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.
As a person who loves listening to most genre of music ranging from classic to hardcore metal, dub-step to jazz, I can strongly recommend this anime to everyone regardless of their anime preferences or music taste. To be honest, it has much more potential than most music anime until date. Hibike! Euphonium can definitely inspire viewers on so many levels because this gem reflects and portrays so many state of human emotion in a spectacular fashion.
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.
**SPOILER ALERT – THIS “REVIEW” WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS**
**This “review” serves to cover both the first and second seasons of the series.**
**This “review,” as always, is permanently incomplete and from time to time I may edit and update my thoughts on it.**
**Once again, I have no real apparent structure to my “reviews,” as they are all primarily stream of consciousness writeups.**
I have always been slightly biased against Kyoto Animation, and aside from Clannad which I had actually enjoyed to some degree in prior years, none of the studio’s work had really stuck
out to me. While being fully aware that many others have held Kyoto Animation in high regard, I had been unable to see what was so special about it. Hibike! Euphonium serves to destroy my perspective of the studio by being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, leaving me open to going back and revisiting their works that I have discarded. My approval of this work may come off as strange considering how picky I am, as well as the fact that Euphonium is not generally placed upon such a pedestal. It does not contain a grand, sweeping narrative, nor does it come off as especially philosophical. On the surface, it may appear as another nameless seasonal and initial impressions may leave the viewer confuzzled as to how I can manage to place it within the same list as Texhnolyze or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. MAL users thought I had lost my sanity upon yielding such a high score to it. At its very core however, the series is a character journey, one of pure passion, more specifically one to both be true to self and understand the concept of both, “I like it,” as well as unmasked emotional expression.
From a more technical standpoint, the series is not anything to really brush off either. Generally, the aesthetic found in the majority of modern anime irks me. Euphonium however, pulls off a mixture of sickeningly cute and grounded realism which allows me to take it seriously when it tries to create drama as well as enjoy more light-hearted moments in which the characters perform their various antics and running gags. The animation though, is certainly something to take note of, Euphonium really serves to capitalize on the skill of Kyoto Animation’s animators. There is plenty of movement, usually multiple characters moving at once and not remaining completely still during conversations. More subtle gestures such a character’s sitting position, a hand tensing up and kicking off shoes to go into a more laid-back mode assist in providing essential characterization. The audience can get a better sense of each character by their body language, even aside from Kumiko’s reactions previously mentioned. Visually, it can be gorgeous with breathtaking cuts to scenery and in other cases clever, hiding visual metaphors that can be too easily dismissed. In the background of many scenes, the extras are not still, seen walking or moving, vehicles and animals moving serve to give an impression that the world is more “real,” a place where things are constantly happening in some form. During performances, there is a great attention to detail in what is being played, musical fingerings are mostly ENTIRELY correct, not done randomly. Corners are just not cut with this series.
Even more impressive however, is Euphonium’s attention to sound. The music varies from horrible to extraordinary, in some cases music is purposefully poor, to highlight how unskilled the band is at the start of the show. With this though, comes massive musical complexity, the feat of the band’s playing heightening as episodes pass; later, after Mizore’s oboe solo is described as emotionless and robotic, resolving her character arc, her solo becomes expressive and genuine. The band plays more in sync and it is apparent through the viewer listening. We are not directly told “why,” specifically Reina’s solo is more impressive than Kaori’s solo, but it is something that can be detected, by how notes are drawn out, or have sharper tone and etc. There are so many details that add to the complexity of the characters’ playing. When a character listens to a piece played behind a wall, be it another room or outdoors, the sound becomes more muffled, as to reflect that change. It changes depending on the setting, and the change is noticeable to fit to how the playing would actually sound under such specific circumstances. When there is an announcement made in an area with mountains, the sound reverberates to reflect the mountainous terrain. It also differs depending on the camera angle, music played can feel softer as the camera is farther away and intensifies as said camera zooms closer. The parts that the characters practice in myriad episodes is revealed only in small chunks, never all at once to make the full song, which will only be fully featured in their competition performances where it is played entirely. This creates catharsis during such a scene when everything is played and the sections each individual had been working on all come together. There is clearly so much care put towards the attention to sound throughout the series.
