Aha the drama this week! Another classic example of what happens when emotions get the better of you.
Here’s my review!
So it was probably obvious that there would be some backlash from Taki’s decision to put Reina in charge of the solo parts, but man I wasn’t expecting things to get this out of hand. I couldn’t help but think as I watched this ep of how I’d react if put in that situation. You’re pretty much backed into a corner as once a rumor starts to swirl it’s hard to make it go away and the more you fight it the more you fall deeper into its trap. But at the same time it’s mostly to blame on those spreading the rumor as they’re talking about something they only know a bit about and are piecing together the facts with blatant lies. So far we’ve seen Reina hold her own quite well and she’s never let anything phase her, but this week even she wasn’t immune to a sudden burst of anger.
Before we start that discussion though, it would be better to clear up some details that give this ep more depth. For the past little while now we’ve been seeing glimpse of Kumiko’s past and a certain event that happened. So far we’ve only seen small bits with a line or two of dialogue, but this week we finally get the full context of the scene and why it’s so important. Kumiko had a similar falling out with a senior when she was chosen in an audition and not the other girl; it made her mad as she was the older of the two and wanted to play in the competition a lot more than Kumiko did. But when all was said and done, Kumiko made the cut and this other girl did not. Okay I understand why she might be upset about this, it being her possible last year of school so she’d want the chance to play on a grand stage, but at the same time if you step back and look at it what’s being evaluated in how good you can play the piece of music. That’s all that will ever matter in an audition. Outside factors like seniority should never play a part in the decision making and if this girl, and pretty much everyone else in the band, understood that then there wouldn’t be the current problem.
But hey, I’m not talking from experience here because I never was in a band or anything like that. Logically that’s how I’m viewing this problem, looking at what’s actually the factor in passing the auditions while leaving things like seniority, pride, emotions and relationships at the door. But of course things can’t be that simple in anime, they need to spice it up a bit to get you emotionally invested in what you’re watching, and yeah I guess it’s working on me if I’m getting this worked up about it.
Normally I like Reina and Asuka in about every ep, but this week I really enjoyed Natsuki as she was the prime example needed to show why not making the audition wasn’t such a big deal. True she’s just a second year who has another chance next year, but even so she wasn’t bitter and torn up about failing in the audition. Her reason was pretty much exactly what I was talking about, it all came down to her skill at playing the set piece of music. She put in the time on the part that mattered but failed to practice another part that Taki asked her to play. It came down to how well she could play what he asked of her and because of this she didn’t pass the audition. Her reaction when the names were being read out was also noteworthy as she wasn’t left in tears because she didn’t make the cut. We further see this when she’s out for drinks (strawberry and chocolate shakes actually) with Kumiko and she expresses her feelings about the results. It’s commendable on her part to look for the positive aspects from this failed audition and apply them to her practice routine to become better for next year. See, Natsuki had the right mindset coming out of this audition and that’s something I really liked about her in this ep. Good stuff.
Okay so now the business end of this ep; rumors, lies, anger, hatred, this has all the makings of high school drama. So the problem that the band is faced with now is brought on by the ribbon wearing bitch of a trumpet player Yuuko Yoshikawa. After getting wind of a rumor she totally goes to town with it, directly disobeying Kaori and continuing to spread the news. It turns out that Reina choosing to attend that school was very much based on the fact Taki was going to be teaching there. It also turns out that Taki and Reina have known each other since her middle school days due to both their fathers knowing each other. So what Yuuko asserts is that Taki favored Reina in the audition and gave her the solo parts just because of her connections. Ah damn it Yuuko, can’t you keep your fucking mouth shut? So from this point forward it’s back into the frying pan for the whole band as once again their chances of making the Nationals are hindered by more unnecessary drama.
Alright, alright so let’s dive deeper with this issue and try to understand it a bit more. Yuuko has claimed that because of Reina and Taki knowing each other, he picked her for that reason and ignored Kaori completely. Taki has confirmed that he indeed know Reina, thus making the situation tough because it’s now hard for him to back out from this. But before Yuuko can continuing throwing accusations around, Reina has had enough and finally steps up to the plate. This is the first time we’ve seen her get pretty angry with someone and man did she lay down the words. While she says only a few things before leaving the scene, they hit pretty hard and make the already tense situation even worse.
Taking into consideration that it’s been said multiple times Reina is an extremely solid trumpet player and the fact that even Kaori was beginning to realize this too, Taki choosing her for the solo part and not Kaori seemed like what would probably happen. He’s looking for skill and ability to play, nothing else matters aside from that factor. While we never did hear Kaori or Reina in the audition, I’m guessing it must have been a tough choice for Taki because both are very good.
