First Impression – Hibike Euphonium 2

Euphonium S2 - Celebration

A good ending becomes a good beginning

winter15-highw It isn’t often that shows I rate as a 10 get a second series. It’s rare if they even get any sort of continuation (Girls und Panzer got a movie, Amagami SS got a cour, and that’s it for continuations). And perhaps part of that is that for a series to get a 10 out of me, it really helps if it completely wraps up the story or at least takes it to a spot that moving forward would fundamentally change the narrative (like Hyouka, Shirobako, or Toradora, or Glasslip). So to have a second series that is a direct continuation in the same vein is a real treat. And on top of that, it’s a show that’s really in my top 2 favorites. So let’s see if it can recapture that magic.

Later That Day…

Euphonium S2 - Everyone is happy

This picture doesn’t do the feeling justice, but even the teachers are excited

Season 2 literally starts right after the end of season 1, with the Kitauji Concert Band enjoying their success at the prefectural competition. There are pictures to be taken, congratulations to be given, and smiles to be shared, but it’s not long before the planning for the future takes over again. Again, that same day. This must have been the longest day ever, because a quarter of this double-length first episode was them still finishing out that day, hot in their winter uniforms and definitely beat after the competition.

Euphonium S2 - a song of congratulation

No longer losers

But there was also a lot of great stuff happening. Taki-sensei already had a sheet ready to pass out for their schedule for the three weeks until the Kansai Competition (although all the blanks are “practice more”). Team Monaka gives a wonderful celebratory performance, and we see that these girls, who ‘failed’ the auditions before, have gotten past their issues, like Natsuki’s apathy and Hazuki’s inexperience, to play a really great song for the rest of the band. So great that there are a lot of wet eyes, including Haruka, who can’t even get the words out to congratulate them. It may be that this group, more than anything else, shows the real turnaround of Kitauji’s concert band club, first and second years who have found their way to contribute and be motivated and happy about being in the club even as they are excluded from the club’s main activity. One thing I’ve wondered is whether they are continuing to learn and practice the parts of the competition songs, in case someone had to step out. This would be highly conditional, since they’re not practicing with the main group, so it would have to be something like an accident or illness with a long-term recovery, but it’s still something I wondered. Concert bands tend to be a bit more resilient than that, tho, since you can change the arrangement to cover for other parts, like we saw them do in the first series with the section that Kumiko didn’t master in time.

Euphonium S2 - Tweaking Reina

Kumiko has really found someone to be comfortable with

Later Later That Day…

Euphonium S2 - finally a group of 4

Joining a group, I have to think Reina was there on purpose

Day’s not over yet, tho, with a return to the great relationship between Kumiko, Hazuki, and Sapphire (“Midori desu!”) on their trip home from the school. This got right into the characterization beats from the first series, like Hazuki’s “Could you hear me?” (you were the only tuba, girl, if they couldn’t hear you, something was really wrong). But they’ve picked up someone else, in that Reina is going to be riding the train home from now on (although she’d been riding the train home for a while) and is actually going to spend time with Hazuki and Midori. This is the real change, as Reina’s been setting up meetings with Kumiko for a while after Hazuki gets off the train. Kumiko even mentions this, and Reina admits that she “doesn’t hate” the other two, which is probably pretty big praise from her. And I really love the way that Kumiko starts getting a little cheekier with Reina throughout the show. She might be noticing that Reina has changed a bit, but she has herself; not too much, tho, as she still has the same great “geh!” grunt of surprise / disgust at seeing her sister (or Shuuichi).

Euphonium S2 - a knowing look

Oh, so THAT’s why you came to get the key you knew wasn’t here…

Success Brings Them Out

Euphonium S2 - an interloper

“Psst, hey kid, wanna buy a watch?”

Things aren’t going to be super smooth going forward to the competition, tho. Like scavengers to a fresh kill, the success of the concert band brings out at least one person who decides they want to get back in the band. I had been wondering how the show was going to work some new characters into the mix, and this actually turned out to be a good way to do it. Resurrecting the story from the first season of the (now) second years who quit the club after failing to change the lax attitude of their 3rd year senpais, Nozomi Kasaki is now asking to rejoin the club (with Natsuki’s sponsorship). And the way she’s going about it is to try to get Asuka’s personal acceptance, which is obviously not going to happen. Day after day, she shows up to try to get back in Asuka’s good graces, but is constantly rebuffed. And this has the effect of creating a distraction from practice, as the 2nd years feel like they need to exclude the 1st years from the discussion, probably out of some feeling that they don’t need to bother the first years with it.