To add to this is Euphonium’s greatest strength, its expansive cast; for a series of this length I was honestly surprised by how many notable characters there are. They are not just cookie-cutter stereotypes; they have struggles, faults and personalities, and many actually show a deal of development. Mamiko has essential struggles which lead to Kumiko’s development and emphasizes the conflict of balancing other’s vision of satisfaction with one’s own. Hazuki and Sapphire may seem like more one-note comedic relief characters at first glance, but they really help give personality to the show’s lighter moments, and Hazuki especially shows instances of growth, not just her playing ability, but in how she takes rejection, from both Shuuichi (who performs a similar role to these two and further fleshes out Kumiko’s character) and the competition group, yet still sticks around and remains dedicated to her friends. Along the same note, I was moved by how Natsuki takes things in the show, one of the final episodes of the first season has her cheering up Kumiko, taking her cut respectably, not being a sore loser, but cool about it. She furthermore has her development in later instances during Asuka’s absence and in Mizore’s arc in attempting to have Nozomi rejoin the band. Only adding to this is her dynamics with Yuuko which give even more personality to the show, which just would not be the same without them. Speaking of Yuuko, Euphonium is the rare instance of a show that, created a character that I had initially despised, and turned my perception on its head, having her later be someone I hated no longer, a character with another side revealed. Yuuko is shown to be a very loyal friend, resolutely making an effort to cheer on Kaori and is a cornerstone in resolving Mizore’s arc. Mizore and Nozomi also fall into the same vein of characters that I did not particularly like initially, but who grew on me as they became increasingly fleshed out. Their existence helps as a callback to the band’s history, but more importantly, represents a contrast between investing and not investing effort; the seniors in prior years taking it easy compared to characters in the current year shattering their facades and Kitauji making it to nationals in the following year, actually “reaching for the moon.” Haruka and Kaori hold the club together as leaders along with Asuka; Haruka obtains courage to later transcend her cowardly exterior and rally the club in support of Asuka, and Kaori accepts loss and concedes her solo to Reina in spite of having to lose her final chance to ever play it. Asuka on the other hand, is the “final boss” of the series and is layered with barriers, just as Kumiko is, has her own reasons to play and act the way she does. Reina contrasts Kumiko, an interesting thing about her being how she can actually be extremely openly expressive; she screams on multiple occasions, yet remains quiet most of the time, two characteristics which uniquely contrast each other. She helps with Kumiko’s very development, pushing her to dedicate herself; in some sense, Kumiko even grows to be more like Reina. Taki is a key component to the band’s success, giving Kitauji the opportunity to make it to nationals in the first place. While he is often serious, he has character, dedication to fulfilling what his wife could not, and shows great care for his students. There are scenes in which Kumiko and Reina enter the office only to see Taki analyzing videos of rivals, or out cold from planning their curriculum. He even has his own friends in Hashimoto and Niiyama, which add their own perspectives to the band’s playing to enhance their performance. Both voice expression in playing, to not put up a façade and openly reveal how one feels, and often urge band members to play their parts in accordance to how they feel about said part. Even the multitude of other band members that lack major screen time, serve to help create a sense of unity within the cast. The members of Kitauji concert band are a team and they work towards nationals. Sense of achievement for the larger group would certainly not be the same if the band was composed of only a dozen members or so. My point is, the characters of Euphonium are honestly impressive, in that series does just so much with so many of them and they mostly all remain integral to any degree.
The development through the series is very gradual and characters are shown training every step of the way. When the cast plays in an ensemble, they play, but not whole-heartedly; many are still not completely devoted to music. Through rigorous practice, the characters become more attached to it and gradually become more serious towards achieving the goal making it to nationals. This in itself serves to give the show a strong “sense of achievement.” In a story, a character can come to achieve something, but achieving such only feels worthwhile if the audience is shown the build-up towards that point. Revealing the struggles of the cast in the process of achieving something acts as a way to ground their struggles and generate weight. They have impact because the development and investment can be felt, and this is certainly the case with Euphonium. There are many instances of the characters practicing, engaging in breathing exercises to expand lung capacity, humming to notes to hone tone, and undergoing more unique training, such as playing directly after running to work on stamina. The series even exhibits practicing precise marching in response to the Sunrise Festival, and as a result of such, the performance feels coordinated and worthwhile. Kitauji’s playing feels merit-able directly due to prior efforts.
However, most significant of all is our protagonist of course. The series boasts, surprisingly, one of the most respectable female protagonists I’ve seen in Kumiko. There is something that separates her from the seemingly endlessly multitude of mass-produced characters in recent years. She feels “actualized,” genuine and real. She has character, quirks and imperfections, and simultaneously develops majorly throughout the series. Her voice acting plays a major role in this. Admittedly, voice acting is not something that I especially emphasize or take not of unless it is atrocious, but Kumiko’s voice acting is integral to breathing life into her character. Lurking behind every corner of the show are countless instances of “reactions” that she performs which serve to give her personality. The difference between Kumiko and other female protagonists is that she actually feels like she could be a “real person.” This is strange because she feels this way despite the series including many instances of characters temporarily taking on a more chibi-esque visual style used in some of their reactions. Kumiko is a character which initially appears nonchalant and to some degree, even cynical. She is not overly optimistic, has worries and faults, overall raining on people’s parade with a more skeptical train of thought, even described to have a “terrible personality,” by Reina. Something interesting about Kumiko is how despite the cases in which she wears her emotions on her face, she tries to conceal them. There are many instances in which she blurts out what she is thinking, potentially offending others by accident. Kumiko’s “control” over her emotions is a major choke point of Euphonium as throughout the series, she begins to lower her guard on them, allowing them to fly more freely. Despite playing music throughout middle school, after losing out at making it to nationals, she seems more indifferent towards the activity. She puts on an air of not caring about what she does, not exactly in the sense that she does everything lazily, but in how she never wants to commit to anything and remains mostly unexpressive. The first scene contrasts the emotional expression of two of the main protagonists. Kumiko is able to be satisfied with being able to play in her middle school competition, they have received dud gold, but that is enough for her. She had never thought that they would make it any further to begin with, the result had merely met her expectations. The idea of working one’s hardest towards something, only to be wholly disappointed causes her to not express full genuine attachment to her music. Kumiko does not externally reveal her care for the competition, but with the success in episode 13, she comes to recognize this issue, how ideologically, she has kept herself on the periphery this entire time, and now would be a chance to “apply” herself. Reina, on the other hand, greatly contrasts Kumiko, breaking down in tears with words of, “I am frustrated.” Kumiko is dazed by Reina’s response, aforementioned cynical mindset shining through to comment on her naivety, which only serves to create further aggravation. It is clear that Kumiko has experience with band, given how her shelves are littered with CDs and guides on how to play better, and also by the fact that she can acknowledge how poor Kitauji’s High School concert band sounds, but Kumiko tries her best to attempt to break away from music; she tries to avoid joining the band, and even when she eventually does, tries to cut her ties to the euphonium by taking up another instrument. When Taki asks whether the band wants to play casually or pursue the national competition, Kumiko takes neither side, partially out of worry of Reina’s response, but also due to her uncertainty regarding music as a whole. She acts that she does not care, hiding how she feels to some degree, while internally, she still clearly does. A major part of the first season is dedicated, not only to the cast finding passion in playing, but Kumiko breaking the walls she has set up regarding this contradiction between how she expresses herself and how she sincerely feels.
