Hibike! Euphonium – 09

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Kowai…

Last week was a beautiful and highly memorable episode oozing with romance, love, heart-swells and heartbreaks and confessions and rejections, and ASUKA DON’T GIVE A SHIT. She is the voice of the episode that brings us back down to earth from those indelible images of a sore-footed, one-piece-dressed Reina lugging a Euph up a mountain, or the perfect duet played high above the shimmering festival. Fun Time is over. Gotta practice!

While Asuka’s objection to “issues” getting in the way of her practice time is presented in a semi-comedic tone, it’s nice how her very objection and complete lack of patience on such a subject is also an indication of her issues, which remain internal so far.

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The distracted girl Asuka all but kicks out of the room is Midori, who still feels bad and possibly guilty about Hazuki getting rejected, believing she played a part in her failure. Her depressed mood is translating to noticeably poor play.

Hazuki keeps her frown upside-down, even though we know she feels bad too, she wants to be happy, and is taking the well-worn path of acting happy first. Her strategic (and very graceful) change of direction when Shuu enters the train is proof she wants to move on.

Kumiko, meanwhile, is still wrestling with the fact that people are telling her she likes Shuu, when she’s never given much thought about it, and can neither confirm or deny it. She can craft a defense against such allegations—”I didn’t want to lose a friend”; “we go way back.”—but they don’t tell the whole story of her true feelings, because that story hasn’t been written in a language in her head she can understand yet; it’s all out of focus.

This show does a fine job emphasizing how different Kumiko, Midori, and Hazuki are, which is I think why Kumiko has accepted them as friends. They’re not all trying to be the same, like the rhetorical sheep Reina blasts; rather, they’re embracing their differences to gain new insight.

Midori is probably a little surprised when Kumiko says they should just act normally, since that’s where she believes Hazuki is trying to get. But she respects and goes along with that idea.

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Real nice slow-rain

Of course, things aren’t normal for anyone right now, and not due to any love triangles, but because there are only 55 seats and more than 55 tushes, which means even those who have played beside one another have suddenly become their rivals for those limited seats.

It’s something that weighs on Kaori, who gets more screen time this week. I love how Haruka reassures her the way Kaori reassured her during her crisis of confidence. Kaori wants to become better so she can keep the peace in the band and prevent another incident like last year. There’s also considerable pressure on her from her peers, particularly those junior to her who idolize her as the band’s madonna.

It’s interesting that our first good look at Reina since her big breakout episode is crossing paths with her fellow soloist, the clearly intimidated Kaori.

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I also love how in so many animes, we always hear horns practicing somewhere on the grounds, and Hibike! finally focuses in on those musicians. Kumiko looks particularly isolated—by choice—in her little corner of the schoolyard as she practices her piece. When she hears another Euph playing the piece very well, she runs over and is surprised to find it’s Natsuki, who earlier in the show was dozing during practice.

Seeing Natsuki there, giving it her all, Kumiko suddenly snaps out of her complacence: her seat on the band is not assured; no one’s is. And she’s not the only one working hard to become better, so she’d better get back to it!

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Those nerves won’t do her any good in the audition (it might have been better, if less dramatic, had she not heard Natsuki prior to her audition), but she can’t shake them. At least, not until Reina enters the storage room, ignores whatever Kumiko mutters to her, and takes hold of her cheeks, so her their faces and eyes are locked into each other.

I’m going to do my best, so you have to, as well.

She doesn’t let go of Kumiko’s cheeks as she parry’s her “buts” with a repeat of that mantra-like line. Suddenly, Kumiko calms down, then puts her hands on Reina’s cheeks and agrees. It’s great to see the camera cut to their feet as Kumiko’s weight pushes against Reina’s.

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Zero hour: Kumiko’s audition. The atmosphere is so deliciously tense. I loved how Taki’s impressed reaction to learning how long she’s played one instrument made her worry she set the bar even higher for herself.

I found my breathing patterns change as I listened to each note of the first bars she’s told to play. And she plays it well. Not perfectly, but not badly, either. Then Taki asks her to play a bar she hasn’t practiced as much.

It’s a bar we don’t get to hear (the show is as great at knowing when to withhold music as when to use it for dramatic effect), but I knew she played it well, too; because while she initially panics a little, she remember’s Reina’s words, and the feeling of her hands on her cheeks, and does what she has to do.

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That being said, the announcements of the parts was as nerve-wracking as the audition, especially the seemingly cruel way their advisor lists the names of those who got seats, then simply saying the total afterwards.

At the sound of those totals we always see someone suddenly burst into tears, one by one; it’s like a battle, and they were unlucky enough to get hit by enemy fire; only they’re all friends and, in a way, family. The discomfort of that scene, and the lack of visible celebrations from the winners out of respect for their comrades, is all perfectly pitched.

That goes for when Kumiko is announced right after Asuka, as the only two Euphs who got seats. Kumiko seems almost guilty she snatched the second seat from Natsuki, after watching her transformation from apathy to devotion. It even reminds her of when that girl in the past asked her “Do you think this is funny?” which now sounds like a rebuke to Kumiko’s own apathy about music at the time. But the true meaning of those words, and the identity of the person who said them, remain elusive.

