Hibike Euphonium Episode 8.4 – Getting to Know Each Other

This post took too long to write. But, that’s because I want to write something else about this episode but what comes out from my keyboard is something else entirely.

So with a week trying to get my brain to cooperate with no progress. I’ll just take this as a sign and just tab my comments about the romance for the future. Instead, let’s comment on Reina and Kumiko and how their personality clash and complement each other.

Episode 8 is practically a goldmine for this.

So, onward…

The very first thing that I’ve noticed (beside Kumiko very unsubtly checking out Reina and Reina’s outfit itself ^^) was how Reina was really  making a conscious effort  to open up to Kumiko.

This, I believe, is a huge deal for Reina.

If you guys noticed, Reina is probably one of the most closed off person in  this show. And unlike Asuka, Reina doesn’t even bother covering this up by a cheerful facade. Anyone who talks to Reina would feel the 100 meter wall standing between them.

A small sample of how I believe Reina normally talks to people is on episode 5.

Kumiko tries to get a conversation going but Reina answers in monosyllabic words. Which while not exactly rude per se  doesn’t give much to go on and signals that Reina isn’t very interested.

But, here up in the mountain.  You could already see the difference.

Reina begins almost every conversation  and she freely volunteers pieces of personal information about herself.  

Say what you want about Reina, but when she wants something she goes for it. And Reina has decided that she wants Kumiko as her friend.

Speaking of said information, while its more or less inconsequential in the grand scheme of things; Reina preferring older shrines because its more classy and mature does reveal a few things about her.

One, is the fact that Reina might be more concerned about her image than Kumiko. Not in a sense, that Reina wants others to like her (she doesn’t) or even give a single fig about their opinion. (Not in your life). But, Reina might have a desire to be taken seriously.  She wants to be seen as a mature person.  Someone different from her peers.

Kumiko, btw, is the opposite. Because unlike Reina who wants to project an aura of maturity and classiness – to be seen as special. Kumiko doesn’t want to project anything. She wants to blend in and avoid as much trouble as she can. So in that sense, Kumiko is less concerned about her image. On the other hand, unlike Reina, Kumiko does care about other people’s opinion which is how she gets easily swept away by them.

Beside that, there is always some sort of deliberateness in Reina’s actions.

Like in this date with Kumiko, you’ve noticed that despite Kumiko supposedly the one asking Reina out. Its Reina who set the itinerary. Reina has the whole date mapped on her head – she knows what they will doing while climbing the mountain and the ultimate destination itself.  She downloaded an app in case it went dark and she even knows what song she wants to play at the top of the mountain.

Reina is a planner. 

If she’s doing something, you bet she has a reason for it. This sharply contrast with Kumiko’s hazy self-image and zero deliberateness.  Reina is the type of person that I can see has her whole future mapped in her head which is opposite to Kumiko who doesn’t even know what she wants.

This even comes out with their voice acting which needs some sort of award really.

Reina has like  two modes of speaking. One is the stilted tone of voice  It always comes out after some pause as if Reina is thinking on what to say and how to say. This mode of speaking is also the most common.  The other one is the explosive type which often comes when Reina is gripped with emotion and have lost control.

In contrast, once again, Kumiko voice delivery lacks artifice and mostly naturalistic. It even changes with whoever she is talking to. This is even compounded by the fact that Kumiko has the tendency of blurting out her thoughts without filter making her seem to be a  person without pretense.

And despite the charge that Reina will level up to Kumiko, wearing a facade of niceness and wanting to peel it off. I would like to contend that Kumiko isn’t truly faking anything in the truest sense of the word.

Not like Asuka is at any rate.

Its just Kumiko  has this sort of fluidity in her character which makes her personality subtly change  everytime  she talks to a different person.  Seriously, watch Kumiko’s interaction with Hazuki and Midori, then Shuuichi, then Asuka, then Natsuki, then Reina… heck every freaking character in the show.

Its subtly different each time.

And the thing is I don’t think Kumiko is fake acting. She’s not wearing a mask as much as any other person wears a mask.

Yes. Kumiko is nice and supportive to Hazuki and Midori while outright jerkish to Shuuichi. And yes, Kumiko is almost sometimes painfully honest and brave with Asuka while disingenuous and cowardly with her sister, Mamiko. Kumiko is different things to different people and sometimes her traits contradict each other.  But, I don’t think one personality trait is as real as any other.

There is some fluidity and ambiguity to Kumiko’s character because in many ways I don’t think Kumiko even knows who Kumiko is so she goes with the flow of the situation.   In some ways, like I think that Hazuki made a mistake in the upcoming episode regarding Kumiko due to her own bias and wants; Reina is making a similar mistake here.