As the series picks up, the practice further intensifies. An important instance of development is when Kumiko decides to become serious about practicing, she goes outside and practices long hours alone in the hot sun, to the point where she becomes dehydrated and gets a nosebleed. This demonstrates the sheer dedication that she has come to, initially seeming to not care about how well the band would perform, but now finally caring about putting in effort. Her façade is shattered as she now feels a more genuine attachment to music. This is a major turning point however as simultaneously, this is the moment where, for once, she is left out of playing the part she was working at. She has witnessed various peers criticized on their playing, but never before has she been directly singled-out in this way. This infuriates Kumiko and she finally recognizes how Reina felt when she asked whether she thought they would actually make it to nationals. In a brilliant running sequence, Kumiko resolves to wanting to improve, something that she had never before felt so adamantly. This is the moment where she opens a larger connection to music, that it is blatant that she cares about the activity. Kumiko grows from being a more dubious, unconcerned individual to someone more hopeful and honest. The performance in the final episode of the first season highlights just how far the band has come, the musical quality of their playing immensely improving as the commitment everyone shows in both foregoing and following episodes as they show up to practice earlier and earlier. As the results are announced and Kitauji passes on to the next competition, Kumiko finally solidifies her dedication regarding music; experiencing the joy of achievement, her façade finally begins tumbling down as she admits how she was scared to ever fully invest into something causing her to continue on haphazardly. She thought it would be, “stupid to get your hopes up and work hard towards something, only to be made a fool of and let down in the end.” With this though comes the recognition of exerting oneself in order to get anywhere at all. To progress, one has to wholeheartedly both “want” and “try” to progress.
Regarding Kumiko’s journey however, there are two specific moments in particular which both serve as the nail in the coffin, solidifying that at the end of the day, Kumiko DOES care. The first case follows an exchange with Mamiko, who has greatly developed within the prior few episodes. It is evident that Mamiko is gradually opening to being more honest with herself. In the sixth episode of the second season, she is seen wanting to drop out of college in favor of attending beauty school. She criticizes her parents for pushing her down a road that fits their view of happiness without taking her own view into account. Here, she admits that she never wanted to quit concert band, but being the eldest, she is pressured into setting an example and following instructions as to be “good daughter.” In another instance, Kumiko is out with a fever, and attacks Mamiko’s declaration concerning how she never wanted to quit. This broadens Mamiko’s perspective, to begin to acknowledge the road that Kumiko is taking, in sticking to her passion in spite of expectations, simply because she “likes” what she is doing. Kumiko acts as a foil to Mamiko to some degree in taking the opposite path, unwaveringly keeping up with concert band, in spite of her struggling grades, having no obvious ambition in life and not prioritizing attending college regardless of how strongly it is emphasized to high schoolers. Where Mamiko truly demonstrates her genuineness though, is in the tenth episode of the second season, where she openly confesses her faults. Her supposed jealousy of Kumiko’s situation implies that internally, she wants to tear down the screens she has put up, and she does this by revealing her flawed perception of what it means to be an adult. An adult, she thought, was supposed to simply, “suck everything up,” all the expectations placed upon her, put up walls and act mature, even if such behavior is unnatural. Mamiko’s statements here act as her reconciliation. Evident by her warmer attitude in conjunction with how she decides to watch Kumiko play at nationals, Mamiko is annoyed with her no longer. She resolves to leaving home, departing on her own journey and investing into what she sincerely wants.
Mamiko’s reconciliation is important as a catalyst for Kumiko’s own reconciliation. Kumiko, while obtaining a passion and becoming truer to self throughout the series, still holds up her own barriers. As Reina states, “you act like a normal high school girl, but you see beyond people,” Kumiko still has not completely dropped her façade. When Mamiko asks whether Kumiko would be sad with her departure, Kumiko replies with “not really.” This is contradicted in a following scene however, which demonstrates that Kumiko DOES care. On the train, she bursts into tears with, “I really am sad.” With this, Kumiko breaks down her barriers, she is experiencing her genuine emotions in the face of putting up an act to conceal them. This is a major turning point which causes Kumiko to more greatly act upon how she actually feels. The second case is her confrontation with Asuka. In this case, Kumiko is caught in her web, Asuka refuting her points about everyone wanting her to return to the band. Does Kumiko really know what “everyone” is thinking? How can she come to represent “everyone?” Asuka points out that Kumiko is also always hiding behind something. She acts like she wants to help, but never fully invests herself, “in fear of hurting both oneself and others.” As a mere bystander, she simply watches things play out, as with Mizore’s arc which Yuuko resolves, not Kumiko. Asuka walks off as if she has won this argument, but here though is the moment where Kumiko finally breaks down her barrier, entirely. Kumiko has certainly expressed emotion in many instances throughout prior episodes, but no other scene in the series has her moving and speaking quite as frantically. SHE genuinely wants Asuka to return, SHE wants to play with her in nationals and SHE wants to hear her play, all of that is true. Kumiko has changed from her initial state. Remember the unfeeling Kumiko in episode one, satisfied with dud gold, showing nonchalance at her middle school band not advancing in contrast to Reina clearly expressing her emotions, now Kumiko openly demonstrates her own feelings and ability to care. By the end of the series, Kumiko has progressed from nonchalant to wholly sincere. She likes playing the euphonium with her and the rest of the band. Kumiko is honest with herself.
