Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Second Anime - Hibike! Euphonium S2 - Episode 7

Sudden news about Asuka affects the band's preparation for an outdoor performance.

Episode 7 - "Station Concert"


Last week, I had speculated that Asuka would be leaving the band early because of a scholarship audition, but I was only half right. The lady coming to visit the school was Asuka's mother. They even had the same stray lock of hair coming down their foreheads.

I was a bit surprised at how quickly Asuka's situation was resolved, but then I remembered that Asuka's reserved reactions to how well the band performed were subtle clues at what was going on in Asuka's home life.

Children who grow up in dysfunctional families learn to put on a mask or persona to smooth over the rough patches to maintain an image of normalcy. Until this episode, the closest we had seen Asuka's mask slip was when she put on her expressionless rage face.

When family is involved, that mask gets harder to put on.

The issue for Mrs. Tanaka is that Asuka needs to quit the band to focus on her college entrance exams. Staying in the band would be one thing if she were getting recommendations to go to university based on her music, but she's not.

Taki didn't want to accept Asuka's resignation if they weren't her true feelings. Obviously, a lot of stress had been building in Mrs. Tanaka as she raised Asuka by herself and her ambitions for her child, mixed with love and sacrifice, could not handle Asuka disagreeing with her.

This small scene revealed so many things about Asuka's character. In a non-traditional family, members have to take on roles to fill in the gaps, whether they're prepared for them or not. It appears to me that Asuka and her mom have had more of a partnership than a mother-daughter relationship. Asuka has had to be the source of emotional stability in the house.

I can only imagine the mortification at having such an ugly family scene unfold in front of strangers. First, being assaulted; second, having people see a family member lose control of herself; and third, showing to those strangers that the daughter is the actual adult in the family.

Asuka's maturity could only have reinforced Taki's conviction to support her feelings to stay in the band. However, Asuka also had to honor her mother's wishes. She kept repeating to those around her, "I won't cause trouble for anyone." Before her month-long absence, she also mentioned that the concert at the train station just needed to go well. That was a clue to her decision she had already made to compromise with her mother about not attending club activities, but just showing up to performances.

I don't know why Asuka didn't tell Haruka this. Taki knew that Asuka had not quit and told the band not believe such rumors. Asuka had also talked with Natsuki about something, showing again how reliable Natsuki is for the bass section. Kumiko as our nosy narrator can only see so much and if Asuka doesn't confide in her, these things just won't be known to the audience either.

Kumiko, understandably, just can't reconcile the two faces of Asuka, the one that appears to be happy to just play her instrument well and the new one that wants to win at the nationals. This new face has probably been there since the beginning, but has only recently been revealed.

Asuka's absence did have a positive effect on the band, after Taki's reassurance that she had not quit. Haruka had to step up as an actual president instead of a co-president. The outward sign of this conviction was her speech to the band after Taki pretty much forced her to address the depression the band was feeling without their "special" Asuka. The inward sign of Haruka's stronger confidence showed itself in her saxophone solo. That got applause from the crowd and "so cool!" reaction from Kumiko's friend Azusa.

Asuka's family drama played out after being built up over many episodes of Kumiko just noticing her rare instances of preoccupation. Because Kumiko the nosy narrator was held at a distance, this episode may be the only character study we get for Asuka. But Kumiko is smack dab in the middle of her older sister Mamiko's drama. I expect to learn much more about Kumiko as the narrative arc switches over to her family.


I quite like that the band is performing more often in the episodes. Last season, since they were so rotten, the band scenes were mostly practices in the music room. Well, they're showing how they deserve to be at the nationals now! Good for them.

The Fun Stuff.

It was Haruka's turn for the eye catch. Deservedly so, since she stole the show at the end of the episode.

Aside from the ugly dramatic scene in the staff room with the Tanakas, we still had the usual little bits of fluff and nervous drama that comes from "band drama."

Asuka made her assortment of funny faces before she went away for a month. That last one had death flag written all over it!

The band got their act together before the concert at the station, but that didn't stop feelings of nervousness. And yay! Kumiko visited with Azusa before her school played.

Asuka! Asuka! Asuka! She came back! And she showed off her S-Class pout!

Is this the Kitauji casual marching band uniform? Wear the bottoms, but use a T-shirt instead of the buttoned up coats? But look at Haruka totally own that baritone sax solo. I thought I was watching Clarence from the E Street Band.

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