- Genre : Drama, School life, Sports (hear me out)
- Episodes: 26
- Studio: Kyoto Animation
After playing euphonium all through junior high, Kumiko, a sweet but somewhat aimless high school student, finds herself roped into joining her high school’s orchestra club with her new friends. She soon meets up with Reina, an old band mate, and slowly starts to rediscover her passion for music.
Random fact – I actually used to play Euphonium in high school. It really doesn’t change anything for this review but I never get the chance to work it into a conversation so now you know!
Whenever I try to describe this show to someone who hasn’t seen it, the first word that comes to mind is: lovely. It’s often the only word that comes to mind, I’m not very good at this. But it is an accurate descriptor. The visuals and designs are lovely, the characters are lovely, the sleepy suburb settings shown mostly during warm summer evenings are ever so lovely, and the music is kickass!
I don’t talk about it often but I’m actually a big fan of sports animes and to me, this show very much fits into that category. You may be thinking that the fact that I seem to believe that sitting in a chair constitutes a sport explains a lot but hear me out. This show shares a lot of the core tropes usually illustrated in sports animes. It’s about a large group coming together and working as a team while individually pushing themselves to be the best. It dwells and the glories of victory and the agonies of defeat and it spends the lion share of its narrative on practice and competitions. Speaking of which, there is an episode which is almost entirely devoted to a recital. I know sports titles often spend up to 10 episodes on a single game but you have to consider certain variables here. This being a concert, the players are all seat, there is very little movement and although the animation is sumptuous, as it is throughout the series, it is also very subtle. The show cannot rely on flashy visuals to hold the audience’s attention. Also, as the music is key here, there is no voiceover or even text to distract and the show runners chose to not insert flashbacks or extended cutaways from the students playing. It was a gamble that could have been considered boring but boy did it ever pay off!
The characters are also quite well written. Kumiko and Reina are obviously the leads but all the supporting cast seem real and complex with actual personalities and minds of their own. It’s quite easy to imagine that each of them has a full and complete life when we’re not looking, my favorite being Asuka. She is friendly, playful instantly attractive yet ultimately cold and selfish. This is someone who could easily have been unpleasant but somehow has been balanced just right that Kumiko (and so many others) can’t seem to help but try to get to know all her secrets. True to herself though, Asuka gives just enough to pique our interest and then pulls away, leaving Kumiko, and all of us, wanting more.
When trying to put this review together in my head (yea I know, even I’m shocked these things are planned out) something occurred to me that I had not realized when I was watching this series. Something I am still not sure I should bring up at all. This series is pretty feminist in fact. Now I know that word has a lot of baggage and there are semantic issues but if you take it for its actual definition – the notion that genders are different but equal – then I think it fits the bill. The show definitely passes the Bechdel test. But more importantly, characters are never either defined or limited by their genders in any way. considering the often problematic and/or stereotypical depiction of genders in anime, this was a very pleasant change. Let me make it clear – this show doesn’t discuss gender equality in ny way, it simply assumes it. All in all, this show was heartwarming, beautiful, pleasant and thoroughly lovely.
Favorite character: Asuka – pay attention!
What this anime taught me about myself: Hibike may be my favourite word
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Suggested drink: Angry Trumpet
- Every time someone says hibike – take a drink
- Every time Asuka flirts with someone – take a drink cause it isn’t you
- Every time Reina practices the trumpet on her own – take a drink
- Every time Kumiko practices behind the school – go get more ice
- Every time we see the flashback of losing the competition – find something you’re passionate about
- Every time Mamiko is on screen – take a drink
- Every time Sapphire is called cute – agree and take a drink
- Every time Hazuki is forcefully optimistic – toast her
- Every time Asuka adjusts her glasses – take a drink
- Every time there is LesYay – take a cool drink
- Every time Kumiko bites her tongue – take a drink
- Every time the entire band practices together – take a drink