Hibike! Euphonium – 13 [END]


Someone to hold on to….

We’ve been waiting for quite some time. With the new Summer ’15 season approaching, we now take the time to look into the grand finale of the best of the best that Spring ’15 had to offer. Kyoto Animation has managed to cap off a moving, lovely series with the best send off they could muster. I had tears in my eyes, I was on the edge of my seat, and I cheered along with all the characters….


Best Friends

I sat watching this episode for the fourth time trying to conjure the words. As usual, I’m spellbound by the program’s soundtrack. In the first half it rose and rose up and underscored the sense of accomplishment. But not so unusual, I’m feeling at a loss for those words; sometimes it could get repetitious. This one was the summation of the three months that came before, and I felt that the writing and direction was able to accomplish something remarkable.

More than any other time, in all the time I spent with the show, I felt like I was part of this group. The narrative pace moved along in such a manner, I was walking with them, sharing in the tension, and enjoying the lighthearted moments of the good luck charms, and the support of Team Monaca. I felt like teasing Asuka myself. I wanted to chip in and help in putting the percussion pieces on…

…moving along…

 And it all started off as the episode opened, as Kumiko woke up early to get her paces down. I found it a great tie-in to the first episode when she tied up her hair; providing a conclusion to the show in a very small, yet not insignificant way. She has looked for, and found, a new direction, and she has the nicks and cuts of walking the brambly path less traveled, and has found the first of many clearings…

But it isn’t just her. The entire concert band is at the ready. I wouldn’t say that we have a jangle of exposed nerves, but when the main soundtrack kicked in through those scenes, I felt all stirred up, anticipating the big event along with each and every one of them. Every moment of preparation was seen too, but in all it felt unresolved….waiting….Even getting to the venue itself only served to heighten that mood. All of them jockeyed back and forth between nerves and small moments of elation and encouragment…

…it’s those little things that make all the difference sometimes…

“Are you ready to amaze the audience?” It’s a simple question that didn’t get an immediate answer. But Taki-sensei was on the right track. The band pretty much came from nothing. A low grade band, that had it’s fair share of morale issues, and lackadaisical attitudes. But they pulled out stop after stop, and progressed from little to all they could hold as the moments allowed.

As Kumiko readily, and strongly, confirmed last episode, they faced it one by one, but this improvement is something they all shared, and it’s something that they are ready to prove. But amazing the audience? That wasn’t even in the cards until Taki-sensei reminded them that it was possible. That is how a band makes gold. And amaze they certainly did…

Crescent Moon Dance


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I can’t really say much about the required piece, as it was given a very short amount of time, and wasn’t why we were really here to begin with. We wanted the set piece. We’ve been with them for quite a long time during practice and we wanted to see that pay off. I won’t mince words. It was bloody fantastic. It was everything I was anticipating since I watched the first episode, and everything I wanted since the group started this shindig up in earnest.

And here I have to admit a weakness. In a funny, and ironic, moment, during a team Skype chat the opening weeks of the season, I discovered that pretty much everyone but me (as I said the in FI)has had band experience. So for the past three months I’ve felt a teensy bit…unqualified? Nope. Not even. I loved this show from the first PVs, and I’m happy that that love carried me through all these posts. I tossed one to Highway, cause I’m a nice guy…

And so, our piece goes on!

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Sure, it might have been an interesting twist, or it might be seen as having more depth, if the band had not gone on in the competition. Learning to cope with loss is a very good theme to explore. But, you really wanted them to win, didn’t you? There is nothing wrong in giving the satisfaction. Learning to go on and reach further to win more is a much more interesting way for the story to conclude. But as Kumiko say, we are on to the next piece. But not before that lovely OP wind ensemble reprise…that was just amazing!

I have no clue how Kyoto Animation is going to proceed from here. We all know full well that this story deserves to be continued, and expanded upon, and the audience is certainly willing and able to follow. How it proceeds from here is up to the studio. For my guess, I would say a film or two would be the best route for them to follow. There is more novel material, how much I’m not sure, so an adaptation of that material is not out of the question. I just know the same thing all the other fans know, I want much much more.

