- Genre : Music, School, Drama
- Original Premiere : April 2019
- US Theatrical Premiere : July 2019 [July 11 & July 15]
- Studio : Kyoto Animation
Introduction and Story (No Spoilers)
Ordinary girl Kumiko Oumae, who most often plays the role of bystander despite being the protagonist of the series, is now a junior in high school and is thrust into a leadership position. She is forced to become the mother hen and councilor to the underclassmen joining the band. Kumiko shares this burden with third-year trumpeter and captain Yuuko Yoshikawa. The freshmen don’t all just fit right in and many bring a lot of baggage to the band. The film shows us personal growth for many of the cast members we’ve gotten to know over series and movies. We also, of course, get music in the form of full-bodied symphonic sound that will fill your heart.
Hibike! Euphonium Movie 3: Chikai no Finale [Sound! Euphonium the Movie 3: Our Promise: A Brand New Day] (Spoilers)
The story starts with Kumiko and Tsukamoto, a boy who plays trombone, standing on a bridge together. We get a peek on an intimate moment between the two as she gives him a gift. We even see the two drink after one another which, as we who watch anime know, is a big step in a relationship. The story flashes forward to last year’s band members recruiting and welcoming the freshmen musicians. A gimmick of vertical cell phone video is used throughout as a way for us to get a “confessional” feel of the characters telling us what they are thinking in the moment. The bass section at first looks like it will be overlooked by the new members but quickly fills out.
The new characters, all freshmen, seem to have their own interpersonal problems that seem to extend to problems with each other. We quickly find the competition isn’t only for the band as a whole but between its members. We are also quickly reminded that the events that happen in the side story/movie Liz and The Blue Bird are concurrently happening as we get glimpses of Mizore and Nozomi during this film.
The story sets Kumiko, who’s been recognized for being a great listener, as the person in charge of the freshmen. She helps one band member who thinks they might quit because they are overshadowed by a more likable but less talented player stay in the band. She also gives a wakeup call "that life isn’t fair and you can work hard and still fail," talk to one of the freshmen. It’s a message we find uncommon in most anime; the majority tend to suggest that hard work pays off. The moment is not only a turning point for the character she directs it to but for Kumiko herself as she truly speaks up and acts like a real upperclassman.
The school band goes to the regional band competition and plays an amazing piece as they aim for nationals. We are supposed to be okay with giving spoilers but it's just no fun to let you know how it ends.
1. Compelling Stories
Kyoto Animation is at its best when it tells stories like this. You get a real sense that they understand they are creating something special, a film that will last long after any pop culture fad has passed. The care they take in the slow progression of the story and fleshed-out real characters give you reasons to be emotionally invested in this group of student musicians.
2. Attention to Detail
The animation staff takes great care to make each note played by the musicians accurate. The fingering on the brass instruments, the impact of the sticks on the membranes of the drums, the breaths released by the woodwinds are all truly representative of a live concert. The shine of the instruments and the way they reflect their surroundings is another sharp touch to watch for as the camera pans around the orchestra.
3. The music, The Music, The Music!
The eight-and-a-half minutes of music during the competition is brilliant. When the last note is played you might even feel the need to applaud from your theater seat. The camera forgets it’s an animation and moves, turns, and takes wide and isolation shots as if it was a live concert broadcast giving us something that isn’t just musically amazing but visually stunning.
1. Not Enough Reina
We get to see a few intimate moments between Reina and Kumiko. The two are accused of being too close by one freshman. The duo even wears matching swimsuits; though the color choice is different the patterns and style are the same. We also get to see them alone in the park as Reina plays for Kumiko. But we don’t get nearly enough of this relationship. It may not, in reality, be the yuri relationship fan girls and guys ship but it is a very close one. We take solace that their friendship isn’t going anywhere even after they leave school and move on.
2. New Characters
We understand this is a story about a school orchestra and that people graduate (we miss you Asuka-Senpai!) and are replaced by new classmates. Still, we never feel we get enough time with the characters we love and think just when we are really getting to know them they are gone from the timeline. We don’t want to learn new characters and their traits and figure out where they are going to fit into the established dynamic of existing characters.
We love her and for some of us, the idea of her dating is wrong. We may sound like her father, but Kumiko has school and band and doesn’t need a boyfriend. We will admit, however, that her jealous moments when a freshman gets close to Tsukamoto are quite cute.
You’ll love Hibike! Euphonium because, like the music, the entire series and the movie is a piece of art. Kyoto Animation and Director Tatsuya Ishihara consistently deliver quality stories and show-stopping animation. You will never get tired of three things in this series and its films. The first is the characters feel real, you can see yourself (or who you once were) in them. Second, is the music; it was written to lift your soul and is performed expertly. Third, floof. You have to love Kumiko in order to love this series. She is our everyman; it is through her floofy-haired point of view that we see everything happen. We will always be torn between closing our eyes and listening to the symphony and watching the graceful animation, so this is an anime we’ll turn to again and again.