These girls aren’t playing for keeps anymore, and if you don’t understand that, they’ll mark you as evil.
So it turns out my theory was wrong and that Nozomi is discouraged from returning to the band because the only oboe player hates her. That Mizore girl I briefly touched on in last week’s post that Nozumi was apparently on good terms with at the start and thought she was still on good terms with even though they haven’t interacted at all? Yeah, apparently she doesn’t want to have anything to do with her former band member and if she were to leave, there’d be no one to replace her (not that anyone in this show would consider that to be a possibility to begin with). Kinda sucks when that sort of interpersonal drama runs through a club – even though the vagueness of it all makes it a little hard to get invested in – but what can you do? As I’ve said before, band is a very collaborative effort and if even one part goes awry, it can affect the whole performance, let alone the competition. Everyone needs to get on board and if you have a different opinion, compromise or you’re not making the cut. There’s always someone else willing to play your part as soon as they go through a couple more extra drills. And if there’s not, well then we have a real problem.
Anyways, this week’s episode was more focused on setting up future plot points rather than pushing the story forward, so I don’t really have a central point to grab onto besides the show’s usage of compromises, which I’m going to hold onto for now until the story pushes it more to the forefront. Instead, I’m just going to focus on a couple of tangents.
I love how this show constantly beats into the band that in order for them to succeed, they have to get good. As in “consecutive three-hour practices with twenty-minute breaks in-between” levels of good. The kind of practice that makes me almost glad that I never did the thing growing up, because there was no way my immature lazy brain would have been able to keep up with it. Sound Euphonium’s surface may look like another light-hearted cute girl show and it’s true we’re not getting anything on the level of Whiplash in terms of torturous tutoring or overall tone, but the core of this show is ruthless regarding its portrayal of what band members have to do in order to succeed in the eyes of the public. But it’s worth it to these girls in the end because more than that, they want to succeed in the eyes of themselves.
Once again, the conflict from a year ago when the seniors didn’t have any aspirations to be more than just another K-On is brought up and whilst I have concerns regarding how much longer Euphonium can keep using it as a source of drama, it’s still functioning fine enough as a driving force. Deprived of the opportunity to get truly passionate about their hobby by Japan’s rigid seniority system, they have at least a year’s worth of pent-up frustration to unleash, and there’s not really much you can add to the conflict without it coming off as contrived. More importantly, it gives a reasonable motivation to why these girls want to succeed at band so badly that goes slightly beyond “because we love instruments”, even though our main characters continue to be left out of the loop on account of not being around when that happened.
It certainly helped make Yuko more likable. I never really hated her for being a selfish brat regarding Reina and Kaori’s battle for the solo position (not that her overdramatic crying helped) like most people, but I wouldn’t exactly have watched an episode centered around her if you know what I mean. Still probably don’t, but I enjoy how after all is said and done, she’s still her stubborn self whilst still acknowledging that there’s more to the upcoming band challenges than practice and preparation. As someone who barely hung on after last year’s conflict, she wants to make up for lost time just like everyone else, and is willing to compromise in both good and bad ways in order to do it as long as the band stays united. That’s some pretty good characterization right there, and it really shows just how much Euphonium has evolved over time. Hopefully that beard continues to grow and KyoAni doesn’t decide to shave it halfway through (or worse, next episode).
So Taki-sensei used to be married, huh? Considering what looks like a flashback to his youth in the opening for this show, we’ll probably get some focus on his past in the future that’ll develop him as more of a character.
Honestly, I think Asuka’s reveal of why Nozomi shouldn’t return was disappointing, and not just because I wanted my theories to be true. It just seems too simplistic, especially since Mizore has barely had any characterization to this date, making it hard for me to care when a large part of the core drama revolves around her. The drama she causes to some of the other band members like Yuko and Natsuki is a little better – even though I’m not fond of the “you can’t tell” her trope being used with that – but, without careful handling, it could easily devolve into a simplistic bawlfest before too long. The fairly balanced compromises these characters go through is pretty much the main reason why Euphonium’s story stands head and shoulders above pretty much every competition anime I can think of, and just like band, all it takes is one weak moment to have the whole thing come crashing down.
There is a bit of humor in regards to how Mizore’s music is just as mechanical as her current personality. Maybe she and the Russian Yuri from Yuri!!! On Ice can be friends with their technically good but soulless competition styles.
Kumiko, you are the worst hider I have ever seen.
Loved Asuka’s playing at the end of this week’s installment, although I wish Kumiko didn’t spell out what the music meant to the audience. One of my big problems with Your Lie In April and Yuri!!! on Ice (amongst their many other major failings I mean) is that they don’t really let the animation tell the story, constantly spouting out exposition regarding what’s going on to the point that you can’t enjoy the performance on its own terms. For all of Death Parade’s problems, I still rate that ice-skating scene as one of the best pieces of animated storytelling I’ve ever laid eyes on, and whilst Euphonium doesn’t speak over the emotions nearly as intrusively as those other two shows I mentioned, Kumiko could have at least waited until after the piece was done.
Finally, I am glad that Hazuki and Sapphire have had virtually no screen time or plot importance since this season began. People can say Ribbon is the worst girl all they want, but those two have contributed practically nothing important to the show to the point that I wonder why they even have main character billing.
- BTW, is anyone still watching that Classicaloid show? Because MAL sure isn’t.
- So how was that presidential debate last night, guys?