Hibike! Euphonium 2 – 13 [END]

Euphonium S2 - finally another real smile

Having to say goodbye

winter15-highw It’s a sad happy thing when a beloved show is ending, especially if it’s ending before it gets old.

Time Marches On

Euphonium S2 - snarky Natsuki

At your service, milady

And two of the facets of high school life are 1) that it’s just a short window in everyone’s life, and 2) that the people you travel through it with aren’t necessarily on the same schedule as you are. The first is a theme that’s been prominent in Hibike! Euphonium throughout, with the focus on grasping the chance in front of them to earn gold at the National competition. But with the end of that storyline and the retirement of the 3rd years from the club, the second aspect is coming much more into focus. We get to see the way that the club selects its officers, with the 2nd years meeting to discuss it, but with nominations done by the 3rd years. Yuuko has been nominated to be the president, but she’s surprised to hear that Natsuki has been nominated by Asuka and the others to be vice-president.

Euphonium S2 - the half that's staying

Yuuko with the group she inherits

I think that not only did Asuka and Haruka keep that from Yuuko, but Natsuki kind of relishes the idea of surprising Yuuko with it. But you can also see that she’s a little worried about the reaction, so maybe she waited until the meeting to say so that she didn’t get in a big argument with Yuuko. Gotou’s thoughts that Asuka’s trolling the group are probably close to true, but I think it’s also fairly well known that despite Yuuko and Natsuki’s public spats, they can probably work together about as well as any two. Plus, like I said last week, Natsuki’s got the temperament to be in leadership, now that she’s engaged in the group.

Ownership and Permanence

Euphonium S2 - the half that's leaving

The half of the group that’s leaving

One of the major themes that this episode really carried for me was the idea that even if that group of fellow travelers is changing every year, there’s a sense of ownership and continuation in the club that continues even after graduation, and it’s bought into by all the members. This is another one of those very Japanese ideas that is expressed through society. The individual’s wants are not as important as the continuation of the ethos of the group. So that’s why there’s always a push to keep a group continuing, to keep the same feel. To fail to do so is to let down those who came before you, and is shameful, even if it’s something that nobody would be interested in doing. Yuuko is feeling that pressure, looking over both the small group of 2nd years deciding the officers and the whole band, essentially gutted of a whole year of members. The band’s makeup was 28 3rd years (including Aoi), 14 2nd years (not including Nozomi), and 22 1st years. That’s why when the band gets together now, there are about half of the people there were, and why the sound is a lot thinner.

Euphonium S2 - Maybe it's not bad to start over

Michie-sensei can actually smile

But there’s another perspective raised in the conversation between Taki- and Michie-sensei: They agree that even though you spend so much work building it up, everything goes back to the start line every year. And as Michie-sensei has learned, there’s also a value in that. It’s what has allowed this year’s band to overcome the loss of the whole year last year, and it’s what allows all the members of a current year to feel a sense of ownership over what they have accomplished, without having all of their own effort claimed by those who came before. They did this, and even if some of their positioning was set up by the idea of the group that they’ve joined, it was their efforts who got them the results. And it’s with all of these feelings in mind that those who are not graduating are performing at their farewell party for the seniors at the end of the year. “You did your part, now we’re going to go from here. Thank you for all you have given us and we hope to pass that on to all those that follow us.”

Euphonium S2 - continuance

Part of that sense of continuation, even when you’re missing the people who came before

Bringing It to the Personal Level

Euphonium S2 - Kumiko feeling like she's with Asuka

Kumiko’s smile when she can engage Asuka

Within all these feelings of the whole band, each individual has to sort out their own feelings, and we can’t forget that these are still high school students who are trying to do their own thing at the same time. And when these people who have been a big part of their lives for a significant time are moving on, they definitely get a feel of being left behind. This is also another thing that has certainly been affected by the lack of 2nd years in the club. Generally, the first years are looking up to the 2nd years, who have been the ones giving them attention. But with so few 2nd years, the 3rd years have to be not just the distant revered senpai to the first years, but the hands-on ones. Couple that with Natsuki’s disengagement at the beginning of the story, and the auditions which split Natsuki from Kumiko, and you have a situation where Kumiko’s focus senpai is graduating. Thinking about it, this might be rare even in this group, since most of the other first-years we know are attached more to 2nd years: Hazuki with Natsuki, Midori with Riko. Reina’s a special case, but even then, Yuuko has made the effort to be her senpai. The only other 3rd-1st pairing I know of is the two I brought up last week, Maina and Chieri (who got their own quick scene this episode – see below).