Now then, we must move onto Asuka, another star of the second season. Like Kumiko, she wears a mask to conceal her actual thoughts and struggles. Asuka puts on a playful façade within the band, which causes the people around her to see her as “perfect,” and with the initial season especially, Asuka seems to hold the solution to many of the band’s problems; she pacifies the ensemble in cases of turmoil, does not take sides, generates a fun, light-hearted atmosphere within the band room, has excellent grades and is an excellent euphonist. A natural leader she seems to be, and these characteristics cause many of her peers to admire her. Yet, the Asuka that they admire is merely the show that she puts on and they are oblivious to her individual struggles beyond her façade of perfection. She is not perfect; perfection does not exist after all. While she gets along with her bandmates, Asuka, at this point, does not form particularly strong connections with them as they still see her only as her image. Her investment in the band, stems from her desire to play for her father at nationals, and in her conversation with Kumiko, she spells out how she is using the band merely as means to connect with him. This is the rare instance in which she unveils her actual self, but instead of being disgusted, Kumiko comes to embrace Asuka’s motivations, regardless of whether they are self-centered or not. SHE wants to hear Asuka play. Going back to their encounter in episode 10 of the second season, while it serves as an important instance in which Kumiko breaks down her own walls, it is simultaneously a major turning point which breaches Asuka’s as well. Her bandmates may say that they want Asuka back, but do they mean the “Asuka” they are familiar with, or the Asuka which Kumiko later comes to acknowledge. Kumiko, for once, approaches Asuka, not as a classmate or representative, but as a “person” who accepts her actual self. Asuka is stunned by this, as it is the first time someone has genuinely tried to reach her, revealed in her trembling legs and hidden face. Someone sincerely wants the “real” her back, the Asuka who has made herself vulnerable and exposed the fact that she is indeed not flawless. This is paramount to allowing Asuka to tear apart her mask and commit to her genuine thoughts, returning to the ensemble and playing at nationals.
As I mentioned previously though, Euphonium is not merely about discarding masks, but is also a character journey to discover how one “likes something.” If we jump back to the initial season, at one point, Hazuki reveals skepticism regarding her continuing band, and the gang goes around asking tuba players about the benefits of such an instrument in hope of finding a reason Hazuki can latch herself onto. At first glance, the tuba does not seem to have that many advantages. It is heavy to carry and a lot of the parts that it gets are rather slow, long and boring. This, coupled with the fact that Hazuki is a complete beginner, serves to question whether she actually enjoys playing. A later response from Gotou acts as an answer as to why he can continue to play the tuba in spite of its apparent cons. The tuba helps carry the piece and at the end of the day, he simply, “likes it.” Hazuki discerns that she “likes” playing in an ensemble. She had never done so prior, so in playing a song as simple as, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with Midori and Kumiko, she realizes that she helps in supporting the piece and enjoys playing music. Despite being a newbie, unskilled enough to make the cut for the national competition, she tries hard to support the band because she likes being in it. This is it, the first instance of “I like it.” The concept of simply liking something serves to outweigh whatever drawbacks an activity brings, and this is heavily emphasized throughout the show.
There are many other instances where the concept of “liking” something comes into play. An exchange occurs in season one between Kumiko and Taki in which she returns to school late at night to retrieve her cellphone. It concludes with Taki telling Kumiko that he remembers that she made a promise to perfect the part she was struggling with and this causes her to bleed with determination from thereon out. Beyond that though, the final lines of this exchange have Kumiko ask the question of, “to like something, that’s all you need right?” This serves as a branching off point in Kumiko continues to question the nature of liking something. Liking something is displayed in other instances as well like in the first episode of the second season, Kumiko joins Reina in watching fireworks, and the question comes again as she asks Reina, “do you like the trumpet,” and additionally in another instance when Nozomi states that she “loves the flute.” However, the most important scene in expressing the concept of “I like it,” is when Mamiko grills Kumiko on why she continues band instead of studying to get into university. Kumiko only replies with, “I like the euphonium.” This is important because it begins the build-up to Mamiko’s development as well, beginning to ponder whether she actually “likes” her own current position. She is stunned when Kumiko gives her answer, only able to reply with “good for you,” because she has no other answer. It is clear that she is beat and had not thought of in this manner before. Kumiko’s proclamation overrides any sort of philosophical discourse or counterargument proposed. It should sound so simple, but it seems that people seek more complicated answer to justify why they do things. It need not be. The concept of “I like [insert]” is so honest and something that cannot just be taken away or disclaimed. You can argue all you want concerning how something can be a “waste of time,” we are all going to die anyway and all of our efforts will fade to dust. This does not at all take anything away from me liking it. Euphonium serves to justify “action” in its entirety, its message is surely not limited to music alone. It can be applied to hobbies or seemingly extraneous activities of any sort. Why should anybody do anything to begin with? The series provides the simple, yet easily forgettable answer of, “because I like it.” This greatly plays into the reason I hold the title so high up there as well. Beyond its technical feats, character development and message, “I like the show.” There is nothing else I really need with this.
