Hibike! Euphonium – 12 Review

hibike121.mp4 - 00006Kumiko’s putting her warface on.

This time I review:

Hibike! Euphonium 12: Kumiko didn’t care about music or playing the Euphonium. And still she played the Euphonium because everybody needs a hobby, right? Losing or winning were just two different sides of a coin she flipped as if it was the business of luck alone what would happen. But all that changed as she met Reina again and this time anything other than winning is unacceptable. Because this time it’s personal.

Review:

hibike121.mp4 - 00000Sure, ten days before the competition you ask a section of your ensemble to learn a new part to play. Because that’s a reasonable thing to expect from a high-school-ensemble.

This isn’t necessarily one of the show’s best episodes but it’s the one which shows a clarity of vision few of the other episodes in this series share. What always has plagued this series until now was a discomforting sense of uncertainty. Again and again you would get one story-beat after another in this series and you would wonder: “What for? What’s the point?” And it has taken this show 12 episodes to finally get an episode focused enough to actually answer those questions. The answer is that this show has always been about Kumiko discovering the meaning of commitment and ambition.

What this episode has shown more clearly than any other episode is how all the previous stories and character-moments have been a setup for Kumiko to confront her own failings and then realize why she has to overcome these. But more than that, the reason why Reina is really so important to Kumiko is that one, she provides Kumiko with the mystery of why she cried back then when they didn’t win and two, she serves as a role-model for how Kumiko should behave. So when Kumiko is getting closer to Reina in this series it’s because of Kumiko getting closer to understanding why Reina cried and at the same time she learns to empathize with Reina’s ambition and passion.

The story of Aoi, that one girl, who left because she had wanted to study for college-entrance-exams instead, that senpai trying to win the audition (despite knowing how small her chances had been to win against Kumiko), the story of how the ensemble from the last year had this conflict between students who didn’t have any ambitions and those who wanted to win competitions: It was all there to serve as stepping-stones for Kumiko to get closer to understanding Reina and to sympathize with her philosophy. So you reach this episode and Kumiko all of a sudden realizes that more than just having learned to understand this philosophy, she’s now driven by it.

What makes this episode work is the restraint the episode shows in actually focusing on Kumiko’s perspective. Also, thematically the episode is also far more focused than the other episodes because all the dialogues and the voice-over-narrative are tethered to this one problem of Kumiko struggling to keep up with the demands of the teacher. For once, the story actually gets somewhere because we only follow Kumiko who experiences an important moment of character-development at the end of the journey that is this 12th episode.

hibike121.mp4 - 00011Stalker-alert!

With all that said, there are a couple things in this series that seems superfluous or(potentially) extraneous. The big elephant in the room is of course the question of romance in this series. If you look at the role Reina is supposed to play here and then look at what this adaptation has turned her interactions with Kumiko into, then this adaptation has to offer a really committed yuri-romance-plot. The series’ relationship with this relationship can be best described as “pushy”. You get one scene after another of not only showing Kumiko and Reina becoming friends but the series goes out of its way to emphasize just HOW close those two are. Like, in this episode when Kumiko gets her phone back you don’t just get a quick line from Kumiko that Reina has called, no, you get to see the screen showing us that apparently Reina has been non-stop-trying to call Kumiko. Or in the previous scene it isn’t just enough that Kumiko wants Reina to get the solo-part but it turns into this sentimental scene characterized by trust and devotion. When it comes to these two this adaptation always goes the extra mile to make the scene more emotional. But the thing is: It isn’t necessary.

Kumiko is interested in and admires Reina because deep down she wants to be her but she doesn’t know why she should be like Reina and this whole series is her finding the answer to that. But when this adaptation is intensifying the weird dynamic these two have, you just get to see a Kumiko enamored with Reina and a Reina who blindly trusts Kumiko and constantly leans on her for emotional support. The series hasn’t just bringing them gradually closer over the course of the series, it has also kinda added an element of escalation to it. Thematically there’s no need for this to be a yuri-romance and it’s actually even more fitting if it were a friendship but this adaptation seemingly has made it its mission to give the Reina/Kumiko-relationship a far bigger (and differently characterized) role than it should have. This adaptation has invested SO much time in showing off how close Reina and Kumiko have become that it has to commit to this relationship being more important than just being a friendship crucial to the themes of the story.

But while with the romance you can at least accuse the series of adding an extraneous element, other stuff simply seems superfluous. In the previous episode Reina and Kaori redo their audition for the solo-part and the series never hides the fact that Reina is the better trumpet-player. If the story is supposedly all about Kumiko figuring out the meaning of ambition and commitment, then why does she stick around Reina instead of searching out Kaori to sort-of investigate why she even bothers to test her skills against Reina again. But Kumiko doesn’t need to do that because thematically the series actually already had covered that before when Kumiko had this scene with that senpai Natsuki who admitted that with this ambitious mood in the ensemble she just wanted to do her best but she knew that she wouldn’t be better than Kumiko and therefore she had no problem with the results. When Kaori refuses to play the solo-part, the idea behind it is essentially the same. In the same way Aoi, that girl which left the ensemble to concentrate on her studies, is the same as Kumiko’s sister in terms of what she thematically represents to Kumiko. You could easily merge those two into the same character and let it be Kumiko’s sister who tells her that she doesn’t regret giving up on music. Also, you could cut out the scene between Kumiko and Natsuki and just give Kaori when she refuses the solo-position a short speech mirroring what Natsuki said to Kumiko. From a characterization-perspective this stuff makes sense but in a 1-cour-series it would have made more sense to save time by cutting out characters or certain scenes that thematically don’t necessarily add to the story or repeat ideas which get expressed by other characters or scenes, too (I mean, the series already kinda cut Shuichi out of the story).

