Wednesdays 12:30 pm EDT on Crunchyroll
We all saw Asuka’s back story coming from miles away, but that didn’t dampen the impact of her revealing it. There was something beautiful about her finally being able to take off her mask and say how she truly feels, culminating with the first genuine smile we’ve ever seen from a character that is constantly laughing and joking. Strip away all the silly high school drama and she’s no longer the “villain”. Even if her teasing to deflect her problems isn’t the healthiest coping mechanism, you have to admire her determination to keep trying at all. I got chills watching the final scene as she played her father’s musical piece. It might have been the most emotionally meaningful moment in the series to date. Kumiko’s relationship with Reina gets all the attention but there’s a reason this is the episode that gets to be called “Sound! Euphonium”. While Kumiko strives to be like Reina, Asuka is closer to who she actually is, mask and all. When Asuka acknowledges her as another “euphonium-ish kid” their kinship suddenly makes total sense.
It was also noteworthy that this episode finds the cast realizing how special Kumiko is. We’ve always seen what goes on behind the scenes so we understood she was the reluctant heroine, but it was cool to see some of her upperclasswomen acknowledge it as well. Of course Reina has always known this since Day One and would not be outdone by the rest of the girls. We haven’t had nearly enough scenes with everyone’s favorite yuri bait couple this season, so this episode tried to make up for it with one of the most SHUT UP AND KISS ALREADY moments we’ve had yet. That of course will never happen, but I’m just reminding everyone that it should. The chemistry they have, especially compared to the following awkward scene with Taki, is on another level and I hate to see it go to waste.
While Asuka’s smile in the final scene was a great moment and I loved this episode overall, I was a little disappointed we don’t get any indication as to what her next move will be. She seemed pretty resigned to her fate, but did having someone directly tell her they love her music rekindle her fire? Now that we know the stakes I can’t imagine she won’t rejoin the group at some point. I’ve said before that leaving her out of Nationals might be poetic justice for her not being honest about her feelings, which even Asuka herself acknowledges. But despite all it’s drama, Euphonium seems allergic to unhappy endings so I’m predicting it will all work out in the end.