The show’s ending has the cast only winning bronze at nationals, but this only serves to reinforce what the characters have gained. Winning gold at nationals would not have added anything to the show, the characters play, yes, for the overarching goal of making it there, but in the end, it is not the type of metal that matters. They have had the experience of working hard collectively to achieve something, to burn themselves out practicing day in, day out, form friendships and support one another, simultaneously peeling each other apart layer by layer. Kitauji may not have won gold in a literal sense, but they are gold in their hearts, many have found the passion to play and their relationship with music has further developed. Hashimoto believes that music should not be judged with just gold, silver and bronze, and Taki recognizes that music should not be something done just to show off to others. Kumiko recognizes an equilibrium regarding playing. The activity can lose its enjoyability if done purely to compete technically, but at the same time, it feels wrong to play too casually without trying hard at all. Everyone has differing perspectives on music and everyone has a variety of reasons to play. Reina plays to become special, Mizore plays to be connected to Nozomi, Asuka plays for her father and as a way to rebel against her mother, Taki conducts for his wife, Kumiko plays because she likes the euphonium. The series does so much that it is almost sad how it gets discarded in more critical circles. As a whole, it was an extremely refreshing experience which provides me with hope for anime in years to come. Being frank, I am generally not fond of modern anime, or most anime at all for that matter, but Euphonium reminds me that I can somehow, just pick up a show, one that is not even THAT especially well-regarded, and still come about to finding something special to appreciate about it. It helps me “care” about this medium. It could be said that, at the end of the day, the act of watching anime in itself is pointless, but in some cases, “I like it,” and that in itself makes it worthwhile enough. This is why Hibike! Euphonium has somehow solidified a special place in my favorite anime of all time. :)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Writing a review for the second season of Hibike was not an easy task to do. Maybe because I'm a musician, this get even more emotional and hard to express in words. But all I can feel for this anime is love. I have the most deep and fond love for this whole story. So, please, don't expect a totally unbiased review, I really can't talk about it without showing how awesome for a musician is to see a music genre anime like that and not talk about it with passion and even excuse some minor failures. Specially because here I'm talking more as musician
than as an anime fan. Even more specially when there are so few animes about concert music.
One of the things that enchants me the most in this anime without a doubt is the art: the typical trait from Kyoto Animation purely amazes me. You can lose yourself in the small details of the eyes of the characters, the lights in the landscapes, all the random background scenarios... They're all beautiful. But, do not fool yourself, despite the delicacy of the traits, the plot is a little more deeper than the vast majority of this genre from KyoAni, especially K-on!, that is probably more known and relatable to Hibike.
I also want to make it clear that I simply admire a lot the work of a studio that is bound to make an anime of this kind with such dedication and offer the viewers an outcome in which hardly are found visual and aesthetic defects. This enables us to pay more attention to details, let's say, "more important" as the details of the plot. Still, the art is absolutely seductive.
Throughout the story all the characters and especially Kumiko had a lot of developing, maturing and growing both intra and interpersonally. It's a fun and interesting process to watch and sometimes this get really exciting, especially for those who like to keep up with musical improvements and friendship strengthening. Also, there is something about each character that gives you the feeling that there aren't really just one main character and some other few supporters. They are all important, they all have background stories, they all matter somehow. The same thing happens when you see an orchestra: all musicians are important, all of them makes a difference and all of them have their special solo moments of shining bright. Then you get lost in the stories and personalities of every one of them, even the annoying and cliché ones. Nevertheless, some shine enough so you'll probably forget the most boring ones. I had a quite funny time paying attention to some characters in particular, though my favorite character, which is Reina, end up stealing this attention several times. There are some characteristics in her personality that blend in me sensations that I feel and some that I really wanted to feel.
In fact, talking about the story, Hibike is very focused on relationship issues. You see the characters having all kinds of relationships: lost love, platonic love, unrequited love and pure love. And despite KyoAni appeal, unfortunately there's some fanservice when it comes to love relationship among girls, especially between Kumiko and Reina. All the scenes that they were together saying suggestive things about their relationship made me very happy and cheering for them, so it's a pitty that is seemingly something that only will be there for fanservice. This is why I don't give the story the maximum rate. Forget about fanservice, KyoAni, please. We had enough of it. Also, the pace. Gosh, don't kill me with that slow pace. I can handle drama quite well, just make it fast and end it up okay, for goodness sake.
Now, to talk about the sound part is my favorite thing ever in Hibike. That's the part that makes my body shiver from emotion. The first thing I want to say is that if you guys like this kind of music and never been into an orchestra concert before, I strongly recommend that. Because then you can fully understand the feeling of being in a musical presentation and lose yourself in each musical movement of the piece. Only then you can comprehend how it is for a musician being pressured to impress, to touch and reach the heart of the audience. That all the effort until there was worth it. And believe me, it's A LOT of effort.
Second thing I want to say is that I'm envious. I really wanted that kind of club when I were at school. Because that kind of effort is really something, to get so far in musical competitions IS a big deal, and to see that this is being taken seriously by students that probably won't all become musicians, you know, seeing non-musicians liking music that much is a heartwarming thing to see.
Third thing: the OST is amazing. Really beautiful. The choices they made for the songs for the band to play are incredibly invigorating and astonishing. Matsuda Akito did a wonderful job here, I became a huge fan of him and I'm going to listen to the soundtrack whenever I can. Also, the choices of female characters playing instruments that aren't common or expected to the gender was something that made me very very happy. Seeing girls playing brass and percussion instruments was something inspiring.
Finally, I wanted to say that episode five, in especial, brought me to tears. And, of course, made me happy for being a musician and gave me more strength to keep on doing what I love. It's absolutely wonderful to be encouraged to do what you love by something else that you also love.
So, Hibike is an anime about the burning desire to make your seemingly impossible ambitions come to life. And that's why I like it so much, and also that's why I was super anxious for this new season. I wanted to feel all of those emotions again. Even though I probably haven't been able to fully explain as well as I would like and demonstrate to you guys how beautiful I found this animation, I really hope each of you, who read this wall-text to the end, can give it a look and be surprised yourselves.
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.