One of the most basic techniques is the “setup –> payoff”-pattern. You say something about “a” and later a will inform some decision, event and/or action. A lot of this series density comes from the script almost constantly zipping around with setting stuff up and delivering pay-offs from earlier stuff. And when you then see an episode like this one, you see what the series should be really like pacing-wise. But this series never stays focused enough to be concise with its themes. Instead there’s constantly stuff happening but Kumiko is just there as a witness or someone who just supports Reina from the sidelines. This series takes far too long to reach this stage where Kumiko isn’t just admiring Reina but also wants to be like her.

There has been a gradual development but it has happened under the guise of a relationship that certainly seems to push more towards yuri-territory than friendship-territory. And with the extraneous yuri-angle added to it, the fact that Kumiko not only gets closer to understanding Reina but also develops a passion for playing her instrument gets a bit buried by moments of sentimentality. What’s missing here is Kumiko being self-aware enough to notice how first her behavior around Reina changes and then how her attitude towards music changes. It has taken until this episode for Kumiko to stop being so passive and finally notice that she’s changed which leads to her pursuing her newfound ideals consciously instead of just offering admiration for those. Kumiko finally getting what is going on with herself feels more like someone hit a buttonswitch instead of the gradual development it should be. Until this episode Kumiko never really had the chance to reflect on what’s happening around her and what she thinks about where her place is in those events (and where she wants to be). It almost seems like Kumiko is actually surprised by her own character-development. I never like it when obliviousness is used as a tool to keep a character from consciously pondering what’s going on or showing signs of self-awareness. It’s just a little less worse than amnesia as a reason to artificially control a character’s development and intelligence. Like, all these thematic moments that occurred over the course of the last 11 episodes and NONE of them made Kumiko think about what she would do in their position and how she then would realize that she’s just as ambitious and single-minded as Reina for example. What was the point of all these events that were supposed to gradually get Kumiko to become more ambitious herself when she apparently never even thought about her own ambitions until now? Just the simple fact that she kept practicing with this school-ensemble whose demanding teacher and persistent practice-schedule should’ve made her realize what would get asked of her is she wants to stick around. It’s the sort of thing that makes you wonder whether it really should’ve taken that long to reach this point.

In a previous review I mentioned how I don’t believe this series will reach a conclusive end but this episode proves that it’s less aimlessness or a lack of time but rather a lack of focus that has kept this series from offering an entertaining journey. For most of the series Kumiko’s motivation was supposed to be all about getting closer to Reina and the series kinda achieved this with episode 08, one could argue but it didn’t follow that up with anything new for Kumiko to do. The whole mystery of why Reina cried in the flashback certainly mystified Kumiko more than most of the audience but the whole thing never translated into a motivation to act – until now. And considering just how dense the plot of this series is, it’s disappointing to see how a lot of it now seems like a detour for moment of revelation that Kumiko should’ve experienced far sooner.

Episode-Rating: 8.0/10

Random Thoughts:

  • Poor Shuichi… He and Kumiko finally talk again, get into a childish argument and Kumiko is so self-absorbed that she doesn’t even try to continue the conversation at some point.
  • I guess, Reina’s interest in the teacher is now just a sort of joke…? The way this episode handled Reina’s reaction in that last scene certainly felt more like a comedic story-beat.
  • Should a teacher really be so frank with a student like Taki is in this episode?
  • There seems to be something going on between Natsuki and that ribbon-girl now.

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on June 24, 2015, in Anime, Hibike! Euphonium, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Before anything, let me just say two words: THANK YOU.

    I found this particular review to Hibike! Euphonium 12 from another blog when one comment shared a link to your review, saying that your review had infuriated him/her. Out of curiosity, I followed the link, and in it I found this gem of a review, if not a cathartic view of Hibike! Euphonium I’d been hoping to find.

    You mentioned the dynamic between Kumiko and Reina and how it casts a shadow over the story’s impact. I’d always wondered if people had seen this problem as well, but I’d only seen it being praised even when the presentation of the story raised several questions (e.g. the purpose or depth of their friendship). You mentioned this:

    “But when this adaptation is intensifying the weird dynamic these two have, you just get to see a Kumiko enamored with Reina and a Reina who blindly trusts Kumiko and constantly leans on her for emotional support.”