As I’ve said, Reina is deliberate. She has a solid grasp of what she wants and who she is as a person. But, Reina might also have a tiny habit of putting people in categories. You could see it on how she mostly dismissed people as ordinary peons in her upcoming speech in the mountaintop later.

And remember, Reina has been observing Kumiko like a hawk after Kumiko apologized to her. Enough to have seen those shifts in Kumiko’s personality. And people do filter what they see with their experiences. To Reina, Kumiko’s niceness to everyone else would look like a facade for her distant, jerkish personality that one sees with her closer friend – Shuuichi. Much like Reina’s stoic mask that everyone in the band sees, isn’t the real one.

But, as I’ve been saying in this post for a while now. That while, yes, Reina is right that Kumiko can be distant, pessimistic and jerkish. Reina is also wrong in contending that this is the real Kumiko and the outer Kumiko is just a mask.

I truly believe that Kumiko’s niceness is also an integral part of her.  And its not even true niceness, in the sense of optimism and sunshine but how her apathy and non-confrontational personality is filtered through the outside world. . Since Kumiko doesn’t really feel strongly about one subject or another, she’ll most likely go with the flow and not cause trouble thus giving the impression of being a “good girl” as Reina put it.

 

 

 

Make no mistake though, I’m not saying that Reina doesn’t like Kumiko’s cynicism.  Because she does. And it is an important trait which allows  Kumiko to function as Reina’s honest judge of “specialness” . (even post-festival in which Kumiko is honestly quite enamored with Reina she still serves this function in a way.)

Seriously, sometimes, I think that we don’t realize it due to the way Kumiko usually say it (earnest, honest and sometimes apologetic ) but her observations and questions does cut deep.

In fact, you just have to look at some of the dialogue  at the mountaintop. to see it. Reina makes a heartfelt soliloquy about her wish to be special, to stand in some way.  Then, we have Kumiko’s inner thought about  how she’s getting sucked into this moment.

And guess what Kumiko’s next conversation piece is?

Can you truly become special by playing the trumpet?   

Note how similar that remark is to Kumiko’s episode 1: Did you really think that we can make it to the Nationals? 

Heh. Note that after Reina made her stand to Kumiko’s innocent question (something that she didn’t do in middle school, Reina ran away crying), Reina laughed and said, “You definitely have a terrible personality, Kumiko.”

Just like what Reina said on the hike. She doesn’t hate pain.  Not because Reina is a masochist. But,  I think that Reina realized that a little pain is worth the goal that is striving for.

But, as I’ve said, Reina isn’t solely attracted to Kumiko by the basis of her “bad personality.” Because that bad personality isn’t who Kumiko truly is, just a part of her.

And Reina should be glad for that. 

Because  after watching the whole Hibike Euphonium season 1, the character that can easily be described as having the facade of niceness while hiding how distant and selfish  she truly is would be more in line with ASUKA than Kumiko.  (To be fair though to Reina, I think Asuka and Kumiko are sort of like birds of the same feather going on, while still retaining enough differences to be very distinct to one another. )

And to be honest, I believe a  hypothetical friendship between Asuka and Reina wouldn’t  actually work.

For one thing, Asuka being distant and selfish would also be true with her relationship with Reina. And unlike Kaori, I don’t think Reina is going to take Asuka’s fair-weather friendship very well.   Let’s be honest, Reina has an ego and she seemed to be the type to  value loyalty, honesty and support in a relationship…  Just imagining Asuka in Kumiko’s shoes while the audition event  is making me wince.

A hypothetical Reina-Asuka friendship assuming it will even start will implode rapidly with the two of them hating each other. Reina due to Asuka’s fakeness and Asuka due to the trouble/drama that Reina insist on bringing to her.  The best case scenario for both of them is Reina realizing that Asuka is not what she wanted quickly and their relationship cooling to something like respect for their talent.

And that’s assuming that relationship would start.

Because I believe that Reina began to take notice of Kumiko because she didn’t fit Reina’s mental category. That little question in the end of middle school showed that Kumiko isn’t just a “nice” girl she usually looks like from afar. Then, the apology in episode 4 shook Reina’s categorization of Kumiko further and jump-started Reina’s interest.

In some way, I think Reina would love to just dissect Kumiko.  Reina even said it directly, she wants to peel the good girl skin off. 

Which could only be a good thing for both Reina and Kumiko. ^^

I guess for Reina, it would be good of her to learn that people aren’t usually that simple. It might do her social skills some good. And to be honest, I want Reina to learn that sometimes what she thinks  she want isn’t truly what she truly want or need.