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.
i actually felt pretty gay watching this one. like, the first one wasnt that gay-mood for me to get into the gayness, but in this one i felt a particular pain in the fcking ass that i actually enjoyed. is not that prostate-touching is gay tho, but the melodrama felt like a strong big dick, its sensation is 100% BIG DICK, no fingering at all. well, sometimes the sound direction didnt fucked me that hard so sometimes the pain in the ass wasnt that bad, but it mostly was. also you can find another big dick in the plot and its totally wasted potential where
the concept is just #motivation and the relation people has with music, a pretty toxic relation if u ask me. also asuka was the most wasted potential in the whole series. YES, I MIGHT BE GAY because i could finish this dick of a series even tho the pain it caused me. but it was stressing.
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!
(This review has been adapted from my blog/reddit thread. Spoilers ahead!)
Recently, I have started to learn how to play the guitar. Sort of.
I haven’t purchased the instrument yet; I’m still deciding on the brand and the amp. However, I know what I want to play: heavy metal. It’s my jam, and, after listening to so much of it now, I told myself, “I want to melt faces with my solos like the best of them.” Okay, I’ll probably never be that good, but I do like the idea of expanding my skillset.
But it’s tough. I have never officially played an instrument, so even the notes
of the strings are confusing me. Then there’s palm muting. Power chords. Tab sheets. Tremolo picking. Finger placement. A lot to take in for a musical beginner like myself.
After finishing Hibike! Euphonium 2, it made me realize, even with my minimal foray thus far into the world of guitar, that there’s a whole lot more to playing an instrument than just hearing a couple of notes.
Euphonium continues where the first season left off. Kumiko, Reina, and the other members of their band have won first place at the Kyoto competition. Nationals now set in their sights, they start to train ever harder to win it all on the biggest stage available. However, per usual, drama looms right around the tuba.
An important distinction exists between the first season and the second season of Euphonium. In the first season, Kumiko is directly attached to the events at hand. It’s a story as much about her finding her passion as it is the band shaping up into a musically strong group. In the second season, what happens is no longer about Kumiko. Instead, each arc and subplot centers on a specific character or set of characters, exploring their conflicts instead.
This shift in importance, where the main protagonist becomes a side character of sorts, is, well, important. For it drastically changes how events not only play out but also how they feel.
Unfortunately, neither the playing nor the feeling turn out for the better.
Analogously, Euphonum’s second season devolves into The Late-Night Show with Kumiko Oumae. The narrative gives her a guest (e.g., Mizore, Taki-sensei), and she plays the part of host, quietly sitting beside or across from him or her, asking questions or listening intently to what they wish to say. And her timeslot runs for a long while. Nearly every conversation Kumiko finds herself a part of takes the same interviewer-interviewee form, turning the narrative into a barrage of repetitive events that provide the audience with something to watch but lacking in substance.
Her show sees its lowest ratings during Asuka’s arc which comprises roughly the third quarter of the season (episodes seven through ten). The number of times that Asuka is either pulled away from where she’s at or bumped into randomly (be it with Kumiko or otherwise) is uncanny. The anime just cannot stop itself from making each of Asuka’s plot points a one-on-one. Seriously. There’s only so many times somebody can be cornered or dragged away to a secluded spot to talk about the same conversations ad nausea.
Almost all anime do something similar. Same for films and books and Western shows. After all, a conversation is nothing more than two people exchanging words. But, to reiterate, these conversations are not strictly for Kumiko. The drama simply isn’t meaningful to her, making her individual interactions with everyone unnatural. Possibly forced.
That’s why some of the anime’s best story moments either do involve Kumiko to a noticeable degree or remove her completely. For example, Kumiko’s silent weeping on the train to school is a wonderful, emotional reaction. Elicited from her sister moving forward with her life and the two removing the walls they put up between each other.
To clarify, this inspection is not arguing that the first season didn’t have similar content. Reina’s talk atop the mountain pass is a prime example of a moment where Kumiko is a listener rather than a participant. Yet, comparing this talk with the one they hold in the same spot during this season highlights the discussed difference. That is, Reina’s then words of wanting to be “special” influenced Kumiko whereas Reina’s frustration now with herself at her own “weakness” only matters to her and not Kumiko.
Euphonium attempts to justify itself in episode nine. Reina tells Kumiko, “There’s something about you. You act normal, but I feel you see through people. You act like you don’t notice things, but you do.” Then, “And when it matters most, you always have the right words.”
Fair enough. The anime, as plain as possible, declares that Kumiko landed her job as talk-show host because she’s good at it (without her really knowing). The trouble is deciding whether this reasoning is strong enough to supplant her main-protagonist role with that of little more than an audience’s lens.
To this point, and like any notable late-night talk show, Euphonium fills its space with more material than just rapport between Kumiko and someone else. Often, these segments stand stronger than anything else in the anime.
Take their Kansai Concert Band Competition, a culmination of the effort they put into the training camp and themselves. One can hear the passion in their playing and the sounds of their souls as their instruments ring out – and it’s not even Nationals.
It has its comedy. Reina’s dead-eye stare says more than words ever could about how she’s feeling when any other girls are too buddy-buddy with Taki-sensei. And one cannot help but laugh at Yuuko and Natsuki’s head-butting relationship. With a leaning cake here and a curtsy there, the two (infrequently) provide relief from the drumming drama.
It also follows through on many of the first season’s open-ended conflicts. The departure of the former band members. Taki-sensei’s wife and reasons for taking up the conductor mantle once more. Asuka’s strange behavior. Kumiko’s older sister’s tension. Nationals. All told, Euphonium accomplished quite a lot in just a single cour, keeping most (if not all) of its promises from the previous season.
And the anime has its fair share of writing chops. The seeds of drama in the second half’s arcs – Asuka’s, Mamiko’s, and Reina’s – are planted carefully during the first season’s arc – Mizore and Nozomi’s misunderstanding. The latter three arcs share many a parallel, such as the withholding of information between key characters and the pursuit of their passion. The anime even reveals why it titles itself “Sound! Euphonium”: Asuka’s titular euphonium piece (which was written by and received from her father).
