After the dreamy episode 8, we are now back into the impending reality with a vengeance, as the looming audition is introduced.
Everyone in the band is in serious mode – trying to squeeze every bit of practice that they can, in order to make the cut and not drag their bandmates down. (It really hearkens my heart how far Kitauji band has come from the lazy and disorganized mess that they are in episode 3)
Even our favorite section is getting into it with a few minor hiccup here and there.
Midori isn’t playing very well. Natsuki is still weak on a certain part . Hazuki is too focused on making a sound that her notes seem rough. One piece of good news though, Kumiko tone quality has improved noticeably.
I wonder (and this is mentined by the new teacher in S2 episode 1) if music playing style has a correlation with the personality and the current life of who plays them. Because I feel that there is a connection.
- Midori not playing very well because she’s more focused on Hazuki’s problem. It shows how caring/concerned Midori is for her friend. Inversely, it also shows that Midori is perhaps easily affected by outside problems and probably easily swayed.
- Hazuki’s single minded focus on making a sound shows how determined she is which we know that Hazuki has plenty of after last episode. Similarly, Hazuki’s single-minded focus on her notes may blind her to how she is appearing on the outside which in a way is the opposite problem with Midori.
- Kumiko’s tone quality has improved. I think this mirrors Kumiko’s subtle character development in the show. We know that bit by bit Kumiko is beginning to like the euphonium, becoming proactive little by little, episode by episode. But, I think this is the time when Kumiko began to realize those vague feelings that have been incubating in the past episodes. Episode 8, I think was the catalyst. Perhaps, Kumiko seeing how passionate Reina is, how determined Reina is to be special lit a fire in her. Kumiko wants that sort of fire in her life. To be passionate about something and not just aimlessly drift through her life as she has done for most of her life.
- Natsuki’s problem, on the other hand, “Don’t be scared. Place your notes in one shot,” is a bit harder for me to figure out. Maybe because we know so little about Natsuki compared to Midori and Hazuki. What we do know is before Kumiko dragged Natsuki in for practice, she feels like someone who is just drifting along. Perhaps, that line is foreshadowing? lol I always have a feeling that Kumiko and Natsuki are following similar lines of development. Perhaps, Natsuki needs courage and passion in her life as well. It seems like Natsuki is supporting Nozomi in the new season. Against freaking Asuka at that. Considering that Nozomi quit before, I have several theories about that. ^^
Also. There is this:
Notice how Natsuki makes this downward expression when Kumiko is being praised? I think Natsuki is perhaps a tiny bit intimidated.
After all, Kumiko is already a good Euphonium player and then she got better.
Kumiko may not realize it, but while she may not be a talented player, she’s an experienced one. Kumiko has been playing the Euphonium for six years and Natsuki at most would be playing for two years and part of that is halfheartedly. And, they would be competing very soon in an audition. Natsuki is probably right to be a bit intimidated.
That said, I think that Kumiko is also similarly wary of Natsuki.
Kumiko seemed to be extra sensitive of Natsuki in this scene. As in the first person she checked after being praised of her Euphonium is Natsuki. We see that in a previous episode as well, when they were checking if one could make a sound on a mouthpiece. When Kumiko found that Natsuki can’t, Kumiko immediately downplayed her ability, opting for a non-answer.
From the next episode, we know that Kumiko was bullied by a senior in middle school. Said sempai was on friendly terms with Kumiko but when Kumiko (due to perhaps greater ability) replaced said senior in the band roster, their relationship turned bitter.
Kumiko clearly remembers that experience which is why she is wary of Natsuki who probably mirrors the bad upperclassman she has on middle school. In a way, I think the experience made Kumiko more fearful of lesser skilled players (especially on the Euphonium) than skilled players. Which is why she doesn’t want to be perceived as greater skilled specially in the beginning by Natsuki but doesn’t bat a single eyelash at the wide difference of skill between her and Asuka.
Its kinda funny how that worked out.
Kumiko is more wary of Natsuki (who seemed to be quite gregarious considering the groupshot she is in at the festival and the OVA) than freaking Asuka (who everyone in one way or another is intimidated by).
In fact, I think there is a slight Kumiko pov going on when Asuka is throwing her tantrum. In that, while its shocking, its not really fear inducing even with the yandare eyes as the other senior club members were making it out to be. Kumiko (and the audience) didn’t even realize that Asuka is actually angry until we are told of it.
I suppose that is further fodder on how Kumiko isn’t really intimidated by Asuka at all.
Also, its interesting that the first person that Asuka questioned on what is troubling Midori is Kumiko.
That could indicate some sort of trust in Asuka’s part… probably.
First though, I would like to applaud Asuka for showing good social awareness. Knowing that something is bothering Midori and wanting to find out, she sent Midori away so she could grill the rest of the section. (Its harder to talk about another person once they are present after all). At this point, Asuka honestly seemed to want to fix what is wrong with Midori’s music. (Mostly, so that their section practice goes harmonious, I think.)
Though, when Asuka knew that Midori’s problem have nothing to do with music; we were once again shown, her less than pleasant side that we only just briefly glimpsed off.
The side that cares only about music and fuck everything else.
Still, something about Asuka’s mini-tamtrum bothers me.
While I do agree that you shouldn’t bring personal problems in practice time, the way that Asuka put it as Kumiko said is, “a bit too honest.” And more likely to cause band drama and problem than if Asuka just evades and not speak. Also, I’m a bit bothered that no senior member of the bass section – Natsuki, Goto, Riko is surprised at what happened meaning this is nothing new. And I’ve said, I can’t blame Asuka for being socially deficient regarding this.
With Reina’s incoming problem,I’m a bit surprised that Asuka is popular as she is at the band.
But, then again, Asuka mask appear to be nigh impenetrable and perhaps only pierced by a select few. The only time we saw it slip off is that offhand comment with Haruka and Kumiko. And now this, on her own bass section where she knew everyone familiarly.
…. Perhaps, Asuka was able to me more honest because its the bass section? Which may mean that Asuka trust her section a bit more than others. Or similarly, Asuka already calculated that she could get away with such actions here? *which is kinda scary to think about because that meant Asuka almost never lets her guard down*
The more I analyze this stuff. I’m beginning to realize that Asuka and Reina (who funnily seemed to be getting prominent in Kumiko’s life) are inverse of one another. Like two side of the coin, both are undoubtedly a side of a coin but they are opposite in almost every way that matter.
Reina tries to be aloof but she’s actually burning inside and ruled more by her feelings. While Asuka is outwardly friendly and warm but she’s darn cold and is ruled by cold hard logic.
… And somehow Kumiko is tangled up by the two of them.
My personal wish for the running S2 is probably a Reina and Asuka scene. Though, I’m of the opinion that they won’t get along very well, its still would be very interesting to see. Throw Kumiko in the middle of the two. And I’m going to be a very happy camper. ^^