For example.  what Reina believes she wants of Kumiko –  someone to judge her specialness isn’t the thing that Reina began to treasure Kumiko for at the end of the season isn’t it? Its almost the opposite in fact. Kumiko sort of became a pillar that Reina can lean on. Someone that will be there for her even when everyone became her enemy. Someone I think Reina feels positively safe to be around considering how much Reina just drops her guard when she and Kumiko are alone.

As for Kumiko, Reina is the reason that Kumiko has a passion now and not just drifting along the crowd. Beside that in Reina, Kumiko found a reason to defy the crowd for. Something worthy of defense. Someone she can honestly believe in.

…. To be honest, I could go on and on, how Kumiko and Reina are really really good for each other. But, I’ll save it for another post.

Let’s be glad that after eight episodes, our two main characters realized this too.

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hibike Euphonium Episode 8.4 – Getting to Know Each Other

  1. ChemRK says:

    Actually, Reina acts quite often immature near Kumiko, well, not to forget they are only 15 years old kids.
    She squeezes Kumiko's face, nudges her, openly shows emotions.
    All this line "want to be special" seems childishly stubborn and naive

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      I think that's actually a sign of trust. Reina I've noted want to project an aura of maturity and specialness. Her acting like that shows she really trusts Kumiko.

      Also, yes, Reina is an idealist and optimistic which in some someways translate to being naive, Kumiko on the other hand is cynical and pessimistic.Which is another thing where the two of them differ and can help each other. Reina could use a dose of reality now and then and Kumiko need some optimism.

  2. Lin says:

    Interesting analysis. That been said, I disagree that Reina made a mistake regarding Kumiko's personality. Kumiko had always been a cynical, distant, and apathetic kind of person. Even Shuichi, her childhood friend, said so in a previous episode, and Natsuki also made a remark about it in episode 8 itself. What happened with Kumiko later on is that she underwent character development and changed, becoming someone more driven and committed (ironically, this happened mostly thanks to Reina herself). But at that moment, in episode 8, Reina's take on Kumiko's personality was spot on.

    Also, note that Reina never said that Kumiko's kindness was fake. She only said that she hid how distant she was, which is totally true. Her apathy was only shown when she let it slip unwillingly. For the most part she was succeeding in covering that part of herself, and only people close to her could tell.

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      Ummm…. I don't disagree?

      I do agree with Reina that Kumiko is cynical, distant and apathetic. (And even though Reina ironically is changing some of the few things along the way.) Very few person in the band realized that except perhaps her closest friends.

      What, I'm disagreeing on is Kumiko's niceness and everyday persona being fake which Reina implied with her saying "Its like you put a good girl face but inside you're actually really distant and cynical". Though, I note from your comment that line can perhaps be interpreted differently, but my take on it is Reina thinking that Kumiko puts a nice girl act to avoid revealing her distant and apathetic side.

      I think this is an important distinction because some people or perhaps those who I'm talking this series with believe that Kumiko kindness and overall care that she has shown to Hazuki, Midori, Aoi, Natsuki… heck most people in the show is fake citing Reina's line. And she's really someone that is distant and apathetic to the core. WHICH I WOULD SAY NO!

      Kumiko does care for Aoi, Hazuki, Midori. She's not faking it. Not like Asuka is at any rate. Perhaps in a few years if Kumiko stayed on her path and didn't meet Reina, she'll be totally cynical and apathetic to the point that she won't care and the kindness will become a mask. But, for now, Reina's charge that there is a good girl facade is not true.

      Though, Kumiko and Asuka and how they seem to be similar is a good topic on its own…. Hmmm….

      • Lin says:

        Then we do disagree, because, as I said in my previous post, I don't think Reina was implying that Kumiko's kindness was fake. I think she was just talking about how Kumiko hides her apathy and cynicism when she said that Kumiko puts a good girl face. I actually think you have to stretch things pretty thin in order to come up with your conclusion because the subject of their conversation is always Kumiko's lack of drive (apathy), not lack of kindness. You're adding a subtext their conversation just doesn't have. In fact, there are moments when Kumi is both cynical and caring towards Reina, and Reina actually takes that mixture of kindness and cynicism in stride. This suggests Reina doesn't see any conflict between these two sides of Kumiko's personality. In fact, she seems to find it interesting.

        • nightsentinel09 says:

          I need to converse with you more because you easily agreed with me that Kumiko's cynicism, apathy and caring both exist. ^^

          In any case, let's see, we are disagreeing if Reina thought that Kumiko's nice girl act was fake. … Let's see. Maybe this is a transliteration problem? Again. Downloaded a fansub to see if CR missed something again.

          …. Its the exact same with better grammar I guess.

