuka got new shoes and was discussing it with Kumiko before Kaori arrives. And suddenly Kaori appears and tries to act “motherly” by tying her laces.

        At least this episode, we finally get to see a genuine expression from Asuka. The power of MC Eupho Kumiko saving the day behind the scenes. Kumiko really is the MVP.

  7. So many wonderful things to say about this episode, I couldn’t fit them in a comment. (Have 3000 words worth of posts elsewhere; Samu’s blog is about 1000 words.)

    Highlights (other than the obvious):

    Natsuki being Natsuki. Solid insight about people, and understanding about what’s needed for the club. Expecting her to be VP next year (with Yuuko as president). (VP needs insight; Pres needs charisma and drive.)

    Reina’s reaction to Taki’s touch. The first time her emotional attachment to Taki really felt real, rather than just words. At the same time, spotting the picture that will send it all tumbling down.

    Kumiko asking Asuka about the book she was reading. Didn’t have the direct impact of the shoe scene, but felt like it said a lot more about Asuka and Kumiko.

    The beginner’s euphonium book. That says so much about the dad Asuka wished she had. The type of person that can write a beginner’s book like that isn’t just a famous name.

  8. Okay, this is gonna be long 🙂

    Samu, great review as always. I feel like half of my comments are just rehashing what you are saying so I’ll try to keep that to a minimum here, but yeah, this episode was absolutely the best of the season so far and gave me serious flashbacks to the famous episode 8 of S1. Hibike! Euphonium is at it’s best when it puts Kumiko in one on one situations with dynamic characters, and Asuka has (finally!) proven herself to be just such a character. This episode went as perfectly as it could have gone; it’s an astoundingly beautiful result. Bravo KyoAni!

    I love the fact that I had Asuka all wrong! KyoAni did such a good job planting the seeds for us to be wary of her character, and then flipped those expectations on their heads. It’s so similar to what happened with Reina in S1 that I feel like I should have seen it coming! But again, I’m glad I didn’t 🙂 Side note: that notebook Asuka received from her father looks identical to the one Kumiko is seen holding in the flash forward in the first scene of S2. What that means for Asuka’s involvement in the band going forward, I’m not sure (those foot prints in the snow look like someone walking away…)

    Kaori’s involvement this week was really surprising to me… until I remembered Kaori and Asuka’s dynamic from S1. That shoelace scene and Asuka mentioning Kaori later in the episode (regarding the gift for her mom and also how Kaori’s blood would taste good to a mosquito) had me really questioning Asuka’s feelings for Kaori. In S1 Kaori talked about feeling like Asuka could see through her, that she wanted to impress her and move beyond what Asuka expected of her. It’s clear Kaori admires Asuka immensely, but I can’t help but feel that Kaori doesn’t really understand Asuka the way that Kumiko does. I think that she, like Aoi and Haruka, views Asuka as almost super-human, and that puts a lot of pressure on Asuka. When Kaori goes down on her knees to tie the shoe, I think it triggered feelings of frustration in Asuka because I don’t think she wants Kaori to be submissive to her, or put her on a pedestal. On the other hand, tying someone’s shoes could also be seen as babying them, not serving them, so maybe Asuka just doesn’t want to be seen as a charity case, but I feel like that interpretation doesn’t quite fit with Kaori and Asuka’s established relationship. Lots to ponder in that scene! I really hope Kaori and Asuka’s relationship gets more fleshed out by the end of this.

    Your comments on Reina’s role in the show mirrored what I was thinking last week, wondering where the hell she had gone in the story. I’m glad we had a moment to appreciate the Kumiko/Reina dynamic again and I hope it plays a more central role going forward, which luckily it seems like it will. I’m looking forward to the Taki/Reina drama just for that. The way Reina literally rocked backwards on her heels, and the way Kumiko observed that action had me dizzy. To me, it speaks to the idea that Reina is completely infatuated with this guy, but not really in love with him. She’s putting him on a pedestal to the point where even his hands brushing against hers is cause for complete meltdown. The contrast to Kumiko and Reina’s scene was remarkable; their constant ability to hit this perfect balance of complete comfort and tantalizing chemistry is remarkable. It’s really, as you said, a dream to watch.

    But of course the real MVP of this week, and pretty much every week, is Kumiko. She is one of the best protagonists I’ve seen in an anime in a long time. She’s really the X factor that throws this group of characters into motion, and it’s almost funny how she keeps getting recognized for that ability (the phrase “that seems like something you (Oumae) would say” might as well be the tagline of the show). At this point, it feels like everybody from Reina to Natsuki to Kaori is depending on her to work her Kumiko magic and move things forward. You made the brilliant connection that this character trait is similar to Asuka’s, and I have to agree! Asuka has proven time and again that she can pick up the pieces and bring people together better than anyone in her year. It makes you wonder if Kumiko is following in Asuka’s footsteps in that sense…

    Anyway, that’s all for now. Can’t wait for next week! 🙂

  9. Aww man…

    I really wanted to participate in last episode’s discussion about Kumiko’s relationship with her sister but dang i was so overwhelmed with work, and now realizing it has already been a week and the drama aint hot anymore X(

    Anyways, man…i watch both “gay” animes this season and hell, nothing aroused my sexuality so hard like how Hibike does. Sure, Yuri on Ice is gay straight out in the public due to the narcissistic nature of most of the characters in the anime (because of their celeb status). So maybe its predictable. Thats why for me, personally, I think Hibike is a mad foreplay to the max XD thats how i felt when Reina circling Kumiko’s moment hahh (though i personally into Shuuichi and Kumiko’s ship, but welp Kyoani did it again… :/)

    That Kaori’s screen time, godly…<3 favorite bae is bae; and is it weird that i felt kinda worried seeing how Asuka suddenly turned dark when Kaori trying to tie her laces? Man! I really felt scared for Kaori, as if Asuka could suddenly kick her on the head anytime soon if Kumiko wasnt there. But yea, like most of the discussions pointed out here, it got me really curious about why Asuka kept on bringing up how "cute" or "nice" Kaori is (but Kumiko somehow brushed them off and managed to get back to the real topic). But after reading some of the comments, i kinda agreed and realized…yea, Asuka does seemed annoyed every time she talked about Kaori…(and i almost thought it was Kaori who gave Asuka the shoes since she mentioned how they fit her size, and maybe it was Kaori who intentionally bought the wrong size so that she can give it to Asuka saying she bought the wrong one, out of pity since seeing how Asuka's house is, how her mom is, i can see Asuka isnt the type that going to ask money to buy stuffs. But who knows.)

    Anyways, the sisterhood in this anime is a strong one; perhaps the best i'd ever seen. <3 And lord, Reina, when did you learnt how to behave so fucking cute hngg XD

    onion warrior

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