If I had to thank KyoAni for one thing, it'd be for their ability to prove that it's really hard not to enjoy a good anime, which they've proven many times. Regardless of its art style, the way it presents its characters via voice acting and personalities, the setting of the series, or whatever else it may have that turns a lot of people off (and even causes some to denounce the series completely because of it), KyoAni proves to you that if it's good, it's good. And for that, you will enjoy it.
Ultimately, that was exactly how I felt about Hibike! Euphonium's 2nd season.
The first season, to me at least, was disappointing in many ways because of various little things like the ones I listed above. To me, the fact that it had an extremely moe art style, characters that played well with the art style, and a very cliche school setting... and the cliches that applied to series' of this type seemed to all apply there as well. Because of all that, I really didn't like the first season a whole lot, though I was very hopeful because I believed a sequel had potential, and luckily I continued onto the end because what I ended up with was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had with anime in my entire life.
And with all of that out of the way, let me begin to explain to you why I feel the way I do about this fantastic series.
So, before I begin, I want to mention two things, and delve a bit deep into one of those:
1. This is a review of the second season, so expect spoilers of the first.
2. Given that I never actually wrote a proper review of the first season (at least not on MAL, but a very select few of you might have seen my brief analysis of it on the internet at some point), I wanna first talk about my overall thoughts and verdict on the first season before I begin talking about the second. It'll better allow you to understand why I feel the way I do about the second season here.
Basically, to kind of repeat what I just said above, Hibike! Euphonium season one in a nutshell, at least to me, was that it just exploited every single possible "generic slice-of-life" (moe) trope that it possibly could. Things like embarrassment, unnecessary dialogue, forced drama, yuri (or yuri bait), CGDCT, and was all wrapped together with a pseudo-story that could even be seen as mildly pretentious because it tried to be far more serious than it actually was, in addition to trying to create more value/importance than it actually had.
To me, however, I also believed that the series had a TON of potential just because of how interesting the premise was. Although I wasn't given it even slightly in the first season, I was really (and I mean REALLY) interested in seeing the struggles of making it in an industry as niche as the one of high school concert band. And yes, I understand that it wouldn't necessarily make a ton of sense to use words like "make it" and "industry," since it's an extracurricular group-based activity within high school, meaning you won't be making any money off of it and you also won't be suffering anything too huge (besides maybe psychologically) by failing within it. However, that doesn't change the fact that I'd LIKE to see something serious done with it. Something that depicts the struggles of making it to the top, where as the first season of this series really did just the opposite. Kumiko seemed far too plot-armored to really feel any sense of relating to her on a personal level. It seemed almost like she was given success served on a silver platter, and not necessarily earning it.
You also have the fact that concert band seemed to be a second-highest priority for the series, with other events (primarily the yuri bait between Kumiko and Reina) taking top priority. There were way too many episodes completely dominated by fluffy SoL moments and unnecessary dialogue about nothing. There was also very little drama besides the restoration of Kumiko and Reina's friendship, in addition to flashbacks (but I intentionally don't count those because they're, well, in the past). So, for the most part, I didn't like the first season. It ultimately came down to the inability to tell a proper story by always changing itself whenever it felt like it wanted to and by just telling the actual "story" in a way that makes it seem far too forced and plot-armored. To keep it simple, it was very unrealistic, which is a HORRIBLE thing for a series like this that tries to be as realistic as it can be.
And now, onto the second season here.
Initially, Hibike! Euphonium's second season didn't really leave much of an impression on me simply because I didn't really feel much difference between it and the first season within the first few episodes. Of course, the second season still had better execution; it wasn't far into the second episode that we started to realize that different things really were happening, and that the way the story as a whole would be presented was going to be a lot different. Thus, I really did feel like it was a better series but not a LOT better, possibly worth a 6/10 in comparison to the 5/10 I gave the first season.
Ultimately, however, the series really does find a way to pick itself up and become something incredible. Let me explain the main things that it does.
Starting off: DRAMA.
Yes, Hibike! Euphonium season 2 has a fair bit of drama, and ALL of it is quite well-executed. There are different types of drama, but the type used within the second season actually happens to be my favorite kind: uncomfortable deviations from the "norm" where progress is made by getting things back to where they were. The reason why I like this kind of drama is because it really throws the audience a curve ball. As opposed to progress being made via progression, via constantly becoming better and better, this type of drama demonstrates progress ONLY being made by bringing things back together, meaning your ONLY goal is to make things the way they once were, bring things back to normal. And the primary reason why I absolutely LOVE this kind of drama is because it really helps to flesh out a lot of characters all at once, as you get to see how they react to such an interesting situation.
There are a lot of good examples to give on how Hibike! Euphonium demonstrates this kind of drama almost perfectly, but I'll only give one because it leads perfectly into my next point, which is the entire situation of learning about Taki-sensei and his wife. Kumiko learns this news, and it's a lot to take in for her not just because she feels bad, but because she knows how Reina feels about Taki-sensei and knows this kind of news would be huge to her. Thus, we see Kumiko attempting to keep things together, to pretend almost as if she forgot what she was told by burying it deep enough in her heart and mind that she doesn't think about it, all to keep from accidentally slipping it out to Reina.
There was little to no actual character development within the first season, the only "grey area" that could really be given to that claim is within Kumiko and how she goes from not giving a crap about the competitions and making it to nationals to wanting to make it to nationals as much as anybody else. There was definitely no grey area here in season two, however, as it's quite obvious that there is TONS of development going on for everyone, and even including the story itself.
The biggest sign of development within the second season here really is when Taki-sensei gets a fair amount of it. I consider this the biggest sign because it was, primarily, the first occurrence of it. Sure, we learned a few minor things about Reina and even a couple other side characters, but I really feel that none were even CLOSE to as important as what we learned about Taki-sensei simply because it did add a lot of much-needed depth to his character. What was mainly just a mysterious character that we constantly questioned about why he acted the way he did and what was up with him, became a very heart-filled character who we could understand greatly and, in some cases, even relate to. And to me, that's how development should always be in a series like this one.
Taki-sensei wasn't the only case of development, however. While he was certainly the biggest sign of change within the series, as well as for future development, many others also had some well-deserved development as well. Ironically enough, however, this development wasn't really inflicted upon the main characters... of course, Kumiko has received a fair amount, and even a SLIGHT bit for Reina, but it was mostly side characters that received it. And the reason I consider this a pretty big deal is because of the fact that these characters almost didn't even feel like side characters any longer; at this point, they felt very much like main characters just because of the amount of depth they were given. And let me tell you what... a large slew of important, lovable characters is definitely what I look for when watching a series like this one, simply because it really IS the characters that carry a series that isn't primarily dominated by its story.
And my final point is going to be: PLOT PROGRESSION.
Plot progression within the second season here is DYNAMIC.
What I mean by that is that you are truly able to understand the struggles involved in succeeding in a type of "industry" like this (which I only say due to a lack of a better word, like I addressed above). The overall feel of the series, in both atmosphere, tension, and sustainability is almost completely different because of how it's handled. There really isn't a moment that goes on within this second season that isn't relateable in SOME way, shape, or form, whether it be via personal experience or experience that you're aware that someone has went through before. And let me tell you, if you don't get it from what I said about the first season earlier, that that's the COMPLETE opposite of what the first season felt like. And, as I said above, that's DYNAMIC progression within the plot itself.
I also want to mention that the story is definitely the top priority here in comparison to other things. The unnecessary fluff is gone, the yuri bait is almost completely obsolete, and the dialogue is cut down to either being very little, or being equally or more-so important. This was the primary thing that I was BEGGING for while watching the first season, simply because I didn't think a series composed of this kind of premise, this slew of characters and their various archetypes, and this kind of series direction could survive without at least a fairly high level of sustainable dialogue. We didn't get it in the first season, not even CLOSE, but this is something we certainly get here in the second season.
Alright, so I've said all the changes (or, at least the major ones). Does changing what I considered to be just a bit above complete garbage into something quality and sustainable necessarily mean it deserves the absurdly high score I've given it? Not at all, so let me explain to you what makes everything so good.
So, the primary thing I love about Hibike! Euphonium season 2 is the fact that everything is displayed in a way that's almost perfect in what it tries to do. From the emotions each character tries to display, to the feelings each character tries to commit to exposing or explaining, to the struggles each character displays in their attempts to become better than they already are. All of these things, wrapped up by a simple, yet extremely effective and EXTREMELY hard thing to perfect... how realistic they feel.
Like I said above, almost every single event that takes place within this second season is relateable in some way, shape, or form simply because of the fact that these are common events used in uncommon ways. You have Kumiko being unable to properly portray her feelings to Asuka in a way that both understand and are able to connect with... of course, her reasons for doing so are a bit odd when viewed from the perspective of a viewer who I can at least assume has never had much experience with high school concert band (or band in general), so it may not come off as COMPLETELY relateable. However, it'd be absurd to say that there's anybody over the age of 16 that's never had to go through an experience where they'd been unable to explicitly explain their feelings to someone in a way where both understand. It's just a hard thing to do, and it makes for something extremely enjoyable to watch when it's portrayed correctly from a different perspective where we, as an audience, can all view it in a different way from one another.
I also think the choice to take a lot of attention off of Reina, at least in comparison to how much she was given in the first season, is extremely smart simply because it takes a lot of pressure off of one of the biggest problems I had with the first season. Of course, that's the yuri bait. I just didn't think it was a necessary plotline simply because it both didn't make a lot of sense from both a plot AND character perspective, in addition to the fact that it felt extremely forced and unrealistic. Believe me, I don't mind yuri or yuri bait within an anime, heck I actually cheer for it in some shows where I think the plot and story in general would benefit from it. However, in a series where it tries its hardest to be realistic like Hibike! Euphonium, that kind of thing just doesn't work, and for obvious reasons. Primarily, just that it doesn't fit the plot, but also mainly because it's neigh-impossible to create a realistic yuri bait-based plotline within any kind of story.
Of course, I would be lying if I said that I don't like it at all. It definitely CAN add a bit of flavor to a series, a good example to that is the Nico x Maki ships that usually happen within the Love Live fanbase. Thing is, however, that isn't carried out very hard within the series... they just poke fun at it a bit from time to time. And guess what? That's basically what the second season of Hibike! Euphonium does. With far less attention on Reina, there's not many situations where that kind of thing can even be executed well. In addition, it also makes for a LOT more room to develop other characters, which as I said earlier, is definitely taken advantage of and ultimately creates a slew of important characters that you can feel attached to in some way.
Now, another thing that could be viewed as a general problem from the first season: the ending. While I won't go into detail about the events of it, I will briefly talk about the ending just to give you an idea of what you're in for.
So yes, the Hibike! Euphonium series, as a whole, is over after this second season. The second season concludes the story, and might I say that the ending was actually EXTREMELY good and was about as conclusive as you could've asked it to be. Sure, some could argue that it would benefit from continuing, but I honestly think the story it told was perfect in timing and that the spot it ended was absolutely flawless in that it lets your imagination go to work and write the rest of the story for you, as well as not stretch it out for too long. But, with that said, it certainly IS an ending that will cause a void, so be somewhat prepared for that (though it's impossible to fully prepare for a void).
So, as an attempt to keep things a bit short, I'll cut my discussion of the story and characters right here, simply because there's a bit too much to talk about that'd ruin the full experience if you haven't already seen the series. So, to put it briefly:
Hibike! Euphonium season 2 takes literally every problem present within the first season and not only corrects it, but it also capitalizes on its strong points and creates even more to form a nearly flawless experience. Things happen that you not only didn't expect to, but that you were also BEGGING for to happen if you felt the same way about the first season as I did. Not only were the problems fixed, but it also went a way that I absolutely LOVED, and did things that I also absolutely LOVED and just LOVED to watch. To put it simply, I really LOVED this second season here, and I'm just really ecstatic that things happened the way that they did simply because that was exactly how I wanted them to happen.
After the mildly slow start that Hibike! Euphonium's 2nd season had, the rest was basically everything I wanted it to be, and for that reason exactly, I really do love it.
Briefly talking about the overall presentation of the series, since there really isn't a lot to discuss that isn't already obvious to everyone...
The art is fantastic, like everything KyoAni is. The bright colors, the unnecessarily detailed settings, the flawless character designs, the amazing animation. There's not a single flaw to the art or animation of Hibike! Euphonium season 2, and for that I don't think there's much to talk about regarding it.
For the sound, I do have just a bit to talk about.
First off is something interesting, something I've never actually had to talk about before: I actually did have a MILD problem with a small aspect of the Japanese dub. That thing primarily deals with Kumiko's voice.
Funny enough, I didn't think the voice for the main character, Kumiko Oumae, really fit her general personality very well at times. Of course, the voice acting wasn't bad by any means, as it seems every Japanese dub in anime has fantastic voice acting. I just really did feel a bit indifferent with the decision to work Tomoyo Kurosawa, who's generally done a lot of work with KyoAni and who I'd say her most famous voice would be Tina from Black Bullet (not KyoAni, just a moderately famous voice), into the series as the voice of Kumiko. The primary reason I say this is because Kumiko's general character design and personality don't really fit my ideal perception for a mildly loli yet still very monotonous voice. Yes, Kumiko is naturally a very stoic character, and for good reasons. So, a monotonous voice doesn't really sound like a terrible thing. BUT. I still think Kumiko's bright side shows off a lot in her character design, and occasionally in her personality, thus I always thought a higher voice would work better for her.