          Reina's dialogue is this: "Its like you wear a friendly good girl mask, but beneath that you're actually really distant. It makes me want to rip that good girl disguise right off you."

          I don't understand. Mask and disguise as descriptor are pretty telling words. It implies the fakeness of something. When Reina made that mountain hike, she really does think that Kumiko's overall persona she presents to the band is sort of fake..Which in a way is true. But, not the whole truth. Because the Kumiko we see everyday hanging off with Midori and Hazuki, I would argue, is as real as the Kumiko we see with Reina. While its true, Kumiko will became more invested and closer to Reina than any other, its not like she's faking on her other relationship.

          Not that this is something like a major blunder either, this is Reina and Kumiko's first real talk with each other. A few mistakes about the others personality is bound to happen. I don't think Kumiko figured out Reina's wish to be special as well before this episode. Though, yes, as they get to know each other; Reina began to see and value Kumiko more than her need for a confidant and a devil advocate.

          To be honest, whether Reina made misinterpretation before she truly got to know Kumiko or not in the festival is interesting to me in the sense of how it fits Reina's personality than Reina is seeing a different Kumiko. Because obviously, initial misinterpretation or not, Reina has figured this out along the way and as you've said find it "interesting" or in my words "reassuring".

          Its interesting for me because as I've said in this post, if Kumiko has this sort of ambiguous fluidity to her; Reina is pretty rock solid. Reina knows what she wants and she knows who she is. For me that brief misinterpretation though, specially regarding something as important as Kumiko sort of show a vulnerability or perhaps something that needs development in Reina.

          In the sense, that while Kumiko have like no idea what she wants; Reina's problem is what she believes she wants might not be what she needs. And considering how stubborn I think Reina can be that can be a problem. All that glitters is not gold and all that.

          As I've noted, the person that fits that statement more is Asuka and without A LOT of character development on both sides those two won't fit like at ALL. , Reina is lucky that Kumiko is what she wants and also provided what Reina unspokenly needs.

          • Lin says:

            I don't understand. Mask and disguise as descriptor are pretty telling words. It implies the fakeness of something.

            The question is, what is Kumiko faking? The answerer to that is in the topic of this whole conversation. Remember, all this started back in middle school when Kumiko asked Reina if she really thought they could go to Nationals. That was Kumiko's cynicism showing through. Cynicism, that's the topic of the conversation, and that's what Reina claims Kumiko is hiding in the facade of a "good girl". Good girl in the context of cynicism, so what she means by that is someone who isn't cynical.

            The opposite of cynicism is optimism. So basically Reina's saying that Kumiko's showing a facade of optimism and drive even though she actually is pretty cynical and apathetic (at this point). It's a pretty half-assed facade too, since she drops the act pretty often, especially with people she's comfortable with.

            In any case, kindness or lack thereof is never part of this conversation at all. The conversation is about cynicism vs optimism, apathy vs drive. To think that Reina thought Kumiko wasn't kind or that her kindness was fake seems like a mistaken read of this scene. A pretty surprising mistake too, because, again, their conversation goes on a totally different direction.

          • nightsentinel09 says:

            Ah. I see. So that was your point. My mistake. .

            Using binary opposites, I can see where I'm having trouble expressing myself. Just like you, I think that this conversation is about Kumiko's cynicism and apathy.

            We might be having description problems though, I may have given the impression that I'm contextualizing Kumiko's facade in the form of kindness (whose opposite is cruelty) when it should be "caring"; in the sense of involvement/investment in a certain subject. Those two words have different connotation even though they are mostly used in the same manner.

            Though, I would like to contend that my main point still stands. That Kumiko isn't really faking anything not intentionally anyway.

            That's just how Kumiko is.

            Its just how it looks like to the outside world because as I've reiterated that there is a certain flexibility to Kumiko's character? One is because Kumiko have no idea who Kumiko is and I think the other half of the puzzle is what you've brought to my attention – Kumiko's apathy. Since Kumiko doesn't really feel strongly about one subject or another, she'll most likely go with the flow and not cause trouble thus giving the impression of being a "good girl" as Reina put it.

            Just so we are clear, the above is how you also look at Kumiko's "nice girl" act as well right?

            Anyway, from your recent comment, I would like to contend that Kumiko never showed a facade of "optimism" and "drive" in the series. She never really faked those things or give an impression of them in the earlier part. . I don't think even at the most surface reading give that impression.

            ….. Its more like she just gives an impression of …. "niceness" – someone perhaps that's easy to get along? (Meh. I need a better descriptor)….

          • nightsentinel09 says:

            In any case, thank you for your comment. I reread the post again and edited the section to make it clearer and put additional information I believe.

Leave a Reply