Hibike! Euphonium 01 – Everyone’s Little Histories

So, I’m kind of late to the party, the series is almost halfway finished but better late than never. And hey, if I’m going to be blogging anything about a show in this season better choose the most awesome anime currently airing!   ( That claim has nothing to do with my planet-sized positive bias for music *grins*)

I’ll admit though that I’m not really impressed when I  first saw the premier episode. Still, I stuck with it and each successive episodes has slowly converted me into a fan.

It helps that the freaking visuals is ridiculous as.  Its like movie! anime tier or something.

…. But, enough of my ramblings, let’s get on with the show.

The episode opens up with the unveiling of the results of the competition.

The award system that they use is a bit unusual, it work as follows: schools that are very good were given a gold rating. Those who are average get silver. And bronze is pretty much the “thank you for participating award”.

Three schools are chosen from those in the gold rating as the representatives for the nationals. Those who are not chosen but still good enough to get a gold rating gets “dud gold”. 

I really like Kumiko’s reaction to the unveiling.  While her friend is very much delighted with their dud gold rating and  immediately went to inform their other friend the good news.  And while, Kousaka’s sheer frustration and anger is also very apparent. Kumiko is a bit harder to pin down.

One  interpretation of this says that Kumiko never thought that their band have a chance in the first place. A blatant set-up that shows cynical Kumiko as a foil for go-getter Kousaka Reina. …. Still, I don’t think that is the full story. I really don’t think the face that Kumiko made when the result was announced could  be  interpreted as quiet acceptance. It doesn’t even scream “I told you so” cynicism.

Kumiko’s really surprised.

The music stops and the noise of the crowd dims as Kumiko thought about the “gold”.  As if Kumiko herself doesn’t know what to think.

Only for a moment though, after a few seconds digesting the news she quickly moves on and she accepts it.  “Dud Gold” is still “Gold” she decided after digesting the news.

For me, the few second of the previous  shows that Kumiko actually thought that its possibility for them to be in the Nationals.

This question, “Did you really think we could make it to the Nationals?” is for me just a question. I don’t think Kumiko means anything by it. She’s like a stranger making an observation. Remember the prior reaction that Kumiko knew is of her bandmate that was delighted in getting a dud gold.

To Kumiko’s credit though she certainly realized the implication the moment it went out of her mouth. ( Personally, I believe the fact that they did get gold meant that they have a good chance, better than her newer school in any case lol ).

Still, it does show a major flaw of  Kumiko. Its not cynicism though one can argue that Kumiko has shades of it. But, general apathy.

Kumiko’s  barely engaged or involved at all.  Seriously, for the event that will say if their whole effort will be rewarded or in vain, the whole scene plays out very subdued from her point of view.

Remember, one bandmate is mentioned to be in the bathroom, very nervous about the result. While one other bandmate is eagerly anticipating the news on her side.

Kumiko looks like this is an everyday announcement.

…. Yeah….

And thus when   Kousaka Reina  reacts, suddenly showing a lot of passion and fire and more emotion than what Kumiko probably felt in a long while.

Like a blast of waking wind, it must have jolted something within Kumiko.

She certainly obsessing over it in a few coming episodes. ^^

Although there weren’t many people from my middle school here, I chose this school because it was the only one with the sailor-style uniform that I’ve always liked, and because in a lot of ways I want a brand new start. 

A big evidence  that small encounter with Reina triggered a bout of rumination with Kumiko is her choice of school. Her narration revealed quite a bit. Her friends aren’t here so this isn’t some passive acceptance or picking the easier road like I believed she would be inclined to do if the alteration with Reina hasn’t happened.

And its further revealed that Kitauji isn’t some famous music school as well. So that excuse isn’t going to fly either. In fact, the fact that Kitauji doesn’t have a famous band of any sort is pretty telling. Kumiko is if only subconsciously also trying to leave her band career behind.

Like someone who is going through the motions having an uncomfortable reminder that they are wasting their life away. Kumiko responded by going away from it all to find something.

Still, despite Kumiko’s effort in leaving her life behind, it seems like she can’t do it; not completely at any rate.

The past follows her.

But, more interesting is the signs that Kumiko was still attached to what she wants to leave behind. Sometimes, it takes leaving things behind to know how much one value something. The scene wherein the band starts playing and Kumiko’s eye shine with interest shows that she still cares. In a way, perhaps she care more now that she is trying to not join the concert band than perhaps when she was still in middle school. lol

Also, I’m a bit tickled at the presentation of the band’s flaw. Its not ear splitting bad music. A lot of the band audience i.e. normal people also seems to like it. Its only Kumiko that understand how terrible the band was and how much better the sound should be.

As she ruminates over the performance, its as if her professional pride is prickled.  In her own words:

“They suck. They don’t play together. They’re off pitch and out of rhythm.” 

“But, well, I guess they aren’t trying for the Nationals.” 

Along with this word came the flashback towards the encounter with Reina and again her desire for something “new” and avoid the concert band.

Unfortunately, her new future friends have other ideas. And in my overly paranoid eyes, some of them might be looking for something “new” to leave their past behind.  Their background doesn’t match up with their actions.

….Or I’m making mountains out of molehills, it is the beginning of high school. They might just want to invent themselves.

Fist is Katou Hazuki. She’s very energetic and would probably fit in as the MC of a sport anime. And indeed, she was a former member of the tennis club. Currently, she  wants to join the concert band to try something “new” for her high school.

More evidence that while the concert band demonstration sounds particularly awful to experienced ears, its inspiring enough for normal people to join the band.