Euphonium S2 - an empty space

Leaving an empty spot next to her

And it’s really only after Asuka is gone from the band that Kumiko realizes how much she’s missing her. She got a bit of that feeling when Asuka had her troubles in the run up to Nationals (although that was Kumiko thinking more about Asuka’s feelings than her own), but now that she’s not around, it’s something that she’s understanding more and more, and especially with random run-ins with Asuka, like on the bridge with Aoi. Just as Kumiko’s getting into that old feeling of comfort, Asuka leaves, leaving Kumiko to realize what she’s missing. And having others mistake her playing for Asuka’s probably just sends it to her heart even more. There are also the things that just drive the message home, like Asuka just taking off after the graduates band party, and taking her euphonium home with her, leaving that hole on the shelf just like in her feelings. But Kumiko has her chances to get those feelings through to Asuka, like playing “her” solo part as the remaining band performs Crescent Moon Dance one more time. I don’t think that there’s any of that memetic “Notice me, senpai!” desperation, but knowing that Asuka’s eyes are only on her throughout the entire piece had to be nice.

Euphonium S2 - eyes only for Kumiko

Staring straight ahead, and looking right at Kumiko

Euphonium S2 - Kumiko goes off script

Kumiko changes the script

But as Kumiko has been saying since her talk with Mamiko, she doesn’t want to have any regrets, which leads to her clear statement to Asuka about how she feels about her. I’m sure Kumiko was fearing that Asuka had run off again, and that she’d missed her last chance after graduation, where we saw so many others dealing with those feelings of parting. But I also wonder if Asuka had been waiting for Kumiko, waiting on the steps for her to come there to talk to her, and bringing that notebook to give to Kumiko. Asuka’s surprise in Kumiko’s change to the normal routine of their conversation, that yes, this time it’s about love, certainly throws her off, as does Kumiko’s confession that Asuka is someone that she loves, right after Asuka admits that she knew Kumiko didn’t really like her. But even knowing that, was Asuka a bit sad, wiping away a tear at the thought that Kumiko didn’t like her? And to hear that Kumiko really does care for her, cares for her true feelings, and wants to play like her, that probably makes Asuka pretty happy. Is there any way that these two ever run across each other in the future? I doubt it. It’s not like Kumiko’s going to be a stellar student and get into a great university like Asuka has. Sure, Asuka threatened to come back and pester the band into getting gold at Nationals next year, but she probably won’t have time. But it doesn’t matter, because they didn’t say “goodbye”, she said “see you later.”

Euphonium S2 - can't speak

Kumiko can’t really talk, but gets the message across

Euphonium S2 - it's done

Relief and maybe some grief at a dreaded goodbye

Euphonium S2 - Resonate Euphonium

I rather wish they’d have used a different translation for “Hibike” in this instance, as “Sound” is just too pedestrian. I like “Resonate” more.

Great Direction

Euphonium S2 - love meddlers

These two have the idea, but it’s really not what Kumiko is thinking about

A couple of other things that I wanted to talk about, that are more about series direction. I like that they didn’t bring in an actual romantic relationship between Shuuichi and Kumiko, just more of the others making more of it than there is. Poor Shuuichi is actually taken aback by Kumiko’s almost accusing him of making more of his gift to her, when it was just Midori and Hazuki being overly supportive. Maybe sometime in the future Kumiko’s feelings for him will grow, but it’s also possible they won’t. And if that happens, then it really shouldn’t matter if Shuuichi has always been interested in her. But this show wasn’t about that, it was about Kumiko’s relationship with her euphonium, and the people who mattered the most in that were Reina, Mamiko, and Asuka. That’s why Kumiko ended up confessing to those three.

Euphonium S2 - Just a slight change to framing

Just a little change from the original

I also like, in general, the way they presented the band performance in this episode. Once again, it followed close to the same shots as the previous two performances of the Crescent Moon Dance, with changes for different players, like showing the three tubas in order. There were also flashbacks thrown in, which I honestly felt were a little more than I wanted to see, like the reverse order of the entire SunFest back to the start of the year, although finishing that by showing their successful gold photo at the Kyoto competition was nice. But showing things like Mizore playing her solo line, and then Nozomi conducting, or Kumiko playing Asuka’s part with Asuka looking at her, or the slightly changed perspective of the shot of Reina playing her solo, shifted to include Kumiko, Natsuki, and the graduating seniors in the audience was a nice way to re-present the performance again.

Some More Goodbyes

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This is my favorite series. I never got tired of it. I still watch all the episodes of it. I’ve watched every episode a minimum of three times, and the whole first series in order at least 3 times. Maybe because the two cours were split, I never felt that fatigue that I feel about most 2 cour series at around episode 18. Or maybe it’s just that good. There was plenty of story to fill 26 episodes without any filler, and there’s certainly more than that, since they had an OVA featuring Hazuki already, and I’d bet there will be another OVA with the BluRay release of season two. To my mind, everything about this series is superlative, from the underlying story, to the cinematic visuals, to the excellent music (I’ve been stuck on Overture from Orpheus in the Underworld from the first series lately, because that must be so much fun to play, because it’s recorded splendidly, and because I love the way they let the big brass just the littlest bit loose at the end, more than you usually hear).