    …and props to that, because, based on the anime adaptation, that aforementioned quote explains the disjointedness one might grasp when they try to understand the Kumiko-Reina relationship. Myself, I’d seen Kumiko’s attachment to Reina as admiration, the way anyone would look up to a role model or idol and immediately support them, while Reina seems to project her ideals onto Kumiko, as if she were thinking, “Kumiko shares the way I see things, and therefore, she thinks the same way I do.” Whether or not this is a “bad” relationship is up for one to decide, because I had always found even this idea of a dynamic interesting and still a possible friendship of sorts in real life.

    In the end, I had high hopes for Hibike! Euphonium when it first aired, what with the way it deviated from your run-of-the-mill stories one would find in anime. The first episode raised the stakes to begin with. The flow of the story has definitely become questionable towards these last few episodes.

    Make no mistake, it’s been one of the most, if not THE most, enjoyable anime this season…in my opinion, at least. Seriously, though, thank you for your opinion about Hibike! Euphonium thus far: it’s been a rewarding read!

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    • “I found this particular review to Hibike! Euphonium 12 from another blog when one comment shared a link to your review, saying that your review had infuriated him/her.”

      That’s… strange. That person should simply comment here because I’m all up for discussing this with someone who disagrees with my review. This series actually kinda infuriates me because on the surface you got great animation, great direction and a great cast of characters. It’s when you start to think about the particulars of this series’ VERY dense plot that things start to become shaky. Because on one hand you get a ton of moments where even the littlest thing serves as a setup for a later moment but on the other hand, the series simply gets overwhelmed by the demands of its huge cast. That the script-writers would pay this much attention to detail in an Anime-TV-series is unbelievable. At the same time, though, a lot of those details aren’t really necessary. Unless this series has already secured another two or more seasons I have no idea why we need to spend so much time establishing such a huge, varied cast for a 1-cours-show. Of course, the whole thing will fall apart once you start to question everything in detail. That’s why in theory one would be forced to even cut out maybe even great moments in order to create a great 1-cours-show. And with the way this series treated Shuichi and Reina’s relationship with the teacher you could already see some effort being made to address that but the plot of this show is still far.

      “…and props to that, because, based on the anime adaptation, that aforementioned quote explains the disjointedness one might grasp when they try to understand the Kumiko-Reina relationship.”

      That’s where things get interesting. Because of the way this series treats their relationship, anything other than a yuri-relationship wouldn’t make sense. This adaptation has treated this relationship in a way where it gets a new “wrinkle”. The story doesn’t need Reina and Kumiko to be in a yuri-relationship. But this adaptation is pushing for that all the same. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing since “… because love.” is a great way to explain away Reina’s interest in Kumiko. That’s the thing I’ve never understood about this relationship. Sure, Kumiko admires Reina, gets inspired by her, maybe even falls in love with her – but why does Reina care so much about Kumiko? Because Kumiko has an interesting personality…? But how does Reina know that? Because they had known each other before? But if they had known each other before, then why doesn’t their relationship start out with this big distance? And so on and so forth. Sure, I can speculate and explain away why Reina gives a shit about Kumiko but the series itself doesn’t offer a tangible explanation for why she cares. You gotta wonder: Where does her interest in Kumiko originate from? Of course, that’s a little bit nitpicky but considering that this series expects the audience to pay attention at every minute because even the littlest thing might be a setup for a later scene, I think it’s appropriate to get nitpicky with the story and plot.

      “The flow of the story has definitely become questionable towards these last few episodes.”

      What mystifies me the most about this series is why it has abandoned the restraint of having to follow Kumiko at all times while having her as an all-knowing narrator at the same time. I feel like we would have gotten far more out of the overarching story if said story had been primarily a character-study of Kumiko. Who cares if she starts a relationship with Reina or if she finds a way to appreciate her childhood-friend because he tries VERY hard to prove his worth to her, as long you could’ve tethered that to a more solid (and more entertaining) characterization of Kumiko, it would’ve been fine. But this series has treated its cast sometimes like whoever is in the limelight of a particular scene gets treated like he or she is the main-character. By having Kumiko remain in this mostly passive role it seemed like everyone else automatically got a shot at becoming the main-character instead for a scene or two. Every character’s actions now deserved our attention but it wasn’t like the series was consistent with who it followed. Instead of creating the illusion of immersion by streamlining the characters’ roles this series has constantly worked at complicating the whole thing and the series doesn’t have the necessary time to deal with this complexity.

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      • I’m the guy who found your review ‘infuriating’, though I tend to use more colourful language when expressing my reactions to things than I actually feel. Still, I disagree with a lot of the critical approaches you employ, and I’d happily discuss that here or elsewhere (the conversation might go on for a while, so I’m not sure this comment section is the best place for it).

        I feel you’re neglecting a lot of structural and thematic analysis of the show that sheds light on the dynamics you’re negatively criticizing, but the main thing that irked me was the notion that something ‘isn’t necessary’ in an artistic work; that struck me as a basic misunderstanding of art itself, and further develops the issue of your neglect for a synoptic approach that leaves a lot of holes in your argument. Moreover, the style of stating how you’d rather the show had been written, as you do throughout the review is, IMO, poor criticism.

