「ほうかごオブリガート」 (Hokago Oburigato)
“After-school Obbligato”

And that’s how you finish off two thematically linked character arcs. Everyone else, take notes. Both the Mamiko and Asuka storylines got wrapped up with this episode, and I don’t have any complaints. Poor Kumiko has these two issues to handle, with one that comes from acceptance and the other from being proactive and taking a stand, and the result is just as rewarding as I’d hoped.

Firstly there’s the Mamiko storyline, which has been the lesser of the two, but seeing the once broken bonds of these sisters come together again is lovely to watch, even if it feels like things aren’t going to be exactly as they’d like. Mamiko is moving out, but her and Kumiko share a moment in the kitchen that proves that Hibike! Euphonium knows how to depict siblings. Lots of anime just don’t, but here we have sisters that feel like sisters. There’s a noticeable age gap which likely prevented them from being especially close as Mamiko entered high school, but now we know that Mamiko was jealous and held resentment because Kumiko was able to pursue her passions without the pressure of their parents. I mentioned before about the struggles of being the eldest child, and that is certainly the case here.

I feel for Mamiko and don’t blame her for lashing out in previous episodes, nor do I blame Kumiko for not understanding her sister’s point of view until everything became clear. They’ve barely interacted for so long, so now that they’re on talking terms again and are showing genuine affection for one another, they’re understanding where each is coming from. But the best scene comes when Kumiko heads to school the next morning and gets a moment to reflect on her sister leaving for good, and the tears spill in traditional Kyoto Animation fashion. The unhelpful stares from strangers only make the situation more painful to watch. It was saddening seeing Kumiko get emotional over her sister for what is likely the first time since she was a little girl. Or ever.

The Asuka storyline also delivers the goods, and it’s all because of the dynamic between Kumiko and Asuka. Unlike with her sister, Kumiko has the chance to change how things are playing out; that link between these two family dramas is what makes this work so effectively, and after being a bystander for so long, Kumiko finally a steps up and screams out in a fit of emotional fury. Asuka played the villain for several minutes by getting into her face and hiding behind that mask of hers, but everything became far more real than she expected. It didn’t quite reach the peak of last week’s encounter, but this time was louder and Kumiko said everything she was holding in. And Asuka is finally giving us some genuine reactions, this time to Kumiko being so assertive; yet it’s telling that the one time where Asuka is at her weakest, neither we nor Kumiko are allowed to see her face. I wish we could, but it was a stellar shot that told us everything we needed to know while still keeping mystery.

But there’s one problem in all of this, which I brought up last week: Reina. She’s been MIA for a lot of this season, and this episode finally acknowledged that, which has me worried. That final stare she gave Kumiko doesn’t inspire much hope, so I expect things to shift to Kumiko/Reina next week. If it’s anything to do with Shuuichi, I’m not gonna be over the moon… but we’ll have to wait and see. More Reina is always better, usually. Let’s see how it compares to the Mamiko and Asuka storylines that seem to have wrapped up neatly this week.



    Yeah this episode was exciting all right. The production quality was off the charts (the voice acting in particular!) and another 10/10 for the second week in a row has me getting very excited about the last few episodes of this series. Waiting a week between episodes is getting harder and harder.

    Talk about an excellent piece of writing; this was the culmination of so many storylines going all the way back to the very first episode. Watching a smart, nuanced protagonist like Kumiko go through this huge a-ha moment was so moving. The clear theme throughout this episode was expectations, both the expectations we have for ourselves and the expectations we have for those we admire. The parallels between Asuka and Mamiko were clear to me going in; they both held themselves to a level of expectation that wasn’t appropriate for their age (or maybe ever). Mamiko’s maturity in discussing this with Kumiko was refreshing and much needed. It made Kumiko empathize with her sister for the first time in years and then later question the expectations she had for herself to act like an adult. The scene where Kumiko cries on the train was a standout and beautifully captured her newfound self-awareness.

    And Kumiko, being our brave, wonderful Kumiko, doesn’t hesitate to use this newfound knowledge to change Asuka’s mind about quitting band. Asuka’s cynicism was on full display in that scene and the insinuation that Kumiko’s classmates and friends would lie to her *specifically* made me gasp. But it seemed to me that Asuka wasn’t only talking about Kumiko, but rather referring to a personality trait that both Kumiko and Asuka share. “You’re curious, so you get close, but you’re afraid of hurting people and of being hurt. So you leave things wishy-washy and watch from a safe distance.” That was certainly Kumiko on day 1 of high school, and she’s exhibited that behavior numerous times since, but we’ve seen so much evidence to indicate that Kumiko doesn’t want to continue living her life this way and doesn’t want Asuka to either. Listening to her speech shouted through tears was a reminder of just how much Kumiko has changed and the only word I can use to describe it was awe-inspiring.

    Meanwhile, the show itself finally seems to be asking WHERE THE HELL IS REINA?? I truly did not foresee a potential rift between the two of them happening this way, but my only guess is that Reina has somehow found out that Kumiko knew of Taki’s wife.

    As for Shuichi… the revelation that he owns a sweater will have me reeling for weeks! XD

    1. I never watched Inou-Battle, but I think that was the most impressive of the two, if only for the sheer length and passion put into that delivery. But Kumiko’s VA is only 20 years old and is already proving herself, so she’s one to watch out for in the future. It also helps that she’s got a distinctive voice (that I’ll likely associate with Kumiko from now on).

  2. Heh, and all the people who complained about how Kumiko has been acting this season get a big smack to the backs of their heads by showing that the show knew what it was doing by having Kumiko be more passive and wishy-washy.