This was my hands down Anime of the Season, and many shows will have to work even harder to top my personal list for Anime of the Year. This was assured, well written, superbly directed, and well thought out in all aspects. KyoAni’s penchant for lavish scenery really has expanded to lavish characterization. With many shows, characters are so often so undersold, they might as well not even exist, and some are so oversold they become a trope-splosionairy distraction.

Not so here. Not at all. Every single main character was given to us exactly as intended, and delivering that intent relied heavily on the audience paying attention to the details. With such brilliant character animation it wasn’t at all hard a task to accomplish. Body language and scene placement played the best role in bringing that intent, with characters able to convey a ton of information in glance, a nudge, or just eating food. To say nothing of the technical brilliance KyoAni brought to the instruments and the details of the band. We had characters, and details, that felt natural, and well cared for. Kumiko and Reina both lead the pack, and a great deal of the story itself was conveyed through their developing friendship. As they became more aware of each other and how important they were to each other, the band could play on and on…

I could go on, but I’ll just rest here, and be happy, and thankful….


I tried! I really tried to find a clean image….best I could do really…

Thanks for Watching!


All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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26 Responses to “Hibike! Euphonium – 13 [END]”

  1. Highway says:

    Heh, you didn’t get one of my favorite shots of the band’s performance, a wide shot with the timpani player’s arms spread out hitting two drums in the background.

    As they finished up the piece, I was wanting just a little more inclusion of the rest of the group. When they held that long shot on Kumiko’s face after the band stood to acknowledge their applause, that look of shock that they’d finished. You pour your heart and soul out there playing, and it’s over so fast, and at the end, you kinda don’t know what to do. I wanted them to show us that it wasn’t just Kumiko with that look, but everyone. Let everyone share in that moment, that emptiness after you’ve given it all and you’re hoping to get it back from the audience. It’s almost a universal feeling, and it’s one of those ones that musicians always play for. I know that Kumiko is the main character, but if I were directing the show, I would have done a slow pull-back, just adding in student after student with that same kind of look. Because in the end, it wasn’t just Kumiko on the stage. It was the Kitauji Concert Band, and they don’t get to that point without everyone.

    • skylion says:

      Well, I took a lot of shots, there where still more….can’t do it all, now, can I?

      Kumiko, and to a smaller, but not that small, extent, Reina, was our lead character and it was her narration that framed the experiences. It’s natural that she would be the center for that type of feeling, I think.

      • Highway says:

        But I think it could have been her at the center… and then show that the others are like that too. Pull back from that shot with her at the center, and just give us a peek at the others. That’s what I would have done.

  2. Highway says:

    (You didn’t think you’d get off with just one comment, did you?)

    This was also my Anime of the Season, and I’ll have to let it sit for a while to make sure that my elevation of it above Shirobako is justified for Anime of the Year. It was special from the first episode, and rather than have that middle sag, it almost had a middle peak. Great episodes like the festival, the triumph of SunFes, the worry and shakiness of the auditions, the unrest of the rumors, and finally the jitters of the performance (and I understand why they cut away from the Kitauji performance to show Azusa as Rikka got ready to perform, even if skylion didn’t care for the choice. Every performer is only worried about their own group’s performance in that situation). They did a wonderful job evoking those emotions in the audience, and making it a show that I loved to watch again and again.

    • skylion says:

      I understood why the cut away from the stage, and thus a fuller performance. It took me watching it three times to get there…but during first watch, I wanted immediacy. Which is why I didn’t complain here….

    • Joojoobees says:

      I agree, Hibike took the Gold – best show of the season!

      They did a great job of having enough plot to not descend into eye candy, without making the show too eventful; in other words, the show felt real. The drama was dramatic, but not over-dramatic, and things didn’t feel too convenient, or like they were there for the plot.