There have been a lot of times where I've felt stupid for thinking something like this, because there are TONS of instances within the Hibike! Euphonium series, both seasons included, where Kumiko goes through situations where her voice seems to be on-the-dot perfect for her character. These are typically very strenuous situations, where she's either exhausted and her voice shows that, or she's yelling at someone and the increased pitch of an already moderately low voice fits perfectly for her. And let me say, there are a fair number of moments where Kurosawa's voice is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Not necessarily for Kumiko 100% of the time, but my god, she really does outdo herself at times with these slight little glimpses of absolute perfection where you wanna just rewind and relisten to these little specks of voice-acting perfection. These are more significant in the second season as well, so at this point, I've been able to completely forgive and even partially ignore the problems I have with the overall choice of voice acting for Kumiko.
Otherwise, the sound of this second season is great. Every other voice actor/actress is perfect, and being mildly well-versed in classical and orchestra music due to one of my exes being heavily involved in it, I also really love the sound of the high school concert band during their live shows and when small glimpses of it are given to us within the soundtrack of the series itself during its regular/typical moments. No, this isn't any kind of super amazing high school band, because I don't really think that kind of thing exists... there certainly are flaws present. But I also believe that the flaws that are there play well into the composition of the series as well, given that it's meant to be the work of young high school students, thus mildly flawed music makes everything feel even more realistic.
The opening theme, while I'd say it's just a VERY small bit below the first season's in terms of quality, is still very good and fits the series extremely well. The ending theme is the same case, except I would put it just a bit above the first season's in terms of quality. Though, in general, I just really like when OPs/EDs are vocally composed by the primary voice actors/actresses of the series they're from.
My final verdict is a bit of a hard one to give, because I, simply, find it just a bit too hard to briefly sum up what I like so much about this second season of Hibike! Euphonium.
Overall, the primary thing here is improvement from the first season, however there is more to it than that simply because I just love how everything was executed in its own accord, not even considering the first season in my judgement. The story really kicked itself in the behind to create something great that was exactly what I'd been wanting from the series from the very beginning. I also loved the mild change of paces within the overall structure of character distribution, as there WAS a pretty significant need for change there... and the change we got was perfect.
Overall, Hibike! Euphonium season 2 was, to be completely honest, next to flawless. It was literally everything I could ever ask for in this kind of series, and what it did was something that I absolutely LOVED and was craving for in a kind of series like this one. It is one I recommend others to watch, and that's despite the mediocre first season. So, hopefully you understand how much I loved this second season as a whole, and are motivated yourself to go watch it regardless of your situation... whether you've already seen the first or not. And even if you've seen it and ultimately decided you didn't like the first season, just please, give the seasond season a chance to redeem itself. I can promise you that you won't regret it.
And with both the series and my review finally completed, you're free to stop here. I decided to include my critical scoring here in this review just because it really was an extremely close contender for anime of the year (assuming I don't end up watching another amazing gem from this season, which the odds of that happening are almost infinitely low), which isn't required information. So, if you're uninterested in that and decide to stop here, I thank you for reading your way through my review. And until next time, I bid you farewell.
Just in-case you don't know of my scoring method, here's a nice copypaste of exactly how it works:
Total for the above 4: equates to 90% of total rating
Enjoyment: equates to 10% of total rating
Each section will be broken down below.
*Note: If you're at ALL interested in better depth how this exact scoring method of mine works, follow my profile and view the "detailed rating method" spoilers (both 1 and 2). They explain everything in the fullest detail possible. You may benefit from checking them out, because I'm going extra hard on the depth of my scoring this time because I have quite a bit to say this time around.
Premise: 100% - Just because I loved the premise of this series from the very beginning.
Execution: 90% - Very mild problems in the beginning, almost completely disappeared within 3 episodes.
Convolution (lack of): 100% - There was none.
Pacing: 80% - Unfortunately just a bit too slow at times. Nothing worth complaining about in the long run.
Conclusion: 100% - Ultimately what relieved me most about this second season; the conclusion to this entire series as a whole was much needed and very well-done.
Story overall: 9.4/10
Introductions: 100% - Character introductions were so well-done even from the very beginning, no difference here.
Screen time: 100% - Something that was hard to decide initially, not in this situation. Thank you for taking time away from Reina and focusing it on characters that, ultimately, became more important (and better).
Personality: 100% - I ended up loving pretty much every character's personality by the very end.
Development: 90% - Ironically enough, I need to dock a few points here just because they decided to completely leave out two characters who the story implied were meant to be seen as important within the first season. Otherwise, development was incredible.
Backdrop: 90% - It was certainly there but there wasn't a ton of it, though that wasn't a huge problem in addition to the fact that what was there was near perfect.
Characters overall: 9.6/10
Character designs: 100% - Came off as slightly generic, but had enough flair of its own to be considered great + looked extremely good.
General art: 100% - Zero complaints whatsoever; everything looked great.
Animation: 100% - Not a ton there, but all perfect.
Visuals/sakuga: 100% - From my recollection, there was no visible CGI present and all of the detailed scenery looked fantastic, in addition to the live performances capturing every detail so perfectly, unlike any other.
Art overall: 10/10
Music: 100% - Can't find any direct complaints to give due to the fact that everything works so perfectly within the series' composition.
Sound effects: 100% - No complaints whatsoever.
Voice acting (sub): 100% - Issue with Kumiko's voice that was so small you could call it invisible. Otherwise, no complaints whatsoever.
Voice acting (dub): No dub exists as of writing this review.
Watched subbed prior to writing analysis, since no dub exists, so no dub score is included.
Sound overall: 10/10
Story: 90% - Can't say it's perfect by any means, but the amount of things done perfectly is just so high and definitely worthy of being called an amazing story.
Characters: 100% - Pretty much where everything in this second season succeeded almost perfectly. The flaws I give to the characters are so minor some may not even consider them flaws. Just breathtakingly perfect.
Presentation: 100% - No direct complaints whatsoever; everything looked and sounded great and fit everything present within the series perfectly.
Enjoyment overall: 9.67/10
Thinking about my high school years, I had difficulty getting in touch with others and accepting their differences. How can I say? I wasn't really unpleasant... but a bit stubborn. However, don't imagine that I was arguing. If only ... on the contrary, I didn't say anything, and I preferred to get away from them. I couldn't express myself correctly with the others and I didn't dare to reproach them for fear of hurting them. None of us tried to understand each other and we ended up moving away and taking different ways.
At university, I wanted my situation to change. That's why I decided to
cure myself of taciturn personality and I opened myself to others by communicating with them without hiding his true feelings.
The human being is able to express itself in order to transmit its emotions, its thoughts, its reflections and yet many conflicts arise because we decide to withdraw into ourselves and run away from the problems. In society, people generally try to maintain an ideal image of themselves and not to show their bad sides. But is this the right solution? Should we really wear a mask when we live in society at the risk of pretending that everything is for the best?
This is precisely what we see in Hibike! Euphonium.
To recap: Kumiko Oumae is a Kitauji high school student in the 1st year that integrates the fanfare club. The club plans to win a gold medal in the upcoming national competition.
However, at the club, the atmosphere deteriorates and the conflicts (of last year) get back on top of things. Kumiko will have to face all the resentments that have been fed for a year. That's why, Kumiko will try to learn more about others to understand how to resolve conflicts.
I'll insist on Kumiko who is the main character and narrator of the story. We discover the story from her point of view.
Why did she come to Kitauji? She wanted a change and wanted to start from scratch. She didn't want to especially integrate a music club but her friends Hazuki and Midori more or less forced her. (With kindness)
One of her main qualities is being honest, attentive to others and finding a change of attitude. Reina noticed it "You act normal but I feel you see through people. You act like you don't notice, but you do."
However, she's also withdrawn when she encounters problems and can't confide easily to others. She does her best to look self-confident.
Is that going to put her in a difficult position?
In the internal conflicts in the club, Kumiko will draw closer the involved students and will play the go-between to restore their relationships and bring harmony back to the club.
And it's on this point that Kumiko will be exceptional because the others confide in her when she isn't really concerned.
It's in the second part that things become complicated. Therefore Kumiko will question herself and understand if she doesn't open herself to others, she won't have the right to know more about others. In this season, Reina says to Kumiko "I'll catch you and peel your mask off".
The fact remains that this season is focused on Kumiko and her relationship with the other characters: Asuka her senpai playing the euphonium, her older sister Mamiko, her best friend Reina and her childhood friend Shuuichi.
The atmosphere is more dramatic and mature than season 1.
Other issues raised:
- the notion of transition from childhood to adulthood. The characters will wonder about their future: work hard for his/her university exams or risk pursuing his/her passion by continuing to play music?
- family relations will be accentuated. Whether it's Kumiko's relationship with her sister Mamiko or Asuka's relationship with her family.
- and finally the question of love: two romances were set up in season 1 very subtly, that will be continued in season 2.
This anime is also beautifully to my eyes with attention to the details of gestures and facial expressions, without using long dialogues or an omnipresent narration. Kumiko tells the main facts and her feelings but they don't represent the majority of an episode. It's a choice, not necessarily the best but in this series it's suitable.
The soundtrack uses various instruments including the euphonium. At first I didn't particularly like the sound of the euphonium but I started to take taste. I think about the magnificent performances of Asuka.
We also find "Crescent Moon Dance" with a unique and stunning staging. The seiyuus also made an excellent performance: especially Kurosawa Tomoyo, who plays the Kumiko's voice.
In the end this anime is excellent and brought me a lot in its realistic approach. Kumiko was a model and I learned a lot by looking at her. She did what I couldn't do in high school and set an example. I like her honesty. Reina recognizes this quality, I quote: "And when it matters most, you always have the right words."
I remember a quotation from a manga that I like very much. "If you want to get to know someone, find out what makes them angry." (Gon Freecss, Hunter X Hunter)
To answer the questions raised above, it's not a question of behaving badly in society and telling anyone some home truths with a lack of respect. But to be frank with oneself and others in order to get to know each other better. If we don't talk about our disagreements with our friends, we will never be able to progress in our relationship. It will only be a factitious friendship. We must content ourselves with a superficial relationship that will lead nowhere.
This is my opinion but I don't regret having changed and Kumiko either.
Spring 2015 was a heavy season. Out of all the shows though, there was one particular that stood out and it’s Hibike Euphonium (Sound Euphonium). Produced by one of the highest quality anime studios ever, the show is still much more than an eye candy fest. So when I heard the series was returning for a sequel, I was ecstatic. Hibike Euphonium 2 is like a gift that keeps on giving.
Adapted by Kyoto Animation, the second season hits off with a memorable start. The first episode is actually double length and will easily get the audience back into the mood from season 1. Or perhaps
a bit too much? If you’re a fan of Kumiko and Reina’s relationship then it will definitely bring you some popcorn entertainment. In the meantime, the series continuously adds more drama to the story. From the start, we have the conflict revolving about Nozomi, Asuka, and Natsuki. The ideal clashes erupts and it’s evident that it was a sneak peek for more emotional drama to happen. We also find out more about the new characters in this season such as Mizore (who had a very minor role before).
I have to admit, getting back into this show for me felt pretty natural. The series has a decent pacing in term of storytelling that feels familiar to the first season. However, one of the focuses in this season is the Nationals. Kumiko realizes the pressure of the competition while the rest of Kitauji High also recognize the mountain they must overcome. The storytelling maintains a balanced mood that bounces between dramatic and humorous while still expressing the personalities of the characters. In the meantime, emotions hits a high note when we learn more about the past of some of the characters.
It’s pretty evident that some of the episodes sparks emotional drama from the start. It just takes some buildup to lead to it. The series establishes a firm way of showing those emotions through segments and clever usage of dialogue and narratives. Whether you’re a fan of drama or not, the show know how to structure these emotions to appeal for an audience. In addition, the sequel also handles background storytelling quite well. Asuka, one of the most noticeable band members, reveals her past while we can also clearly see how Nozomi and Mizore’s relationship developed. Of course, the series also focuses on the present as Reina struggles about her personal feelings towards Taki. If you can recall, she has feelings towards Taki and this season made it even more evident with the way she reacted when another female teacher enters the story, who seems to have a past connection with him.
This season isn’t just about melancholic drama as the competition evolves. And as the competition evolves, so does the band. In one particular episode, Kitauji shows their talent and how much they’ve improved themselves with a powerful performance. It’s obvious that they aren’t pushovers and that the band members possesses some real talent. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be impressed by the competition as a whole the word “anticlimatic” can easily be summed up regarding the conclusion. I guess in a way, the show already demonstrated that Kitauji doesn’t necessarily need to win trophies and awards to establish themselves as a talented group of individuals.
