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Kaori and Kousaka start practicing vigorously for the new audition. As the results start to seem one-sided, that asshole with the bow tries one last desperate plea to get Reina to throw the competition. With the stress finally getting too much, Reina reaches out to Kumiko for consolation.
Asuka proves herself time and time again as not just the comic relief. There’s always been a bit of an unnerving quality to her strong personality. More and more as the show went on we saw her true colors start to show through, as her dogged pursuit of her own skill quickly made her ignore the plights of others. Now, she’s confronted with someone she actually cares about, and decides dancing around her problems is the better solution. True, it would be harsh for her to come out and straight up say Reina is better, but her aloof way of dealing with things can only bring its own set of problems down the road.
Having recently learned about what happens in the light novels, it’s really striking to see how far the Kumiko/Reina relationship has been taken. Sure, episode 8 was pretty indicative of the tone of the relationship between these two, but this moment before the re-audition was more tender than any other romance I’ve seen in a while. It was poetic in that sweet but overblown way that really suited a pair of starry-eyed teenagers. All the dramatics in their conversation seemed designed to really nail home the depth of their convictions. At least I hope that’s what’s going on, because to have these things happen and then try to pass them off as devoid of a romantic subtext would be beyond jarring, especially after the “This is a love confession” line.
There is something to be said about the power of good music. While Euphonium, by its nature as a show about inexperienced teen performers, has always had a rough edge to its performances. Now with the two best instrumentalists put to the task, we get to see some absolutely stunning solo work. It’s a good sign when the clarity of sound makes me reflexively close my eyes so I can fully appreciate it. I wonder if Taki threw the competition simply because he knew it would bring the band back into focus. It seemed weird that only two people clapped for either side, but either way there wasn’t a clear consensus. Did he make that offer knowing Kaori would decline the opportunity? I can see his reasoning either way, but it still speaks of an underhanded way of dealing with the crisis. Now, with this drama finally over and Bow Girl getting her comeuppance, we can finally focus on the performance. One can only hope they’re not too late.
If you’ll indulge me as I sit on the psychologist’s couch for a second, I’m finding Asuka to be surprisingly relatable ever since the band drama started going down. I feel like I would handle her situation the exact same way and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I hate conflict and I hate taking sides, especially on issues that are not entirely black and white. It can be helpful in some situations when I’m in a position to mediate and smooth things out. Unfortunately it can also mean deflecting and laughing off problems when I should probably face them head on. It’s not a quality I’m particularly proud of and I find it fascinating how it adds an almost dark undercurrent to Asuka’s otherwise perfect character. She’s more than just the goofy senpai that helps keep the band in line, she has good points and bad points like everyone else in Euphonium and, well, real life too.
But no one cares about that, KUMIKO x REINA OTP WOOOOO I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP!!! #kumirei2015… sorry, deflecting again. My own shortcomings aside, it would be incredibly dishonest for KyoAni to back out of the relationship between those two at this point. I’m going to fly the ***SPOILER*** flag for the novels here for a second: from what I understand the date in episode 8 played out pretty much as is from the novel, but I have also heard that the girls go after their respective guys in the novels as well. The big scene this episode that dovetails with episode 8 was not in the novels. I don’t think you can interpret that scene as anything other than KyoAni declaring they do not intend to stick to the script on this. I have no clue what they are trying to accomplish which worries me, but at least there’s a slight glimmer of hope for a positive outcome between the two. Will KyoAni finally make good on pairing up two girls? It still seems unlikely but this is probably the farthest they’ve ever made it. At the very least I’m enjoying the ride.