Wednesday, November 02, 2016

10 Second Anime - Hibike! Euphonium S2 - Episode 5

The Kitauji kids play at the regional musical competition and make their ambition of advancing to the Nationals very public through their performance.

Episode 5 - "Miraculous Harmony"


All the band drama is done, so the only drama left for the season's first act is the regional competition itself. The final practice sessions made for a nice resolution for Mizore's developments and for Kumiko as well. It's rare to get public praise from Taki-sensei, so it was extra special for Kumiko to receive some.

The first part of the episode, where all the final practices and preparations were all done, left time to take stock of the characters we saw this season.

In another kind of show, Hazuki's salute would have been a death flag.

I liked how there were many callbacks to the previous season too. Azusa, Kumiko's chatty friend from music powerhouse Rikka, even called to express nervousness. That marching band episode was Kitauji's debut to the world that they were a serious band again. It's kind of sad for Azusa's school that they were ultimately aced out of the next round by the upstart Kitauji.

Ha! Taki-sensei asked the kids to smile to relieve their tension, but Reina didn't. Maybe she was so overwhelmed by Taki's rare brilliant smile?

The big revelation of the episode was Asuka's public declaration that she believed their band could go all the way to the National competition. As the de facto president of the club, those words carried a lot of weight. I don't think the other kids had ever seen Asuka this seriously passionate about competing musically before. It was a big deal.

The entire band bought into the new goal.

The exclamation point and the closing of this first act was Mizore smiling broadly and stating that she liked musical competitions now. Well, she just won, so that's easy to like a contest, I suppose, but she was also having fun playing again after her reconciliation with Nozomi.

Looking ahead, I'm not sure what the next bit of high drama is going to be. The new coaches Niiyama and Hashimoto are leaving, since they were only hired to prepare the band for this current round. I'm guessing it's going to be Kumiko's sister Mamiko providing an opportunity for our nosy narrator to experience some character development.

The Fun Stuff.

It's Yuko's turn for the eye catch this week.

There was still enough time for some light moments in the first part of the episode. Hashimoto confirmed Mizore had added good emotion to her solo. Also, with the coaches leaving, the girls from the woodwind section got emotional, but the lone male percussionist cried the most about Hashimoto's exit.

The next act of the episode covered the warmup, pep talks and nervous time before the performance. Taki's not one for rousing speeches, but even getting a smile out of him didn't impress most of the kids. Reina liked it, though. Kumiko realized that Asuka wasn't making some small side comment about going to the Nationals last episode. Kumiko may have been the first one Asuka told of her new "realistic" goals. Mizore told Nozomi that she was going to play her solo for her (swoon), which made their little talk fodder for Reina and Kumiko to declare they'd be playing for each other too. It was a light moment for Kumiko to nudge Reina about her crush on Taki.

The set piece for the episode was the band's performance. Wow! The music was awesome. The animation was spectacular. KyoAni, the studio responsible for this show, was definitely showing off their talents. The best part of the music tied to the animation was actually hearing the individual pieces of music that caused so much of the drama so far in the context of the entire piece.

Reina's solo, which caused Kumiko to flash back to all their important moments of their friendship showed how Reina did play her solo for her.

We heard Mizore's oboe solo and even the Euphonium part played by both Kumiko and Asuka.

In the first season, Taki had asked Kumiko to rest during that phrase during their first competition. Flashing back to his small moment with Kumiko where he expressed his confidence in her, together with all the small moments of Taki publicly praising her improvement, added another emotional layer to the band's total performance.

Interspersed with the great animation of the instruments were the notes and pictures the kids had added to their sheet music for their own inspiration. It was a neat way of showing that our main characters weren't the only ones going through small defeats and triumphs.

The epilogue contained the catharsis we needed after all the tension was built up from the great performance. We knew they were going to get a gold medal, but would it be a real gold where their school gets selected to represent their region in the next round? Of course they did.

Something that struck me was how emotional Kumiko got with their satisfying win. In the first season, Kumiko's story began with a loss which was bookended with a win. That pair of scenes was set. But I remember her wondering how people could cry at winning or losing. She wasn't emotionally invested in her school's performance. What a difference 6 months makes, right?

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