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.
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.
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