Despite the pressure of the competition angles and emotional drama, the second season also offers a bunch of humor. We have an iconic beach theme episode and a festival one to celebrate Hibike Euphonium’s second coming. Furthermore, character expressions still remain pretty expressive in humorous ways. I mean, who can forget about Reina’s “dead fish” eyes? I can safely say that the sequel definitely got more than enough laughs out of me as the show’s comedy never feels forced. It is what it is and just feels so natural and down to earth. In addition, character chemistry is still pretty charming even as it highlights relationships we are all familiar with, such as the case with Reina and Kumiko. Speaking of relationships, we do see a different side of Asuka this season. While she always remained so strong in the group who showed little weakness, Asuka revealed a more vulnerable side of her. This is evident during the second half of the sequel and Kumiko confronts her about it. In perhaps one of the most memorable segments of the series, Kumiko is able to express her own honest feelings on why she wants Asuka to stay in the band. Family issues becomes evident as it even erupts on Kumiko’s side of the story between herself and her sister.
Once again, Kyoto Animation demonstrates their sheer talent into animating a show such as this. The quality production values remains high with great visuals crafted by the talented staff. Every episode showcases high quality in character designs, background setting, or expressions. The directing of the quality also involves character expressions that feels real during the more dramatic moments. Kumiko, Reina, and Mizore are noticeable examples. The only parts that I do find occasionally irritating are a few stiff camera angles although none of that are too distracting. Kyoto Animation still has the “it factor”.
As a main element of the show, music shines a lot when it comes to band performances. The second season showcases that as we see characters’ abilities at their best. I’m not a big expert on music but it’s pretty clear that the show explores the true potential of the cast. The way instruments are played show their precise movement with their hands and timing. In addition, the choreography and coordination of the band shows their unison as a whole collectively. The theme songs are naturally performed with its band theme and school setting.
After watching the sequel, I was pretty satisfied with what the second season has shown. While the storytelling about the competition itself was far from impressive, the series trumps that with its character drama and emotional angles. To me, this series was never much about winning trophies and prizes but rather at how it makes you feel about the characters. These include Asuka, Mizore, Reina, Nozomi, Yuuko, among others. Also, Kyoto Animation once again proves themselves as a powerhouse studio to adapting visual quality at its high level that few can surpass. And with that, the show may be over but will not be forgotten.
In view of a person who loves listening to many genre of music ranging from classic to hardcore metal, I can strongly state that this anime series has much more potential than many other music anime.
I want to emphasize that Hibike! Euphonium has inspired viewers a lot in many levels as it represents every state of emotion everyone could have experienced.
Created and produced by Kyoto Animation, the series already covered itself in a vibrant colored-atmosphere and neatly drawn background with a great choice of color and camera view. Since forever the character design of this studio have never changed much during these several year,
but, in my point of view, it is rather strength being consistent overtime.
The story continues from the previous season where the school of main character has just won the competition and stepped forward to a bigger stage. Sadly, I have to admit that the plot of this anime is the weakest point since it is too generic and straight forward for the most part including season 1. But, as you process through the whole series, it keeps getting more complicated and vague that you don't know what to expect anymore until the end. KyoAni's choices never cease to amaze me how they use and not use the scene at its finest.
There are controversial conflict considering the anime was made in Japan where people are likely to be more Collectivism than Individualism, (Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory). Inevitably, there are some parts that many viewers might not understand the decision or the action of characters.
However, the plot is not everything. The approach this series create and bond their characters are just great and fun to watch, especially our main character (Kumiko). Kumiko is not the most beautiful drawn character, not the most talented, sometimes nice yet stubborn, and most importantly, not an "ideal" main character. This becomes one of the spices that make this show so good; realistic and relatable to viewers. The method this series portray MC is a little bit different from others, where they focus mostly on a matter of main characters. Here, we can see other characters from a point of view of our MC. This perspective gradually show our MC mindset and thought, and build a stronger relationship with viewers. Thus, when it comes to the MC's relationshop with other characters, you will become emotionally attatch to it. There are almost 40 individual in the anime and yet I can not take an eye off anyone of them.
I am not the one who enjoy the OP/ED of anime much but Hibike first season's OP gave me an expectation for the second one. It is sad that the OP that contain so many orchestral instruments only showed up in the first season and leave this season a normal tune TV size feel.
Nonetheless, I need to mention the MC again since the VA did an outstanding job on dubbing this character. It might be a little bias but I want to say that this VA performed much better than SS1 and also one of the best performance this year. Unlike other VAs where their voice sounds like a typical anime character, which is not a problem, our MC exceptionally sounds soooo "REAL" that you can literally feel the character images through her voice. This VA realistically showed us how an ordinary student would anticipate to other by using more advanced technique such as voice tone, word choices, and stressing. If her personality was the same as Kumiko I wouldn't be surprised.
Beside op/ed and voice acting quality, in my opinion the most vital part of sound is Back Ground Music (BGM). Most people perceive BGM weather it is black or white (suitable or not suitable), whilst it is more like a fifty shade of gray. Hibike! elegantly created the brightest shade out of them. As a musician, I would recommend anyone watching this anime pay more attention on the BGM because KyoAni shows us that they can use the right sound, tone and instruments to create the mood and smoothly express a feeling of every character; to be exact, the music itself could evoke tears. If I had an oppotunity to buy products of this series, the first thing I looking for world definately be a soundtrack of this anime.
Since it is a music anime, there must be some insert song within the story. It is interesting that the way they pull our attention is to not letting us hear to the whole song of their band, but rather parts of each character. So when the full song played, you can capture every moment and emotional value of the song.
Overall, I do really enjoy my weekend waiting and watching this show a lot. As a pianist and a concert band player myself in my youth, I am very astounded on every second watching this anime. The way they represent life of band students, the difficult song they repeatedly play together, the hard part they struggle, and the relationship between people, everything was so real that it was happen to me yesterday.
"It is music that created the story, not a story with a music"; the function most music anime could not attain, Hibike! Euphonium both season achieved this task splendidly.
This anime shows me passion toward music. It nostalgically reminds me how jubilant it was to perform on a crowded stage and receive a loud applause.
This brought me tears.
If you like music and anime this anime will not disappoint you.
The ending of this anime is one the best ending in 2016, I guaranteed.
School setting is perfect for coming of age stories. It's a shame how little this is used. Likewise, anime about sports, music or some other kind of activity which heavily rely on competition fail to capitalize this same opportunity. Instead, we are showered with same old settings that offer nothing. Thankfully, Hibike is an exception. It's an anime with chewed to death school settings, with clichéd competition aspect that manages to be a fresh breath of air.
In Hibike, tribulation of the characters is small everyday problems that in the general order of things are not that important. What are the stakes here? They
might lose a competition? Puff. They have pretty small individual worlds compared to many other stories that deal with serious issues. Yet, Hibike dives deeper into those little insidious problems. For example, rather than giving fast paced account of the competition and adrenaline filled rush to the top like mad dogs, we see characters dealing with seemingly frivolous problems of their little lives.
The competition itself takes a little time. But nature of competition, excruciating experience of jostling with others like horses with blinders always on, is something they actually take time to reflect upon. Competition has this ugly side that there is one winner, and others are poor losers, and their hard work, years of sacrifice means less once they lose. Generally, we root for one mediocre character to win instead of another. At the end of the day anime competitions are superficial and tend to be on the stupid side. The stress competitions cause in real life is one hell of a pain, sadness, depression, and wallowing in hopelessness. In this anime we see this problem addressed. In that regard, Hibike is the most realistic anime about competition.
Hibike focuses on characters with average personalities. Average, but nevertheless human, identifiable, with tiny lives and even tinier problems. I don't undervalue or belittle them. On the contrary, I appreciate the effort put into this anime. It explores school and competition settings thoroughly, and gives a new, tender and beautiful depiction of everyday life. It isn't something we can call with fancy terms like deconstruction. It is not that. Hibike is a simple line of tunes, played to their fullest which make up a melody that has yet to be surpassed by any anime in that vein.
I had a time when I disdained this kind of anime. ''I want something deeper,'' I would retort to others, ''something that will make me think, something philosophical.'' It was the time I was at my most pretentious. It was pretentiousness, but at the same time it came from the visceral common human feeling that I wanted to be different from everyone else. I wanted to be aloof, to be detached from everyday problems, and naturally, I failed. As this beautiful anime Hibike shows, these little parts of our lives, those days when we are engulfed in our tiny worlds, chattering with friends, lovers, dealing with our teachers, parents, bosses, and others, are when we are closer to life, closer to what we are. What passes as pretentiousness, scorn for others is really some kind of fear of being really human, because being really human is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic (this is a quote from David Foster Wallace). Thus, when a cool character in Hibike shows her deeper self, however how shallow and pitiful that depth is, we feel more sympathy toward her, and understand her problems.
Nevertheless, Hibike shies away from going further. It doesn't venture far away from its comfort zone. It manages to evoke feelings, and for that I'm grateful, yet I can see it's not a masterpiece. Hibike is a well-told simple story. This is an unachievable dream for 99% of anime out there.
Technically, background and foreground animation, sound, voice acting, etc. all are well done, and they are one of the best of 2016. Yet, it wasn't those details that captivated me, though their absence would make the anime less appealing. What I loved was the poignancy sprinkled throughout both seasons, a waft of reality, transience of the characters' lives, especially the briefness of their small venture, a handful of students clinging together for a brief time to win a competition, and their self awareness of that fact. They weren't thick-headed about their condition. Relations among them – brief, passing, idyllic – fascinated me and I sat down to write this review. Have a nice day.
Band has becoming a dying medium as the importance of academics and becoming a top student have gained importance. It's come to the point that many schools have cut off art programs like these entirely simply because they either no longer have the budget to support it, or see it as something that has no real importance in students' lives. So, at the time of this review, while we still have the concept of the school band alive, we return back to KyoAni's adaptation of Hibike! Euphonium, the drama-filled band with aspirations as big as their sound.
Story: Picking up from the first season,
Hibike! Euphonium 2 continues the same plotline as the first season. Our merry band of...band members at Kitauji high school continue their journey towards Nationals in hopes of winning the event and taking home gold for the school while dealing with a myriad of personal stories given to us by our characters.
What separates season 2 from its predecessor are the stories that we're given, and pretty much nothing else. This time around however, we focus more on the protagonists of the story and their internal struggles more so than some other members of the band. As such, Season 2 acts a lot like a knot tier to all of the show's loose ends from the first season, and presents them all at an even pacing with a healthy amount of detail and care put into every story. As a result of this, the emotional impact that we see from these characters and how each event impacts them is well crafted and culminated to a graceful end.
Character development for this season in particular is well blended together and doesn't feel as arcic or choppy as the first season did. Multiple stories are developed alongside each other, and given the story's pacing, has reasonable quality despite some maybe I wish getting a little more attention than they deserved.
All in all, Hibike! Euphonium 2 was a journey through a school band with twists and turns that culminated into a very satisfying end. Characters' stories had satisfying ends, the music was great, and the overarching story ended well enough that I could at the very least accept the result. Wasn't the best result, but it was good enough.
+ Tied up a lot of loose ends
+ Good pacing
+ Finished the story
Characters: Characters really don't differ very much from the first season. Aside from a few additions that made up the majority of the first arc, the characters are largely the same and the cast has very few significant shifts in them in terms of importance.
Most prominently for changes comes with the addition of Yoroizuka Mizore, the most prominent new character of the series. The oboe player for the band, Mizore's main role is to start the series off with a blast and create her own ripple in the story with events that have happened in the past. Her story is interesting, but her character really isn't all that prominent, especially since the rest of the series focuses on already introduced characters whose stories have already been developing since the first season.
Aside from her, new additions come few and far in between and really don't have all that much gravity or impact. If anything, they mostly fill up spots to help progress the story along or relate back to a specific character. The one thing I found strange is how both Hazuki and Sapphire were even less prominent than they were before. The series didn't really give them the time of day to begin with, and I find it strange how they're marked as main characters despite being virtually absent from everything that's been going on.
+ Old characters all return and have similar standing from S1
+/- New additions are good but a lot less impactful
Art: Produced by KyoAni, Hibike! Euphonium comes back in full force with the company's bright, moe artstyle with crystal clear colors and incredible detail and fluidity. Everything from the backgrounds to the individual character designs for each and every member of the band, and even the attention to detail for the instruments are all animated very well to the point that I can find very few flaws, if any, for the animation.
Sound: The soundtrack for S2 has a similar tone to the first season with bright and happy music for its OP and ED with a host of different band songs for the characters' ensemble. I don't really have any complaints about the music personally, but I do feel like the OP and ED this time around aren't as memorable as the S1 variants.
Personal Enjoyment: As someone who participated in their school band, Hibike! Euphonium was a very enjoyable watch that connected to me personally, as a lot of the events that the characters faced were pretty realistic for people in band, and had the sense of togetherness that 50+ people playing together can have. So all in all, I found this to be a fun, gripping, and all around fun watch from beginning to end.
Did I like this series?
I loved it. Especially for the characters' personal growths. Each of the characters' stories felt, particularly for the protagonists, felt impactful and meaningful, giving more depth to the show that couldn't exist otherwise.
What didn't I like about the series?
