Sound! Euphonium Episode 11

euph11a “Welcome Back, Audition”

Tuesdays at 1:00 pm EDT on Crunchyroll

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.

Marlin’s Thoughts

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.

euph11c

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.

euph11bJel’s Thoughts

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.

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3 thoughts on “Sound! Euphonium Episode 11

  1. I guess I’m an outlier, because I find this show so utterly disappointing.

    Its foibles and fetishes notwithstanding, I think Kyoto Animation is far and away the most brilliant TV anime production company around. The way they animate subtle, simple movements, combined with the broad sweep of their detailed backgrounds and truly inspired camera movement puts them entirely in a league of their own. I truly believe that Hyouka, which is my personal favorite, can stand next to virtually any animation ever done for TV OR the cinema.

    So I have no issues with Euphonium’s animation or direction, which are typically stellar.

    But good Lord, outside of the jewel that was episode 8, do I think its characterization and storytelling is godawful.

    For all of the justified criticisms of how crazily quickly Yamada-kun is racing through its plot, at least Yamada and Shiraishi feel like full characters.

    Outside of Kumiko, I don’t feel like I know much of anything about even Reina, not to mention Hazuki, Midori, Asuka and the rest. So many characters have been introduced that I find myself struggling to remember who’s who, much less whether I care who gets to compete for Nationals and who doesn’t. Characters and storylines seem to be introduced and dropped at a dizzying pace, and I just can’t bring myself to care all too much about any of this.

    Hyouka is about coming to grips with your talents and interests as you barrel towards adulthood; Nichijou was about recognizing that your ordinary life truly IS extraordinary.

    What’s Euphonium about? Learning to excel? Discovering the importance of working together and collaborating in a group? Falling in love?

    I have no freaking idea! Because as beautiful as it is, to me, at least, Euphonium is a messy, overstuffed disappointment that I can’t understand why anyone who wasn’t in their high school band would care about.

    But again, I guess I’m an outlier!

    • Couldn’t you say the same thing about any character in Yamada that isn’t Yamada or Shiraishi? No one comes close to having any of the character development of Hazuki or Asuka in that show. The reason it’s good is because of that main pair, but don’t forget it has plenty of its own problems when it comes to characterization. Your views on what makes each show good and not are borderline schizophrenic. You excuse Yamada for rushing things, then say that Euphonium’s faults include its dizzying pace?

      It seems pretty obvious by now that the band is mostly a framing device for exploring the relationship between these characters. I think what shows that this can be a strong show is that some of these characters have motivations beyond just wanting to win nationals. They want to prove themselves, or support the ones they care about.

  2. This is the genuinely, with all honesty, the first romance between any two characters in anime, TV, and film that I am actively cheering on. I can think of no other series where I genuinely cared whether two characters hooked up.

    Also remarkable how they got me to grudgingly respect Taki’s solution, which would only work if he truly knew Reina was absolutely the better player without bias, and simultaneously browbeat the band from disputing any of his future decisions. Underhanded, and irresponsible. But effective. It’s more like a Hikigaya Hachiman who has learnt not to take the entire fall.

    I was mildly amused by Asuka previously, but now, I find her behaviour quite infuriating. Maybe it’s because I was that guy in the band who was unafraid to voice my displeasure, and on one occasion, openly challenged decisions made by seniors of the band simply because I found the situation at the time to be unacceptable. There have been other protests, but that was one incident which was instigated by me which made the high school gossip at the time. And Asuka is the VP! She should be either mending ties or supporting the audition results. Doing nothing is downright irresponsible.

    But let’s not detract from the fact that this was the week we witnessed an extraordinarily believable romantic pairing between two girls in a society that is strongly heteronormative. I would be saddened if KyoAni throws all character development to the wind just to stay true to the novels – but that would not negate the fact that they managed to slip in a believable lesbian relationship, with none of the usual fanservice, into an otherwise impressive anime about school bands.

    The shit going down here is even more believable that the too mature to be true characters from Hourou Musuko. They don’t even have older gay friends to show them a lesbian relationship is possible, hence why when Reina proclaimed she loved Taki, I immediately assumed it was a statement born from the need to conform to societal standards for romance, that is it must be between a man and a woman, and the disturbing connotations about teacher-student relationships is merely a minor inconvenience.

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