Again, one must first sit through Kumiko’s awkward television show to see these stronger elements. In total, the anime doesn’t justify its narrative structure without fail, but it at least presented enough elsewhere to alleviate the strangeness.
Not a whole lot to write about when it comes to Euphonium’s visuals this second season. The attention to their instrument playing persists. Character designs are detailed and attractive. Backgrounds are realistic and therefore more engaging. In short, they have the KyoAni polish that the community has come to know and love.
Much like the first season, too, the anime once again knows how to set up its mood well. Deft use of shadow to highlight Mizore’s shift in perspective. Focusing on Reina’s feet and legs as she playfully backs away. A rotating camera to make Kumiko’s conversation with Asuka all the more disorienting.
And just for good measure, extra techniques aid the delivery of some Euphonium’s scenes.
Some are minor, like when hearts appear in Yoko’s eyes when commenting on Kaori’s bathing suit. Some are major, like when the camera pulls away from Reina as she screams out her frustrations to the world. Some are even hard to spot, like when Mamiko’s scrubbing and rinsing of the pot she stained acts as a metaphor for the “cleaning” she is doing for herself and, more importantly, for her relationship with Kumiko.
No matter the case, these extra details and cinematic choices no doubt boost the execution of the art and the animation with ease.
Despite the one-cour status of Euphonium’s second season, it focuses on five different people: Mizore, Asuka, Mamiko, Reina, and, of course, Kumiko.
When investigating their characters individually, nothing overly impressive stands out. Mizore gets sick when she even hears Nozomi play. Asuka’s mother slaps her in front of a sizeable crowd. Mamiko lashes out against her parents. Reina gives Kumiko the cold shoulder and screams at the top of her lungs.
At times, these moments get a bit heavy-handed (perhaps doubly so in Asuka’s case), making it hard to take their drama seriously. After all, when it’s put into perspective, Mizore’s conflict was just a misunderstanding, and Asuka literally refused to accept help from anyone.
Even so, they go through their own personal development. Mizore amends her connection with Nozomi. Asuka stops pretending to be mature and starts acting mature. Mamiko finally decides what she wants to do with her life. And Reina visits Taki-sensei’s wife’s grave to pay her respects and reaffirm that his wish (and his wife’s wish) comes first before whatever sincere feelings she may hold.
Again, on an individual basis, they do not demonstrate anything extravagant. Not that their arcs are bad, but they aren’t exactly as “musical” as the instruments that they play. However, and appropriately enough given the definition of a band, something interesting reveals itself when they are looked at collectively.
It’s hinted at with Mizore’s arc. Summarily, her conflict revolves around Nozomi and the pain she felt from her quitting band. More accurately, it’s about Mizore’s love for Nozomi, the best friend she felt she lost amidst the band’s turmoil.
The keyword there is love. Love is this wonderful feeling, a concept that captures hearts and fills people with happiness. It’s simultaneously real and intangible, understood and unknown. Love gives everyone the means to connect, to prosper, and to live. Without it, people just aren’t the same.
Thus, Euphonium targets love as its main theme for each of its characters and their arcs. For Asuka, a love she holds for a father that she no longer has. For Mamiko, a love she lost somewhere along the way. For Reina, a love she fights for with Taki-sensei despite the troubles therein.
Interestingly, the anime’s theme on love goes beyond just having it as a part of their characters. In each case, and as can be seen through the descriptions above, love is explored differently. Mizore’s is love between friends. Asuka’s is love between a parent and child. Mamiko’s is love between siblings. Reina’s is love between lovers. Through diversifying the connections where love appears, Euphonium improves its thematic exploration, arguing that love takes many forms between and for those held dear.
It goes deeper, for each instance of love also has a similarity: distance. Nozomi resigned from band, causing the tear in her relationship with Mizore. Asuka’s mother and father divorced, leaving her in an unsupportive household. Mamiko regrets her post-high-school choices, forcing her away from home. Reina has fallen for a man who most likely will never reciprocate her feelings.
These parallels and these layers culminate into one unified message. A message that isn’t made clear until later. Much later. But it’s subtle.
The whole season, Euphonium arguably builds towards a singular plot point: their performance at Nationals. They desperately want to win gold for a myriad of reasons. To prove their worth. To go out with one last hurrah. To do it for someone else. And, given everything that has happened up, including the first season, one would think they would win it all, right?
Wrong. They don’t. In fact, the anime doesn’t even showcase their performance. At first, that seems almost unfair. They did show their performance to get into Nationals, but the Nationals performance is the most important, so why not show it as well?
After venting some frustration, the first conclusion is that Euphonium wishes to save it for later. I.e., it’s better narratively to show the performance that wins them the gold when it’s the be-all-end-all moment rather than “wasting” it on a loss. Makes sense.
However, that doesn’t sit well. What was the point of going through all this drama – just to have them come up short when it mattered most? Euphonium answers this question, too, with the theme that it has rooted in its characters: love.
This performance, whether it was shown or not, highlights love’s immeasurable power. That, optimistically, distance matters not to love. For, in every instance, love triumphs regardless of how far it must travel. Mizore and Nozomi, moving forward, will finally get to play together like before. Asuka’s playing reaches the ears of her father, earning her the words she most wanted to hear. Mamiko receives fond words, too. From her younger sister and biggest fan. And Reina confesses her feelings to Taki-sensei loud and proud and for all to hear.
And so the message manifests: Who needs gold when one has love?
