I have already tackled half of this episode before here. And even with some warnings from my spoiler happy friends, I still stand by those words as I finished watching the last episode of Hibike Euphonium this season.
Kumiko x Shuuichi really really needs some work before it gets my vote. In any case, this post just serves as a quick recap of what I already tackled last post. Only on Reina’s side, before I go to the part that sent the collective internet into a frenzy.
Before this episode, the Kumiko-Reina while certainly present in every single episode isn’t exactly prominent. Kumiko and Reina weren’t given much time to interact except by stolen glances and brief (if meaningful) conversation.
And yet, their relationship is certainly developing. On Kumiko’s end, its very obvious since we have her internal narration and we see everything from her eyes.
Kumiko started this anime as someone who acts like she has a massive crush on Reina. Kumiko is so fascinated by Reina at the start that she can barely talk to said girl. And as seen by the group vote, Kumiko gives Reina’s opinion of her a lot of weight. Most of the development on Kumiko’s end is getting the courage to talk to Reina (which transfers to other things) and getting comfortable with said girl.
On Reina’s end, while I rewatched and combed the whole series for juicy details, it seems to me that Reina is slowly getting fascinated by Kumiko. So much so that the last episode prior to this has Reina eavesdropping on Kumiko and Shuuichi’s conversation.
And this quiet observation practice by Reina is emphasized in this episode, subtly hinting that she might have some stake on the ongoing plotline between Hazuki x Shuuichi x Kumiko.
Thus, I would like to revisit scenes wherein Reina appeared earlier in the episode and look at them in a new light.
Scene number 1:
In the bandroom, Kumiko is talking with Sapphire about the Agata Festival. As we see, Shuuichi must have been staring at Kumiko and due to positioning – Kumiko in the middle of Hazuki and Shuuichi – when Hazuki glanced at her crush, Shuuichi looks like he is staring back at Hazuki.
And unobserved from a distance, we also see Reina subtly staring at Kumiko and what is happening around said girl.
Kumiko is of course oblivious to everything going on. lol
You might say that I’m making a big deal out of this. But, “staring” is truthfully one of the oldest sign of interest. And its clear that the animators are making use of it. This is even acknowledged in-universe when Midori brought this up as if its a juicy, scandalous thing,
“During practice the other day, Hazuki-chan and Tsukamoto-kun’s eye met~”.
And then, you suddenly remember that as early as Episode 4, Reina has been staring at Kumiko and said interest has been slowly gaining more and more intense.
….Suddenly, Reina appearing on the train quietly listening to Kumiko and Shuuichi’s conversation doesn’t seem to be that innocent gag anymore. ^^
Scene Number 2 :
Now you might say that Reina’s staring isn’t obvious in that scene. Thankfully, the animators are trying to make a point and thus we have a blatant example in the same episode so we can’t say we missed it.
When Kumiko is busy getting tips from Asuka, we see Shuuichi’s eyes drifting toward her. But, this time, he noticed that he isn’t alone on staring at Kumiko.
Reina is doing the same thing.
Thus, Reina’s behavior has been acknowledged by one of the cast and not just any part of the cast – Shuuichi, the person she is paralleling.
As you’ve noticed, this behavior have left Shuuichi surprised and a bit befuddled. After all, Kousaka Reina showing an interest on someone – Kumiko- is probably quite down on his list of probabilities.
And as I’ve said it also establishes that there is a certain parallel between Shuuichi and Reina especially regarding their interest on Kumiko.
Scene number 3
There is the act of fate/chance when Reina decided to go out of the door just in time.
The more I re-watch that sequence of the event. The more that I feel that this is deliberate on Reina’s part. Now, I don’t mean that Reina knows that what is happening outside the room. She probably have no idea that walking out is at that moment is going to end up with Kumiko inviting her. (Not that Reina would change her action one iota if she somehow knew this).
