Hibike Euphonium 5.2 – Breaking New Grounds on Character Interaction

As I type this, I just watched episode 10 which confirmed one thing that many have been suspecting for awhile. That Reina does know Taki-sensei and he’s the reason why she went to this unknown school.

Which sounds right given all the foreshadowing involved in it.

As much as I love the Kumiko-Reina relationship (and still do ^^ ), Reina is a bit too blase in the early episodes to Kumiko for her to  be the reason she chose Kitauji.  Not to mention that Reina has no way of knowing what school Kumiko is going in the first place. Remember a much closer friend/acquaintance – Azusa – in this episode didn’t know Kumiko went to Kitauji.

If you read some of my past posts, you’d know that I’m of the proponent of the theory that Reina’s “intense” fascination with Kumiko is a “new” thing and I have been attempting to track its development  while keeping in mind the new information brought by  episode 8.

While I’m sure that Reina’s interest is piqued by Kumiko’s innocently insensitive remark on the prologue and it may even have caused a  worldview shakedown similar to what happened to Kumiko. Its the events in episode 4 and 5 which will make Reina want to aggressively pursue a relationship with our cute MC.

So yeah, nothing really has changed for me due to episode 10 except some more character insight which I’ll get to once I managed to reach that episode.

Now onward to more late Sunfes comment!

Looking at this scenes a second time, I noticed that Kaori has an additional  position in the band – “Accountant”. Which isn’t surprising at all for a wildly admired senior. What is surprising is Reina has some duties as well – “ensemble notes”.  So Reina is fairly involved in the band even if not the social aspects.

Also someone once asked me if I would like to amend some  of my earlier impressions after watching episode 10.

This is my answer.

If I have to amend my first impression, it is regarding Hazuki. I was once an opinion that she might be running away from something because she wants a new beginning as well.

Its not really that.

Hazuki is just someone who doesn’t dwell on the bad.  Indeed, Hazuki’s penchant for optimism and how easily something catch her eye is an interesting foil to Kumiko who is a bit jaded and disinterested in her normal interactions.

In this scene we see the beginning of Hazuki’s crush on Shuichi. Sometimes just someone showing a little of kindness is enough to get an attraction going.  Especially for someone like Hazuki who all indication points “crushes” easily and impulsively. Hazuki did point the attractiveness of Taki-sensei earlier and Shuichi isn’t exactly ugly probably helps too so I think Hazuki getting a crush on him is fair.

Though there is one opinion I’m not amending as of yet.

I still don’t see any Kumiko attraction to Shuichi.  Reviewing the scene at the bus, there are hints that Shuichi has some attraction to Kumiko with his, “Let’s do our best today.”  On the other hand, I’m still not seeing any hint that this is reciprocated. Kumiko is sort of not paying attention to Shuichi and busy texting on her cellphone.

Not exactly a behavior of someone in love. lol

While its undoubtedly true that Kumiko is more comfortable with Shuichi to let most of her guard down. Its the comfort of long time acquaintances/friends. Compare this to  Kumiko’s interaction with Reina at this moment which is probably at her most nervous and guarded. And yet, its clear that nervous facade is born of the need to impress and get Reina to like her.

Familiarity isn’t really a great indicator of being in-love at all.

If it is, many people will say I’m in-love with my brother. lol

Anyway,  we meet an old face from episode 1 – Azusa. She went to Rikka High School which as I understand has a very good band program.  Talking  with my band informed friend, said school is apparently based on a real life one called Kyoto Tachibana High School . A school with a very good marching band which is dubbed as “orange demons”.

Note that Rikka school is dubbed “blue demons”. Heh.

Sample Video of the Real Life Band (Kyoto Tachibana)

As for Azusa, I have a feeling that she’s Kumiko’s middle school equivalent of Midori and Hazuki. They seem to be comfortable enough.  And from the brief glimpse we have of Azusa, she seemed to be a fun person to be around. Very sociable and excitable if a tad gossipy.

Still, there seems to be some depth to her as well. Which is quite amazing because she appeared in less than five minutes.

Kumiko considers Azusa as a friend and not just a casual acquaintance. And I think this is true for Azusa as well, what’s with the soft look she had when Kumiko was leaving.

