A musical montage of memories and magical moments fills out a fantastic finale. All of your ships may not have sailed yet, but there is likely a long way for the Kitauji high school band to go yet.
With the third-years retired it’s time for some new leadership. This finale really feels like both a conclusion and a new beginning with this expert use of school club reality. It’s bittersweet, but that is school life. Just as Matsumoto-sensei says, “every year you can start from scratch. I think that’s fantastic.”Taki-sensei is new to this kind of experience, so it’s great to see his emotions being addressed as well. As for Yuuko and Natsuki being president and vice-president respectively, that is some nice trolling by Asuka indeed. They are such hilarious friends by this point, but have been set up to be great leaders concerned about the future of the band and its members. Great choices.
Kumiko’s friends really pounce on her Shuichi situation here, but she brushes it off just as expertly as ever. At this point it is still hard to tell if the series is playing her as uninterested, shy, or oblivious – and that is great. High school is a confusing time, and even if Kumiko understands Shuichi’s (obvious) feelings, she might just not be ready to accept the existence of such things yet. It would be frustrating, if that wasn’t also what makes a good romantic story so enjoyable. If all the tension is suddenly gone, that’s it. Nobody likes to watch a cute couple be happy! Right..?
The music returns triumphantly in this episode. If last week was the resolution to most of the side-plots and character dramas, this is the musical resolution the series deserves. The tune from the original PV for season one (here) returns for the farewell to the graduating class. That isn’t all though, as the remaining band performs their best rendition of the competition piece to a montage of heartfelt memories. It really allows us to feel the musical connection to all of these events and feelings that each of the characters has experienced up to this point.
Asuka and Kumiko is really not the relationship most people were expecting to be highlighted in this finale. And no, it’s definitely not the yuri path (no matter how much you/we/everyone might want it to be). This is just a tale of a girl, her euphonium, and the senpai that inspired her to be the best that she can be. If anything, this has been the main through-line of the plot for the past two seasons. It is Sound! Euphonium after all, not High School Band Drama Simulator. That drama is all a byproduct of Kumiko’s journey with the euphonium, and if there is more of this series in the future I am certain we will end up down some of the routes not yet fully explored. Reina will likely get her chance, again, and Shuichi will be even more impressively friend-zoned in the future. But no matter what, Kumiko’s time with the euphonium will likely remain the true story to be told.
Summary: A musical montage of memories and magical moments, plus some real feelings as Hibike! Euphonium turns a new page.
– Natsuki x Yuuko ship has sailed.
– While everyone is shipping Shuichi x Kumiko.
– And now Kumiko x Asuka… wait where is this going?
– Hang in there Shuichi. You’re doing all the right things.
– You could just email her.
– Funny videos from trips are what clubs are all about.
– I was never this close with my senpai…
The Technical Stuff
This series really is beautiful. There is no question that KyoAni put out top-of-the-line material here, because it shows. From character designs and gorgeous settings to the amazingly well-animated musical moments you can just feel the quality in each episode. Most notably to me, as a professional musician, is the attention to detail on instruments and how they are played – trombone slides are in the right positions, percussionists hit the bass drum and mute it in proper fashion, and the fingerings on each instrument reflect the notes that are actually being played. That takes some effort, and it is something that I have really only seen done with piano through computer-generated effects in the past. But it’s not only the musical technicalities on display that have that wow-factor here, as I bet Kumiko’s hair could be a main character in itself. There is probably more life to it than an entire season of Dragon Ball Super. The voice acting is also fantastic. The delivery was never noticeably questionable or out of line. But most of all, the reactions sounds from Kumiko, and a few others, have to be some of the greatest sounds ever recorded and add so much to the occasional comedic tone of the series. Way to go, Kurosawa Tomoyo!
Although mostly character-driven, the over-arching story about the power of music is what shines brightly in this series. A lot of people were on the edge of their seats to see Kumiko and Reina test each other’s tonguing skills (I’m talking about kissing…), but music was always the main focus. It ties in to everything and pulls each character through their own individual story. So with the trip to nationals and the somewhat disappointing bronze finish, this story is far from over. Of course there is still romantic tension yet to be resolved, but music is the whole reason any of it exists in the first place. With the end of this season, the series as a whole feels like it’s at a mid-point just before the climax, so I really am hoping for more. Kumiko has matured to this point and expressed her feelings of admiration/inspiration to her senapi, and now it has to be put to use. Go for gold, Kitauji!
The cast in this series is wonderfully well-rounded and representational. You are likely to find someone who fits each of the archetypes on display in any high school band, and Kumiko is definitely what everyone will feel like on the inside as their own main character. She struggles with her feelings, gets upset, has a couple really good friends and a lot of ‘band friends’, and is just all-around pretty normal. It’s almost too real. The side characters are also quite fantastic, with several that were left alone last season receiving some complex development. Natsuki and Yuuko are probably the best examples of this, as the Natsuki came out of her shell a bit and took on an unlikely friendship with Yuuko. At the same time several characters were mostly non-existent or somewhat less than important – like Sapphire and Hazuki.
It’s great to see such a realistic and emotional show about music and the lives of those in a school band. If you never had the opportunity to experience it first-hand, this is nearly as good.
(Rounded to 9 for MAL)