Since I have played the piano and clarinet during my childhood up until my senior year of high school, Hibike! Euphonium instantly caught my eye when I saw it was a story of a high school concert band working with a new advisor in order to competing in nationals. Since it is Kyoto Animation, does it live up to expectations? Lets find out.
The story focuses on a girl named Oumae Kumiko who is a former euphonium player. During middle school, her school earned gold. Although she was happy, her school’s band fell short from advancing to nationals, which causes one of her classmates, Kousaka Reina to become upset.
Since that day, she cannot stop recalling that incident when she entered Kitauji High School. Within a short period of time, she became friends with Hazuki and Sapphire, who decides to join the school’s concert band. While Kumiko was hesitant when she saw Reina, she eventually joined under peer pressure and forced to play the euphonium again. With their new advisor, Nobaru Taki being serious about making nationals for real this time from a vote, Kumiko hopes that dream will become a reality instead of a mere fantasy.
Since I have played an instrument in concert band, this show was very relatable to my experiences even though I never participated in nationals, except for marching band competitions during my senior year. The story is very interesting in a sense that it focuses on Kumiko who wants to become someone special while growing a bond with Reina along the way while the whole concert band deal the challenges along the way to reach their goal.
With Taki pushing the members hard to achieve nationals, it stirred up some drama with some members rebelling. At the same time, everyone became motivated to improve himself or herself, especially when he held auditions to determine the group of fifty-five band members. Of course, achieving that goal is certainly not easy with Aoi quitting, Yuko being dissatisfied with Kaori not getting the solo among other things. Still, I think the show did a very good job presenting the drama because perfecting concert band pieces for a competition is not a very easy task since everyone has to do their part. At the same time, one has to have fun playing the music in order to become motivated and put in the effort.
While I enjoy Hazuki as she struggles with the tuba as a beginner with Sapphire supporting her friends along the way, the main focus is obviously on Kumiko and Reina. I think they make a good pair for the fact that they have a lot in common with Kumiko being unsure with her ability to play the euphonium or if they will make it to nationals. Sure, people said that these scenes are bait, but it is very hard not to see them as an actual couple by how they interact, especially in the eighth and tenth episodes.
While Reina is pretty much an oddball considering that she not only takes her trumpet playing seriously and does not interact with many people, she wants to become special and not be like everyone else. Aside from the yuri undertones (yep, Shuichi obviously got kicked to the curb in the adaptation), it is clear that Kumiko sees her as her role model considering that she was dragged to play the euphonium since middle school, which in turn lessen her enjoyment playing the instrument until Reina came along. Aside from the romantic teasing, especially in the eighth episode, it is easy to say that Reina is the most alluring character in the entire show given her personality and the influence she had on Kumiko.
As for the other characters, while the focus was only on some of the members since there are so many of them and not a lot of time to develop them, Asuka is definitely one of the more popular members that got developed given her cheerful and playful personality, which Haruka have to keep in check. Not only that, she was the one that forced Kumiko to play the euphonium again.
Of course, there are characters like Yuko whom most people disliked because she was a jerk to everyone, especially towards Reina over the desire of having Kaori playing the solo. Aside from that, there are other members in the concert band that I also enjoyed such as Natsuki, especially when she teases Yuko. Also, there is Haruka, who gotten over the fear of losing members after crying about the loss of Aoi and tries to become a better club president afterwards.
Overall, I have to say that Hibike! Euphonium is a very enjoyable show. While it had a few flaws here and there, I was impressed with the music and the amount of detail they put in how the members played the instruments to make it feel realistic instead of just having them play random notes. In other words, this is probably the best show since Hyouka that they have made in a while because they actually focused on music rather than on cake. With that, I would not mind another season if they decide to make one. If they do so, hopefully they will keep developing the relationship between Kumiko and Reina and not throw the Shuichi monkey wrench in.
Overall Rating: 9.3/10, Very Good, A