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    • @JekoJeko: I’m sorry that your reaction to my review has been so negative. Well, I guess, your problem with my review is two-fold. One is what I say and the other is how I say it. Now I agree with you that this isn’t the place to talk about the latter but we could talk about former here in regards to the show, right? And I’ve taken your criticisms to heart and will work to avoid those in future reviews.

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      • Thanks for the understanding response. Apologies if I came across (or at any point come across) as harsh; I tend to be pretty blunt with my opinions to avoid mixing in personal feelings too much with criticism.

        I should also note that I’m not looking to change your mind, as I respect the importance that an opinion has to a critic. I’m mostly interesting in seeing certain issues elaborated on further. If they are valid judgements, I just don’t think they were expressed well in the article

        It’s probably best that I take my points one by one. Near the start of the article, you preface a review that focuses heavily on misdirection and extraneous/superfluous elements with the notion that ‘what always has plagued this series until now was a discomforting sense of uncertainty’. I’ve read your past reviews and even commented on the issue before, but I’ll question the issue more directly here: how is the convoluted nature of Hibike’s plotlines ‘discomforting’ to the point that it ‘plagues’ the series?

        I can see genre expectations getting mixed into this, but the statement seems to me as a disregard for the coming-of-age context that works as a strong proponent of the show’s delicate web of stories. Likewise, the following support for the argument, that we have multiple events that leave us thinking ‘what’s the point?’, and how you boil it all down to Kumiko’s belated character development, seems like an oversimplified view of character progression. The story, on the surface, has been about the band coming together to excel at music, and thus each storyline has helped alleviate an issue in the group and help it bit-by-bit approach this new-found level of success. The fact that Kumiko comes so late in this process is surely structurally symbolic of her character – the Euphonium that never had a toy, that no-one really pays much attention to. Indeed, all the prior small developments in characters have contributed to her eventual advancement, but why does that make all these small developments meaningless? If I was Taki-sensei, I’d want every character to grow where they need to. This episode focuses on Kumiko, but I wouldn’t give her all my attention for the entire series, seeing everything as pointless aside from how it influences her, as you seem to have done.

        The band has not been coming together because of Kumiko – the band has been coming together around her, and that’s significant enough to warrant attention driven collectively to their part. The arguable lack of focus of plotlines until now at the start is directly connected to the band’s lack of focus as a group, and I can’t help but see that as a masterful stroke of thematic design.

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    • @JekoJeko:

      I have responded below😉 .

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  2. I guess, Reina’s interest in the teacher is now just a sort of joke…? The way this episode handled Reina’s reaction in that last scene certainly felt more like a comedic story-beat.


    only disagree with this part, by whom Reina is a yandere when it comes to Taki-Sensei, and this is one of the main features of it in novels.
    How can you call joke and ignores the fact that she throw a bottle of water and haywire only when Kumiko menciounou who was with her Taki-Sensei loved.
    Similar scene took place in Volume 2, when some students were commenting that perhaps the new assistant professor could be the girlfriend of Taki-Sensei, Reina rolled his eyes and threw a glass cup on the floor.
    Is no joke it has the same yandere attitudes in the novel.

    just do not agree with the last part on the reaction reigns.
    Because in Volume 2 scenes like that to play the water bottle on the floor contantemente happens, most of the volume 2 covers is about Reina and its relation to Taki-Sensei.
    And yandere so that it has as it comes to Taki-Sensei is so intense that part of the volume of reading 2, you no longer know whether what Reina feels for Taki-Sensei is love or obsession.
    This yandere and obsessive way of Reina is what makes her most interresante character in the novels.
    It is one of the main characteristics of his personality, and can not be ignored and treated trivially.
    That look of episode 5, is the same look that is described in the novels.

    Or do you think normal for a person look like that, when speaking of the person you love.
    Yandere traditional look, this fact can not be changed, because it is visible, and there is real evidence, and they are in the anime

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    • I said that with the anime-adaptation in mind primarily. The novels are a completely different story. It’s good that the second novel explains why exactly Reina loves the teacher and how this love expresses itself. In this adaptation however it doesn’t feel like the anime takes this part of Reina’s characterization very serious.

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      • Friend but this is not just an isolated scene of this attitude in the anime.
        Review the episode 5, la Reina where it upsets when Shu and Kumiko are badmouthing Taki-Sensei. That look and attitudes in episode 5, has no difference with Yunno to look Mirai Nikki, and their attitudes.
        Explode and upsets of nowhere just by mentioning the name of a person is not a normal attitude
        In the same episode Reina asks what Kumiko think of Taki-Sensei look at the face of satisfaction that Reina does.

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    • Okay, let’s clear some things up:
      1. In this anime-adaptation Reina is NOT a yandere.
      2. I’m aware Reina has proclaimed her love for the teacher directly or indirectly a couple times so far.
      3. Still, though, I question the attitude of this adaptation towards this particular character-bit when you get a scene like that last one in this episode.

