A confession, a re-uniting, and a sibling’s love. Pretty much everything is addressed in this very final episode. There’s a music competition going on as well, but it’s clearly not the focus. And there’s still one more episode after this! (To my surprise)
“The Last Competition”
Once again the tension leading in to the actual performance, and waiting for the results, are the highlight around a competition. There actually isn’t even a second of band music in this episode, which is deeply disappointing considering what this show has proven over the season as a whole. There definitely did not need to be a full repeat of the fantastic performance from the regional competition, as it is the same set, but something would be nice. It made the event itself seem a little quick and over with, but that also allows for a greater focus on the emotional drama of the episode. You win some, you lose some – rather appropriate to this episode!
The build up obviously has to include a late night drink with Mayor of Friendsville, Shuichi. That poor guy is every high school band geek with a crush on a cute euphonist (there are probably lots of those right?). The tension was so palpable you probably couldn’t swing a baton. He got her a flower that pretty much symbolizes love from what I think was brought up earlier in the season. It’s all kinds of awkward, cute, and painful – the realism is off the charts once again. Perhaps you’ll have better luck in third year, Shuichi. Just watch out for that Reina girl, she’s got the advantage. And oh… Reina. She picks the perfect time to confess her love for Taki-sensei in the most properly awkward way. The rest of the class can’t call her on how crazy it sounds because it totally bails them out of being jerks. She doubles down on it later, too. Just in case her friends weren’t sure. The best/worst part is that he totally knows she means it and just shrugs it off. Well, once again, maybe next year right?
The real emotional arcs being resolved here are Asuka’s relationship with her father and Kumiko’s relationship with her sister. We’ll leave out Reina’s relationship with her teacher for what could possibly be a future resolution. Anyway, the former is skirted quite expertly. Asuka doesn’t actually meet up with her father, a debatable decision. He praises her hard work and dedication after so many years through a messenger, and it makes Asuka really happy to know how he feels, but it’s a little cheap. It feels a little too real that it would be too awkward to meet up with the estranged parent after so many years in this kind of setting, but this is an anime! A rather emotional anime at that. It really could have gone all-out and let the tears flow. As for Kumiko and her sister, it’s pretty much all good – but that was to be expected. It would have been quite the surprise for her sister to hate on her even more after seeing what could have been! But alas, the safe bet wins. Despite all of this safeness, it’s all still quite an enjoyable affair. The sense of reality is striking.
Oh yeah, the results! It all goes about as well as the rest of the episode, as in they win bronze. Not even first last. It kind of played second fiddle to the rest of the episode, but the band does have the motivation to go for gold next year. Who else sees a season 3 in our future?
Apparently there is one more episode still to go! Hooray!
8.9/10 (Fantastically Safe)
Summary: Hibike! Euphonium plays it safe with unanswered confessions and emotional pay-offs not quite resolved or unresolved. It’s the most realistic depiction of band culture ever put to anime.
– What is she doing to that tuba-kun?
– Kumiko definitely has insomnia.
– Romantic tension increases exponentially as it gets later at night.
– KyoAni put all over their left-over moe budget in to this one.
– “It’s my best reed ever,” I know the feels.
– So… no music.
– Awkward non-confessions are awkward.
– That is a sensei with morals of steel.
– Better luck next year! I mean season!
– A lot of love yelling going on here.