  3. Loved how Asuka called Kumiko out on her wishy washy personality and how Kumiko stood her ground and confronted Asuka about how she acts. Probably one of the best scenes in the series

    That death glare Reina gave Kumiko sent chills down my spine, wonder what she’s pissed about. Already people are speculating yuri but I’m guessing it might have to do with Taki-sensei

    Also Shuuichi still an underdeveloped character that still has no presence, sucks to be him

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Hibike!%20Euphonium/Hibike!%20Euphonium%202%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2002.jpg
    This week was full of Kumiko and Asuka, but the rest of the bass section were great. I loved that everyone gathered around Kumiko for any confirmation of whether she could convince Asuka of staying. They really care about their leader’s well-being. There was also Natsuki’s kindness. When she had no hard feelings that Asuka would reclaim her place at Nationals, I just thought, “Natsuki, you’ve really grown up! You used to not care about getting better at the euphonium before”.

  5. Emotionally charged episode, but I’ll give it just 9/10 (pretty low, isn’t it?) because of the way AsukaGate was resolved. Asuka’s absence of the band was just to increase her grades, use them to BTFO her meddling mother, and return to the band to get her ambition. Kinda made Kumiko’s lashing at her somewhat pointless. Don’t misunderstand me, Kumiko was a force to reckon, but Asuka’s so pragmatic on her way of doing things is just cheating




    I thought i wouldnt had the chance to come back with the sisters' act since last episode. But Im glad they resolved the dramas in this episode. Idk how but ever since episode 8, i got this feeling of how Mamiko and Kumiko's relationship was very similar to mine with my sister. And in this episode, i can surely say for sure it is. My elder sister was definitely similar to Mamiko's situation, where my mom kept on praising and saying she was better than me when we were little. And i was Kumiko. I didnt excelled much in academic but i went and followed my passion for art. How our parents kept on comparing us and how they had high expectations on my sister. And hell, just looking at the sisters' dramas in this anime, i couldnt relate more. My sister of course, after she finished with high school and graduated as top students, she immediately ripped all of those best student's facade and did what she like during college and of course, it didnt turn out well for her: jumping and quitting colleges until she learnt that, she needs to finish what she started. As the younger one, i witnessed and learnt a lot from that; how Kumiko had a big fight with her sister in front of Reina, how she'll be missing her sister after she left for good. Holy lord, Kumiko, i've lived through all your journey! XD If i managed to get through with what i love and fought hard for it, im sure Kumiko girl, you will be alright hahaha (dang its weird for me to say this as if shes real af)

    Phew! Now im not sure which episode is my best after all of these! KyoAni, god bless all of you amazing people whos working hard producing such a beautiful masterpiece <

    onion warrior
  7. Asuka couldn’t, wouldn’t tell everyone what she was doing. We had a hint earlier when she said that she had made a deal with her mother that if she kept up her grades she could continue to play the euphonium. She used the same tactic making the deal she could play if she scored high in the mock exam. By keeping it to herself she kept everyone from assuming she would succeed so they wouldn’t be devastated and she wouldn’t be embarrassed if she failed to score high enough. It makes for quite a different view of the girl who appeared to be the jokester of the band in the first eps.

  8. And the Emmy goes to…

    Man. Every episode of this show manages to have it’s own unique reason for why it’s so GREAT. No episode feels the same and they’re also incredible in different ways, and the stellar animation adds to all that! This ep had slow panning shots, and straight-ahead shots not seen in this season until now and it was powerful!

    I want to hug both Kumiko and Asuka. Asuka for finally dealing with her own problem (off-screen), and Kumiko moreso because she broke down crying TWICE this week!

  9. I had to fight against all odds to avoid spoilers for two whole days until now, and was all worth it.

    I’m glad Kumiko was able to let out her feelings to Asuka. Sure, most people would definitively lie to patronize others, but when it comes to what you truly love (in this case, playing the euphonium) actions speak lauder than a thousand words could say. In the end, Asuka was able to see what Kumiko tried so desperately to convey with her words and tears.

    Now I’m worried about this whole thing with Reina. Just like how Kumiko was able to patch things up with Asuka and Mamiko, now we’ve a drama between the two. I don’t know if this happened in the original material, so maybe its KyoAni messing with us, because come on, Reina can’t be pissed just because Kumiko knew about Taki’s wife and didn’t tell her anything. Let’s see and wait for the preview that drops on Sunday.

    Syaoran Li
  10. Reina’s death stare at the end worries me as well. Hopefully it doesn’t have to do with Taki and his wife. It strikes me as possible that she could be somewhat jealous of all the attention Kumiko has been lavishing on Asuka. After all she too is just a high schooler.

    1. Oh, it being about Taki-sensei and his wife makes sense as well. Going by the preview for next week Kumiko and Reina are going back to the hill from episode 8, so I hope they have a heart-to-heart and things are cleared up before they get too messy.

      1. Indeed, because Reina’s distance from Kumiko feels too sudden after what the trumpeter told her in episode nine about her ability to see what others are don’t. Let’s hope for the best.

        Syaoran Li
  11. sometimes I feel that we as a society assume things way too much instead of waiting for something to play out. kyoani has always struck me as a smart studio they wouldn’t take something that’s meant to go a certain way (kumiko shuichi) and twisted it into something a vocal majority assumes is there (kumiko reina. if that were the case they wouldn’t keep adapting heterosexual content most of the time besides changing character interactions for no reason is shallow and disrespectful to the author unless all the “baiting” was in the original novel anyway.

    1. You’re totally right about that, still it doesn’t make sense to focus only in Reina’s love for Taki and ignore Kumiko’s “feelings” for Tsukamoto. It’s like Tamako Market, where Tamako was oblivious to his childhood friend’s feelings until the movie Tamako Love Story. Is the original material to blame or what?

      I don’t know and don’t care anymore.

      Syaoran Li

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