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      • Not to mention that Reina is strange, autistic and has no concept of space, his gaze is far she is very antisocial.
        The character in the anime Reina stop the sum of two characters over an element.
        If you join Inaho AZ + Sousuke FMP + moeshit the girl element, you have the character of Reina.
        Even as occurred in Cross Ange, which clearly Ange was straight so do Reina

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    • Yuri-baiting is a relevant topic here… and I think this isn’t yuri-baiting. Well, I guess, it all depends on what you define as yuri-baiting. For me yuri-baiting is offering an alternative, some different read of story where it suddenly becomes yuri. At the same time, though, the series clearly is pushing for a different heterosexual relationship. In this case, though, I actually wouldn’t call it yuri-baiting because this series is REALLY committed to showing Kumiko-Reina-scenes of various degrees of intimacy each episode. Meanwhile, scenes that show off Kumiko’s connection to Shuichi and Reina’s connection to Taki, the teacher, seem to get marginalized in this adaptation. So, the yuri-stuff isn’t really presented as an alternative anymore. If anything, Shuichi and the teacher as love-interests kinda seem like red herrings in how they seem to merely distract from the “main-couple” that is Kumiko and Reina in this adaptation.

      Then there are a couple interesting points you bring up here regarding this series:

      “The big problem of Hibiki, the problem is happening in almost every anime that apresentanta a school environment.
      It is totally unrealistic and unreal compared to a school environment in real life.”

      Here it’s important to note that schools in animes are often safe-havens or even paradises. When you get a school-setting in an anime it’s less about realistically reproducing the school-life-experience but more about the symbolic value of what Japanese school-life idealistically represents. On a social level you get a sense of total equality because everyone wears the same uniform and even though behaviorally you get stereotypes like the highborn ojou-sama there isn’t this big unclimbable wall between various classes. Despite of your social status some rich kid can end up being the dude who sits next to you and becomes your new best friend. Also, animes oftentimes use the mundanity of school-life as a contrast to the insanity that’s going on outside a school. Just look at Neon Genesis Evangelion (the original TV-series) and what role the school plays there. Especially around the 90s when apocalyptic plots were hot shit the idea of contrasting that with the idyll of the school created this idea that you just gotta have to have some school-life-scenes in your anime when you want to deal with serious shit while having teenager-protagonist/s.

      In this case, though, I wonder if you can actually qualify this series as focusing on its school-life. What the series focuses on is the music-ensemble and Kumiko. The normal school-life barely even happens in the background. If anything, this is a series that happens in a school but ignores large parts of the normal school-experience. Instead it completely focuses on the moments when the ensemble is practicing their parts and the problems this sort-of creates.

      “Because they do not balance things and treat both male characters as equally feminine.
      And elimines is fucking moeshit girl and boy bishonen, and try to make the most similar characters as real life people.

      Another trite thing when we yuri girls are always very feminine with moeshit effects.
      More when tra yaoi, the male characters are effeminate, bishonen, and act as a woman.”

      Well, there’s something to be said for writers misappropriating heterosexual romance-dynamics to describe homosexual relationships and I even would say that Reina does share some of the typically masculine traits you would see in a romance-story.

      That said, ultimately the point of equality should be that all this stuff becomes “invisible”, something we don’t need to talk about anymore. When you see a wheel in motion outside you don’t start to wonder whether a square might’ve been better after all. You don’t just accept the form of the wheel, you stop thinking about it. This is where you should get with homo- and heterosexual relationships. Something that is kinda different but not really something you have to think that hard about.

      Sure, this series’ story doesn’t need Reina and Kumiko to be in a yuri-relationship. Maybe it wasn’t even a wise choice to add this little “wrinkle” to their relationship-dynamic.

      But there’s NOTHING fundamentally wrong with an adaptation making a creative choice and deciding that in their version Reina and Kumiko are indeed a romantic couple. Sure, I’ll complain about it if it doesn’t work but I’m certainly not telling those people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make that choice.

      And the point of eventual “invisibility” is that as long as the characters work you don’t need to think about stuff like “but yuri-couples shouldn’t have masculine elements” or “yaoi-couples shouldn’t have dudes show their feminine sides”. All of that should be irrelevant and the meaning of feminine and masculine stereotypes should become fluid to the point where the gender of the character simply doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just another thing to describe a character with like the color of that character’s hair.

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  3. She completely ignored what Kumiko was talking about and changed completely and just wanted to know what had happened to her Taki-Sensei loved.




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    • Uhm, yeah, and the episode then ended before it actually led to any sort of confrontation or a change of tone. After all, the dominant aspect of that scene was Kumiko trying to share her happiness with Reina while not really reacting to Reina’s reaction to hearing about the whole teacher-thingy.

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      • But because the focus of the episode was the development of Kumiko and events, so this time the KyoAni not used his famous yuri baits, which icrivel it look used their greater bait one day before the release of sales of Blu-Ray. Funny that after the release of the Blu-ray seginte episode happened not yuris baits, and both girls acted like normal friends, the first episode which was really focused in history and in the development and history and not through fanservice yuri bait.

