Hibike! Euphonium – 03

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Watching Mikagura and Hibike! back-to-back is a study in contrasts. Eruna enters her new school looking to become its dashing hero, and when she’s knocked to the ground, jumps right back up, dusts herself off, and vows to carve her own path. Kumiko, on the other hand, has kept all of her fire within, and continues to allow herself to be stuffed into a euph-shaped hole despite not being particularly enthusiastic about it. Eruna believes she’s the best, while Kumiko never had any strong desire to be the best.

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Kumiko’s older sister greets her coldly, and while part of that may be emotional distance between sisters at different stages in their lives, perhaps her sis is a little disappointed Kumiko has “settled” for the euph “again”, knowing Kumiko herself isn’t that invested in it. “You don’t like the euph; I don’t like the euph…so what’s with the euph?”

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Be that as it may, hearing Hazuki toot her first note on “Tubacabra” lifts my spirits somewhat, as does her dutiful circular breathing practice-by-blow tickler. Kumiko may not be into this, but Hazuki is a lot more like Eruna; eager to learn and make the most of this opportunity. Then again, she got the instrument she wanted.

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This episode is half concert-band procedural, with Kumiko narrating how things work in a band, and giving said band a very professional feel, what with the sectional practices and lead-up to a rehersal as an ensemble. But little details here and there indicate that there’s a reason this band sounded so bad the first time Kumiko heard it: the band itself doesn’t quite work.

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Things are made painfully clear when the band pres Haruka summons their conductor Taki-sensei, perhaps against her better judgment. He gave them a simple beginner song to practice – “The Marine’s Hymn”, but it only takes a few measures of rough, uncoordinated play for him to cut the rehearsal short and call into question the band’s general understanding of what an ensemble is, before requesting they not waste his time.

Kumiko knows the band deserves the scorn, but the second years, who seem to be goofing off anyway, don’t react well to the tough love and stage a revolt of sorts.

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For the third time in as many episodes, Shuuichi approaches Kumiko to talk, only she’s flanked by her new friends and fellow bassists. Midori’s momentary misunderstanding about why Shuuichi was there was pretty cute, but Shuuichi is really there to confirm Kumiko’s concerns: as hard as some in the band may work, getting to the Nationals just may not be in the cards. Not with the way things are now.

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Things go from bad to worse when the second years’ revolt results in practice being canceled, which is not good for a band in desperate need of practice. As Kumiko, Hazuki and Midori start to head home with their heads hanging low, they suddenly hear a trumpet in the distance, which Kumiko recognizes instantly as Reina. As

She’s playing Dvorak’s “From the New World” – a piece that, beyond having it’s own anime, is something Kumiko knows the composer wrote when he was far from the home he knew and loved. There’s longing in the piece, and the pain of what’s been left behind, but there’s also hope; and enough feeling in the performance that the dusk almost looks like a dawn.

Reina’s lovely rendition, punctuated by a scream of frustration, made for a spirited, optimistic finish to what was, looking back, a pretty gloomy episode.

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Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku – 03

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On Cloud Nine after her upset victory over Himi, Eruna is already prepared to take over the school and the world with the power she just awakened. She also believes she’s already won the heart of Mikagura Seisa, whom she fantasizes about embracing her like a lover in her trademark delusions.

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Last week we saw a glimpse of Eruna’s potential, but she’s clearly jumping the gun, so this week she gets a sobering, but not devastating, dose of reality. Seisa invites Eruna and Himi to her mansion and her room and even indulges Eruna by praising her and patting her on the head, a gesture Himi mimics, to Eruna’s elation.

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Seisa is right: Eruna really only won because Himi let her guard down and didn’t go in for the kill before her opponent’s power could awaken. If they faced off again, Himi would almost certainly win. Eruna isn’t so sure, and in her hubris, agrees to a practice battle against Seisa herself, but she’ll be kicked out of the “Going-Home Club” (is that really even a club?) if she loses.