  3. Highway says:

    One thing I’m still kind of puzzling over, and I’m sure I’ll keep thinking about it for a while, is Asuka’s reactions to everything here in the last episode, and integrating them into her revealed personality, and maybe any insights into her internal personality. I’m trying to figure out if she was being pessimistic, in the vein of ‘the pessimist is happy to be proven wrong’, but given her reaction to their receiving a gold rating and moving on to the Prefectural concours, that just doesn’t feel right.

    Is it that the pressure was getting to her? We’ve seen moments that have felt very genuine from her. And we’ve seen moments that have been very forced to the point of being outright fake. I felt parallels to Kumiko’s earlier personality with Asuka’s seeming certainty that this was the end of their road. And in a lesser series, one might pass off her pessimism as merely a contrary opinion to show the growth of the main character. But they forestalled that with the reaction shot of her as the results were announced. She sincerely looked disappointed, to me. This wasn’t Asuka being a realist like Kumiko was to Reina in the show’s first open. To believe that, you have to believe that Taki-sensei was blowing smoke up their butts, and that wasn’t happening. He’s not that guy. This band didn’t overachieve to get their gold. It was what they deserved.

    So I’ll keep thinking about it, and maybe come to a realization, but I certainly would love another season of this series to help say what it is.

    • skylion says:

      …let’s also add in the shot of what had to be Reina’s mother in the concert hall, a shot made with no hue or cry. Also go back to the epsiodes beginning and Taki-sensei’s tender loving care to that photograph. Going along with what you think of Asuka, this can’t be just tiny details for the life of this one season…As for Asuka, self doubt over her leadership is the thing that comes to my mind first.

    • HannoX says:

      I think Asuka’s comment before the performance about this being the end of the road for them was meant to show that despite the confident personality she had shown throughout that she was still a high school student with times of self-doubt. It’s just that up to now she had kept any such hidden. Plus, as Skylion says, it also goes to her doubts over her leadership ability. Although I think there she made an accurate assessment that her personality and style would have been a poor fit for a band that needed a healing personality after the turmoil of the previous year.

      And as I predicted long ago, they did give us “Crescent Moon Dance” in full. It would have just left the audience bitterly disappointed if they hadn’t. Plus, why commission an original piece for the show and not use it fully?

      I can’t think of a single note that KyoAni got wrong in this anime (pun intended).

      I’m hoping for a second season showing their advancement to the nationals and their ranking there.

      • skylion says:

        So, Asuka’s worst fear about what she thinks others think of her?

        I would have run riot had Crescent Moon Dance been cut shorter…

        …any sour notes were done on purpose and for the stories overall effect…

        • Highway says:

          I don’t know if I really agree with those assessments. It seems like a simple-ish explanation that doesn’t really fit her reactions. It really doesn’t feel like self-doubt, it feels like disappointment in the rest of the band. It’s not “I’m worried that I’m not going to perform well” especially given her reaction afterward. If it was about her worry about playing, she’d presumably have been relieved after getting through it, and then seeing the results of the judging. But she was pretty singularly disappointed with the results. That’s what I’m trying to integrate.

          Maybe it’s something about her leadership, like “If I’d been president, I’d get more credit” but that doesn’t really seem to fit in with her personality either. I lean a lot more towards something like “Now these people will be satisfied with something that wasn’t good enough.”

          • skylion says:

            Perhaps. I don’t think I’m seeing this in her as you are. I’ll give it some thought when I watch it again at some point…

          • HannoX says:

            Fair enough. Asuka probably did think the band as a whole wasn’t good enough, rather than thinking she’d mess up. But some of that may also have been her thinking the band would have been better if she had taken the presidency. So she could be regretting that she hadn’t taken it and thinking because she hadn’t they weren’t going to win the gold.

