Hibike! Euphonium 2 – 09

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Kumiko isn’t able to wallow in helplessness over solving her family’s problems for long: her band-mates have a new project for her! Why are Natsuki, Nozomi, Mizore and Kaori all going to her? Why else: Kumiko has proven to have a knack for stealthily helping people with their issues. She can act as coy as she likes: the results of her work are clear for all to see, and this week she’s celebrated for it whether she likes it or not.

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“You’ve always done well.” “There’s something about you.” “You see through people.” “You act like you don’t notice things, but you do…and when it matters most, you always have the right words.” All meant as praise, all of it well-earned. There’s no pretending she isn’t something she is. Kumiko facilitates. She connects. She breaks through to the heart of matters, often forcefully if need be. And she inspires the likes of Reina to want to just as forcefully “peel off” her mask.

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Reina has a lot of choice moments this week, not only when she’s so lovingly and earnestly describing Kumiko, to getting adorably flustered when Taki-sensei rises and shines before her eyes. But she also sees the photo on Taki’s desk, of him with another woman. As talkative as Reina was with Kumiko before seeing that photo, the silence on the train ride home afterwards is deafening.

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Kumiko can’t help Reina on this right now, she’s faced with her toughest challenge yet: Tanaka Asuka. Fortunately for her, Asuka wants to talk, perhaps because she too has witnessed what Kumiko can do. The close-ups of Asuka when Kaori ties her shoe then walks off are downright scary, while the tension in the early parts of Kumiko’s visit to her home is palpable.

But when it comes down to it, Kumiko isn’t there to be tutored, and Asuka isn’t there to tutor her. Instead, Asuka finally opens up to Kumiko, telling her how Masakazu Shindo “was” her father before he and her mom divorced when she was two. She tells her how her determination to make the nationals was borne out of a “selfish” desire to get her father to hear her play. How she hates her mother, but can’t do anything about it.

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It’s here where we see Kumiko, who had entered this mission utterly lacking any semblance of confidence or certainty, goes into, well, shall we say “Euphonium Mode”? She sees through Asuka’s misdirection. She notices her feints and her subtle leadings. And she even has the right words to say at the right time…not because she knows what to say in this situation, but because it’s what she truly believes.

We know from her inner monologue, she wants to hear Asuka play. And so Asuka plays us out, during the end credits. And Kumiko demonstrates another ability we know she’s getting pretty good at: bringing out genuine smiles. The fight to get Asuka back is far from over, but it’s off to a promising start.

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To Be Hero – 09

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Trying to commit suicide with a fish earns best scene this week. Maybe the only humor in the whole episode…

The Gist: Lots of poop jokes knit Old Man and the Space Princes’ various antics at the dinner table together. Or not, depending on your tolerance for poop jokes.

However, the ultimate result is everyone accidentally drinks to water of despair and wants to commit suicide. Meanwhile, Min-chan, the only person not to drink the water, discovers an old notebook in her box of treasures and it contains childish drawings of each weirdo currently making her life crazy — including her father, who is a super hero in the drawing.

Then Space Emperor arrives through the roof. Roll credits

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Verdict: The needle of quality swings wildly again for To Be Hero and, even though the reveal of Min’s book adds some interesting mystery to the show, I can’t even be charitable. Way way wayyyyyy too much of the episode was dedicated to poop and characters acting stupidly. The older of the Space Princes even drinks his own trap while talking about it because… Plot I guess?

Watching To Be Hero is maddening. Some episodes are tightly scripted laugh factories. Some episodes have heart amidst crude and inept characters. Yet some episodes are just gross, pointless wastes of time. In it’s own way, this means there’s something for everyone, but also something to annoy anyone trying to watch the whole thing. At this point, my rating is shifting down to a 5 from the average 7 just because I do not actually enjoy (or even want) to watch a significant portion of TBH’s run time.

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