        The Yuri Hibike is totally out of focus, are isolated scenes just a few minutes over the remaining ordinary act both girls, so that the next day they act normally to each other, no thoughts or flashbacks and moments about these colored happy that they spent together, what makes these irrelevant scenes, see when someone confesses or has romantic feelings, they do not usually act the next day after such scenes happens, they are shown in thoughts or flashbacks, and when both are found in another day averia embarrassment and nervousness, but after the yuri scenes, they usually act like nothing had happened.
        Lack consistency ie is another bait fanservice yuri for blu-ray sales so much that KyoAni not use them in episode 12.

        I think much more romantic, consistent and deep, Yuu relationship and Mika in Owari no Seraph, than that of Reina and Kumiko, Yuu and Mika think each other not only in unique scenes, character flashbacks and thoughts are shown thinking one on the other and in their happy moments, not just in isolated scenes.

        I think the exaggeration of yuri used by KyoAni is unnecessary and spoiled the focus and the anime and the author wanted to convey the message history.
        But it seems that the episode 12 saved the anime.

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    • So you think the yuri-portions of this series are a marketing-ploy? Hmm, it would certainly depend on just how committed KyoAni is to pursuing the yuri-angle (meaning whether we end this series with a Kumiko-Reina-kiss-scene). But if the first DVD/Blu-rays already got released and that they “just so happen” to coincide with a juicy yuri-moment in at the time current episode, then you could certainly argue that the series tries to sell itself via this added yuri-element.

      Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the series is inconsistent in how it portrays Reina’s and Kumiko’s relationship and how the other characters respond to it. But the “acting as if nothing happened”-part kinda exists because of how dense the plot is and how little time there is to flesh out these dynamics. It took a while to get a scene like in the last episode where Hazuki and Midori show awareness of how close Kumiko has gotten to Reina and how fixated she is on being close to her.

      As for Owari no Seraph… Sure, it’s a more fluid execution of a typical romance-sub-plot but then again Owari no Seraph isn’t as ambitious or stylish as this series is with how it presents itself. There are so many stylistic “quirks” in this series that maybe it has been unavoidable that the storytelling would be flawed…? *shrug* Who knows.. I salute the ambition of this series and how unique it is and in how stylish its presentation is – but sadly it does have some flaws.

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      • The big problem of Hibiki, the problem is happening in almost every anime that apresentanta a school environment.
        It is totally unrealistic and unreal compared to a school environment in real life.
        The predominance, importance and interaction of characters of one sex, the shortage of characters of the opposite sex, fatalta of relevance, importance, the opposite sex, interaction, friendship and communication between characters of the opposite sex.
        These facts already constitute the school environment used in Hibike as a colorful, distorted and unreal environment compared to the school environment in real life.
        In real life a school environment there is the predominance and importance of only one sex in real life both men and women have the same importance, and the interaction and friendship and communication between them is routine in schools, in addition to being healthy and serve for development.
        Hibike is not a school just for girls, plus the way the anime shows us it seems so, 97% of the dialogues of anime happen only between characters Femino sex, we just have interaction, predominance and importacia related to female characters, the male characters are few, and the few that have are irrelevant and evil has dialogues.

        Tou tired of these animes and their children and colorful school environments when predominacia with only one sex, when the female is fanservice yuri + moeshit girl, rubbing one another and only talking to each other.
        And when the male predominance the same fushioji baits and everything.
        And when and crap harem, we only have a male character and the rest are female characters.

        Because they do not balance things and treat both male characters as equally feminine.
        And elimines is fucking moeshit girl and boy bishonen, and try to make the most similar characters as real life people.

        Another trite thing when we yuri girls are always very feminine with moeshit effects.
        More when tra yaoi, the male characters are effeminate, bishonen, and act as a woman.

        Why do not we see a yuri anime where the girl acts more like a man, and men’s trend.

        Because we have moe girls for yuri and because they treat differently yaoi characters turning into effeminate bishonen.

        There is little doubt that anime yuri are created for otaku and masturbators, arriving to break dvds and ragasgar poster, when he discovers that his beloved girl can be interresada a man, and may lose its purity.

        Another fact if you read the novels or sleeves written by real lesbians or in the case of men is totally different these bullshit that are shown in the anime

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      • I’m not saying anime is good, I am showing that the relationship between Yuu and Mika is muisto consist more and real than Reina and Kumiko because it lacks specific scenes to show affection for each other, Kumiko and Reina act normally throughout the anime, but it seems that the bait scenes are two totally different characters than the rest of the anime.
        Not to mention that Reina is strange, autistic and has no concept of space, his gaze is far she is very antisocial.
        The character in the anime Reina stop the sum of two characters over an element.
        If you join Inaho AZ + Sousuke FMP + moeshit the girl element, you have the character of Reina.
        Even as occurred in Cross Ange, which clearly Ange was straight so do Reina

        However that ends the baits scenes, they usually act like none of this had happened.
        In terms of relationship to Free Eternal Summer, I had friendships and most consistent relationships, real and true.
        More Hibiki is just pure fancervice, which occurs only a few minutes totally meaningless.
        You know you have enough moe girls at the slightest show of affection the friendship, and enough to activate the fanatic mode of yuri fans, who happens to distort and rewrite the history it from your point of view and personal tastes, and the famous phrase when Trada a novel adapt them is used, the segindo is not the source material, it is totally unique, occurs in all anime.
        Yes yuri distorts the series, these vessels created through the wishes and personal tastes destroy the meaning and the message of the anime.

