Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium) Review & Characters - “Lets try for the Nationals!”

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Lets try for the Nationals!

  • Episodes : unknown
  • Genre : Drama, Music, School
  • Airing Date : Apr 8, 2015 - ongoing
  • Producers : Kyoto Animation

Hibike! Euphonium Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Hibike! Euphonium is the story of the Concert Band club at Kitauji high school. The band is taking in a new crop of Freshman including our main character, Kumiko Oumae and are getting prepared for the year ahead. The presence of a new advisor, Noboru Taki who gives the band a choice between just playing for fun, or for the goal of competing at the national level, the band chooses the latter. However, the choice may not have been made completely in earnest, and the band members may not have realized exactly what they’ve gotten themselves into.

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Who does Hibike! Euphonium cater to?

If you’ve enjoyed a Kyoani show prior or enjoy the slice of life/high school dram genre at all then Hibike! Euphonium is easy to recommend. If you’re also a fan of music shows, this is something you should definitely tune in to. I think overall, Hibike! Euphonium is a character-driven drama that’s built around examining characters experiences to the club and relating their experiences with others in their friendships and also, conflicts.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

I stated before that this show is a character drama, and therein lies the shows biggest asset. It’s able to present different types of personalities, attitudes as well as backstories and life experience around the central driving force of the narrative, the music club. We have characters that are well-thought out and distinct from one another, that feels fresh and don’t rely on too many tropes or overused clichés. This show is about how people come and work together to achieve something, be it trying to reach a lofty goal or trying to merely have a good time. So far, it’s apparent that this show is trying to deal with the way groups of people manage decision making in a group, and manage different aspirations and desires of the membership.

Hibike! Euphonium PV

Hibike! Euphonium Main Characters List

Kumiko Oumae

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Voice Actor :Tomoyo Kurosawa

Kumiko is the main character of the series, and she attends Kitauji high school because she wanted a fresh start. She went in with the intent not to do band again, and even when she goes back into band, she tries to start another instrument. In the end, she takes up the Euphonium again, which gives the series its name. Kumiko might want to grow up a little faster than she is right now, but also seems to be very preoccupied with the past. She seems to have a troubled and complicated relationship with her sister as well as Reina Kousaka, another main character with whom Kumiko went to middle school with. Kumiko feels especially uneasy over one particular comment she made which she thinks (and seemingly did) hurt Reina’s feelings. Still, Kumiko is a big help to the band, a skilled musician and a good example for those totally new to playing music to follow.

Reina Kousaka

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Voice Actor :Chika Anzai

If Kumiko wanted (or thought she wanted) nothing to do with music, it seems Reina is the polar opposite. An excellent trumpet player, Reina receives private lessons in addition to working diligently in the school band. Why she went to Kitauji remains somewhat of a mystery, as they weren’t known at all for their music club. She’s the strong yet silent type, and is willing to confront people if something she cares about is at stake. Behind the silent personality, is a deep well of emotion and like Kumiko there’s a lot to her that we don’t know at first.

Contains Spoilers

Hibike! Euphonium Review

Hibike! Euphonium has both broad appeal and significant niche appeal. If you have even a moderate interest in the high school or slice of life genre, I can easily recommend this show. As for the Niche, if you have been a member of a concert band, this is a show you want to pick up immediately. For the uninitiated, concert bands are essentially orchestras without string instrumentations, although some have a double bass. Concert Bands also typically have saxophones, which traditional orchestras rarely do. This gives it a unique and distinguished sound that’s easy to remember if you’ve been in a concert band, and that sound is showcased in Hibike! Euphonium. It’s impossible for me to sit through and episode and not miss the days I spent in band in my High school years. From ensembles, to sectional practices, to lugging your instrument home, the show can throw you into a pool of nostalgia if you’ve had the experience.

At the same time, it’s not so steeped in music itself to be a drag for those who don’t have much an interest in it. There are no long discussions of music terminology or theory, and when they do need to go in depth, it does a good job of giving you proper exposition so you know what’s going on. Hibike! Euphonium’s main strength is not the artistry performed by the main characters but the artistry that’s gone into the show itself. If there’s one scene that solidified this as the current anime of the season front runner, it’s Reina playing Antonin Dvorak on the hill overlooking the school.

