Hibike! Euphonium – 11

Euphonium - This just struck me as funny

I didn’t realize the whole bass section was so short

winter15-highwHey everyone, welcome back to the season’s best show, Hibike! Euphonium. skylion offered me a chance to write about it this week, and I figured that was a great chance, so I took it (no, I didn’t even have to lock him in the closet with Foshizzel). This week it was time to put yourself on the line if you want to play the trumpet solo, so let’s take a look at this episode (and lament that there’s only two more episodes).

Disappointment, But Not Dysfunction

Euphonium - shocked

Yuuko’s too lost in thought

This episode really focused on the looming re-audition for the trumpet solo, and took that opportunity to give us a few deeper looks at the people involved. Not just Kaori and Reina, but also Yuuko and her reasons for revering Kaori. And while it might be easy to say that that’s because Kaori is the one who went to bat for the first years in the previous year of everything sucking, I think that that is really just the very tip of the iceberg. I think that the main thing is that Kaori is really just a tremendously nice person. Reina even mentions this as a reason it will be hard in the audition, because if it was someone who looked down on her, or was a jerk, it would be much easier to dismiss them and want to beat them.

Euphonium - please she pleads

There’s no justification, but please…!

But Kaori’s not that person, even having all the trumpets eat lunch together and keeping the mood within the trumpets as congenial as she can. And I think even Yuuko is learning from Kaori’s example, because she was a lot less “Kousaka is a stuck-up jerk” and a lot more “Kousaka is really good, and is a person in band with me.” I think Yuuko tried all she could, and really liked that she begged Reina to throw the audition. She didn’t threaten, she didn’t shun her, she even offered to take the responsibility. And really the main reason Yuuko came up with is because it’s Kaori’s turn, and Kaori is a nice person. Kaori had to watch an inferior player get the solo last year due to seniority, and even though she knows that was wrong, she’s asking Reina to do the same thing.

Euphonium - good is good

Asuka isn’t going to lie, and Kaori knows it

But we’ve seen this addressed before in this show. Remember Ruby and Platinum Diamond Kawashima? You don’t just wait for your chance. You go make your chance. Which is why I thought it was clever to have Kaori trying to win Asuka’s approval for her playing. I hadn’t picked up on the striving for approval that Kaori has had, but they really brought it out in the open here, as Haruka even asks why Kaori is so interested in it. And even if all three of them are friends, there can be friends and then there can still be that hierarchy in something you do. Asuka is by far the best musician of the three senior leaders, and while she probably wouldn’t run down either of the others, she’s not going to praise them outside of what’s deserved. Kaori’s playing is good. It’s not great. It is what it is. If Reina weren’t there, Kaori would play the solo and noone would give it a second thought.

Never a Second Thought

Euphonium - ai no kokuhaku


On the other side, Reina asks for a little bit of self-confirmation from Kumiko. I’m guessing that Reina knew that Kumiko saw her encounter with Yuuko, but wanted a little bit of reassurance that she was not in the wrong by pursuing the solo part. And this brings out a different side of Kumiko for us, one who actually puts herself into her feelings. It’s been rare that we’ve seen Kumiko admit her feelings, and even rarer that she shows them to other people. But to stand up for Reina, she’ll actually do it (… probably 😉 You can’t break old habits THAT quickly). This scene shared between Kumiko and Reina comes very close to the magic that the scene in episode 8 from the top of the hill had, and even had a wonderful closeness between Kumiko and Reina that the other didn’t. There were also two lovely callbacks to the two most meaningful encounters between the two, first with Kumiko’s confession of love (ai) to Reina, finally returning the confession that was given to her by Reina. And immediately following that, the eyes closed smile from Reina (in profile) that echoed the first time Kumiko stopped being scared of Reina and started being friends with her. And that smile even results in the same amazement from Kumiko, even if only for a second.

Euphonium - that smile

That smile is magic

And then, the audition. Either one would be fine. But Reina struck the audience more. And just like Reina said it was difficult because Kaori was so nice, it’s difficult for the audience because Kaori’s so nice, and she’s a 3rd year. If Kaori had been better, there would have been lots of applause for her, not just Yuuko and Haruka. But the silence was telling. It wasn’t the applause that decided the vote. It wasn’t even Kaori turning the part down. It was the silence, only broken by Yuuko’s resigned love and Kumiko’s recently found love (and Haruka and Hazuki’s obligation to their respective friends), the silence that said “we can’t vote against our senpai and club leader, but we don’t think she was better.” Taki-sensei knew the answer to his question before he asked. That’s why he asked.