Euphonium S2 - serious in a hurry

Asuka turns serious in about an instant

Euphonium S2 - Haruka's interested too

Even Haruka is interested in what’s going on

I have to say that I’m completely with Asuka on this, or even more forcefully in the ‘go away’ camp. There are 3 weeks until the next competition, and probably no more than a month to the Nationals after that. What’s Nozomi doing besides being a selfish bother? If she really loved being in band that much, why not come back at the beginning of the year, when the previous year’s 3rd years were gone but there were new people and a new chance to get integrated? Why now? It just smells bad to me, like she was waiting for them to be good enough for her. It reminded me of my WoW raid guild, and the people who quit raiding (almost always people who think they’re the best of the group) until we have learned all the fights, and then want to come back for loot. Honestly, I really dislike those people, especially back in the times when the raid had to be a set number of people. In general I’m not a fan of people being required to ‘pay dues’ or ‘wait their turn’, but to expect a group to bring you in at the expense of someone who showed up all the time is so tremendously self-centered. And that’s exactly what Nozomi is being here. She’s not going to get into the performance group. What’s she going to do? She says she’ll support the band, but all she’s doing is being a bother, distracting them from their practice, dividing their opinions.

Euphonium S2 - just a little tension

“Do you guys all not get along?” “What, no, let’s just say we’re ‘normal’…””

Euphonium S2 - Mizore isn't handling it well

But the drama can get to Mizore when it actually affects her

And in the case of Mizore, the other new character for this storyline, making her so upset she gets physically ill. The quiet oboe player, one of the group of Minami Middle School people who didn’t quit, seems to just want to do her best and not care about the petty dramas of high school life. She didn’t even pick up on the friction between her friend Yuuko and Reina, no more than three weeks before, regarding the audition. But the return of Nozomi, a person who had promised to work hard with her to go to Nationals after their devastating failure in middle school (well, it would be devastating for middle schoolers), and then quit the club on her, puts Mizore right in the middle of the drama. And that’s something she just doesn’t need or want. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this girl is able to handle and hopefully grow through this kind of episode.

Euphonium S2 - Why is she doing this

What is Nozomi really thinking?

Yuri Glasses Full Force!

Euphonium S2 - Reina makes the challenge

Reina lays down the gauntlet

The other thing really growing through the end of this episode is the love between Reina and Kumiko. And while we might be tempted to categorize it as either romantic love or nothing, I think that this 15-16-year-old time period is when people learn to work out those feelings of love, and it doesn’t have to be romantic or nothing. It’s important to feel that connection with someone, and it doesn’t matter if it’s with a boy or a girl, it still helps you learn and grow. And (unlike a lot of the yuri manga that I’ve been reading) I think it’s pretty clear that both Reina and Kumiko have the same kind of feelings here. Reina’s still got that crush on Taki-sensei, so she’s not really ‘going after’ Kumiko. And I think Kumiko is really just exploring those kinds of feelings with Reina, enjoying their time together.

Euphonium S2 - Shuuichi wimps out

And Shuuichi wimps out

And having a date for the fireworks festival is certainly one of those exploratory things. I really like how Reina deals with Shuuichi (who for some reason is hanging out with Knuckles? Maybe it’s just that guys have to stick together?), challenging him to stand up to her for Kumiko. I suppose one way of looking at it could be Reina staking a claim on Kumiko against a rival, but I really don’t think it was like that. I choose to think that it was more of a “Reina’s looking out for Kumiko” thing, and wants her to be with someone she can accept, not a spineless guy who backs down. This fits right in with Reina’s “Not going along just to go along” mentality. I wonder what would have happened if Shuuichi had taken up the challenge, and maybe we’ll get to that later in the series. It’s also funny that Reina is so surprised that Kumiko truly doesn’t really see how much Shuuichi is into her.

Euphonium S2 - A world

A little space…

Euphonium S2 - all to

… all to …

Euphonium S2 - Themselves

… themselves

But for now, it’s Reina and Kumiko watching the fireworks from their special perch. This was a great bit of framing from KyoAni: in the middle of a crowd but still separate, on their own level, just the two of them. It makes the personal conversation they have intimate while putting them in a beautiful setting, a huge fireworks festival in Kyoto. And they tie it in with the rest of the episode with their conversation, with the difference in their viewpoints laid bare, not in conflict but in learning. Reina’s focus on the good of the group because it advances her goals, as well as her lack of capacity to suffer fools, providing another viewpoint for Kumiko to consider regarding , while Kumiko is much more focused on the now, with perhaps her pessimistic outlook allowing a lot more freedom for someone to do what they want. But for now, it’s the two of them squeezing each other’s hands in a calm moment in time.

