Hibike! Euphonium – 14 [OVA]

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…two better supporting characters, you couldn’t ask for…

Happy Christmas to one and all. I don’t do the Secret Santa thing, but that shouldn’t stop me from doing a special post for the holiday, especially when I have a good reason to do so……and the best reason I can think of around here is the chance to revisit my favorite, if not one of the best anime of 2015.

He’s Not Heavy…He’s My Tuba

I love how they didn’t overindulge on the obvious here…

This is, strictly speaking, a very Hazuki centered OVA. It slips comfortably between episodes 9 and 13, and explores a few frames of her life, as she goes on her own journey of self-discovery. When we rejoin her she is with her fellow “drum-outs”; those that didn’t make the auditions to go on to the Nationals competition. They are out, but by no means down, and still have their work cut out for them. While we aren’t privy to the tune they have to practice, we do know that they have worked behind the scenes in support of the regular band members, and this is the opportunity to show that.

Now for the most part, we can take that as a given, and KyoAni does just that. They use this situation to pace the real story around; but still not forgetting to use those behind the scenes moments as grace notes for the drum-outs; no one gets left behind, no one gets treated as just a background character, as the opening scene let’s us in on. They all get a chance to pick a silly little name for their group, but it builds up the team rather well. Still, all in all, this is Hazuki’s OVA.

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…a nice pre-hairclip shot…

It feels like we are arriving just after the events of the matsuri in episode eight. I did a brief Skype chat with – fellow Hibike! enthusiast and Metanorn writer – Highway, about that, and the vibe Hazuki gives off feels like the post-confessional sort when confronted with Shuuichi, the trombonist and the object of her forlorn affections. So far we are looking at a girl that is kinda on the dumps. She didn’t make the audition, and she failed to get the guy. Meanwhile, her best friend gets to move in in both areas. Hazuki is not the petty sort, so she doesn’t take this out on either Shuuichi, Kumiko, or Midori later on. She takes it in stride. It’s a burden, but she feels strong enough to carry it, with some assurances along the way.

This is well within KyoAni’s scope. They are confident in their storytelling prowess, and that much is assured. But the biggest thing they are aware of is their audience. They understand that we don’t need massive lampshades hung on every single scene, nor do we need every single detail spelled out to us, nor does every character have to shout out how they feel at a given moment for us to have empathy for them. They never assume we aren’t smart enough or aware enough to watch a show about people, and be a person ourselves, and  make all the connections needed. Which, honestly, is something plenty of studios really can’t do very well.

They know how to keep a camera on what matters….

They know how to do a callback, and how to respond to it with grace…

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They know how to let a trombone and a eupho playing in the distance feel to both of these characters and to us…

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…and they know how and when to indulge…

…and more…

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…’bout time Taki-sensei got an eyecatch…

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Well, I know how to indulge too. Out of the four shows I covered this season, three of them were pretty bad, and one was almost as good as the hype. So I love that the OVA for my favorite show of the Spring, and my nominee for AOTY 2015 is so good it hurts. This is how you tell a story, and this is how you show the public you’ve not only got talent, but that you are burning to prove it.

Yes, the story was simple, the characterization was not all that difficult to convey. But in a medium which is very loud to promote every aspect of itself, so loud that that’s all they seem to concentrate on, I feel it’s lovely to find a place where the people who are happy there, in that place, don’t need to shout. A good story tells itself, and promotes itself in due time. Watching this show lifting my spirits, and I hope sharing it with you can do the same.

Happy Christmas!


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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12 Responses to “Hibike! Euphonium – 14 [OVA]”

  1. sonicsenryaku says:

    “A good story tells itself, and promotes itself in due time” you literally just described in one sentence why i thought hibike was as good as it was. Seriously, it is so refreshing when an anime doest have to tell me what it’s trying to convey all the time. Hibike has surprisingly good writing and i just hope the second season keeps up that quality

    • skylion says:

      Yes, I’m keyed up for a second season as well. I’m gonna start behaving like an old FMP fan till they get it done…

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        hahaha…2016 is looking like the year of returning series: d.grayman, beserk, gurren lagaan, FMP…2016 may end up being a surprising year for anime but ill make sure to keep my expectations in check :).

        It’s funny because there are some people (most of them are people relatively new to anime) who state that anime cannot be nuanced and speak for itself because of the limitations of the medium, to which ive always argued the opposite; that your average anime just doesnt know how to bring out the best in the medium which is why they feel the need to explain everything. The more high quality writers/directors/animators you get on deck, the better higher quality the anime is(duh)

        • Highway says:

          Yeah, the idea that anime has some inherent limitation is bunk. Good talent will out, whether it be from the director, the voice actors, the animators, music, backgrounds, whatever. And when you line it all up, you get great works, just like you do in other TV and movies.

          • sonicsenryaku says:

            damn right; texhnolyze barely uses any dialogue in it’s first cour and you can understand everything happening on screen because the director knows how to talk to the audience and tell them what they need to know without saying much. It reminded me of how some of the best live action movies/tv series convey their narrative and i was in awe.

            Bringing it back to euphonium, there was a scene when the girls where trying on their band outfits and kumiko and reina exchange looks. It was only for a few seconds but from they way the scene was framed and the looks their exchanged, you could tell that reina was feeling bumped out that she practically had no friends and that it bothered her. All the while kumiko looks at reina is pretty much like “damn, i wish i had the confidence that reina has..plus i wish i looked as good as she does in that band outfit”. When that scene played without any dialogue and yet gave me all that info, that’s when i knew for sure that hibike had the chops to be a well-directed series that i would always refer to when going through my list of favorite kyoani works (my favorite of course being the disappearance of haruhi suzumiya)

  2. Highway says:

    This was really lovely. An OVA that wasn’t just fluff, that treated the characters amazingly. And I loved the chance to see Hazuki and Natsuki shine, with more confirmation about what great people and characters they are.

  3. Wanderer says:

    I haven’t finished Hibike Euphonium. It’s on my list of series that I really really really really really really really want to get back to, but I haven’t managed it yet. I watched through episode 8, and saw that absolutely beautiful scene with Kumiko and Reina on the mountain, but I think I ran out of time to keep watching after that episode, and I haven’t managed to pick it up again.

    • Highway says:

      I have to say that whatever you’re spending time watching this season, or just about anything you spend time watching next season, that time would be better spent watching Hibike! Euphonium. It really is one of the best anime I’ve ever seen.

      • skylion says:

        Filed Under Agree: Very Very Muchly…
        Filed Under Do It: Very Very Now…

      • HannoX says:

        Also agree. MAKE time to finish it. It will be time better spent than almost anything else you can do.

      • Wanderer says:

        All right, all right, I did it. Just so you all know, I “make time” by taking it from my sleeping period, so I’m kind of exhausted.

        This series was profoundly beautiful, and worthy of top marks. It excels in all ways.

        The OVA is more of it, which is great. It doesn’t have the highs of the series’ high points, but it’s not supposed to, and it fits itself in perfectly where it’s meant to be. More perspective on Hazuki is great, because she’s all sorts of fun, and the scenes of Natsuki were wonderful too.

        Gonna fall sleep nao kthxby.

      • Wanderer says:

        Spammy, when I have something to say will you LET ME SAY IT already!

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