And perhaps I’m reading into it too deeply but when Kumiko blurted out this question, “Don’t you walk home with anyone else?” Hazuki’s answer sound fishy, “I decided that I’m going to make new friends in high school and do all kind of new things.”

While that sounds like a typical ditsy answer, combined with the fact that she quit tennis as well and then her outgoing personality, I wonder if Hazuki has some unpleasantness in middle school. While Kumiko is doing the same thing, I believe having the equivalent of teenage middle life crisis  and ditching her friends for self-reflection seems to be more in line with Kumiko’s personality than friendly and outgoing Hazuki.

Its not like there isn’t any reason as well, on the brief moment we meet Hazuki, we know that she can be a bit too friendly for Japanese standards. Notice how she introduces herself and how she calls “Kumiko” without an honorific. She’s even a bit rude with Sapphire calling her Opal.  But, more than that Hazuki gave others permission to call Kumiko … well “Kumiko”.

To be frank, if I look at the conversation in a different light, I’m getting rude vibes.

Next, we meet “Sapphire” but she prefers to be called Midori.  (I’m honestly confused. My neuron say Sapphire=Blue. But, meh.)

Anyway, poor girl. Her parents would either be some sort of practicing hippies or they have a very weird sense of humor or tradition in naming their kids.

Unlike Hazuki, Sapphire appears to be an experienced member of an orchestral band. Heck, the next episode will mention she went into some high class school that has a very good musical tradition.

And my paranoia is acting up again but I’m also wondering why the hell is Sapphire here as well?  Even if Sapphire is a bit shy. unlike Kumiko, her comments indicate clear passion about music.

My personal theory is either her parents don’t have enough money to  continue her enrollment. Another might be due to Sapphire’s shyness and embarrassment with her name. But, I can easily see her as someone that could be easily bullied.

While Kumiko might be easily influenced and somewhat of a conformist because she has no passion or drive motivating her. Sapphire while having passion is giving me this soft shy personality type that is basically magnet for bullies especially if Sapphire stands out. Which she does with a name like that.

Ok. This one, I know I’m not paranoid because from the little bits of personality that we have seen of Kousaka Reina, she shouldn’t be at this school.

Kousaka is SERIOUS (with capital) as a musician, she would want a school that can reach the nationals and develop her talent more.  And Kitauji only got the bronze medal on their competition. As Sapphire said the band might be aiming for the prefecture silver.

According to my friend who knows about Japanese music more than I do, that’s basically aiming to be average. With bronze the award that Kitauji have gotten to be some sort of “you’re terrible but at least you tried”, prize.

One thing that I would like to speculate but have absolutely no basis whatsoever beside THIS.

RED STRING OF FATE

 

Is that Kousaka followed Kumiko to this school.

…. Unfortunately, unless I set my yuri glasses really high; this is kind of far-fetched. Kumiko following Kousaka I could see. But, not the other way around. For one, Kumiko admitted within the episode that she and Kousaka are just passing acquaintance. And if Reina really followed Kumiko to this no-name school, she would be actually looking for her. Instead, Reina barely notices Kumiko’s presence in the room.

I’m kinda leaning toward the teacher that is to be introduced in the next episode. But, meh. Let’s leave that for now.

 

Lastly, we have Shuichi, Kumiko’s childhood friend and bandmate from the previous school.  Like everyone else, there is history there as well. But, unlike Kumiko and my theoretical past for Sapphire, Hazuki and Kousaka, Shuichi appear to be trying to connect with his past.

Namely with Kumiko who is still a bit cold to him.  I’m actually amused at their interaction. Its the petty-teasing-grudge that you would get from long standing friends. Though, Kumiko is certainly going to take a while to forgive Shuichi for his comment.

Heh. Shuichi shouldn’t have called her ugly, really. Kumiko is show to be a bit vain considering her comment about the breast size in narration and the fact that she’s one of the girls that have shortened her skirt. ^^

In any case, what is interesting about here is the fact that Kumiko answered that she won’t be joining the concert band.

We knew this is coming, really.

Kumiko went to this school to get a new start and the concert band is the same old thing.  Heck, the band isn’t even good. Finally, Kousaka Reina is even there, and considering from Kumiko’s pov they parted in bad terms she may want to avoid her.

I do wonder if choosing a not famous school for music was influenced by the probability that Kousaka is most not likely there. Kumiko is certainly stressing about it – talking to a cactus of all things.

And yet, when Kumiko is asked straight out if she was giving up the euphonium, she can’t answer.  Even though, every indication says she is in the process of doing that.

We even have a flashback to their middle school days showing how awesome Kumiko’s previous band while she was thinking on it.

But, most importantly, perhaps to Kumiko’s decision was when Hazuki was trying to produce a sound from the mouthpiece, she was reminded of a time when the same thing happened to her.

When, her sister was teaching her how to do it and when producing a simple sound elicited joy from her.

Those happy times that she might have forgotten.

And thus, against her initial conviction Kumiko joined the concert band and went back to the same old thing that she might be trying to get rid of. And yet as I look upon the scene, I think it might be a bit different this time for Kumiko.

Perhaps, she did find her brand new start treading old ground.

Perhaps.

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Hibike!  Euphonium Kitauji Koko Suisogaku Bu e Yokoso / Ayano Takeda / Hami / Nikki Asada  Hibike! Euphonium / Animation   "Hibike! Euphonium (Anime)" Outro Theme Song: Tutti! / Kitauji Quartet

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