        The most aggravating fact is that if KyoAni would cover a novel yuri / shoujo-ai, it would adpatado a related source material with the genre, is novel, LN, visual novel or manga, or would have created a totally originals anime.

        What is the meaning of adpar one heteroseual novel, only to change the sexual orientation of the protagonist and the sex of the protagonist loving interrese.
        In addition to being a desreipeito with the author and the fans that adiquiriam novels, it would be a bad joke.

        Oras if you want yuri – shoujo-ai or ai-shounem is yes create an original anime or adptar a source material covering the genre.

        Now adparta a novel heterosexual, just to play with relationships and sexual orientations is a joke in bad taste.

        Yes this bait spoil most anime.
        Mandoka was cool and had their topics and clean without shipost was enough Sayaka interresada say he was a man, ready everything became a mess, the male character was dead in all fanfic and Sayaka suffered all kinds of attack, is so you mention Sayaka on any topic of Madoka, the first word that appears is slut whore.

        Yes it is not the yuri and yaoi that spoil the anime but rather the fanatical fans of them.

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  4. Oh! First review for episode 12 (for me to read, at least). I share your sentiments when you said the Kumiko-Reina development seems like amnesic. It feels like the show’s creators have troubles in the closets as well.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to voice out my opinions about this episode instead.

    I liked how the episode conveyed struggle-to-influence, which is by far, the most consistent theme of the show (as I see it). Episode 12, with Kumiko’s trouble, served as the final (and the main) beam to explain the previous episodes’ streak. I could say that it is the criteria for everything that happened so far.
    Especially with Reina’s reasons for crying during their middle school concert being given light, I think it’s actually the aim of the show: to show us how the exhaustive efforts of each character in the band turn into a chain of influence that changes the band as a whole. It is rare to find in ‘dense’ anime, as you call it, the essence of group dynamics and interpersonal development as conveyed to us through Hibike! Euphonium.

    We could see it from Yuko (the ribbon-girl who seemed to gain thrice the haters of any other character this season) who fought for Kaori, the senpai, regardless of how desperate it was. And we see struggle from Kaori too, the trumpeter who’s made of passion but less than the talent Reina has, as she is sucked into the whirlpool caused by the moment.
    In episode 10, amidst Kumiko and Asuka’s conversation, Asuka said that Kaori’s reason for fighting was a matter of reaching self-contentment more than showing seniority over the play. And even though it was a development towards self-seeking, come episode 11 and Reina is shown to be very doubtful of her own reasons for fighting as influenced by the extent of Yuko’s effort just to see to it that the gentle and kind senpai play to her heart’s content.
    Also, to note their tiny bit of cooperation just to prove point to the details, there’s Natsuki, who couldn’t play good enough for the competition. May I comment here that she’s the first of the characters to reach the peak of her character at this point.
    (Come episode 12 and they’re better comrades than ever. Reina and Yuko and Kaori; but Natsuki and Yuko, most of all.)
    There’s Shuichi, as well. I realize that Shuichi doesn’t exactly fall into place with that interconnection thing with other characters, but I think that he still made a purpose in the struggles and efforts theme, having shown that he, too, exerts that much in playing.
    The two characters, regardless how little influence they made, actually contributed to the development of Kumiko’s character in this episode.

    I’ve made my point at this crucial moment for the characters because it’s excruciating to say that it’s overshadowed by the minor themes that gained way too much importance (both in the show and to the fans). Through twelve episodes, there was nothing really noteworthy to remember except for the baseless-but-apparently-canon and romantic-but-apparently-out-of-the-question matchmaking. But, well, 75 percent of what makes an anime is how the fans see it.

    That said, I can’t disagree that this anime portrays the relationships as ambiguous as its real objectives (personally). I only see Kumiko ending up with Shuichi (as canon suggests) but putting Reina on top of everybody else. Shrug it. I gave up looking for signs that Shuichi and Kumiko will happen in any way but only as canon suggests it happens. The romance in this series is more inclined to Reina and Euphonium-san anyways…

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  5. @JekoJeko:
    “how is the convoluted nature of Hibike’s plotlines ‘discomforting’ to the point that it ‘plagues’ the series?”

    What’s discomforting about it is that this series both flirts with a serialized format and an episodic format at the same time, it feels like. On one level time does pass, characters do develop and you can see some progress gradually being made towards a somewhat distant goal (winning the competition). But at the same the series feels episodic in the way it approaches telling the stories of various characters in this show.

    With a serialized format you think of events and characters creating this line of domino-pieces and then the story starts the chain-reaction that triggers those pieces to fall over while triggering other stuff with that. Here, though, it feels like you get a bunch of stories that share a common baseline in the form of the ensemble trying to win the competition. But the stories occur independently of each other. The series’ plotlines seem disparate when they should feel consistent.

