Asuka’s history is revealed, and it’s more dramatic than probably expected. It’s simple enough to tell someone to follow their own path, but with such a personally emotional anchor it definitely isn’t easy. Another fantastic episode.
This is all a much more emotional affair than I was initially expecting. It seemed like this arc was going down the well-trodden path of kid vs. parent in the battle for independence and personal growth. Turns out it’s a little more complicated than that, although there are still a few tropes to be had. But overall this series keeps delivering high-points on the drama end of the spectrum and then perfectly tops it off with amazing musical sequences.
Natsuki is an intriguing character, and her development in this arc is quite interesting. She’s always been the quiet type, and rather aloof. But when it comes to this, she’s seriously concerned for both the band as a whole and her friend. Behind that far-off gaze is a selfless, kind individual. Plus she’s got one more year, so it’s not all or nothing right now. It feels like she got a taste for helping others out in the Mizore-Nozomi scandal and this is an extension of that. I would be excited to see her get to play with the competition band, but it’s definitely under circumstances that just won’t make it worth it in the end.
Before we get to Asuka, let us discuss the yuri vibes we’re all getting here. We are all getting that, right? Reina is an interesting individual for sure, but her flip-flop between openly flirting with Kumiko and being totally infatuated with Taki-sensei is something to behold. One of these episodes she’s finally just going to kiss Kumiko (and it will be amazing). On the Taki-sensei front, we can all probably assume it won’t go anywhere real. It’s not often that the student manages to snag the teacher, and when they do the police generally get involved. Reina has had an interesting development over this season so far, transition from her mostly cold and distant self last season to a much warmer, upfront, and comical character. She really takes the bull by the horns, until recoiling (in a good way?) at the mere presence of Taki-sensei. Oh love.
The real feels hit with Asuka’s backstory. Just like Kumiko, she was also a super cute kid with a euphonium, but for very different reasons. That ‘famous’ euphonium player that Kumiko has been listening to? Yep, that’s Asuka’s dad! He’s been estranged because of a divorce from the crazy mom archetype (trope) and been unable to see his beloved daughter. Well, unless she happens to show up at the national competition that he just happens to be judging. That’s the kind of drama we’ve been looking for! It’s the perfect emotional connection to the nationals that this series totally demands of itself, because although the music has been fantastic it really is about more than just that. With the build-up we’re getting for this emotional connection to the finale, there is no way that Asuka is not going to the competition. Her dad is totally going to hear her play, and be super proud, and there will be tears. Calling it right now. But for the time being, she has a beautiful melancholic melody to play as a symbol of his love – and Kumiko just eats it up. She has been privy to pretty much every major secret in this series, and this one is no different – it’s a big one. Now more than ever I can’t wait to experience the nationals with this band, as there is just so much riding on the experience. Results aren’t the goal here. It really is about the experience.
Summary: Asuka’s musical past, and motivation, is revealed to us. Could the push towards nationals get any more emotional?
– Asuka you monster, you knew the reasons all along and never said!
– Don’t bring her back, we like Natsuki!
– Kumiko solves all problems.
– Natsuki is so selfless! ❤
– Yuri on FIRE!!!
– Wake him up, so he can go sleep in his bed.
– Reina is playing the whole field.
– She will never wash those hands again.
– Little kids playing instruments are super cute.
– “Her blood is probably really tasty”
– An episode named for the title of the series. So fitting.