Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Yūfoniamu: Kitauji Kōkō Suisōgaku-bu e Yōkoso)

Ah, the school band days. I was never in the band myself. In middle school my brother's band director used a jedi mind trick to compel me into picking up the french horn, but it didn't stick with me. I don't think I played a single note on it in the entire time I had it, though. My instrument was the guitar. I just had no drive to learn the french horn and the band scene just wasn't my scene. I had no idea how to read music, either. I felt woefully out of place.

That doesn't mean I never had an appreciation for that world or that I am completely unfamiliar with it. It just wasn't for me. 

Sound! Euphonium details the days of a group of (mostly) girls that pursue the concert band school life. I'm not quite sure why the majority of these characters were girls, but I suppose that could be chalked up to the concert band's popularity in Japan among the sexes or just a writer's whim. It doesn't really take anything from the story. Just an oddity worth noting.

However, there is a bit of subtle yuri flavor to this anime. Mostly, what seems to be a not quite pronounced relationship between the cheerful main character Ōmae Kumiko (Euphonium) and the more bizarre Kōsaka Reina (trumpet). It could be construed as simply a quirky competitive friendship that starts out cold and then gradually warms up, but it seems like there is a confession of love (albeit an unconventional one) that sort of puts the kibosh on that idea. The two seem to be almost more than friends at the end. Not that it really matters or changes my opinion on the anime. The yuri train, if there really was one here, is a train I respect. 

Not being the "concert band guy," I wasn't really enraptured by this anime as I have been by certain others I've seen. I like anime that are jazz-influenced or rock-influenced when it comes to music. Even pop music in certain instances. But the concert band genre missed a chance to fully win me over with this one. There was nothing especially bad about it, though. In fact, it was pretty good all around. The animation was superb. Every scene seemed to be a screenshot waiting to happen. The music was really good, too. 

With thirteen episodes it actually felt like just the right length without being rushed or overstaying its welcome. It's a miracle. Sound! Euphonium did everything it should have done to get things right. A second season is possible, but there's closure if there isn't one. 

But it was just so... "concert band-y." Maybe it was my failed time spent with the french horn that sort of rubbed the shine off concert band experiences for me. Or maybe it was my sleep deprivation that disallowed me to enjoy some of the finer moments. None of which should or do count against this anime. Most of the issues I had (if there were indeed "issues") were just me things. 

However, I wouldn't call this one of the greatest anime I've ever seen and there are others that made me appreciate music more. "Concert band-iness" notwithstanding. This one felt really standard to me. Which is a good thing. Just not a great thing... despite doing pretty much everything right from a critical standpoint. It just didn't do it in an especially great way. Yeah, I'm being a dick right now, but hey, its my blog. Your mileage may vary. 

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