Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10 Second Anime - Hibike! Euphonium S2 - Episode 4

As the next round of competition draws near, Mizore's emotional issues affecting her oboe solo come to a head.

Episode 4 - "Awakening Oboe"


Well, that bit of drama got solved quickly. Sometimes you really do just have to rip off the band aid as quickly as possible.

I talked about needing a relationship network chart last episode and I was right about that.

But let's put Mizore's oboe in context with the overall concert band. The big news was that the overall favorite for the regional championship would be playing right before Kitauji. Most of the students were dismayed at having to follow them. Interestingly enough, Midori got fired up. I'm with her: I'd rather hear what the competition did so I could make adjustments if necessary.

Asuka wanted to put off letting Nozomi near the band until after the competition so she wouldn't have a chance to affect Mizore. Last week, Kumiko was still of the mind that it was better to resolve things between them, but that was from a friendship standpoint instead of worrying about music like Asuka was doing.

In the end, it was an accident that solved things the way Kumiko hope for and also put the orchestra in a better position with a stronger oboe solo.

We had heard Nozomi's perspective on quitting the band, but Mizore had not yet confronted her own feelings about what happened last year.

It turned out to be an imbalance in power in the friendship. Nozomi, as the junior high president of the music club, was obviously much more outgoing and had many friends. Mizore, a quiet reserved type, found in Nozomi her first close friend. She had always worried that she felt more for Nozomi than the other way around. When Mizore found out Nozomi quit without telling her first, those worries grew stronger until they made her physically ill. Plus, she put off asking Nozomi the truth because she didn't want those fears confirmed.

Complicating things was Mizore's friendship with Yuko. I was surprised that Yuko actually had room in her heart for anyone else besides Kaori-senpai, but I suppose that was more the high school girl devotional thing we see in anime.

Mizore had misinterpreted Yuko's friendship during Nozomi's absence as just being nice or pitying her. She was wrong. And if she was wrong about Yuko, there was dawning hope that she was wrong about Nozomi.

From the audience's perspective, we already knew that. We also picked up on Nozomi just not being as deep a person as Mizore. She thought that if Mizore was busy playing her oboe instead of fighting with lazy seniors, she was doing just fine. She didn't know how Mizore had been playing a musical instrument because Nozomi asked her to, not literally but emotionally, since their junior high.

These misperceptions about friendships and motivations are usually the source of emotional drama set in high school. This makes sense since all these kids are still getting used to having these strong emotions as they grow up physically and mentally too.

Asuka's character shows what can happen if you're precocious, but you still misperceive things. She had thought that others treat friendship transactionally like she does and that Mizore was treating Yuko as a replacement friend. Kumiko saw that as the cynical perspective of an outsider. Asuka had not actually talked to Mizore or Nozomi about their falling out, so she didn't have the full story. She also didn't care and only wanted the only oboist to play properly without having Nozomi as a distraction.

Asuka's solution of keeping the status quo with Nozomi far away from Mizore was an incomplete solution, as we saw, because at any moment those two could accidentally meet. Kumiko didn't actually facilitate the full reconciliation between Nozomi, Mizore and even Yuko, but without her talks with Mizore and Yuko at the training camp and her pointed questions to Mizore using what she learned, Mizore would not have added any warmth or depth to her solo. Still, Asuka did pick up on how Nozomi needed to be there at emotional catharsis to bring closure to the whole thing, but it took an emotional accident and Kumiko's presence for her to act properly.

I think Asuka realized this, which is why she quietly stated her hope to go to the Nationals with Kumiko. Asuka had never shown any aspirations outside of just playing her euphonium before. In fact, at the end of last season when Kitauji won their contest, she appeared disappointed. That image stuck with me.

Perhaps, like we saw with her incomplete solution to Mizore's problem, she couldn't imagine a way to make their band good enough to compete at the ever higher levels. The start of a meritocracy for the sectional solos was the first change that surprised her expectations. Kumiko's involvement with healing a pair of friendships was another that not only improved the band's musical capability but the subtle communication that it needs to perform well too. Tie this together with Taki recognizing Kumiko's skill with the euphonium, and maybe, just perhaps, Asuka is starting to allow something more aspirational than just playing the music in front of her to the best of her ability.

Again, this friendship between Yuko and Natsuki is my favorite thing in the whole show.

That drama with the band bridging the prior year with the incoming first years has pretty much been dealt with. The little scenes of home strife concerning Kumiko's older sister is probably signaling that our nosy narrator is going to have to deal with her own problems instead of getting involved with other people.


This may have been the emotional wringer episode we've been expecting for a while, but those are the episodes that let Kumiko have the funniest reactions.

Yuko sure is greedy. She doesn't want Asuka to have her Kaori-senpai and she doesn't want Nozomi to get Mizore back. Meanwhile, Natsuki is right there. Come on, Yuko! Don't be greedy!

We didn't get much of Reina, but at least she called Kumiko a dirty girl.

The Fun Stuff.

Now that she's having fun again, it's Mizore's turn for the eye catch.

The drama started early with the band learning they would follow the big favorite, then it went quickly into the disaster of Nozomi about to make Mizore spew all over a school hallway.

I don't think Nozomi ever smushed Mizore's cheeks like that or pushed her to the floor either. Who's supposed to be the best friend here? Lazy looking Natsuki is best Natsuki.

People had warned Kumiko for months about how frustrated Asuka would make her and now she knows why.

So, what's going on with Mamiko the older sister? In the opening credits, we see her in a flashback teaching music to Kumiko and Shuuichi. Maybe their arc is going to be told next when the next movement begins.

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