Extra Thought

Euphonium - Doing her best and having fun at it


Since I have the opportunity to do this post, I’m gonna “gush” (skylion’s word about this) about Hazuki a little. Maybe it’s the way the show presented her at first, with that brashness, that kind of airheadedness (getting a tuba mouthpiece when she thought it was a trumpet one), that outgoing “full speed ahead!” personality. But she’s really a great girl, and one of the main ways they show this is that she does everything “the right way”. It might be time-compressed, because she doesn’t have time to wait around, but it’s done properly. From back when Asuka called her a perfect beginner, getting stuck at every wall like she’s supposed to, to her “confess, then get an answer” blitz of Shuuichi, to her desire to play the tuba the way it’s supposed to be played, she’s just a model person, but not dull or boring. And what really drove it home for me is in that shot below, where everyone’s eyes have been opened by Reina’s playing, but Hazuki is still listening “properly”, doing it “the right way”. In a show that’s filled past the bursting point with wonderful characterization and transcendent moments, Hazuki is really a character that surprises and delights me.

Euphonium - Hazuki great

Keep being you, Hazuki


I think we see more of why Asuka felt she couldn’t be the band president. If she were, she would be pissed off at something like this, like we’ve seen the fear in the bass section before. She hates losing practice time, and how much practice time was lost because of this? And I would say she also hates being put on the spot. Haruka’s best quality, as much as she derided it a few episodes ago, is that she is nice. She can handle something like this where Asuka could not without exploding. The dynamic would certainly be a lot different, but it probably wouldn’t be ‘better’.

Euphonium - fleeting comfort

What? Why me?

On another point, I’m not sure what I think of Natsuki being such an important figure in this part of the show. I guess they’ve laid enough groundwork, given that Yuuko and Natsuki went to the festival together, and it’s not as if they’re portraying them as great friends, but I still think it’s a little odd that Yuuko would find even fleeting comfort in Natsuki. Perhaps it’s more poignant because of that distance between them, but it still feels like it’s a bit odd.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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20 Responses to “Hibike! Euphonium – 11”

  1. Namaewoinai says:

    So They chose Reina “OH Ms. Trumpet, WHAT’s with you” Kousaka as the player for the solo, eh!

    Next week, I think Oumae’s instrument will had some slight problems…i think?

    and as for this girl…<a href="”>XD

    • Highway says:

      Perhaps this is Yuuko learning the lesson that life isn’t fair. Not meant in a bad way, just it’s the truth. I do have to say that Yuuko is a bit more invested in Kaori than would seem warranted, and seems to have an even more unrequited love than Hazuki.

      I’ll also say that unlike most crying in anime, Yuri Yamaoka’s performance here in that scene was terrific. A great job by her to make it sound authentic, and to the sound production staff to make it fit in the room and the mix. Usually crying just does not fit into the sound the right way, too forward and on top of everything else, and too fake of a performance. This was none of that. Well done to them.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        I thought the crying was fine; kinda sounded iffy in some spots but it was more generally more convincing than most anime

    • skylion says:

      …I think Yuuko has learned a variation of Personal Isn’t the Same Thing as Important, or at least she’s becoming acquainted with it…

    • Namaewoinai says:

      Oops…It seems the link doesn’t work, I was actually put something there…

      So i decide to put this…instead

  2. HannoX says:

    I want to talk some about Kaori and her challenge for the trumpet solo.

    First, I think Asuka’s refusal to answer her question about her playing helped her turn down the solo when offered it. She respects Asuka and her musical ability and honesty, so the non-answer that really was an answer told her who Asuka thought was the better player. Secondly, Kaori knows what it’s like to be passed over for the solo by an inferior player because of seniority. And she’s too nice a person to do that to another.

    So why did she challenge for the solo? I can think of two reasons. One, it was her last chance and she wanted to try for it as hard as she could. Not challenging was equivalent to giving up. Two goes back to her being a nice person. She was aware of the rumor that Taki-sensei chose Reina for the solo because of their family histories. The public challenge allowed the entire band to hear who was the better trumpet player, even if most couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Reina, although it’d be more accurate to say vote against Kaori.

    • Highway says:

      We’ve seen how discriminating Asuka is about quality of sound before, a few episodes back (probably episode 9) when the others in the bass section mentioned how Kumiko had improved, and Asuka said her tone had gotten very interesting. And I think that’s the difference between Kaori and Reina. Kaori is good at trumpet, can play the notes right, and doesn’t mess up. But Reina adds another level of tone to it, and it’s something that I, and most people, usually can’t hear unless it’s live, so the show has to use other tricks to show it to us, like the listeners suddenly taking note.

      It’s certainly probable that, having gone that far, Kaori felt like she had to put herself out there as a sacrifice for the harmony of the band. I kind of doubt it was as heartbreaking to her as it was to Yuuko, since Kaori knew the whole time that Reina was better, so she had no doubts about Reina winning fairly. But sometimes you just have to take that second chance. And who knows, maybe the act of trying could have had an effect. That it didn’t doesn’t matter, the pursuit is the point.