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Prior to her battle, Eruna soaks in another practice battle, between Imizu Asuhi (telescope boy) and Akama Yuuto (drama club rep) Unlike Himi with Eruna, the experienced Akama doesn’t waste any time dispatching the rookie with ease. It’s an effective warning to Eruna not to take a peactice battle against a veteran lightly.

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Well, it would be effective, if Eruna weren’t so gosh-darn cocky and sure she’ll be able to take out one of Seisa’s crystals. Just as it covered her first fancy breakfast at the school, the very on-top-of-things newspaper club prints a very timely extra about the Eruna/Seisa clash, complete with bikini shots of Eruna that get her cousin very excited.

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In the battle that followed, Mikagura showed that Eruna isn’t going to pull off a win and get her way every week just because she’s awakened her power. She manages to fly all over the field of battle like lightning, but when she lands a blow on a crystal her hand goes right through it, and her beam fails to manifest. Eruna doesn’t even see Seisa snatch her crystals out of the air and smash them with her bare hands. It’s a total, utter defeat, and Seisa isn’t particularly nice about it, either: “Nice try. Too bad.”

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Thus chastened, kicked out of Seisa’s club, and served generous portions of humble pie, Eruna retreats to a quiet corner of the school to lick her wounds and munch on that pie. She’s joined by Kuzuryu, who offers her milk and a light kick in the bum, but to his surprise, Eruna can’t drink milk and haughtily requests something else form him, preferably in the 300-yen range. It’s a nice senpai/kohai moment that cheers Eruna up and gets her thinking about her next steps.

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With no existing clubs up her alley, Eruna decides to form her own, the nature of which is TBD (Seisa Fan Club doesn’t count, I imagine). But in an act of defiant perseverance, she marches up to the walls of Seisa’s giant mansion, builds a “clubroom” out of cardboard, and prepares to spend the night in it, promising Seisa (who happens to be listening from her window) she’ll keep growing and improving (a rookie battle she might be able to win is coming up), so she can one day face off against her once again.

Seemingly moved by Eruna’s determination and pluck, she meets her out in the rain and lets her move into her mansion, if only the hallway where she’ll be allowed to set up her sleeping bag. Eruna wanted to take big huge leaps to greatness, but smaller steps and more incremental goals are going to be the way to go. It’ll be tough, but no one’s ever going to accuse Eruna of not being tough!

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Spring 2015 Master Schedule

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Burning the midnight oil at the RABUJOI office

We haven’t posted a review schedule in quite a while, but thought it might be nice if readers had a general idea of who will post which shows when, now that everything is pretty much set. Mind you, this schedule is an ideal that we strive to achieve; time constraints, holidays, media availability, and other factors will sometimes result in our straying from that ideal, but hopefully infrequently.

An asterisk (*) next to an non-bolded title denotes a show “on the outside looking in”, meaning we are presently considering dropping it from the schedule due to insufficient interest or enthusiasm.

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If a show is not listed below, we will unfortunately not be reviewing it this Spring. We realize this means we might be missing out on your favorite show(s), but we’re content with our present selection, and at this point we’re only interested in subtracting shows that don’t pan out, not adding any new ones.

Thanks for your recommendations, understanding and continued patronage of our silly little anime blog. El Psy Congroo.

—RABUJOI STAFF

Monday

Ghost in the Shell: ARISE – Alternative Architecture
Re-Kan! (sesameacrylic filling in for Oigakkosan)

Tuesday

Hibike! Euphonium
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku

Wednesday

Houkago no Pleiades*

Thursday

Punchline*

Friday

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
Nisekoi 2
Shokugeki no Souma
DanMachi

Saturday

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (Braverade filling in for Oigakkosan)
Oregairu 2
Kekkai Sensen
Owari no Seraph
Denpa Kyoushi*

Sunday

Sidonia no Kishi 2
Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo
Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation*

(Whenever Oigakkosan Can Get Around To It)

Ore Monogatari!!
Show By Rock!!*

Re-Kan! – 03

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Last week Franklin mentioned the formula Re-Kan has gotten down: “Funny, Funny, touching, funny resolve!” This week it switches that formula up, to include a lot more touching with its funny in the form of some seriously moving drama. After the cold open I was convinced it would just be an episode about how un-used to cell phones Hibiki is, but I would end up being…dead wrong.