Its deliberate because considering all of the appearance of Reina on this episode wherein she seems to be silently observing Kumiko, it is plausible that Reina may have noticed the Shuuichi-Kumiko exchange and thought to follow them…. just like Hazuki.
We do know as early as last episode that Reina has became curious about Kumiko enough to begin deliberately eavesdropping on Kumiko’s conversation. And its quite obvious to anyone with eyes that Shuuichi has romantic interest on Kumiko. Considering Reina’s own interest, Reina might want to know what is happening.
I’ve also noticed that Reina didn’t say anything at all to contradict Kumiko when she was being b;blatantly used as an excuse to get out of Shuuichi’s proposal for a date. I guarantee that if any of her classmates (who is not Kumiko) tried that they are going to get a polite dismissal. Reina is pretty aware of what is going on and content with the impromptu role that she is being casted. And considering that Reina forcefully held Kumiko to that invitation, its probably something that Reina wants anyway.
And while we are on this scene, have you noticed that there is a constant theme of miscommunication going on in this episode with the various potential couples?
It started with Hazuki’s assumption that Shuuichi is also looking at her. Then, there is Shuuichi’s misunderstanding wherein he assumed that Kumiko is somehow sending a silent signal to have a talk when in reality Kumiko probably wants the opposite. There is also Shuuichi’s invitation to the festival wherein the same episode hammered that Kumiko has zero interest in said festival.
There is a disconnect between Hazuki and Shuuichi. And similarly there seems to be a disconnect with Kumiko and Shuuichi.
On the other hand though, Reina and Kumiko’s relationship seem to be built on trying to understand each other? Perhaps because both of them have horribly misjudged each other in the past but the pairs silently observation game seems to be paying off.
For example. Reina’s idea of a date – mountain hiking with a duet to cap it off – seems to have hit off with Kumiko more than a festival would. And thus, I got the idea. What if, one of the reason why Reina went outside is because she managed to interpret Kumiko’s signal which is more like a distress call to be honest. ^^ And seeing Shuuichi, probably planning to be the uninvited guest that would interrupt whatever conversation they have by her presence.
I do admit that this theory might be a bit reaching though so feel free to discard it.
In the end, Kumiko went with Reina for the festival and the rest they say is history.
While talking with someone about this episode, I was struck by another parallelism between the treatment that Shuuichi and Reina has received from Kumiko. Its illustrated by both of them asking Kumiko to carry the euphonium.
Shuuichi asked Kumiko for a few meters for practice, a pretty reasonable request, all things considered.
Reina asked Kumiko to bring her euphonium at the foot of a mountain without saying what she would need to do it for.
In the end, Shuuichi got a no and Reina got a yes.
And I don’t think that its the request itself but the person that is making it.
If Shuuichi ever asked Kumiko to bring her euphonium at a foot of the mountain without even giving a reason, I’m pretty sure that he’s going to get a resounding no. On the other hand if Reina even at this stage asks Kumiko to bring the euphonium for practice everyday, she will get a yes.
The thing is even at this point when I believe Shuuichi-Kumiko has a stronger relationship in the sense of closeness. Kumiko doesn’t bother putting a pretense for Shuuichi and thus will tell him exactly what she thinks of his idea. Though as a counterpoint, you could also say that Kumiko is comfortable with her current relationship with Shuuichi and thus doesn’t feel the need to get closer to him as well. Thus, Kumiko won’t go the extra mile for Shuuichi (That and she’s still carrying a grudge against him)
On the other hand, I am also not kidding when I described Kumiko having a crush on Reina. The feeling of admiration and fear, the wish to get close, the idolization, the anxiety …. Kumiko practically has it to a T.
Kumiko definitely wants a closer relationship with Reina. So yes, its not surprising that Kumiko even at this early stage will give a lot more leeway for Reina than any other.
The true test though is what comes out after Kumiko and Reina’s “date”.
Crushing while cute isn’t still a relationship after all.