Shuuichi. Cause honestly, the series doesn't give much of a shit about him, and I feel like he got a little cheated because of that. That and the rest of Kumiko's friends. Talk about being pushed to the side.
Would I recommend this series?
If you saw Season 1 and liked it, then you probably should be watching this. It finishes the Hibike! Euphonium story and ties it all up rather nicely. Also, if you are or were a band member, then this series is also worth your time. If you're part of neither of those groups, and you want to watch something that's well-paced and emotionally driven, than this series would also be a good fit. Honestly, Euphonium is one of those series that's more than it looks like underneath the surface with fully realized potential that leaves its audience wanting more.
After the disappointing third season of Haikyuu!! I was hoping that Hibike Euphonium would atleast have a good second season that I would've enjoyed. Unfortunately I was wrong. Although not as broken as Haikyuu!! S3, Hibike Euphonium season 2 was still a very disappointing sequel to what was otherwise a great first season.
I first want to address the obvious. Yes, the animation is f***ing orgasmic in Hibike Euphonium. However, is this quality of animation necessary for something like Hibike Euphonium? I know that HE season 1 also had great animation, but in comparison to season 2 it was still pretty tame. In this season you
have a lot of complicated and beautiful shots for the simplest scenes. It also does this with scenes that were supposed to show the friendship between the two characters, but the way it was animated was so dramatic and over the top that it felt like it was supposed to be a romantic relationship. This led to an incredible amount of people coming to the conclusion that HE2 was just queerbaiting the audience. And I don't think it's wrong to think that because the show was presented like that. The overanimation was also very distracting. It was kind of difficult to take the dramatic scenes seriously or to even pay attention to what was happening.
Now let's talk about the story and characters. The story has unfortunately become very standard compared to the first season. The reason why I loved the first season was that almost every conflict or problem were there from the start. And by the end of it almost every problem is solved. In season 2 though most of the main conflicts of the show tend to be problems that have suddenly showed up out of nowhere and there was only one conflict that was there from the very beginning and it's my favorite storyline of the entire second season (it is the conflict between kumiko and her sister). It's also notable that the conflicts appeared one by one. This did not happen in the first season and that's why the first season felt like a breath of fresh air. This kind of story structure made season 2 look like a very well produced by the books highschool anime, but that's not what HE was. I can understand if people don't care about this kind of stuff, but for me it was drag to watch through. It also doesn't help that season 2 has a crap ton of flashbacks which I really hate. The first season was able to avoid most of them but it seems that that kind of writing has been lost in season 2.
Some characters in season 2 are completely ruined. Let's take Asuka as an example. The reason why she worked in the first season was that she was a very mysterious big sister kind of character and no one really understood what was going on with her and that's why she was my favorite character. She deliberately acted mysterious for the sake of the concert band. This character is completely ruined because she was the focuspoint of one of the storylines AND she got a backstory. I can talk about more characters who were completely ruined but this review is already pretty long so I'm going to keep it at that.
But what about the soundtrack and the sound though? That has to be good right? And to be fairly honest the soundtrack itself is really good. The same is for the sound design. My only problem with the sound is that I sometimes felt that the soundtrack was used way too much in dramatic scenes for EXTRA DRAMATIC EFFECT, but that is just my personal opinion. The sound of concerts is as good as season 1 and the sound of the instruments itself are again very well done.
When I look back at my viewing experience of HE S2 I would say that I very rarely enjoyed this sequel. There were moments where I was amazed at what Kyoto Animation had done with this second season but it immediately disappeared as soon as I dived deep into the story.
So would I recommend Hibike Euphonium season 2? Well it's difficult to say since I can see why most people would enjoy it. But if you want a well written story with a good structure with fun and consistent characters, I would recommend the first season of Hibike Euphonium. The first season can stand on its own feet since it's a complete story. I would only recommend season 2 to people who really want to know how the story would've continued, but even then I would just recommend reading everything online instead of actually watching the second season.
If you're still here after all that gibberish then congrats and thanks for reading this review and not immediately ignore it because of the score!
I have a feeling that there will be those who want to give this anime a perfect 10/10 but perhaps will shy away because of the great divide in the community. So, here I am. Writing a review for an anime which I thought not only needs to be properly addressed as to why it should be considered a masterpiece but demands a standing ovation in the way it has executed almost everything to perfection.
I won't bother writing the synopsis because those who have already seen the first season would know the premise of the story and how it unfolds to the viewers through our
protagonist — Oumae Kumiko's life changing experience.
This will be rather long so bear with me. It's been forever since I last wrote an anime review. This review contains SPOILERS.
The story apparently may seem like a very ordinary one, a rookie school concert band trying to achieve something otherwise would seem a pipe dream by hurdling through all the obstacles thrown at their path as they overcome them one after the other. It may start looking like it because that is how we see it throughout the story, starting with the whole fall-out of students from different years, to a student dropping out, then the selection of the solo-player and so on. This continues into the second season as we see the Mizore-Nozomi conflict surfaces, and finally Asuka's situation is thrown into the mix. However, the inner story of all these conflicts were supposed to serve the purpose of the growth of our protagonist that may go unnoticed.
I will just give an example of the least favourite conflict that everyone seems to shrug off as redundant. That is Mizore and Nozomi's conflict. Apparently it doesn't serve much purpose and it may seem overblown than it should be. But the significance of that conflict is that it opened Kumiko's view on her surroundings. She started to realize her surroundings matter, the people around her matter. This conflict showed us Kumiko wanting to change, wanting to get involved with people around her. A girl who was shown she can befriend almost anyone at will and has this aura about her that makes people want to open up to her unbeknownst to herself, formed a wall which wouldn't allow her get to too involved with others. Perhaps because she believed getting too involved will ultimately get her hurt.
However, she experiences from the front-row seat on how Yuuko confronted Mizore that allowed Mizore to become honest with Nozomi. And through her own situation with her sister — Mamiko that taught her things that are important are worth getting hurt for as she allowed Asuka to peel off her fake skin of the goody-two-shoes. It was the first time she became honest with her real feelings. But that really worked as a double edged sword and peeled off Asuka's mask as well. Her confrontation with Asuka is one of the most well executed scenes I have come across in any anime that served the purpose of character growth of two characters simultaneously.
Then we come to relationships. Unfortunately, which resulted in the great divide. The thing about the relationship is that most of the fans took it for how it has been presented to them without them trying to explore the subtle things in it. Kumiko's relationship with Reina is one of the most beautiful relationships I have seen in anime. But is that romantic? Absolutely not. To me, it's more powerful than a romantic love.
Kumiko's relationship with Reina starts off with her admiration for Reina — who wants to become special. Kumiko saw Reina as an idol, someone she aspired to — someone who is determined, straightforward, a better musician, beautiful and like a grown-up. Reina on the other hand was attracted to Kumiko on how she can be blatant at times yet could withhold her emotions when she wanted to at will, something Reina couldn't do herself and might have been struggling with. However, once they start to become closer as they spend more time together, Kumiko realizes that Reina is just like an ordinary girl, has her own troubles and seeks for advice from time to time. That was when she started to see Reina as a true friend instead of someone she was idolizing. KyoAni put them on top of the hill twice. When they were there for the first time, Kumiko was shown sitting on the steps and Reina standing in front of her. In that magical moment their physical positions were exactly the way Kumiko's mind worked back then, that Kumiko saw Reina as someone on a higher ground than she was, someone worth idolizing and wouldn't mind being swept off of her feet if it was by Reina. The second time we see them on the same hill, she stood next to Reina, holding her hands and telling her words of encouragement. At that moment of time, they were equal. Kumiko didn't idolize Reina anymore. She truly formed a relationship with Reina that would become eternal.
Kumiko's relationship with Shuuchi is one of the most deceptive relationships ever. This is because Kumiko is too real for an anime character. She isn't like those three hundred and fifty seven tsundere characters in anime who will show their affection by being mean to the person they like and then start blushing when the moment calls for it. This became more evident later on when she reconciled with Mamiko who she was outwardly in a confrontational relationship. Assessing Kumiko's relationship with Mamiko gives us a better understanding of her relationship with Shuuichi. Of course, she is only ever cold to those who she has been really close with.
Our second protagonist in the story, Reina, had her share of moments in the second season but were overshadowed by the emerging character of Asuka. What we learned from her character though is that she too was willing to change. She is shown spending more time with Hazuki and Midori. A loner from season one, she finally started to show that she was willing to accept others. Perhaps the most notable ones were when she encouraged Hazuki before the station-concert and shown thanking Yuuko for looking out for her. The thing that worked against her character for many fans was her immeasurable affection for Taki-sensei. Reina being an intensive character as she is, everything she does are out of her conviction and sudden impulses. Everything from demanding Kumiko's absolute submission to their relationship to her public confession make Reina — Reina. That is how her character is created and that is why she found solace in Kumiko's character and in the end in Kumiko's company. Reina's character is one of the most fascinating representation of adolescence. And she shines brighter than any other character in the story.
Kumiko's relationship with Asuka is the most important relationship in the second season. Asuka was a character Kumiko didn't really think nicely of in the first season. She always thought Asuka tried to distant herself from others and doesn't want to get involved with others. From not giving a damn about why Midori seemed down in season 1 to not giving an opinion on Mizore and Nozomi's situation and all the way to showing how she would push a crying Riko away from hugging her to not enjoying Kaori showing her affection by tying her shoe-laces. Everything had a meaning and it was done on purpose to make us understand her personality. Later on, when she got her own mask peeled off in an attempt to unmask Kumiko, we see a new Asuka. Blushing at Natsuki welcoming her with an angelic smile which the previous Asuka would not take as a sign of goodwill. Asuka's character is easy to understand but difficult to explain. She really took the second season by the scruff of the neck and became a protagonist of her own right. Her relationship with Kumiko eventually became the flag-bearer of Hibike! Euphonium that emphasized on human-relationships.
All the other characters are distinguishable but at the same time they can be seen as mirrors to one another when it comes to relationships. This is what makes Hibike! Euphonium a story that is so much character-driven. Be it Kumuko-Reina, or Nozomi-Mizore, or Kumiko-Mamiko, or Kumiko-Asuka, or Kumiko-Shuuichi, or Natsuki-Yuuko, or Kaori-Yuuko, or Kaori-Asuka. Each and every relationship is very well defined but none of them are entirely unique as they tend to blur at some point when one wants to compare them with one another. This is one of the many beauties of Hibike! Euphonium as a story.
I will try to give an insight of the characters we see in this anime. We have Shuuchi. A good-looking boy who is very observant and with a lot of conviction and probably more mature than those who are of his age. He is kind and considerate most of the time in the little screen time he has had in season 2. He is not flawless though as we see him trying to get his feelings for Kumiko across to her despite being shot down time and again. We have Hazuki. An energetic girl but lacks in confidence with her playing that one would expect of her for being one of newer ones going into music. However, she is not to be taken lightly as she was one of the few who realized Kumiko might have feelings for Shuuichi. Her recovering from the heartbreak of being rejected by Shuuichi is another page added to this wonderful story of youth. We have Sapph— let's call her Midori. A girl who seems to know a lot about things that others around her age wouldn't. Insert "Italian Whites" here for an example. While she is seen as an otaku when it comes to music, she also has this curiosity to sniff out romance. We even see her trying to be the cupid for her friends — for Hazuki in season 1 and then for Kumiko in season 2. She is even seen placing her interest of love-relationships over the announcement of their school's results! We have Mamiko. A girl who didn't want to take the responsibilities of her decision to follow her parents' chosen path yet complains on how Kumiko had it easy. But in the process of growing up, she perhaps forgot what she once held so dearly. We have Yuuko. A childish girl almost everyone disliked in season 1 because of her confrontation with Reina but eventually wins a large section of the fans over through her development as a character over the second season. We have Natsuki. A girl who epitomizes the fact that people can be simple and people with goodwill exist. We have Haruka. A girl who lacks in confidence yet she has been the president of the brass band. She exemplifies that people without leadership can still lead through dedication. We have Kaori. A kind senpai who wouldn't mind bowing her head down for the sake of others or let her affection known by being open to others. We have Taki. A very talented conductor but fails when it comes to being an advisor. We have Michie. A very strict teacher but shown crying every now and then seeing her students growing up. The range of characters with varying personalities, their qualities and their shortcomings make Hibike! Euphonium a truly dynamic story. But what makes it more impressive is the development we see of some of these characters over the course of the two seasons and how their developments influence our protagonists as the story progresses.
I thought it would be fine to just touch upon the art and the animation as I think those who have seen previous KyoAni shows could come with an expectation that it would be better than most of the other anime out there. But I really want to emphasize on this aspect. The attention to details is unmatched for even for KyoAni standards. It is better than their previous work on Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Clannad After Story or even Hyouka. Until I saw Hibike! Euphonium, I always thought Hyouka set the bar a bit too high. But it seems that there is no such bar that can be set for KyoAni when it comes to art and animation. All the episodes had such beautiful use of shades, attention to details, neatly drawn characters, stunning background visuals, use of motion blur and use of proximity blur that it truly became a show worth watching for the visual spectacles alone. I don't think I have to mention the attention to details they put on the instruments. Scratch that. The way we see them playing the nodes exactly like they should in real life makes me wonder how much passion can be poured into a work to achieve this level of perfection.