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This is a good example of what I mean by the artistry that is going behind this series. Reina is either deeply passionate about music or just compelled to work very hard at being the best musician she can be. However, most of her classmates are anything but, and even though they agreed to go for national level competition, many of them did so just for show and are more interested in just having fun. The band’s lack of effort and practice time causes friction between them and their conductor/club advisor. Reina, at the end of school, goes on the hill and plays the famous ‘Going Home’ melody just as well as anybody could, and lets out a belting, frustrated scream. It’s a beautiful moment, and the music behind it is significant. The piece of music she’s playing was composed while Dvorak, a Czech composer, was traveling abroad in the United States. The piece was inspired by numerous American folk songs, so to Dvorak, they were foreign songs sung about longing for your home, while he was a way, longing for his. Again, it remains to be seen why Reina chose an school with a weak band program, but this grand gesture powerfully displays that she’s feeling alone, isolated, and away from where she wants to be.

There’s a line between shows with keep details hidden, sometimes it can be overly cryptic and obtuse, and other times it’s intriguing and drives you to want to know more. Hibike! Euphonium lies squarely in the latter. This show is all about its character drama. At first appearance a ‘cute girls don’t cute things show’ the relationships we see develop really makes the experience feel grounded and real. We won’t know for sure until the series ends, but this feels like a show that will take you step by careful step to reveal just what makes these character tick emotionally, and the wealth of strong, emotional dialogue leads me to believe this show is worth a rewatch or two.
Probably the most unique thing about Hibike! Euphonium is its focus on showing a group, with many different types of people who each have their own desires, interests and goals coming together to make decisions for the whole, and what are the effect of those decisions on the group and it’s members. If you’ve been active in high school or college clubs, this show will definitely make you recall that experience. The Kitauji band feels like a living, breathing club which in many ways seems to be flimsy foundations.

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The last episode, which went into detail about why many of its members quit last year, because they wanted to take a serious approach over the lax one the majority wanted.
People want different things out of the club, and not all of them are going to be satisfied. Helming the ship is the seemingly embattled Haruka Ogasawara, club president. Haruka’s somewhat demure temperament is maybe not what she and others feels a president needs, and this causes her to rely on Asuka Tanaka, her strong willed Vice President, to rally together many of the bands members. Haruka relies on Asuka, but also somewhat resents both her ability and popularity especially when she could make such use of it for the good of the band.

Emotional nuance like this, especially in the context of having to play in and manage this group club is the meat and potatoes of Hibike! Euphonium. It would have been much easier to develop, and much less enjoyable to watch, a show where people play music because they love music and the only times they’re in emotional duress is when they’re not playing. But this show is much more ambitious than that and wants to paint a portrait of how people relate to each other and have to come together and make decisions as a group amongst dissenting opinions and disparate personalities.
There’s a lot yet to unfold, and much more to be seen but Hibike! Euphonium compels me to give it an early seal of approval. It’s nifty, well-crafted in every sense from its emphasis on the personal experiences and motivations of individuals, to its ability to frame shots and visually give insight into how a character feels or what two peoples relationship might be at in that moment. It’s also a damn nice show to look at, with strong and easy to recognize character designs (Helpful in a show with a cast this big) with generally strong animation and also excellent backgrounds and overall detail.

1. The Band as a Whole

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Kitauji feels as real as many of the groups and organizations people join in high school or college. If you’ve come together with people who share a passion or a belief and wanted to pursue it, forming a group isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. There’s a lot of work and politics that go into it, sometimes this can drag it down, other times it can sustain what’s good about it and why it was formed in the first place. I’m looking forward to see where the band ends up, and I hope it will be a place that all of its members can take away something from.

2. The Performances

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Using music to display a group of people who are reaching out of their comfort zone to devote themselves to getting better at something, the show uses the performances of the band to a great effect. From hearing a piece that first sounds muddled, messy and out of sync transform into something that’s played with passion, preparation and attention to detail is not something you need to be a music theorist to hear. A show about music needs to take care in the music that’s played, and Hibike! Euphonium hasn’t pulled punches yet in this regard.

3. The Different Sections

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One of the things you’ll notice Is that each of the sections have a sort of distinct personality to them. The trumpets are flashy and can be a little brash. The low brass are understated, almost dull. The kids in the percussion joined because they wanted to hit stuff with sticks. It’s often talked about how each instrument often has a specific type of personality that’s attracted to it and Hibike! Euphonium does this in subtle ways that are always fun to catch.

There’s a lot to like about Hibike! Euphonium. It’s a show with a lot of attention to detail, fleshing out it’s characters, making it’s drama seem real and not totally ridiculous, and having strong visual story telling. I look forward to new episodes for this show more than any other in the Spring 2015 lineup. If you don’t want to miss out on what might be the best anime of this season, don’t sleep on Hibike! Euphonium.

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Author: CJL

Long Islander who loves anime. Interested in politics, philosophy and also a huge fan of sports and video games. Just about any series can get me going if it’s done well. From cute girls doing cute things shows, to gritty-action or space-opera or mecha series. Comment on my articles, let’s get a conversation going.

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