          • sonicsenryaku says:

            I think people have missed the fact that asuka has shown signs of being a very self-conscious and ambivalent person. That’s what her psychology says to me. This is why she wears a facade, why she didnt want the role of president, and why she doesnt like giving her own opinion when it comes to anything. She is actually a more extreme version of the old Kumiko except that she has learned to make her facade believable and while passionate about her music, is apathetic about anything that hinders that passion

            • Highway says:

              I don’t know if I’ve missed that. I have thought that she’s very similar to Kumiko as well. But I’m having a hard time seeing where those traits turn into an urge to diminish the band like she did, and then be disappointed when they actually do achieve something they’re trying for. For instance: last year’s Kumiko wasn’t overly pessimistic about the middle school band’s chances of getting past regionals. She was right on. And this year’s Kumiko is not overly optimistic about it (although she is more positive), her assessment is right on. Perhaps Asuka *is* overly pessimistic, but again, that’s where that reaction after they are selected makes that more difficult to swallow. That seemed like genuine disappointment that they’d actually gotten a spot.

  4. Highway says:

    Next Week:

  5. Overcooled says:

    Kyoani outdid themselves with this one. What a stunning show that managed to have a huge cast and still make every single one of them feel familiar and endearing. I honestly was just expecting another playing it safe, slice of life K-ON! off-shoot but I was proved wrong. SO wrong!

    I’m one of the few without band experience too. I’ve seen a lot of “bang geeks” commenting on how this show really resonates with their experience in band and feeling a bit left out. But then again, I still really enjoyed Euphonium without any musical knowledge whatsoever. It’s great that it’s still just as powerful for those who don’t have that musical connection. Although I will admit there were scenes where someone was apparently supposed to be playing really badly and I couldn’t tell the difference at all. Could barely tell the difference between Kaori’s and Reina’s trumpet solo…Haha…oops…But other than that, I loved this show as if I were part of the band.

    • skylion says:

      I’ve been around enough musical folks, and can read the scene decently enough to detect the poor playing….most of the time. As for Reina’s trumpet…that’s one of those cases. I could feel how well that was belted out. It was the scene.

      I do wonder, sometimes, what the show would have been had it been more K-ON! like….

      • Highway says:

        I think there’s a gulf between the way this was and the way K-On was. Like Euphonium is on one island, and K-On is a different island. And if you are anywhere in between, you’re sunk. You have to be full one or the other for it to work. And maybe it’s “band member bias”, but I don’t think the loosey-goosey style that’s ok for a small rock quintet is going to be able to work with a concert band ensemble. The feeling is just so different. K-On! worked because even if it was goofing around, it still felt like they were a rock band. Euphonium works because it feels like a concert band. It’s a ‘band geek’ thing, but concert band really comes to be about the most important thing you do (personal story: my wife still gives me grief because when we first started dating, in high school, I would NOT skip band to go to her lunch period. I just would not do it. “I can’t skip band, what are you saying?”).

        • skylion says:

          I wonder what the K-ON! version of Hibike would have been like for purely trivial reasons. My brains works like that sometimes. It also wonders about the opposite. Actually it looks like the BD specials are doing something like that….only with far less animation quality.

    • Highway says:

      It’s been commented, and the fact that we talk about it above as well shows, that the story did a great job incorporating characters like Natsuki, Hazuki, Kaori, Asuka, even Riko and Gotou and Yuuko, into the fabric of the story. Most shows, those characters would have been plot driving “show up, push the MCs in the right direction, and then disappear” characters. But in this one, they keep them around. They develop the relationship between Yuuko and Natsuki. They take the people who got left behind by the audition and make them important. They keep us involved with them. They keep them part of the band. That really added a tremendous depth to the show.

      • skylion says:

        They struck a very good balance with that. It’s the first production that I’ve seen them actually try to make that work and work well. As I said in the post, lavish backgrounds they got down pat and kept it there, but then they transitioned to lavish characterization, keeping all the quality in everything else.

  6. Namaewoinai says:

    Well, I guess it over for the band people eh…i don’t even mind if they going to had a second season (it will take a very long wait for that)…

    This Maybe the weirdest episode yet i saw…not because of performing an ensemble, but something like this…O_O
    uh…or maybe it’s just me…

    One last thing, i post something…
    If you see this
    but if you see this
    Well, No Hard feelings anyone…

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