The music of this anime has been outrageously good. One can probably tell that musics were played by non-professionals as we know they were performed by freshmen from a college in Japan (Freshmen of 2014 Senzoku Gakuin) to keep it unpolished to represent a school brass band. The use of sound depending on the place they were played at — be it at the corner of the school building, or on the river bank, or in a large concert hall or in the small closed space of a classroom or in an open-air environment in front of the station was fantastic. The acoustics were handled so brilliantly that the distinctness of each sound based on the surrounding made it almost too real.
Anime has been a medium that always go an extra yard to capture the imagination of the creators. Be it adapted from a manga, a VN, a novel, an LN, a game or something completely original. But very few of them can actually manage to capture everything that they wanted to convey, and even within those very few, even fewer manage to go beyond. Adapted from Takeda Ayano's novel of the same title, Hibike! Euphonium falls under those extremely rare ones. Director Ishihara Tatsuya insisted that Hibike! Euphonium is the anime he has enjoyed working on the most as a director in his entire career. Even going as far as revealing that it improved his directing ability significantly because of the nature of the story. Coming from a director of his caliber who has been involved with so many of KyoAni's biggest franchises speaks volume of the story itself.
Hibike! Euphonium season 2 has been an absolute treat. While a majority of the fans sought romance in it, it is actually a story of coming-of-age. A story that upholds human relationship. It celebrates our very ordinary life the way it should be. It shows us how human relationships evolve over time. It shows us how they influence our lives. What Hibike! Euphonium tried to establish is that every encounter has a meaning to it no matter how short they are. All of them make us grow up as a person and some of them make us go through life changing moments or at the very least, changes the way we see our lives. It would be an understatement if I were to say "Hibike! Euphonium nailed it!"
If we can identify that very aspect of the story we are told through this anime which otherwise may seem mundane, I am sure we will really unearth the gem that is Hibike! Euphonium.
Thanks for reading!
Post Review notes:
There are some amazing moments in the second season. Some of my personal favourite scenes are:
- Kumiko and Reina's conversation under their futons followed by both of them smiling, facing each other,
- Kumiko finding Asuka playing her Euphonium in the morning on her own,
- the performance in the Kansai competition and the result announcement,
- the conversation between Kumiko and Taki-sensei during a typhoon,
- Haruka looking at Asuka's direction before starting her solo,
- Kaori tying Asuka's shoe-lace,
- Mamiko reminiscing her pestering little sister thanks to Shuuichi,
- Asuka playing for Kumiko on the river bank,
- Kumiko crying on her way to school thinking about her sister,
- Kumiko's outburst towards Asuka,
- Reina asking Taki-sensei about his deceased wife,
- Shuuichi's smile when Kumiko ran after Mamiko,
- Kumiko's confession to Mamiko and the two sisters shown standing afar, one standing on the bridge, the other just at the edge of the bridge, and
- finally Kumiko's final scene with Asuka and revelation of the title of the piece Asuka used to play.
Sequels are like a double-edged sword. For the good shows, the creators are always under immense pressure to replicate the success from the first season, but if done correctly, will be able to grow the cult following for an even bigger profit. For the bad shows, though there are no such expectations, the need to create a series to a non-existent fan base is illogical. Hibike! Euphonium season 1 was in the middle of the spectrum, dwarfed by the popularity and sales of the likes of K-ON while still having sales and
popularity success to be remembered by the anime community for a while. It is a show that has promise, known for beautiful visuals in typical KyoAni fashion, niche concert band soundtrack, drama among friends, and the all but famous YURI vibes between our two wonderful heroines.
Those who are curious or eager to watch of season 2 are most likely avid fans of the first series in the first place, and the looming question would always be: ‘Is it as good as season 1?’ as viewers would inevitably draw comparisons from the shows predecessor.
Well, is it better? I would sit on the fence here and say that its different.
The world setting of this show does not need much of an introduction. We are shown the lives of Kumiko and Co. to experience the life of both a high school student and a member of a highly competitive concert band. When looking at both these aspects together, one would predict that certain problems would naturally arise. The most basic one would be how does one juggle their studies between club and academics? or how does severed bonds or a broken past affect a performance? These are touched upon, albeit in shallow levels in some aspects. A positive note that is easily overlooked would be that all these issues are not just experienced by the MC, but some are shared to the minor characters that were deemed irrelevant in season 1, implying that the show does not completely revolve around the MC, and that other characters are not one dimensional, but are also people who do feel emotions as they are each given their own screen time when facing hardship. The show also doesn’t lose its bread and butter of being a music anime, as we are shown how concert band members struggle and train for long hours by coaches, in training camps, etc. It’s a flare that has not been lost since season 1- A balance between light hearted moments shared by high school students as they casually hangout together and share small conversations, while still maintaining the immense pressure to perform and thus develop drama with heart-to-heart conversations and people yelling and screaming their frustrations out.
It is a very different take compared to season 1, who took ample time to introduce us to the world of concert bands as they took their time to introduce the instruments, the training regimes and competitions. The drama involved are also different in their own rights, as they mostly revolve involve the band concert itself, such as the competition to get a prominent role or into the team with limited seats, the dilemma to balance playing to have fun or to win, and the living hell when two sides are at war with one being in the middle wanting to bring both sides together. Season 2 takes the assumption that we clearly know the world of ‘Hibike! Euphonium’ and how it works, and brings the drama to the factors outside the club that could heavily effect one’s performance. Such factors include past mistakes, family background, and even trauma, these factors were not entirely absent from season 1, but are merely brushed upon.
This could be refreshing, this could be easily heartfelt by us, the viewers. If done right, this would not bear any complaint. But great ideas need great executions to be shown and illustrated, and in my opinion, this is where it failed to deliver. In almost every drama arc, it felt repetitive, it felt like there was always a pattern, in that the entire group could not do anything to help some troubled companion, and it was always up to Kumiko to be the mediator, to be the one who goes out of the way to help the friend in need. Kumiko then shows vulnerability and confronts the troubled friend, and the troubled friend would always be touched, and hence, mission accomplished.
This leaves the impression that Kumiko is the Great Counsellor that could listen and solve everyone’s problems. Is it because she is a good listener due to her personality? Or is it merely because she is the MC? That is debatable. Nevertheless, it does leave me to think that the nature of the drama of season 1 is discarded, as the problems there are usually solved naturally without the need of any intervention whatsoever. It slowly unfolds and finds closure in due time with no saviour or counsellor whatsoever, which beautifully left the underlying message of how not every problem needs a heartfelt speech or hug, but through facing off and let reality decide who is in the right or wrong, eventually finding its own closure. It can be hypothesised that the kind of drama in season 2 could be far more engaging compared to season 1, but that is entirely subjective to the viewer. Personally, I love the characters so much that even though I am aware of the execution flaws, the drama was satisfactory for me, but if one looks at it through an objective lens, this could be very off-putting.
In typical KyoAni fashion, the art is nothing to be scoffed at. We are shown astonishing backgrounds that could be easily mistook to be meant for wallpapers: The grand stage of the competition with wonderful lighting, the birds eye view of the city lights from the mountains, the scene of a character playing its instrument in a conveniently beautiful scenery, these are the eye candies that made season 1 such a delight to see, and the sequel does it justice. Simply breath-taking and wonderful. Characters are their usual pretty selves with introductions to characters who are just as pretty. Frame qualities are excellent especially at where it counts, with the fluid movement of fingers pressing against the instrument valves during soloes to the well portrayed yelling and crying of the characters in distress. It is by no means perfect though, as the usual plague of modern anime remains, with distorted character faces especially when the characters are far from a shot, a predicament of a studio who is rushing through frames with no time for checks. It is unfortunate that this is the norm nowadays with tight deadlines to meet. A notable highlight of the quality of the art is how beautifully the instruments are drawn, be in in shining gold or silver, as the artist leaves no detail left behind.
With music as the main foundation that the world of this show builds upon, this anime is indeed a delight to the ears with quality coming in spades. The soundtrack of the series is relatively the same as season 1 and does not fail to bring up the atmosphere, be it a cheerful or solemn one. Sometimes there is no soundtrack at all, as it gives centre stage to the wonderful melodies played by the concert band instruments. What’s wonderful is that most of the time during conversation, there are no soundtracks whatsoever, as we are then able to focus on the tones of the character’s speech, this control of knowing when to have a soundtrack and when not to is a huge surplus itself. The main highlight of this show, which is the pieces performed by the ensemble, are up to the standards that we expect to be, marvellous performances that we the viewers are tempted to give a round of applause to. Songs like the ‘Crescent Moon Dance’, and Japanese jazz like ‘Takarajima’ by T-Square opens up a whole different world from the usual anime music that we listen to, and if one is an avid fan of Japanese music outside of the usual J-pop, they could probably pick up more songs than I could that were being performed in the series. A totally refreshing sound that differs from the usual electric guitar and drums. Even if you think the drama is off putting to you, I recommend searching up the moments in which the ensembles are playing on YouTube. Unfortunately, these moments come few and far between, as more time is given to watch the drama unfold instead. Like a high-class restaurant with the highest quality of meats given in such small amounts that leaves us wanting for more. Season 1 definitely has the upper hand here as it not only has the quality, but also the quantity of these juicy moments to back it up.
Being a sequel, we can also see the already likeable characters that were polished so nicely by season 1 come to life once again. This time however, the side characters from the previous series are given more screen time for development, thus the main quartet, aside from Kumiko are not given as much prominence as before. The second years take up a significant brunt of the show and more sides of their personalities are shown, the crazy fangirl of her senpai Yuko shows us that she is not merely an annoyance to be cringed at, Nakagawa’s don’t-give-a-damn attitude is peeled off, and the all reliable senpais are shown to be not so reliable. This is amazing, as this shows that these characters are actually people with different emotions instead convenient plot devices, an issue that is nit-picked about in season 1. Kumiko is in the middle of all the drama and her growth from those experiences can also be seen as well as the usually smug girl who observes from the distance reveals that she is also vulnerable, and that she will come in close and personal to help her friends in need. Fans of Reina could be slightly disappointed, as she is typically shown as the typical talented first year who is the best friend of Kumiko. With most of her scenes being her playing the trumpet and asking the always contemplating Kumiko what’s wrong. This however leaves me with an underlying thought-Since we love the main characters so much as season 1 has developed so nicely, do we want to see characters we love to have more screen time? Or do we want to have characters we don’t really like shown more in hopes of us to start to like them as much as the main cast?
Overall, the enjoyment of this series can’t be measured on its own, as one has to look at the overall picture of both series combined. The first season introduces us to the world of a high school concert band and polishes up the main characters for the exact purpose of them to make us feel connected to them as even more dramas unfold in season 2 and ultimately tie up the series in a perfect knot with a satisfying end.
It is not the kind of show that depicts how handwork would leave success to be in the harvest, it is much more than that. It is about how a group of different come together to perform in one unit. The overall anime shows that not everyone will always be on the same page, and people’s differences will naturally come to produce friction between one another. There will be times when one member stumbles due to weakness, and the entire group is affected. And there also will be different ways of doing things due to different experiences, even though all of them are striving towards the same goal. It is about how each member of the team are to become a support to one another, like how the 4 parts of soprano, tenor, and base are always meant to be combined to produce a wonderful Harmonia of symphonies. Hibike Euphonium shows us the essence of harmony in terms of music, and in life. Perhaps the show precisely puts Kumiko in the centre of all the drama so that she could be the support to her friends, like how she supports the entire concert band when she plays the euphonium, though this is my own opinion.
[SPOILER]Another Beautiful touch, in what I thought, was how the name 'Hibike! Euphonium' came about, and it was eventually revealed as Asuka gave Kumiko her personal euphonium piece, which was named after the anime title itself. 'Hibike' which means 'to play', 'to release sound' was not merely in a literal sense to tell the students to play instruments, but I think that it is to also to play and resound those frustrations and everything that has been building up inside them, releasing those emotions in terms of wonderful music, and that is a huge chunk of what is the story is all about, to overcome conflict by expressing them and showing weakness.[SPOILER]
If one only desires to seek for the musical wonders, this show will disappoint, if one only desires to seek the drama that unfolds, one could be better off looking elsewhere, it is the combination of both elements that make this show a good watch, as all the emotions are all blared out in a wonderful symphony, as one. The characters in this show all join the club for their very own desires and reasons, and all of them express it out though their instruments, producing a wonderful harmony that leaves one to do nothing but to put their hands together in urge for an encore. The drama to some may be considered mellow and illogical to some, and the music may not to be the tastes of everyone, but for me, it is indeed a delight to the eyes, ears, and heart.
It is the type of show that introduces us to something that we the layman would hardly brush upon: the concert band, while also showing us something that we are all too familiar with, heartfelt emotion. Heck, it made me look back about my own high school life, and had thoughts of how I should’ve made golden memories by being part of a club that has all the shit going on instead of being uninvolved, leaving a bittersweet taste in my mouth.