Euphonium S2 - A new kind of feeling

Definitely some new feelings she’s not used to


I don’t know if this restart to the series could have been any better, with a double-length episode leading to a more-than-double-length post from me. There’s so much that you want to talk about in a show like this, and I didn’t even get to the touches that KyoAni throws in that widen the view, that make it a full world that even we, as viewers, can live in. Things like the side stories of Gotou and Riko’s relationship, not a major plot point, but still something that we can see in Gotou’s surreptitious look to the side as they’re walking at the fireworks festival.

Euphonium S2 - stealing a glance

“I’m here with her, I am really happy about that but nervous and she looks so cute”

And that shot itself, Gotou towering above the crowd while we see Riko just in glimpses through the people. I was a little worried early in the show, probably because I was heightened to it by an interview with Tatsuya Ishihara and Naoko Yamada, the Director and Series Director, respectively, of the first series, that they were going a little too “J.J. Abrams Lens Flare” on the bokeh, but that really calmed down quite a bit as the show moved on. But in total, the show is still beautiful, the whole package almost irresistible. I sat down to watch half of the episode at midnight, because I should go to bed not too late, and ended up finishing the whole thing. And I’ve watched the whole thing another two times. I think, at this point, it would take an amazing happening to make this not the best anime ever, if it keeps this level of quality, and given the quality so far, it’s not hard to see that happening.


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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15 Responses to “First Impression – Hibike Euphonium 2”

  1. Namaewoinai says:

    Ya know every time i watch this, i would like to hear this song…i mean man i wish they cover it in a orchestral style, but i won’t happened, oh well!

    Anyways…it’s good to see this back, i wonder why this show consider a “Yuri baiting” and i had no idea of what it is,but to me i say, it’s just friendship and nothing really disgusting there! Just Saying anyways!

  2. sonicsenryaku says:

    “Kumiko truly doesn’t really see how much Shuuichi is into her.”

    Hmm….i got a completely different interpretation from that. The fact that kumiko had the flashback with shuuichi trying to ask her to the festival keys us in to the fact that kumiko remembers that shuuichi was attempting to cross a barrier. Then when reina steps in to shoo the boys away, she comments on how she doesnt like spineless guys and Kumiko kind of just gives her a half assed response, and that’s when Reina replies: “Wow, you’re so indifferent to it”, which i interpreted as Kumiko not really minding that shuuichi doesnt have the huevos to stand up straight like a man. This implies that kumiko, without realizing, actually likes shuuichi for who he is. It was reeeeaaally subtle but it got the message across about how kumiko sees her relationship with shuuichi and i think reina is starting to catch on.

    Now to get into the ep: kyo ani aint messing around with this season of euphonium. First off, i was so surprised by the fact that this was an hour premiere (i think the industry should soon start adopting hourly eps weekly for certain shows) but secondly i found myself so taken in by how good kyo ani is getting with their visual storytelling. The disappearance of haruhi suzumiya to this day is still my favorite thing from kyo ani but damn did this first ep feel almost movie like in the way it was directed. Hell, i would love to have hour long eps of hibike every week if their are going to be this good. You can tell that there’s going to be much less fluff in this season compared to the last one…hopefully (not that i want it completely gone but id rather it be utilized properly). There was a positive somberness to this whole thing which was directed with such skill and attention. This premiere in my opinion was the most proficient of everything ive seen so far; an 8/10 for this ep for me, which is already a number higher than the 7/10 i gave to the entire first season. Eupho is some of Kyo ani’s best work; Ishihara just gets better and better. Now i cant wait to see Koe no Kitachi. Kyokai no kanata’s mirai hen movie was the kyo ani movie that i saw that i thought was really good so i cant wait to see if koe tops it

    • Highway says:

      I obviously thought that was a bit different with Kumiko and Shuuichi. I think maybe Kumiko thinks Shuuichi isn’t as spineless as maybe Reina does, but I really don’t think that Shuuichi is on Kumiko’s mind much at all. There are lots of things she’s thinking about, but her relationship with him is more of something that just surprises her every time, because maybe she pushes it out of her head. I also thought it was more that Reina was trying to influence Kumiko, and she just wasn’t even thinking about being influenced, because she’s not really thinking about boys.