Before we break at the halfway point, there is a scene with Reina and Kumiko that I really liked. After Reina storms out of the music room Kumiko follows her, as any good friend would do, to see if she can help comfort her. Reina’s reaction is quite humorous though, seeing that she’s not depressed by this sudden info dump, rather she’s just extremely annoyed by it and Yuuko. The two continue talking outside where Reina gives some details about her father being a professional trumpet player, and how she likes Taki as well. When asked by Kumiko if she’d give up her solo part, Reina is firm with her answer in that she would never do that. She knows that Taki wouldn’t choose her based on connections, rather her chose her based on the fact she is the best person for the solo. Like mentioned in the outset, the audition is to get the right people for the right job, and Reina is the one and only person for this solo part.
The back half is where things start to take a turn for the worst. People are all talking about the rumor and it’s having a bad effect to the morale of the band. Even Taki lashes out at one point because he’s tired of all the shit he’s gotta put up with. All these high school kids and their pointless high school drama, ugh it’s enough to make a sane person crazy. Are kids really like that? I never experienced things like this when I was still in school, but considering how stupid kids have become these days it doesn’t seem that far off to believe that even the littlest of things could set off an avalanche of drama. Man, keep your emotions in check people.
There is a scene with Asuka though that I really liked. Once again Asuka is showing off her neutrality in the situation, not wanting to take sides in the debate about who should get the solo parts. Of course being vice president she can’t really pick sides either, but even when Kumiko presses the matter and gets her to say her honest opinion off the record, Asuka’s reply doesn’t come as a shock. Quoting directly from her:
“Frankly, I genuinely don’t care. I don’t give a damn who plays a solo or whatever.”
There you have it, Asuka’s view on the matter and like I said, it’s not a surprise. Given what we know about her, and what’s left unsaid, Asuka is a person shrouded in mystery and intrigue. I want to know more about her, what makes her tick, what secrets she’s got, why is acts how she does; there are so many layers to Asuka that haven’t been touched at all and at this point she’s turning into an extremely unused character and it’s quite annoying. So while Kumiko is shocked by her answer, I didn’t find it too surprising as Asuka is just like that, not sweating over the trivial matters but caring only about the music. I pray that we have another season just because I’d love to learn more about this girl.
And so to close out this ep we get a resolution to the crisis raised by Yuuko. While photocopying some papers for the class, Taki is approached by Michie Matsumoto, the other teacher lady, who gives him some words of advice, namely words that his father said at one point. Suddenly Taki realizes what he must do to get the band back together again. As this is going on Haruka is acting like the president and wants everyone to speak their opinion on the auditions, rather than talk about it behind their backs. But before another argument breaks out, Taki arrives with an important announcement: there will be a second audition for those who want to try again. What’s more is that it will be in front of the whole band and they’ll each get a chance to vote on who gets what part. Suddenly it’s game on once again as Kaori has one final chance to make the band and get a shot at the solo part. But of course to do this she’ll have to play even better than Reina did which is a challenge in itself. Like Reina said, she’s not going to give up the solo part so easily, so we end the ep with Kaori’s determined face, ready to play once again.
The drama was intense this week and it got me totally absorbed in it, but hey that’s a good sign because it means that I’m so caught up in the plot that I feel that I’m almost part of it. Only great anime have the ability to really sweep you off your feet and get you totally invested in what you’re watching, and thankfully Hibike! Euphonium does exactly that.
So if this indeed is going to 12 eps, then we’ve got so much to cover in the last 2 eps here. But at the same time I’m not sure how they’ll be able to cover it all while not being rushed for time. After coming this far I’m getting the same feeling I did with Saekano, where the first 12 eps are a sort of prelude to the actual story that would be season 2. At this point I still haven’t heard what the final ep count is, MAL not exactly being helpful, but honestly if they want to tell a decent story and give the characters, including the still very mysterious Asuka, a chance to shine in the spotlight then a season 2 is a must. I can only pray that we’ll get one because this anime feels like the best is yet to come.
I talked too much again in this review. But hey it’s what I’m aiming for, less summery and more commentary. I think I’m doing pretty well with that these days. Right then you’ve got a chance to say something now; what were your thoughts on this ep? Let me know in the comments below!
Alright some important news now, so listen up. I’m going to be very busy this weekend, Friday-Sunday, so that means I will not be getting the reviews for Plastic Memories and Knights of Sidonia out till the following week. This also means that next week’s Hibike! Euphonium review will be pushed back as I’ll have two other review waiting to be written first. If I work hard and fast, not getting distracted by anything, then I should be able to get everything out quickly and get the schedule back to normal in time. Once again I apologize for this delay, but it’s unavoidable.
That’s all for me, so I’m outta here! Enjoy the bonus pic and I’ll cya next week for new reviews!
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