+Wonderful Concert Band Music
+ side Characters that show more than one side of themselves to avoid looking like cardboard cop outs
+Likeable MC who runs the show
+ Realistic drama that is easily relatable to the audience
- Negligence of polished 1st season characters
- Drama can be in a pattern and repetitive
* Yuri Bait doesn't focus on OTP, the Kumiko X Asuka ship is sailing, with a treat of Shuiichi looming in the background
It´s my first review, but gosh I have to write one.
I just finished the second season of Hibike! Euphonium and still sit here with tears in my eyes. I don´t even know why I´m crying. I mean, nobody died, nothing special happend, it´s just another school club with competitions anime isn´t it!? Well yes and no.
This anime is absolutly superior. The character design reminds me of K-On!, you can cleary see the love behind it. Not only the mains, but every side character is detailed, every character is beautiful, every character has his own personality standing out and his own story. You just have to
wait till you get to know something about him/her. The timing is excellent as well. Every little side story, every flashback is just on point.
The story sounds a bit boring, you´re right. Nothing for people who don´t like school anime? False. Here you see a bunch of girls and boys who are fighting their past, who get through so many trouble and pain that it even hurts watching them. The secret behind it? Experiences that everyone of us has to go trhough. You see their pain, you feel their pain. It´s a story of growing up, of finding your way in life, of changing the order of priorities just because life hits you right in the face.
And this music guys ....... We already experienced brilliant music in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso and many more. We already know the tricks of melodic sounds, of sad compositions that are tickling our tear glands. But HIbike! Euphonium is a tear-jerker without playing safe. They manage to let you look like a little crybaby while they´re playing some sounds that are not even meant to be that despressing. If you´re really listening to it, you hear some cheerful tones, you see them smile, but you still realize what´s going on behind that facade.
Hibike! Euphonium isn´t waiting till the end of a season to make you cry. It attacks you all the time.
For me, it´s a masterpiece and I`m really glad that I saw it. It´s one of those anime that left you half broken after finishing it and gosh I hope for a third season. PLEASE.
You should defintley give it a try.
You know that awkward moment when all the yuri shipping you did made people think you made a LGBT anime to the point that Crunchyroll had to tweet about it?
So what to do? You could leave the ambiguity over their romantic relationships and handle it tastefully or dismantle the relationships between the characters you had climbing over each other in S1 in the most cringeworthy way in S2...
Guess what KyoAni did.
Apparently it's not gay if it happens in high school/college. The series writers do their best to remind us that Reina liked Kumiko for her passion for music and all that handholding and confessions
of love were nothing more--in fact she's yandere for widower-sensei and confesses in one of the most cringeworthy moments in recent memory. Think Graduate meets Nabokov for roofie-laced drinks.
Oh and Kumiko isn't playing for the other team, despite checking out Reina in a near lecherous fashion all season 1, then finding herself another girl when she got all stalker-ish. Turns out she just wishes her sister loved her and went looking for that in other girls--yeah that's not creepy.
All the while Shuichi gets treated like the buttmonkey that he is.
There are some genuine WTF characterization moments, as if the writers went 'oh crap' after rewatching S1 and realized they had made a soft yuri anime and had to undo all that in S2 in the most trite way possible.
Oh, and there's a bikini episode, too, because...
I kinda left wishing I had not watched S2 and let things be with S1.
At least no one died or got cancer, so there's that.
The first season of Sound! Euphonium was “utterly fantastic” (quoting myself from my review of season one). It took me by surprise and delivered something thoroughly thought provoking. Characters were handled flawlessly, hackneyed themes were dodged with grace, and not a moment of my time felt wasted as I embraced its concepts of what it means to be a part of something, and what it means to be special. It was undoubtedly a brilliant season, and unfortunately for KyoAni, the sequel would have to be held to those standards. So that begs the question: Did KyoAni reach or surpass the heights
it set for itself with season one?
Short answer: No. Long answer? Well, it all starts with the character arcs. Sound! Euphonium 2’s first arc focuses on a character that’s been in the band all along, but hasn’t gotten a single spotlight up until this point. Mizore is an introverted oboe player with a lot of potential despite the deep misery that weighs her down. Without getting too into the details, I found myself actually liking this character a lot, despite how minimal her relevance to the overarching plot may be. At the very least, her story put a couple of important dynamics and themes into play, ones that easily resonate through the rest of the season. It’s during this arc that we begin to see the relationship between Natsuki and Yuuko (which will be important later on), as well as our first closer look into Asuka. The themes are a little more thinly veiled in this arc, as it pretty clearly introduces the ideas of “what people play music for” and “loving or hating competition”.
Between the two main story arcs of the season is an interesting and seemingly out of nowhere look at Kumiko’s older sister, Mamiko. The general themes that surround her are ones of regret and misunderstanding adulthood. These of course are conveniently in Kumiko’s mind as she confronts a similar issue with Asuka, who finds herself stuck between the wishes of her overbearing/abusive mother and her own desires. While I’m certainly not a fan of typical ham-fisted attempts at emotional resonance through the introduction of broken homes and public displays of abuse (slap to the face), Asuka’s stupid mother manages to not be visually around long enough to irritate the crap out of me. She only actually appears for one episode, although the presence of her ideals last for far longer.
Those ideals happened to be the same ones that deluded Mamiko into thinking that giving up her dreams for studying and the safer bet of a financially stable future through education was the best course of action, only to leave her with nothing but regret. The idea of adult responsibilities and expectations, and how those thoughts can scare and bully people into not taking a chance. Asuka’s mother forces her ideals on her daughter, driven by this delusion as well as an implied spite of Asuka’s father, who actually did obtain the life he wanted as a musician. Luckily, the whole situation is handled without the terrible mother, in a way that stresses Asuka as the only person that can choose for herself, because that’s what it truly means to be an adult (at least, that’s what I inferred). I also like how Asuka understands her relationship with her mother. She hates her but also sees that she’s provided for her, which is enough for Asuka to have some respect for her. It’s certainly better than ignoring the flaws in one’s family.
And really, that’s just another part of Asuka’s character. She’s usually so keen on seeing things for what they truly are, but after a while, arrogance keeps her from being able to take a good look at herself. That’s where Kumiko comes in. Kumiko is the shoulder we get ride on as she snoops and stumbles upon every conflict within the band. She’s more of a witness than an active participant in the first half of the season, and while people find themselves more open to talk to her, she doesn’t act the same way back. In the first season, Reina’s determination and attitude inspires her to become a less “go with the flow” kind of gal. In this season, she finds out she’s just as wishy-washy as she’s ever been. Even when she’s alone with Reina, she’s only able to give off a basic idea of what’s on her mind. It’s only when Asuka challenges her that Kumiko finally learns to be open and honest with herself.
Reina has some great moments too, dispersed throughout the two main bulks of the season’s narrative. Mostly, her spotlights are to show how close she’s getting to either Kumiko or Taki-sensei. Even so, her presence is done right, which is more than I can say for most of the show’s other “supporting characters”. Midori and Hazuki feel like nothing but comic relief in this season, which is disappointing since Hazuki had such a great OVA. Now it seems they’re just around to remind us of their existence, and to have a quick gag every now and then. Shuichi’s in a similar situation, but it’s not for the sake of comedy. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s there for. Nothing about his relationship with Kumiko is romantic, no matter what seemingly romantic situation they’re thrown into. Kumiko doesn’t even blush at the gift he gives her, and nothing about her thoughts or focus indicate that she has any real interest in him. The only side characters that really come into prominence this season are Yuuko and Natsuki, and that’s for reasons I don’t really want to spoil. I’m beginning to like Yuuko though, she’s much less annoying than when she was first introduced last season.
Characters and their plots aside, season two is still about as good as the first in a lot of ways. The animation is fantastic as always, with such an excellent control over body language and subtle physical comedy. Instead of relying on cheap still frames of chibi faces with exaggerated emotion for comedic effect, KyoAni actually goes through the trouble of animating their character’s reactions in excruciating detail. From the direction their eyes race to the way their skirts flap as they turn, it’s totally unnecessary, but a joy to behold.
Another aspect carried over from the first season is the totally superfluous sound design. It’s honestly absurd if you think about it, but KyoAni really went out of their way to make their settings feel realistic through sound. They actually gave detail to the reverberation, and you can tell through the way voice and music travel in different scenes. Conversations in a stairwell or an empty room echo, and that’s totally fucking unnecessary, but really cool nonetheless.
In terms of moments, I think this season did reach new heights for the series. On the other side however, I believe the show hit some new low points as well. Specifically, I can’t help but feel the show didn’t do a great job of maintaining the relevance of its characters. Or rather, it tried to keep characters relevant when it didn’t need to, and only made them seem like they’re worth a couple of cheap gags rather than feel like meaningful friends and integral roles in the plot of the season. If they didn’t need to be there, they might as well have taken a back seat. And then there’s the new instructors that did almost nothing, which left me questioning why they even bothered to introduce them in the first place. Kumiko, Asuka, Reina, Natsuki, Yuuko, Mizore, Mamiko, and Taki-sensei; These are the only characters that hold any sort of significance in the season’s narrative, and even Mizore kinda just becomes another one of those side characters after her arc is over.
If it weren’t for this sad underuse of characters, Sound! Euphonium 2 could easily be considered as good (if not better) as season one. Everything else is still there, be it the development of core characters, touchingly real themes, ridiculously impressive animation and sound design, and a beautiful OST. They even took some opportunities for creative shots (like the scene where they found Mizore behind a desk). It’s too bad the show had problems being stuck between having characters stay relevant and keeping them out of the way, because I would’ve otherwise considered it a fantastic season that ends on a sharp, but wonderful note.
And so the next piece begins...with the second season of Hibike Euphoinum!. Nach und nach belebter und leidenschaftlicher!
The second season left off where the OVA finished and really the second season brings in more highschool drama, character development to characters who didn't get it during the first season and OVA as well as in Regionals. Another words...ALOT of s**t gonna happen this season.
LA wants to dive right into this so let's start with the characters and their development. The character development at the early start of the season are from the two new characters into the mix of the second season, that being Mizore Yoroizuka
voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki and Nozomi Kasai voiced by Nao Touyama and their dilemma throughout the first quarter of the anime revolves around them and with bringing in Kumiko into the mix both helps these new characters (and their subtle yuri undertones) develop as well as the past characters, the most surprisingly character development would be the once annoying harsh Yuuko Yoshikawa into a more honest yet tsundere character, nonetheless all the characters LA noted for the early episodes vastly gets developed and although plot twist as to why their drama started does take time and hinted backstory about the previous third years, they earned their character development (though yes because of the character-focused format of this season, once their development is done, they become little more than cameos and supporting characters...to be expected but as LA said they earned their character development). The next character and arc that REALLY get developed and rather this is LA being rather biased goes to Asuka Tanaka, mainly due to her FINALLY showing her true self, something she guised with her genki behavior, the "perfect character" she was in the first season as well as giving us a complicated drama that doesn't make itself melodramatic (though some might beg to differ) but also showing us why Asuka wants to go to Nationals, not only does Kumiko once again is into the mix, but Asuka's situation also goes in line with Aoi Saitou voiced by Yoko Hisaka's same issue during the first season, just under a bigger len AS well as Kumiko's older sister Mamiko's dilemma hinted at during the first season which finally gets resolved as well as Haruka Ogasawara into being a proper leader to the club, really because of Asuka, the "plot didn't move these characters", it's the characters surrounding Asuka as well as Asuka herself into what they want that moves the anime forward, dramatic or not. If you haven't guessed but because of her drastic amount of character development and how Asuka herself affected soo many characters, Asuka Tanaka was LA's favoruite character and quite frankly earned LA's waifu for Fall 2016. Finally we have Reina Kousaka's arc, that focuses on her crush with Noboru Taki that was hinted at during both Mizore and Asuka's arc (due to bringing up Taki's backstory of some sorts) but FINALLY by Reina's arc, it comes into focus and somewhat strains Kumiko's relationship with Reina because of it. Though Reina's arc comes off as just one big spontaneous surprise but because of how Nationals turned out and Reina being a second-year from this season, her resolution is small and not as impactful due it not really resolving things with Taki-sensei. What can LA say but the character-focused drama in the second season of Hibike Euphonium although slightly tacked on how it's executed at the start, however the drama is there and the character focus not only improves the characters that missed out during the first season, but also towards character who already got their character development but for differing reasons they earned more (those being Reina, Taki and Kumiko), but the plot in itself gains a huge boost to this, what with it being a character-focused highschool drama anime.
If there was some form of faults LA could find in this second season, well LA already hinted this during the character development section what with once some of the characters arc finishes the minor characters become nothing or moments within the episode to have their little screentime or conversation with Kumiko but mainly support to the more focused characters unless they are REALLY needed, however the scope of the character development and it's impact that works to it's advantage instead of what the end result is, though yes both due to the huge cast and how the narrative of this season is structured, it's kinda obvious that character screentime towards the unfocused minor characters will be decreased (such as Hazuki, Sapphire, Kaori, Aoi, Shuuichi and Riko) even further but it's HIGH compensation for the characters that further gets developed and the people around them. Well the only other flaw LA could get from this (though LA didn't experience) is the melodrama if taken the wrong way was given and perspective wise, there is a chance that melodrama might sink in during certain character arcs and that might put some people off, but LA pretty much ignored that as the drama was definitely on point this season, sure the structure is like a powderkeg of drama waiting to be set off, but the drama was well done and executed (though the starting points of each of the arcs could have a little work done).