      There’s probably not much that’s deserving of having hour-long episodes. I was surprised this was an hour as well, but it was great throughout. I don’t know if I ever thought there was much ‘fluff’ in the first series, as things that many people would think are extra or unimportant are actually important for other reasons, like the Gotou x Riko thing I mentioned. Those things make the show much more real, much more enjoyable to me. Like I say with other shows, when people complain that “I want to see more of X or Y”, most of the time the shows aren’t wasting time. They’re just showing something you don’t want to see as much. I think that holds especially true with this show.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        when i say fluff, im not talkinng about things like side relationships; im more talking about some of the sillier high-jinks that occurred in some of the first season that really didnt amount to much (like in ep 5 or 6 i believe). Like i said, i dont want them gone completely, but to be utilized more effectively in adding something poignant to the characters.

        As for kumiko’s thoughts on shuuichi, i agree that he’s not on her mind like that. My point is that when she does think of him, she doesnt realize that she actually doesnt “despise” him as much as she lets on. This story isnt really about him anyway, its more about kumiko and reina’s bond and the strong feelings of sisterhood they have for each other. Shuuichi is more of a passing character who basically plays the role of being some guy kumiko might consider dating or not (at least once their friendship recovers from the damages of middle school)

      • skylion says:

        The relationship isn’t based on romance but, as you say, a charmed exploration. With Reina, Kumiko gets a bit of safety and something a bit more expected, since thy’re both girls. Shuuichi is the “boy” and even at that age there is a lot of sussing out alrday, and there is a bunch of sussing out to be done yet. That can get exhausting for a person, so she’s choosing the easier path.

        I wouldn’t count on that if the storytellers want to make an actual drama. Or else both of these girls would be nothing more than woolly escape mechanisms…and those are boring…

  3. sonicsenryaku says:

    oh nooooo; my comment got eaten by the spam gods

  4. sonicsenryaku says:

    spaaaaam gods

  5. skylion says:

    My first gut feeling of the second season is pretty darn strong. They wasted no time getting them into new business, introducing a new teacher, and bring back some pesky trouble-makers. All in all it very much paid for it’s double length run.

    Oh, but those pesky-vultures! I don’t think it’s going to be a case of “dismiss them all”. One or two of them might make it in, or maybe just one? That would make for good drama, and it’ll give Asuka some much needed arcs; not that she really needs much more development, as she’s pretty awesome as it. But she and the prez need to come to some emotional issues and get some drama working. I said my peach on the Kumiko-Reina drama above.

    All in all, a very good start to the new storylines…

    • Highway says:

      I do wonder if part of the look that Asuka had as everyone else was lit up with surprise when Kitauji was selected as Kansai Regional Representatives was “This is going to bring them out of the woodwork” worries about people like Nozomi. And I loved how her face shut down when the true nature of Natsuki’s topic was revealed. Two emotions, and both of them masks for what she’s really thinking. Part of me would like to know more about Asuka, and the other part wants to leave her as enigmatic as she’s always been.

      • skylion says:

        Ah, you can’t have it both ways now. But she does have other characters that can work off her groove…

  6. HannoX says:

    This is my most anticipated show of the season and this episode didn’t disappoint.

    At some point the anime team had to address the issue of the members who quit last year. Since they didn’t do that in the first season it makes sense to address it this season. And they are doing it in such a good way. It makes sense that one or more members who quit would try to get back in now that the band has become something.

    We see that Nozomi is an excellent player and very serious about her music. So it makes sense that she would be the first or only one that wants back in. While Asuka’s rejection seems overly harsh (and I thought so at first) she’s right to do so. The band does not need that issue resurrected. Nozomi and the others quit rather than stick it out and fight to make the band better. What would they do if the band hit a tough patch again? The band is under a lot of pressure now with the Regionals and hopefully the Nationals facing them.

    They can’t risk having even one member who might quit on them again and possibly tear them apart doing so, even if she’s not going to be a member going to the competitions. But would Nozomi really accept the latter? We saw in middle school that she wants to go to the Nationals. Would she challenge another player for her/his spot? She’s a potential time bomb ticking away. The band doesn’t need her in their midst, especially the second year members.

    • HannoX says:

      I just want to add that we saw in Season One that Asuka does the tough, necessary things that the president can’t do because of her more gentle personality. So it is right for Asuka to stand guard in the gate to the band and refuse to let Nozomi take her case to the president or the band as a whole. Just allowing Nozomi to plead her case to others would be a distraction when the band must concentrate on their upcoming competitions and it could potentially be disrupting.

      As for the second years being unwilling to discuss the issue with the first years, I can see two reasons. (1) No sense in inflicting any of the grief we underwent on the first years. (2) This is an issue among the second years and we’re not discussing it with outsiders.

  7. HannoX says:

    Aaaaaaagh! Spammy!

  8. theirs says:

    Just wanted to point out that the guy with Shuuichi isn’t Knuckles. He’s a first year sax player. They’ve been hanging out together since season one. Check out the scenes at the train station.

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