      • HannoX says:

        I’m not musically inclined, but even I could hear with her first few notes that Reina was the better player. It wasn’t because the show has told us she’s a great trumpet player. She filled the hall with her sound in a way that Kaori didn’t. That’s what the soloist has to do besides hitting all the notes right.

        • Highway says:

          There was definitely a tonal quality, but to me there was too much moving it around in the mix to make a definitive judgment. Reina definitely attacked the part more, and had a more evocative decay on the longer notes.

        • Highway says:

          I wonder if they used the easy sound trick of making the one that’s supposed to be ‘good’ louder. It’s well-known that in an A-B comparison of good recordings, most people perceive something louder to sound better, warped to the point that it’s close to destroying recorded music. It would be an easy way to make Reina’s performance sound better. I’ll give it a look when I get home with my noise meter (app on my phone).

          • HannoX says:

            They may indeed have used the trick of playing Reina’s piece louder, but in this case it was legitimate. As I said the soloist has to fill the hall with her sound. And Taki-sensei did point out that the actual performance hall would be even larger and they’d have to fill it with their playing. Reina showed she could do that and just as importantly she did not miss a note. To be fair I didn’t hear Kaori miss a note either, but her playing was softer, which wouldn’t do for the soloist in a large hall. Even the soft notes have to carry to the furthest corner of the hall.

            • Highway says:

              Reina’s audition is definitely louder, in both peak and average loudness. I measured the loudest part of Kaori’s as the very beginning at 54 dB, and the average held note was about 45 dB. Meanwhile, Reina’s peak was 60 dB at the end of the first phrase, and hit 50 dB far more often, and averaged more like 48-49 dB. So there’s the loudness, and there’s also the dip between the first note (Kaori’s first note was louder, but it was the loudest note she played) and the end of the first phrase (where Reina’s loudest note was) which definitely leads to a different in expressivity.

            • Highway says:

              And just a note: It doesn’t matter what the actual values I measured are, only their relative values, while keeping the output volume the same, and the meter in the same spot.

          • sonicsenryaku says:

            some of reina’s notes also seemed to have been held longer, making the sound travel that much more within the viewer’s ears. it was combination of loudness and tonal length that made the performance sound more crisp. I dont play instruments but i studied psychology of music and it has always helped me become better in tune with listening to musical pieces. It’s nice to be able to tell whenever a band member isnt playing up to snuff

  3. HannoX says:

    Spammy, I see you greeted my return in your own fashion.

  4. skylion says:

    I didn’t think much of how they developed, or were, Kaori’s character. Yeah, she is nice, she is pretty, and can play the trumpet well, but she’s always come of as a bit of a milquetoast. Even when she was trying to convince the seniors to be nicer the year before. But this episode brought it all together rather nicely.

    I’d rather be Asuka’s “not so nice side”, cause all the anxiety she felt, she brought on herself. I didn’t mention it last episode, cause I wanted to see it play out her, but if she wanted to really nail the audition, well. that time already passed. She didn’t get this one because Taki-sensei thought he made a mistake.

    But, with that in mind Taki-sensei must be some kinda Keikaku Dohri genius. No wonder that shot had him standing well and above them all!

    …and my well crafted argument about the yuri relationship flag not being a flag at all might get beat up some more…::sigh::

    • Highway says:

      I think that was kind of the point with Kaori, and what didn’t feel like development before actually was right on: She is that nice person who likes to play the trumpet and does well, but isn’t brilliant and doesn’t make waves and tries to be selfless. And I think they made it authentic here, that that’s who she is and how she is.

      To be honest, Taki-sensei didn’t really have anything to lose here at this point, given the way you could figure the students would react. If Kaori knocks everyone’s socks off (which would have required being possessed by the spirit of Wynton Marsalis or something), then she gets the part, the students are all happy, and I don’t really think that Taki loses much credibility, because it’s not like Reina’s bad. Or it could go the way it went, and his judgment is confirmed. A situation where it goes bad is a very remote possibility.

      I still like the growing closeness of Reina and Kumiko. It doesn’t have to be sexual to be sensual, and it doesn’t have to by physical to be beautiful love.

  5. IanDK says:

    Re: Yuuko/Natsuki’s relationship.

    The way they interact makes me think of squabbling siblings, who will fight over everything, but yet still care for each other. Indeed, it would make more sense if they were siblings. Maybe they’re cousins or something?

    As for Asuka, it seems like she’s the kind of person that really doesn’t want to take responsibility for other people. Not so much that she is not capable or skilled enough to act as leadership or role of such sort, but that she would rather do it on her own terms, limited to the bass section, for example.

    • HannoX says:

      Asuka may also realize that after last year’s turmoil in the band that her personality is wrong for what is needed now. She would be more strict and demanding than Haruka and what is needed now is a healing personality, which she doesn’t have, but Haruka does. The band has to come together and Haruka is the one who can do that as president.

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