The second season does try to reign in it's themes from it's first season (the entire "just have fun?" or "be utmost serious in wanting to win") but it's not completely on the foreground though it does get brought up during Mizore's arc alot. Come Asuka's arc, it brings up wanting to do what you want no matter what, be it if your defeated in this notion or being rebellious into doing it see Asuka and Mamiko respectively for that. However Kumiko does bring in one more theme into the mix, that being you know know what's gonna happen in the future and although Kumiko doesn't exact say it, it's both vague and somewhat subtle in how this theme is presented, but that sense, since the majority of the cast are in highschool so yeah, this theme would come up at some point what with Hibike Euphonium is generally focused on highschool drama. Nonetheless due to how the second season presents their themes into the characters they want to focus at, it's slightly iffy if you'd think the themes were executed right or not which might veer into melodrama. For LA, it's a nice reinforcement into the ideas Hibike Euphonium had and it wasn't all in your face as the characters think and goes through "what if" and they too didn't know the answers to them which impacted for the good or bad of the club (what with Kumiko pretty much being the manifestation of this statement) and was executed quite decently though not overally perfect.
The comedic moments does appear through verbal jabbing at times but considering that Hibike Euphonium's 2nd season is chock full of highschool drama, LA won't bash that the comedic moments are sparse in this season, nonetheless when the comedic moments does appear or to calm the tension of a very dramatic moment (helpingly given to Asuka), its a slight relief before the highschool drama spirals in.
The animation done once again by Kyoto Ani is expected, from the grand and beautiful and meticulous musical set pieces to the more gorgeous and ambient backgrounding, the animation is SUPERB and it even felt that it outshone it's first season. From the distinct character designs (multiple in fact due to the changing of season thus change of uniforms...yes distinct as in LA can tell from the difference from the uniforms who's who) to even the more emotional "show don't tell" by the characters gestures giving that eye to detail how someone is feeling to the up to an eleven sakuga moments, KyoAni really outdid themselves even further than the previous season with how awestruckingly beautiful the animation is.
The voice acting, well damn but once again Tomoyo Kurosawa who voices Kumiko does such a visceral and realistic performance due to Kumiko's constant influence towards Mizore, Asuka and by extent Mamiko, really because of how natural Tomoyo's cadence was and inflicted especially during the more dramatic moments, that it just felt like that Tomoyo was owning Kumiko, not the other way around and because of Tomoyo's performance is soo well done LA might as well say she easily got LA's favourite voice actor for this season, second going to Minako Kotobuki for her performance as Asuka (with nearly the same reasoning). As much as LA is fanboying about Tomoyo Kurosawa and Minako Kotobuki, the majority of the vocal talent in the second season felt like it succeeded it's first season counterparts, quite easily with Yuri Yamaoka as Yuuko Yoshikawa, Chika Anzai as Reina, Manami Numakura as Mamiko Oumae, Konomi Fujimura as Natsuki Nakagawa and Saori Hayami as Haruka Ogasawara but that just shows the vocal talent upped their game. If your watching Hibike Euphonium 2 for vocal talent, it will duly reward you for watching and listening to it.
The final two episodes gives us some great resolutions to several characters such as Kumiko, Asuka, Reina, Mamiko and Haruka respectively and seriously as a HUGE fan of Asuka as a character, it gave a really satisfying conclusion towards her character arc, Haruka also gets one as a leader and all. Mamiko's resolution goes in tandem to Kumiko's resolution as a Eupho player and although Reina lets out a rather surprising character development in these last episodes due to what happened in the the final episodes, it allows Reina's character arc to "not be fully resolved", but they dipped their feet into this matter at the forefront. The final episode however felt like one GREAT BIG sendoff to both seasons as well as a re-structure of of the club due to the 3rd year seniors graduating as well as bringing parallels, aspirations and relational resolutions to Asuka and Kumiko which LA thought was both well executed and heartfelt as hell and even though Kumiko was an active spectator of sorts in the other character arcs, she really brought out her own development through BOTH seasons and satisfactory investment in her in these last 2 episodes all due to Kumiko's own resolution. Because of how Nationals results by the end in the second season it does allow for more material and more character development from those characters left and were underdeveloped from either season, which LA wouldn't mind at all due to how great Hibike Euphonium is.
It's most obvious with LA's praising the living daylights over Hibike Euphonium 2 that it is LA's favourite anime of Fall 2016 though it tussled with Keijo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a couple of times for the spot, but nonethless Hibike Euphonium 2 got LA's seal of approval for the best anime for Fall 2016 with it's beautiful animation done once again by KyoAni, character depth and the drama that enfolds from that and how the ending left off, it can easily be a crossroads for another season if need be. Most obviously fans of the first season will get the daily dose of Hibike Euphonium they wanted from this second season, character and relational resolutions as well as development and AMPLE yuri undertones from the VARIES shipping newer or old. *ahem* if you need highschool drama with some of your favourite characters, then Hibike Euphonium 2 will gladly give it.
(before reading, I might get the name spellings wrong)
Another masterpiece of KyotoAnime.
Due to its tight airing schedule, the storyline doesn't get loose and is always tight. In the episode where Kumiko heads to the pool with her friends, I thought 'well it's another service ep in the pool', and I realised that I was wrong after watching that ep to the end. They cut the pool scene to about 6-7mins, and they kept on to the story right after that. Personally, the tight storyline was one of the most satisfying aspects of this anime.
A bit of a downside was that they didn't
really show much about Aska's family problems, can't say much because of the no-spoilers policy, but Aska doesn't really solve much of her problems with her mum. An episode where Aska's mum really gets to understand Aska would have been nice.
It's Kyoto Animation, so their artwork probably won't disappoint you. I've never seen drawings that good in animes. I don't really remember if it was season 1 or 2, but the drawing for the glasses was just fabulous.
Overall, it was a very nice anime from Kyoto animation, and I enjoyed it a lot
Hibike Euphonium getting a sequel was a big surprise for me but I was excited nonetheless. As someone who loved the first season so much (mostly because I'm part of a concert band (Percussionist) ), I had high expectations for the sequel and now that it's over. It definitely lived up to my expectations.
(There will be SPOILERS in my review)
The 2nd Season of Hibike Euphonium picks up right where the first season ended. The Kitauiji High School Concert Band has won a gold and they now have have a new goal: To reach and win the Nationals.
You'll notice something different when you
decide to watch the 2nd Season of Hibike. Unlike the first season which focused more on band performances and the Kitauji Band trying to improve so they can win a gold, this season focuses more on character development. That also includes the much needed development for Asuka. The first season also had character development, but it was pretty much focused on Reina and Kumiko.
The 2nd Seasons starts off by expanding the whole "2nd/3rd year drama" the first season told us about. I can almost assure you right now that some people won't like this arc and I understand their views towards this arc because it does feel a bit melodramatic. However, I'm probably going to be in the minority when I say this but I liked this arc because of how they handled Mizore's character and her development. To me, watching the arc felt close to home because I experienced something similar that Mizore went through (back in my first year of high school, without the drama) and I sympathized with her character because I knew how she felt. Knowing that Mizore is just "one of" Nozomi's friends and the whole misunderstanding. It felt a bit melodramatic, sure but the arc was still amazing for what it tried to show us.
The arc that I really loved the most was the arc that focused on Asuka. It was perfect. It was something that I have been asking for the most since the first season and now that she finally got some focus, I was amazed at how KyoAni (or the author, to be more specific) handled this arc. In the first season, Asuka was shown as someone perfect and someone who you want to admire. She's great at playing the Euphonium and it seemed like she didn't have any personal issues whatsoever. She didn't give a crap about other student's problems and all she wants is for her band group to succeed. However, in this season, the arc finally unmasked her. It shows us why she's good at playing Euphonium and why she wanted to win that gold so badly. It also shows us that Asuka is not as perfect as people might think she is because, after all, she's just a human being. She also has personal issues except she tries her hardest to not show it because she doesn't want other people getting involved with her issues and feeling sorry for her. This is the MAIN reason why I found this arc to be perfectly executed. The fact that she's not perfect and she's just a human being, just like us, gives Asuka more depth and not just some character who is beloved by many just because of her personality. She's now truly the best girl of Hibike in my eyes.
I'll talk more about the characters later. I just wanted to get my opinions out for those arcs because they were the highlights for me. Moving on, the dramatic aspect is great just like the first season but it's a bit better, if I say so myself. For example, there was one dramatic scene that was executed really well. The scene that I'm talking about is when Kumiko was trying to convince Asuka to return to the band. Kumiko's VA deserves a pay raise, honest to God. That's mostly the reason why that dramatic scene worked. Part of the reason is, of course, the outstanding cinematography by Kyoto Animation. They really know where to place the shots.
Lastly, the band performances or using the technical term "The Wind Ensemble" remains flawless as ever. The attention to detail remains the same and if you're in a concert band, like me, then you'll truly appreciate how much detail KyoAni has put not just on the wind ensemble but also when they tune an instrument. Even the minor mistakes that some of the characters make when they're playing their instruments can be spotted by ear. It truly is amazing! You know what's even more amazing? KyoAni providing a full-on, uncut ensemble with no monologues whatsoever for this season. This is what I have been wishing for since the first season and the Gods of KyoAni granted my wish. It was simply mind-blowing and I was left speechless after the ensemble finished. Hell, I still had goosebumps 15 minutes after the ensemble finished.
See? This is why anime studios needs to chillax with their usual 1-2 anime per season. If they do what Kyoto Animation does then they can also achieve beautiful and breathtaking visuals like what we see in Hibike Euphonium. Even though the art and visuals for both seasons of Hibike looks almost exactly the same, it doesn't really matter because they're both simply outstanding to look at so nothing needed to be changed. The animation is also as smooth as it can get.
The soundtrack for Hibike is absolute masterpiece. As someone who is a part of a concert band, it is absolutely mind-boggling how amazing and how there's so much attention to detail when they're performing an ensemble. I can tell that the ensembles weren't just played through some electronic computer but rather, a real-life band playing on some sort of sound room to record their musical pieces. I gotta give props to KyoAni for doing all that shit. Now the OP and ED theme song(s)
The OP theme song is "Soundscape" by TRUE. I still prefer the first season's OP theme song. What made the 1st OP so unique was that it felt like an ensemble with vocals in it but the 2nd OP felt like your typical J-Pop song. Now don't get me wrong. I still like the 2nd OP for what it is. It still sounded great.
The ED theme song is "Vivace!" by Kitauji Quartet. Now, this ED I like. The 1st ED was decent but I didn't liked it that much. The 2nd ED, on the other hand, is a major improvement. Both vocals and the melody/tune.
I don't generally review Japanese VA's but I want to for this series. I've already said this but I'll say it again...for a millionth time. Kumiko's VA deserves a huge pay raise. I don't know how she does it but she makes Kumiko sound like a realistic teenage girl and not some typical "Tsundere" or "Onee-chan" girl with a squeaky-ass voice. Her acting is on point and it's how a teenage girl character should mostly sound like.
The first season didn't really have that much character development, besides the development for Kumiko and Reina. However, this season focuses on A LOT of characters with the most amazing character developments I have seen in this series. Of course, the 2nd season also introduces a few new characters like Mizore, Nozomi and a couple of teachers. While the new teachers were just a bunch of supporting characters, they were useful because we get to learn more about Taki-sensei or Taki Noboru, who I thought was just "some music teacher" (They were also Taki's college friends). In other words, I was surprised when Taki got some focus in this season. We get to learn more about Taki's past and why he's a music teacher right now. His development was definitely impressive and added more depth to this character.
Since Kumiko and Reina got the most focus in the previous season, both main characters felt a bit like supporting characters in this season as the show makes way to focus on other characters. That isn't necessarily a bad thing because now, we get to see both Kumiko and Reina having casual conversations and being comfortably close so the development between them in the previous season was worth it. I want to talk about Kumiko because while both of them felt a bit like supporting characters, Reina was pretty much pushed to the sidelines more than Kumiko and it wasn't until after the first two arcs (Mizore and Asuka's arc) that this season reminded us that Kumiko is still the main protagonist of the series. She still got some focus, along with her older sister. The portrayal of Kumiko and Mamiko's relationship development was amazing. My perception on Mamiko pretty much changed after they showed us why she was acting the way she is towards Kumiko. As for Kumiko, the show still did a great job developing her character even further and I learned one new fact about her that I never bothered questioning (How and why she gained interests in instruments?) in the previous season.
Speaking of relationships...No, the yuri ship between Kumiko and Reina did not sail and it won't ever sail. It doesn't happen in the source material and it won't ever happen in the anime. Stop being delusional yuri shippers. KyoAni played you fuckers like a damn fiddle and they're laughing their asses right now. *ahem I do wish they did get together though ahem*.