It basically screams fondness in a “I’m glad you found what you were looking for,” way as she watch Kumiko leave to rejoin her band.

You know when I first watched this episode, I was a bit miffed with Kumiko. Having new friends doesn’t mean leaving old friends. And it seems she’s implying it indirectly with her not wanting to go to where her middle school classmates are.

But, I think that was a false dichotomy now.

Because, the old friends here is Azusa not the faceless middle school classmates which I believe Kumiko is on a loose acquaintance basis.

And Kumiko did went and have a brief chat with Azusa leaving her new band for a bit.

In fact, like we saw a brief window of how much Azusa cared for Kumiko with her parting fond look. We see that Kumiko did care and respect Azusa as a friend as well.  Kumiko was unusually vulnerable and honest in this scene. You could see it in how she held the euphonium close to her body, how her feet was slightly crossed and how soft her voice was.

As much as Kumiko was putting her thoughts into order there, she was reaching out for understanding, laying out her insecurities in the open.

Also, I kinda like being validated so let’s have Kumiko’s quote here showing that the conversation with Reina really hit Kumiko hard.

There isn’t really a reason I chose Kitauji  

I just wanted a new start.

Going to a high school where I didn’t know too many people.

Afresh, from scratch. 

That’s all.

Kumiko went to Kitauji because there is essentially “nothing” there as far as Kumiko is concerned.

No middle school acquaintance.  No great music program.  Nothing.

In a way, I get that sentiment; familiar things like concert band and familiar people with their preconceived views of who you are would make it easier to fall into habits. Perhaps in a completely new environment, Kumiko can redefine herself into something that she can like.

This I believe is what Kumiko was hoping for.

Its quite an interesting contrast to Reina who we would later learn, came to this school with a specific purpose in mind – Taki-sensei.

If the conversation with Reina, made Kumiko take a long hard look at her life and found it wanting; thus the need to completely redefine it and start from nothing.   I have a feeling that the conversation with Kumiko had Reina finding that she isn’t on the track to what she wants.

Kumiko’s question, “Did you really think we could have made it into the nationals?” is probably a sharp slap to Reina waking her out of her complacency.  Showing that Reina isn’t special yet. This probably prompted Reina to have her own version of soul searching. But, instead of trying to find who she wants to be like Kumiko, Reina is trying to find how. 

Thus, enter Taki-sensei who is one of the few people that Reina thinks is special.

Not only does Reina have feeling for him. But, she probably thinks that studying under him would be the right way to reach her goal of being SPECIAL, than going into a rigorous musically inclined program which everyone (meaning the “crowd”)  would pick.

In light of that,  I found it funny that it seems that the show is going with the idea that Kumiko and Reina need each other to reach their respective goal.

With Kumiko this is very apparent since we have her internal narration showing how much Reina affects her.

With Reina though, its a bit harder to pin down. But, I believe an example of it is here. When Reina played her trumpet in order to calm everyone down.

Its such an uncharacteristic action and so-Reina at the same time.

Its characteristic because Reina is probably the only one with the nerve and dare I say it – arrogance to do that. Its uncharacteristic because Reina before this episodes doesn’t really “care” or wish to inspire anyone in the group. Reina most of the time is somewhere in her own world, giving a metaphorical air of “I don’t care” to the rest of the band.

…. And then, I realized this came after Kumiko basically spilled her guts and said that Reina’s music inspire her to do better.

We know that conversation affected Reina a lot as a fact. It very likely that Reina took what Kumiko said to heart.

And thus, we have this little scene showing Reina helping the band in her own way. A possible character development from Reina showing that Kumiko does affect her just as much.

Concluding Note: 

In the end, Kitauji made a good showing at the SunFes against all odds.

And while, I can’t certainly say who is better at the SunFes. I think the Kitauji track  is certainly inspired. Rydeen – YMO as a modern piece really got the crowd’s attention.   As for Rikka, Funiculi Funicula  is quite good as well.  Showing that our heroes rivals aren’t weaklings in a music sense.

Lastly, for a complete band music, my friend said that the band before Rikka is playing the fairest of the fair. 

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