After the success that I had with “Your Lie in April”, I decided to tackle “Hibike! Euphonium”, another music-based anime. Well, the full title is (take in a huge gulp of air) “Hibike! Yūfoniamu Kitauji Kōkō Suisōgaku-bu e Yōkoso” or “Resonate! Euphonium. Welcome to Kitauji High School’s Wind Ensemble Club”. And if you can say that on one breath, perhaps you should consider playing the euphonium. For those who are not fully certain, a euphonium can be thought of as a smaller tuba, a bit easier to transport and with a better tone, much like its brother, a baritone horn.
Anyway, to the plot. The Kitauji high school concert band club had at one time participated in national tournaments and was a champion school, but after the club’s adviser changed, they have not been able to even participate in the qualifying tournament. At this point, we are talking perhaps at least five years, and possible closer to ten. However, thanks to the newly appointed adviser’s strict instruction, the students are steadily improving and build up their strength.
Our lead is Kumiko Oumae, who has been playing the ‘euph’ since she was a little child. She decides to join the band when her friends also wish to, and she discovers she would not be the only euph player on the band. Sapphire Kawashima is a deadlock for the band, as she is the only contrabass player. Unless you have zero ability, you are guaranteed a spot on the band with a rare instrument in a high school band. Hazuki Katou was a trumpet player, but they needed someone on tuba and she ‘won’, as they had a surplus of trumpets, led by Reina Kousaka. Now she is REALLY good, but has personality problems.
The show contends itself with several issues: a tough-minded teacher that will support whatever decision they make but he expects them to fully commit to that choice, an option to play band or do real competition and, the hardest decision of all, who gets onto the band. Here is where the real conflicts arise. Some folks don’t have what it takes to stick it out. Others must choose between band and cramming for entrance exams. Others just don’t like the politics. Now, this is a very full cast. We get to see everyone, but we are talking 50 to 60 folks, so there is a lot out there. It is possibly too much to keep a handle on.
I was surprised as to the amount of ladies in the band. The guys are given short shrift on a lot of things, so their stories are not as developed like the ladies get. Plus, the ladies sob and cry and throw tantrums and cat fight and have hissy fits. This is NOT the way to create unity. If the band members don’t get along, how do you expect to play together as a band? The teacher may exacerbate the situation as he is a real ‘my way or the highway’ type. He’s like J K Simmons in “Whiplash”, but without the naked cruelty. Still, he is a harsh taskmaster.
Finally, the long wished-for day of the contest arrives. Those who have made it onto the band practice and practice and practice, but are they learning anything with all that practicing? How will things turn out? Yeah, the answer to that question set up the possibility of a second season. Seriously, what music show have you seen that didn’t get a second season? Well, all of the ones I have seen got one.
It’s just that there was a lot of internecine fighting among everyone and something tantamount to open insurrection or mutiny. I understand artistic dynamic tension. But that push and pull can tear apart the best of band (like the Beatles), so with these youths wanting to make it in band plus the added distraction of growing up, things get confused all the way around. Despite all the sob sister stories (and it felt like that at time), it was a good offering in the musical genre. Perhaps not on the top of your list, but one worthy of your consideration.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (The big eyes got tiresome)
Plot 7 (a typical ‘make it or break it’ approach)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 7 (Things didn’t play through)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 7 (Too much a one-note Johnny)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Take it from bar 162.