Not once did I get bored of this series. Ever since the very first episode of this series, I knew this would end up being one of my favourite anime series of all time and now that it's over, this anime has definitely become one of my favourite KyoAni titles. I'm definitely going to be re-watching the series, now that's there's 26 episodes in total.
"Hibike Euphonium 2" is a great sequel from its predecessor. It's one of those rare sequels that further improves upon all the things that worked/did not worked in the previous season and it didn't feel like an unnecessary cash grab. While the ensembles (band performances) was a bit lacking in amount, it made up for it by having the best character development I have seen in the Hibike Euphonium series. Also, the show has uncut, beautiful ensembles with no monologues, something that wasn't really present in the previous season, so that definitely makes up for having less amount of ensembles in this season. Finally, this season still retains it's beautiful and breathtaking art and it's great music. I'm really happy with how this series ended. Although, it's a bit saddening that we won't get anymore future seasons since the 2nd Season adapted every material left in the book.
When season one of Hibike! Euphonium aired back in 2015, anyone who watched it was in for some beautiful animation, band performances, and yuri bait. I only watched it because of Kyoto Animation, but I ended up enjoying it a lot; it really connected with me, considering the fact that I am a flute player in my school's band. When it ended, however, it definitely felt like there should have been more; that was why, when season 2 was announced, it was welcomed with open arms. However, now that season 2 has finished its run, can I honestly
say that it lived up to season 1? Yes, it did and more.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my review of Hibike! Euphonium 2.
In case you don't already know, Hibike! Euphonium revolves around the concert band at Kitauji High School; they were once a great band, but they have since fallen flat (bad pun alert). However, with the instruction of the new adviser, Noboru Taki, the band ends up getting back on its feet and working hard toward the goal of making it to the Nationals and subsequently getting gold there. The main character, Kumiko Oumae, is one of the first-years who joins the concert band as a euphonium player, although she was originally reluctant due to an incident back in middle school. She ends up reuniting with trumpet player Reina Kousaka, and although they aren't on the best terms at first, they end up being able to get along. The second season focuses on not only the drama involving the concert band, but Kumiko's own family.
The first thing I must mention about this anime is its beautiful animation. As always, Kyoto Animation had produced some breathtaking animation, both in the first and second seasons of this anime. Another remarkable thing about this anime is, of course, its music. Whether its the opening and ending themes ("Soundscape" by True and "Vivace!" by the Kitauji Quartet [a.k.a. the voice actresses of Kumiko, Reina, Hazuki Katou, and Midori Kawashima, respectively], respectively) or the performances from the band, there was a lot of great music from this anime; since it is a music anime, this is, of course, a good thing. The voice actors also did a good job at their respective roles.
As for the story, my opinion about this season is the same as my opinion of the story in the first season; there were some bumps in the road, but the story was very good overall. This season gave us some great new characters, as well as giving development to some old ones. Among the new characters, my personal favorites were Nozomi Kasaki and Mizore Yoroizuka; not only is the former a flute player like me, but the arc that revolved around them and the character development they got as a result was done splendidly. We also got to learn a lot more about Asuka Tanaka, the vice president of the concert band; I like her a lot more now than I did in season one, and I already did like her in season one! Taki-sensei was also a noteworthy character this season; he was a rather mysterious character in season one, and in season two, we get to learn some more about him, too.
Overall, Hibike! Euphonium 2 was a more than worthy successor to Hibike! Euphonium, as well as a solid conclusion to the series. I highly recommend any and all fans of season one to not miss the second. If you'd like to know who I'd recommend the series as a whole to, it'd be to those who appreciate good stories, beautiful KyoAni-style animation, yuri teasers, and most of all, the hard work that concert bands to make a wonderful sound.
Hibike! Euphonium is a musical anime (woooow, really?), but doesn't shows just music, I would say. The focus doesn't is the music in itself, but in how the music and the effort at the trainings can interfere at socializations between the musicist and your family, school and objectives. That anime is sooooo cute, have an so pretty weather, even when happens the hardest scenes and with psychological fight. Also have comedy, isn't as that slapstick comedy tho, maybe a pinch of Yuri or just fanservice?! Thriller, yes, Thriller, always happens that thriller in what gonna happen and how
the characters will feel about yourselves, and mainly, Drama! Dude, what dramatical anime, some episodes will make you do want to cry with the character or just want to give a hugh in them (Your waifu isn't real, idiot).
Story - That anime revolves around Kumiko, yes, all what happens in the anime her is in there, being good or bad, and she always have to fix it. Even for this I think she'll be the president when she will have at 3º year. The history is very simple, there is a School who is underestimated, and who have a dream: Go to the National championship. Already at the beggining have a discussion about who really wants to fight to get that objective. Scenes who shows fights with themselves, even the their bodies and their minds doesn't tolerate more training and training. But, neither all are roses, that anime would can approach so much more about the presentations, but they didn't it, I felt as only Kitauji school does strive, and it's definitely bad, they didn't approached that, or barely approached another schools, neither done an interaction with each other, and at ep 12 of s2 they didn't show the final presentation!! Do you believe it?
Art/Sound - That's really the strongest point of his anime, all characters are good drawed, all scenes are beautiful (and some scenes were maked with CGI!!!), and they "fit" perfectly in what is happening at the episode. And dude, if a musical anime, doesn't have a good OST, in what he would have? hahaha, I confess, I like a little bit of orquestry already, maybe because Shigatsu Wa Kimi no Uso (Who doesn't is in the subject now), I really liked about the combination of the presentations (scenes showing the members and the music playing), gave me a big feel of reality, they even did the sweat in the characters!!! Really, maybe it was perfect.
Character - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, I really liked the characters, and how they were approached (even the characters that I hate), all characters who have your apparition, although is short, they could be developed and shows their personality.
Kumiko - First thing of all: I loved her voice, the way she speaks and behaves, seemed so real, dude, simply wonderful!! I did liked as hell her personality, and the way she always try to do the things, and fix the problems, she's like that character type who doesn't call attention for her because she wants to, but always receives our empathy (like Miyamori of Shirobako), she always is prepared to help others, even with the problems appears just for her hahaha, maybe she's a magnet problems xD, poor her. I don't have very things to say about her, when you're going to watching it, you'll feel the same thing as I felt.
Reina - Judge me, but I thought her very cliche, but even so, I liked her too, I confess that in the beginning, I didn't like her a lot, but slowly she was conquering me, how she've charisma!! Btw, all character have your own charisma and can conquer our empathy. She's a shy girl, very talented, and who have objectives very "whole", and maybe impossible ambitions xD
Asuka - She's the orquestry group vice president, she is so straight, and always, yes, always can manipulate people around her, and does make they "forget it" the why they're correct, she's willing to leave all away to conquer the main objective (really, everything), even for have these quality, she's more noticed than the orquestry group president, and she's most important for the group than the president, no for nothing, she's my fav character of that anime.
Enjoyment - Idk for where to begin... Well, that anime is so good and sometimes so tiring, they were get a lot for the opposite side to default of musical animes and with contest, and they were gone to the character development, they spend it precious episodes who develops the characters at the right moment: as Yuuko, dude, what a annoying character, and Kumiko sister, who starts to interfere even indirectely in Kumiko performances. BUUUUT, there are so many sensational episodes, mainly the episodes who envolves Kumiko & Reina and Kumiko & Asuka, when happens the Yuri flirt xD, and also they complement with a music, who serves as clue of how the character is feeling yourselve in that moment, as if it were a vent, just beautiful!
Conclusion - Hibike! Euphonium is a musical anime not so musical, the moral of history is about conquer objectives if you get effort to get it, but in the same time shows all problems who happens during the way. With a lot of drama and empathy with characters, watch it and feel yourself through the world at Kumiko's sight!
The art is still just as clean, nice to look at, and some scenes are animated brilliantly (just like the first season) Pretty good. A few extra points for them animating the instruments correctly.
Like the first season, the interactions between different characters is interesting to watch unfold, and there are plenty of unique situations and dilemmas that occur that aren't cliche or recycled from other animes. They definitely go more in-depth on the stories of characters that matter this season, however. The intricacies of certain characters' pasts and their relationships with the others are revealed, which
makes them infinitely more likable. The drama from Season 1 wasn't as touching, I feel.
The sound for Sound! Euphonium Season 2 is still very good. I wouldn't say that it's better than Season 1, but it's nice.
Overall, Hibike! Euphonium Season 2 still focuses more on the lives of the students in the band and their struggles with practicing rather than on the actual music. Although I'm not a big fan of slice-of-life, somehow I liked Season 2 more, even though it was more of the same. Either I got used to the slice-of-life and started liking it, or there was more substance in the characters and their interactions. Probably the latter. It felt like Season 2 had more meat to it.
An average plot with very good characters and very good sound leaves Hibike! Euphonium Season 2 with a score of 7.5 (which I'll round up to 8).
This review contains slight spoilers since it roughly outlines the story, but it shouldn't be in a way which destroys your experience. I'm not really experienced in writing reviews, hence it got more a basic overview of the story with my opinions. But this way you'll have an idea of what you're about to watch, maybe it's helpful for some.
Hibike is a really enjoyable show which might not have the best story, but it doesn't matter. The main story is most likely the thing you'll care about the least. Why? Because it's KyoAni. They focus on the characters really well which is the biggest
strength of the show. Honestly, does a simple story about trying to gain gold at the nationals sound interesting to you? Nope, but while everyone's practicing the hell out of their intruments we've obviously discussions happen during the Characters. While the first season more or less only covered Kumiko and Reina and (which should be known to you) how they came together the second one manages to give some more development to the most important characters. I think it's not a big spoiler to say the final events will focus more and more about Asuka. The anime gives her a ton of background story and also some development. This really feels different than in the first season, since I don't think much changed in other characters than Reina and Kumiko.
We still have some story though, if I had to give you my opinion about the story itself it would be difficult. However this is my opinion and I'm fairly certain I'm probably the only one having a problem with the negative parts, mostly because they aren't negative actually.
Ok, what do I mean by that? First of all: If you want to see a story which doesn't have to do with characters then you're wrong here. I already said this. Hibike tries to give Reina some development in the beginning and since I don't want to spoiler anyone I'll only ask you if you still remember this Taki stuff she talked about during the ending of S1? Well, that (unfortunately) gets more fleshed out and is totally not the kind of cliche story I wanted to have. Regarding the ending of the arc I can't complain myself though, it was done really well.
The positive parts are most likely the beginning and the ending. At the beginning the series had a great start, the first 3 episodes were a lot better than anything of S1. The series focused more on the serious stuff here, also one quote of the first episode managed to perfectly describe what the ending of S2 will be like. „All the time we have won't last forever, there'll be some day when we've to part with others“. This hints to the obvious retiring of the current third years and last episode was only done to stress the last point. You'll see for yourself how that works out, basically anyone who left school and went to college, uni or working afterwards will know how it was. It's a sad feeling to leave all the years you had behind and that's what Hibike tries to capture.
The midpart is most likely the weakest point of the story, however that doesn't mean it's bad since its events will get important later on. Asuka is clearly in the spotlight from episode 8 on, and here everything gets basically prepared for the big ending. If you manage to keep up interest till then you made it to the really good part. The good thing about it is that it closes the circle, and that's giving a really good impact on it. But as said, you'll see what I mean.
It's not all about music here, in fact the only time they really played a song completely was at the end. However that's not bad, since the show focuses more on the characters this way. And there's still enough music left, don't worry. They managed to make the failures while playing the instruments hearable very good during S1 already, S2 also makes the instruments sound really natural. The quality of the songs is the same as in S1, since most of what you hear won't be new. There'll be a new one though, which is also the most important.
I don't think we need to consider what to give the show here, 10/10
Summed up Hibike was a series which will stay on your mind. It's a great show dealing with characters the best way possible. Not somethng I'd have watched normally, but it was great.
There's a joke that you watch Hibike! Euphonium for the yuri bait, but stay for the story and characters, and it's completely true. Rarely have I seen a studio pay so much attention to detail in developing character relationships.
Chronologically, the second season begins immediately where the first one left off, where the band is faced with increasingly more difficult obstacles as they hope to advance to higher competitions. You'll experience the ups and downs with them as they triumph and fail in their band goals, while learning more about what makes each character tick, and their various motivations for participating in the band.
developed through masterful usage of symbolism, and what is unique about this show is the studio actually respects the viewer's intelligence enough to not have to over-explain every situation. Instead, they'll put various ambiguous details in the scene and leave it up to you as the viewer to interpret them. This contributes enormously into making the show more realistic, because in real life you can't get a glimpse into everyone's inner monologue; you have to communicate and clarify their intentions.
The second season may disappoint some, however, as there is much less focus on Reina and Kumiko's relationship, and more focus on other characters. Despite that, I thought the second season was stronger and more developed.
Note that the second season completely adapts the source material for Kumiko's story, so anyone concerned about an unfinished adaptation need not worry. I enjoyed the second season enormously, and any fan of the first season will not be disappointed.
Thanks for reading my review, and any feedback is appreciated!