Midori gets a seat as the contrabass, but Hazuki fails, but takes it rather well, at least on the outside. Reina makes it too, then surprises the entire band (except for herself and probably Kumiko) when it’s also decided she, and not her senpai Kaori, will play all the solos.

But whatever social fallout such a decision has on Reina, I’m certain she’ll keep moving forward…will want Kumiko to keep walking beside her.

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P.S. MAL remains noncommittal about the episode total of this show. I don’t wish this often, but I truly hope this gets the second cour it deserves. Anyone know for sure?

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

7 thoughts on “Hibike! Euphonium – 09”

  1. i want this show to get a second cour as well. Ive looked every where i can think of and it’s looking like this show going to be a single cour, adapting only the first of 3 novels. The summer anichart does not show this carrying over. What i think might happen is a second cour might be announced at the end of this one for fall. it could be that kyoani is playing this one close to their chest. it makes some sort of sense seeing as they have nothing on their plate for the summer

  2. 1 Hazuki showed more of her amazing qualities–this time her resilience and perspective. She’s no longer a clown. She’s a girl you root for. But she’s still in love. So she’ll stay in the band. And it’s kind of painful to watch. But painful out of sympathy not frustration.

    2 Asuka is on a mission. She blots out the distractions of what’s going on around her. Whatever she’s striving for we haven’t really gotten to know her well enough to know. It’s hard to tell whether there is something dark in her thoughts or whether she really is just that committed to her silver euph.

    3 Loved that scene where Kumiko tries to tell Hazuki she really is not into Shuu (cause you know she’s actually into Kousaka).

    4 I guess Kousaka doesn’t really have a crush on sensei (cause you know she’s actually into Kumiko).

    5 Loved that yuri-tastic scene between Kousaka and Kumiko. Ostensibly, the purpose of the scene is to show how Kousaka felt compelled to encourage a clearly doubting Kumiko before the trials. But the way Kyoani frames and edits the visuals accompanied by hard smacking sound effect gives the appearance of Kousaka forcibly planting a hard kiss to Kumiko’s lips who returns with a violent kiss of her own. No they didn’t actually kiss even if Kousaka severely puckers Kumiko’s lips. But I wanted to see it happen.

    And thus it was settled. HIBIKE! is indeed some sort of penance for FREE!

    6 Loved that “dolly” shot up to Kousaka at the end as she says “hai.” Is this the beginning of the rise of Kousaka the Great? In episode 9? It seems as if there will be more than 1 cour here, no?

    Right now, it is Kousaka who is still leading Kumiko and not the other way around.

    7 I kept thinking that no man could have written episode 8. I may be wrong in thinking that but Google did show that HIBIKE! was authored by a woman.

  3. I hope this show gets a second cour, it really deserves it! I love how genuine it is, the story and characters ooze authenticity to the real world–that’s my favorite part, along with the stunning animation!

  4. It may be that Kyoani is being non-committal about second season because they are gauging the financial viability of project which they do not own many rights to. In other words they may be putting up more money for this project for less reward than they are accustomed to or comfortable with.

    From Ultimatemegax’s blog:

    [Hibike! Euphonium production committee:
    Kyoto Animation (animation producer)
    Pony Canyon (video publisher/publicity/international rights)
    Lantis (music production/distribution)
    Rakuonsha (sound production)

    Released in December 2013, Ayano Takeda’s novel captured the interest of two producers at KyoAni, Eharu Oohashi and Riri Senami. They made a proposal and presented it to the publisher of the novel, Takarajimasha, who allowed them the rights to animate the novel. Again, this is unlike before. While KyoAni had adapted works from other publishers, they were either on the committee (Kadokawa) or the rights were requested by TBS. While the revenue sources aren’t as large (due to not publishing the novel and owning copyrights), they still are larger than other productions.]

    https://ultimatemegax.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/kyoto-animation-and-their-evolution-march-2015-ver/

    This guy offers by far the best info in English on Kyoani I have seen. It is almost entirely dedicated to the studio.

  5. CDJapan and Amazon.co.jp both have seven volumes listed for pre-order, and volume 1 (which goes on sale in two weeks) is listed with a 48-minute running time. Assuming that’s consistent at 2 episodes per disc, that indicates probably 13 episodes + OVA, or something similar. So it looks like a single season show, at least for now. Even if they decide to continue it, which I’d love to see, it most likely won’t be this summer.

  6. 3 cute tweets I liked. Warning: they are in Japanese. Use Google translate.

    1 Pictures of Kousaka and Chaika carrying all that weight…

    2. Pictures of the “Yamada Naoko Mask”. Background: Naoko is one of Kyoani’s most important people. She is a skilled animator and was the head director for K-ON and TAMAKO.

    3 Pictures of something called “Standing Sunrise”(?) or something like that.

    1. 2 (Yamada Mask) and 3 (Yamada Pa – 10 open fingers) are signature art of the KyoAni animator Yamada Naoko, on part with Shaft’s head tilt and Sunrise’s sword stance.

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