The seniors say goodbye to the band and graduate. Asuka entrusts a valuable item to Kumiko. Season Finale.
Last Episode - "Early Spring Epilogue"
This really was an epilogue. There was changing of the guard, a senior farewell party and an important conversation marking a big change in an important relationship.
I loved all the flashbacks set to music played by the seniors and juniors. Their whole first year together was influenced so heavily by the senior class and this was a good way to say goodbye to these characters as the ones left behind prepare for the future.
Asuka was the valedictorian! Of course. Geez, what the hell was her mother so worried about? Well, obviously it was her issues with the euphonium and the ex-husband, but Asuka's grades were really a poor excuse to pull her out of the band.
Who is going to replace Asuka? Her personality is too big for one person! Smart, goofy, beautiful and just aloof enough for people to put her on a pedestal. Kumiko and Natsuki have some big shoes to fill.
Kumiko's scene with Asuka at the end was the first one of the first episode. Asuka's notebook was the one she was looking at when Reina called her inside. Talk about planning a story all the way to the end. I couldn't even predict that the most important development of the season was going to be Asuka becoming a real mentor to Kumiko and revealing the origin of the show's title. Just well done. Really well done. Asuka's theme was Sound! Euphonium. Now it's Kumiko's theme.
The Fun Stuff.
Asuka was the last featured eye catch. She deserved it. The best for last.
Yuuko and Natsuki.
I so approve this choice of Yuuko and Natsuki as the next President and Vice-President. When Yuuko was nominated, I knew, knew that Natsuki was going to be the troll candidate for VP. She's also the less serious best senpai, much like Asuka, so this all fits. I look forward to more of their antics when the next act of this story gets animated.
Midori still tries for Tuba-kun. Reina still rocks the zettai ryouiki. The girls and even Aoi try to pair Kumiko with Shuuichi. This is all for setting up the little narrative devices for the next bit of band drama, whatever that may be. This was also an important scene for Kumiko to realize how much she was missing Asuka and how she already thought of her as an older sister.
I was like Haruka watching this whole thing. The underclassmen playing their competition song as all the flashbacks played was the final performance we needed to see. All the personal emotions got their attendant memories matched to their musical parts. So nostalgic and bittersweet. KyoAni loves this sappy stuff. So do their fans (like me).
Asuka and Kumiko.
This was the scene between the euphonium players that was left over from the national competition. It could only have been placed here at Asuka's graduation because Kumiko's and Asuka's friendship was more important than the issues and drama that came up while the kids were preparing to play music. This was about succession. It was about choosing a family member instead of reconciling with one you grew up with. There were echoes of Taki giving his wife's music to Reina here too. Others had already noticed how Kumiko's sound had begun to be as rich as Asuka while she played her song, except Kumiko was going to be a better club mate than Asuka because she was in touch with her feelings now instead of just noticing others. They already had their big embrace over Asuka's dad at the competition. They didn't need to hug goodbye over their own relationship. For them, it's not "Goodbye," but "See you later." I'm still going to miss Asuka, but hopefully Kumiko is going to Sound! Euphonium even better and brighter in the next act.
And so, the next piece begins.
But not anytime soon. This first act of Hibike! Euphonium covered two seasons and Kumiko's first year under the mentorship of Asuka. It took 26 episodes or so for us to get the explanation for the title of the show. I love that stuff. As a fan of stories involving emotional growth set to great animation and music, this show had loads of stuff to satisfy me. To see how a bored and disconnected Kumiko became someone who could easily tell someone how much she loves her was a treat to see.
Plus, the signature KyoAni comedy! We had a great mascot character in Midori. Two great duos in Asuka plus Haruka and Natsuki plus Yuuko. Asuka by herself could have carried all the comedy.
There was also signature KyoAni animation quality and music. It was truly a gorgeous show to watch and listen to. I totally recommend this series to anyone who doesn't mind high school settings.
The source material continues. The epilogue showed that life carries on. There's still some emotional baggage left over from missing out on gold at the Nationals, Reina's feelings for Taki and Taki needing to win gold for his late wife. Who knows what the incoming class of musicians will also bring. There ain't no drama like band drama! I look forward to the next act in a couple years or so.