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Harumi may be being a tsundere about it, but she wants to be friends with Hibiki, despite her apparent connection with the dead, which creeps her out. Hibiki’s a good person, so when she hears Harumi is determined to get Yuuki, her terror of a younger cousin to eat the fried eggs she prepares, Hibiki offers to help out, sensing an in; she wants to be friends with Harumi, too, after all.

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Hibiki’s eggs are fantastic, but Yuuki still rejects them, deeming them “gross” and “wrong.” We’re thinking, ‘well, Yuuki’s just a petty little shit and an ingrate, isn’t he?’ Then we learn his dad was killed in an accident, and his very pregnant mom is in hospital, which is why Harumi is taking care of him. Just like that, the kid is sympathetic. This makes Hibiki want to help Harumi even more, but Harumi snaps at her, saying “it has nothing to do with her.”

When Harumi talks to Kana at school, she assumes Hibiki learned how to make eggs from her mom, but Kana tells her Hibiki’s mother died when she was very young. Harumi knows she was wrong to snap at Hibiki, but now she knows why Hibiki was so intent on helping with Yuuki.

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Harumi visits Yuuki’s mom, who can see the exhaustion in Harumi’s face as she lies about Yuuki being no big deal. When Harumi brings up the eggs, his mom tells her there was a way his dad used to make them for her, which is why no matter who makes Yuuki eggs right now, he’s going to reject them as wrong because they’re not like his dad’s.

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So where does Hibiki factor in, besides sharing Yuuki’s situation of losing a parent early in life? Glad you asked! As Hibiki is outside Harumi’s house, ready to help despite being yelled at, she gets a call on her brand-new cell phone, which she handles extra-carefully and daintily as if it were honed from delicate crystal. It’s Harumi, calling to apologize and ask for Hibiki’s help with the eggs again. Harumi is extra-impressed Hibiki didn’t stop caring about her and Yuuki just because Harumi told her off. It’s as if she knew Harumi didn’t mean it…because she didn’t!

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Hibiki proves especially useful to Harumi here because she’s able to commune with the ghost of Harumi’s Nana, who taught Yuuki’s dad how to make the eggs the way Yuuki likes so much. Hibiki interprets the instructions to Harumi, but leaves Harumi to do the actual cooking: her Nana wants her to learn after all, something she never wanted to do when Nana was alive because she thought it was too girly.

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The moment of truth: when Yuuki tucked in to the new, Nana-approved eggs, I knew some tears were going to come…from Harumi, from Hibiki, definitely from Yuuki when he tastes a taste he hadn’t tasted since his dad died—and from myself!

Yuuki actually ends up bawling his eyes out in a moment of catharsis, and Harumi lets him cry it out, which was the favor his mother asked of her, knowing it had to happen sometime, but Yuuki was holding it in, trying to be strong in preparation for being a big brother.

Even Yuuki’s mom tears up and has to turn away while asking Haurmi that favor; she is, after all, someone who very recently lost her husband and the father of her children, one who will never see his face. Despite her tears, she comes off as tremendously strong and brave for her family.

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Despite all the tear-jerking moments, this episode never felt sappy or maudlin, because it stayed true to its characters, tapped into their unexpected stores of emotion, and presented the drama simply and elegantly.

It even managed to stick a few jokes in the mix (While the perv-cat’s shtick is starting to wear thin, his voice actor Kujira sells the hell out of every line).

Hibiki and Harumi also emerge from this episode closer friends than ever, even calling each other by their given names. Re-Kan doesn’t just excel at comedy, but drama as well. It’s one of the better pure storytellers this Spring, and when it wants to, never fails to get you right here (points at heart).

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