This all leaves Kumiko. Her role as host unfortunately leaves her without much direction. Again, since each character’s conflict doesn’t strictly pertain to Kumiko (which includes Mamiko’s since it’s about her college and life problems), she is not as integral to the proceedings and thus doesn’t benefit as much as them in the long run.
However, her hosting doesn’t mean she goes unaffected by what she has seen and heard. Mizore and the other band members force her to think more about herself. After learning about who Asuka truly is as a person, she becomes fearful of being alone as the senior euphonium player, who she once hated and now admires, moves on. As her older sister makes tough decisions, choosing the life she wishes to live, memories of Mamiko – her own playing and time spent together – reminds her of why she picked up an instrument in the first place. And while Reina chases after Taki-sensei, Kumiko gets (however unwanted they are) flashes of romance herself thanks to Shuuichi’s sporadic kindness.
In the end, Kumiko experiences the effects of love just as much as everyone else. It may not mean as much for her on a narrative or character level at this point. But, as she goes through love’s different forms, crosses the distances it bears, and finds it waiting for her all around, she, like a euphonium in an orchestra, fits right in with the others.
As a music-centric anime, Euphonium needs a bit more oomph to its songs’ selections and purposes – and it understands this sentiment.
Starting with the opening track, its empowering tone and hopeful drive fills the audience with optimism in the form of a forceful, passionate piece. An orchestral accompaniment backs the strong vocal performance, bringing both flourishes and shines in its dips, shifting beats, wide range of instruments, and catchiness. It fights back against the ensuing drama, declaring that its music will not go unheard.
Taking up the middle section, the original soundtrack from the first season returns, and it’s just as strong as remembered. A delicate piano daintily glides into a relief of violins as waves of happiness wash over the band on their major win. An echoing, space-like piece harbors mystery as Kumiko asks Asuka questions. And a couple of bongos and a flute create a tropical feel for their poolside outing.
In-between most of the content and the other music, Euphonium fills its spaces with extra goodness. Transitions offer short bursts of the different characters playing their instrument (to the same few notes). Asuka plays a sincere, beautiful piece on her euphonium, and Haruka jams out a groovy solo with her saxophone. And it even provides nearly seven full minutes of Kitauji playing the piece that won them the spot at Nationals.
When the characters aren’t using their instruments, they are speaking. Once again, this second season continues following the first season’s chord, presenting nice voice-acting performances for a good handful of its characters. Chika Anzai as Reina still has her maturity, Tomoyo Kurosawa as Kumiko still gasps in various ways, and the two’s chitchats bring out even more emotion from them. Minako Kotobuki as Asuka also deserves a shout-out for the playful spirit she often injects into her speech.
Rounding out the musical score, the ending track sweetens the end of each episode with a bout of wonderful singing. Switching the vocals between Kumiko, Reina, Hazuki, and Sapphire keeps the ED lighthearted. Their mirrored lyrics in the middle add balance. And the final segment is surprisingly catchy thanks to their choice of beat. The instruments do their job, but the singing overshadows them to quite the surprising extent.
I found myself more emotional this time around. Mizore’s plight was perhaps a bit too blown out of proportion, but Yuuko’s support pulled at a couple of my heartstrings. And Kumiko finally telling her older sister Mamiko how she was the one to inspire her to play euphonium in the first place made a lump in my throat.
The most moving to me, though, was their mid-season performance. Knowing about how much they have put in to get to that point, both individually and as a group, made me more invested than I thought I would be. Not to mention, the music itself was rousing and passionate and strong. Like I wrote earlier, I’m a metal fan (thrash specifically) first and foremost, but their sweeping orchestral charge makes it easy for me to appreciate such sounds, such talent.
I also liked Natsuki and Yuuko. Their bickering (“Ew, Natsuki’s being nice to me!”) was too much fun and usually got me laughing. And I cannot forget about the yuri between Kumiko and Reina. From them holding hands at the festival to Reina saying she would play her solo (and better than anyone else) for Kumiko had me cheering.
Which is (obviously) why I wasn’t a fan of the show trying to push the romance between Kumiko and Shuuichi. Kumiko is clearly not interested. Especially since her potential yuri relationship with Reina is not only heavily implied but also a heck of a lot more interesting (bias or otherwise).
Much of the drama was also not too engaging to me. Nozomi was annoying, Asuka’s went on for longer than needed, and Reina’s was obvious and unnecessary. The only conflict that I found worthwhile was Mamiko’s. Both because Kumiko finally mattered and because having siblings of my own made it more relatable.
Altogether, this season ends up roughly in the same spot as the previous for myself: I can’t call myself a fan, but it is still a well-executed anime regardless.
Hibike! Euphonium 2 lowers its volume slightly thanks mostly to the poor framing of its narrative. But that doesn’t stop it from keeping its decibels up elsewhere. A thematically strong cast, polished visuals, and smart musical choices keep the show in contention for those highly sought-after medals. With a film on the way to potentially wrap up the tale, this second performance may not earn them gold, but it at least demonstrates they don’t have too much more to learn.
Story: Fine, while The Late-Night Show with Kumiko Oumae creates an odd, unnatural structure for the events, the narrative still presents powerful moments, follows through on its promises, and contains thoughtful writing on occasion
Animation: Great, as with the first season, strong artistry, mood-setting delivery, and extra techniques of the detailed and cinematic variety present sharp, impressive visuals
Characters: Great, Mizore, Asuka, Mamiko, Reina, and Kumiko explore love through paralleled differences, layered similarities, and an overall message on true “gold”
Sound: Great, good OP, good ED, good OST, good VA performances, and extra musical arrangements
Enjoyment: Fine, still not largely taken by the drama, many of its characters, and Shuuichi’s lame romance, but fun and emotion and yuri and appreciation exist nonetheless
(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.