The series has the right scope, the right characters for that scope, and brings wonderful feelings along with it. And even though I haven’t played in a concert band in over 25 years, it’s still something that’s dear to my heart, that was a huge part of who I was growing up, and seeing the way it was portrayed, even from halfway around the world and a quarter of a century later, made for the remembrance of wonderful memories and feelings. And I hope that there will be another show out there that becomes my favorite show, because I would love to watch something better than this.


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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6 Responses to “Hibike! Euphonium 2 – 13 [END]”

  1. skylion says:

    A person can fall over themselves trying to get all the good things about this show in one post: I should know! I spent quite some time on it last year, but Highway has taken my biscuit….

    So with that in mind, I’ll take small, and short, steps on this one little path. We’ll start in “What Highway Said” base camp. I pretty much agree with all the above. “You did your part, now we’re going to go from here. Thank you for all you have given us and we hope to pass that on to all those that follow us.” I enjoyed that this ideal was given to use in both arenas, intergroup, and person. With the band, and the relationship between Asuaki and Kumiko, and how that sorta parallels the story between Reina and Sensei. Which almost says, “This isn’t the relationship you think you once wanted, but that doesn’t mean it’s over, and that doesn’t mean we didn’t find good”

    So yes, all that is said, all that is done, I love it almost as much as HIghway does. So I’ll leave by saying that I was crushed when I saw Yuuko crying into Kaori’s chest. The plot gave her those tears, but thanks to thoughtful visual direction, each member of the audience made her tears for her, made it personal. That’s the show in a nutshell.

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Euphonium was a soso series for me I didn’t really care about most of the characters and season two pretty much ditched the idea of hey were a music series, but fk that were going full on character drama! Just kidding I know KyoAni often does that with most of their series giving us a idea then getting away from that idea to focus on other things.

    For me this season seemed to struggle with story like the random sub plot about that one girl who left the band back in the day and then suddenly she wanted back in to “help” that side story took forever! I was like wow who cares? She made the choice to leave, but I know that sub plot was also part of Asuka’s story I guess?

    Speaking of Asuka why did she suddenly become the main focus of the second half? I love the character just as much as the next person; however she never really stuck me as being that important I kinda wrote her off as the goofball type who often teased people for her personal amusement.

    Aaaand finally the dumb story with Reina loving the teacher plus finding out he was married before? I guess its a Japan thing? Like you can’t marry somebody if they were previously married or was it the fact his wife died? To me it was like they were saying he isn’t allowed to ever move on? I’d think it would be alright for him to find love again don’t you? That and Reina visiting the grave of his dead wife which felt odd! I know we are spose to take that scene as Reina is paying her respects, but yeah it still came off as strange.

    That said I know KyoAni wasn’t going to do anything series with a teacher x student pairing cause KyoAni tends to play it safe and the same can be said for the yuri aspects which you can’t tell me weren’t there because they totally were and the fact that Kumiko always seemed to be all “eww gross get away from me” whenever Shuuichi was near her? But yeah I know they weren’t really going for a yuri romance even back in season one it was just something most of us noticed.

    Not a perfect series but i’m happy some loved it way more than others.

    • Jrow says:

      Pretty much “This” for me, though it could be telling of what we were looking for in this series vs. others.

      The beginning of S2 with the Yoroizuka/Nozomi arc, imo, was the weakest stretch of the series.

      I get them wanting Asuka to have a story arc at some point, which they steadily built up nicely through S1, but I felt underwhelmed by how that all played out.

      I don’t mind the whole Reina having a crush on her teacher and having strong enough feelings to really think she has a shot, but it did create an odd moment her and Kumiko were up on the mountain and Kumiko essentially says, ‘your competition for him? She’s not gonna stop you while RIP’ing.’ :p

  3. HannoX says:

    This was my favorite series of the fall season. I thought everything about it was just great.

    I’ve come to this realization late, but I think a major part, maybe the whole reason, of why Asuka passed on being the band president is because she wasn’t sure how long she could resist her mother’s pressure to quit the band. And losing the president partway through the year, especially just before a competition would be very disruptive. She did say in this season that she wasn’t going to make trouble for the band. I’m sure she had that attitude from the beginning of the year and also the previous year when she turned down the presidency.

    • Highway says:

      I really don’t agree that that was a part of Asuka’s thinking. I think Asuka felt she couldn’t be the president of the group because she could not hold it together. Haruka held the group together, not through her will, but through her understanding and through her softness. There are groups that can use more of the iron fist, and there are groups that need the comfy couch. And if you use the iron fist on a comfy couch group, it just smashes everything.

      I think it was Asuka’s intelligence that led her to realize that limitation, that she could not make that group work, no matter what other people thought of her ability. That she could be an XO, but she couldn’t be the leader.

      And I really think that Asuka was following the timeline I laid out before: Be done by the beginning of August. No fuss, no trouble. The band is not going to get gold, it’s certainly not going on to Regionals. Yeah, they might play better, but it’s one-and-done and no fuss with her mother. The fact that she couldn’t continue past that wouldn’t have come into it at all.

      • skylion says:

        … if you use the iron fist on a comfy couch…

        Sometimes you just need to take things out of context…

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