    You got this amazing eye for detail in the script where even little stuff like how a character talks matters and a short phrase could become later in the same episode. Direction and animation work superbly in tandem here to present a big, varied cast of characters. But at the end of the episode I always feel a little bit disappointed. I always think to myself “You got all this greatness lined up – and THIS is all you want to do storywise…?”.

    The whole thing never quite comes together as well as you would expect judging by how great this show is in general. Just take the idea of love in this show. What does this show think love is? You got Reina talking about how she “loves” (not “likes”) the teacher, you got Reina and Kumiko talking about confessing their love to each other, you got Hazuki falling in love with Shuichi, you got Shuichi secretly pining for Kumiko and you got the teacher talking about doing the thing you love. You got all these various elements that kinda deal with love but for a show that is so meticulous with how the scene-to-scene-writing operates it’s disappointing that the show doesn’t try to bring this together under the umbrella of a theme. As disparate as these things are, it’s hard to say what the show itself thinks of it. Is it good that Shuichi immediately rejected Hazuki but then did nothing to actually pursue Kumiko? Once you reach this point of “Where do you want to go with this?”, it feels like the show is more interested in presenting the incident than doing something with it story-wise. On one hand this is a show that is very much driven by its characters but on the other hand it’s also more interested in what these characters incidentally do rather than to bring them together for an overarching narrative (or at least one that goes beyond just doing what you’d expect from this type of story).

    And Kumiko’s role in this episode becomes jarring because it’s like she hasn’t even been present during the last few months. How come that the idea of wanting to be special and getting very invested in trying to do her best in this ensemble are a revelation to her? It’s jarring how disconnected her story is in this episode from what the series had already gone through at this point. The whole series has constantly confronted Kumiko with the idea of ambition and passion but it’s only NOW that she finally reacts to that. All this stuff Kumiko now treats as a revelation has been talked about in this series since the beginning when the ensemble essentially voted to take their practice REALLY serious followed by the teacher being very demanding und brutally honest with how good everyone is. But to take these demands and criticisms and still keep going has been one of the primary ideas here and yet it has took Kumiko 12 episodes to reflect on that and realize that she has been won over by those ideas as well despite herself. What should be a dramatic character-development seems like a character becoming the mouthpiece for the thematic summary of the series. It feels too mechanical that this character is apparently not self-aware enough to realize what she had gotten herself into way before now. And story-wise I also wonder: Kumiko has changed into this passionate, ambitious person. But what exactly has been the alternative to that? At one point Midori remarks that Kumiko has changed and in episode 09 (after that date with Reina) you also get a few remarks regarding that. But this “old Kumiko” is something characters only talk about instead of something we see (with the exception of episode 01 which has Kumiko being unwilling to join the ensemble). There never really was a conflict informed by this transition.

    Also, an important scene in this episode is Kumiko meeting Aoi again and talking about whether she has regretted leaving the ensemble and she hasn’t. And Kumiko’s sister also had abandoned music in order to study. But instead of actually trying to compare and contrast Reina’s idea of “becoming special” with Aoi’s idea of “I feel happier taking the more ordinary route to greatness”, this series never tries to let those things clash and instead draws this big line between those two ideas. Kumiko and Aoi just part ways without reconciliation or a more poignant comparison of these two philosophies. Like, when Aoi is confidently leaving the ensemble to study for college-exams and we get a similar character in the form of Kumiko’s sister at the end of that path that gets belittled by Kumiko, is the series saying that Aoi has done the wrong thing…? Just leaving it at “Yeah, Aoi has different priorities…” seems like the sort of disappointment I talked about above.

    That’s why episodes of the second half often have felt to me like the episode wants to go into ten different directions but has only room to go into five or so. There’s all this stuff this series brings into the story but it never leads to a dynamic interaction with what’s already been established. It just becomes another thing that has happened in this show.

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    • Thanks for the response.

      I think this ultimate comes down to a matter of critical approach. All your points exemplify a critical style whereby you can’t distance the concept of the creation of a work from your experience of it. As I have no care for drawing my attention to a work of art as an artefact while watching a show, I lock my initial criticisms in relationships between characters as objects independent of their formation, while most of your angst is focused on thoughts about the show’s construction.

      I thought about all the points I could make on this matter, and how I could start talking about the subsequent issues I had with your review, but they all boil down to one thing; try a formalist’s (or thereabouts) approach to the show. It helps you see the themes you’re missing, the significances to events you ignore. I could throw my thought on those into the conversation, but the most important thing is for the critic to experience those links themselves. Try to watch the show without any thought for the fact it was ‘created’ or had writers, purposes, mechanics etc. Isolate the work of art itself and you get to see a lot more of it than you would otherwise, which then helps inform your judgements upon the writers and mechanics of the show when you do eventually make them.

      My only other point is that it is worth paying attention to how difficult it is to prove that something doesn’t exist in a work – any theme, any development, any overarching purpose, etc. You only usually make the point that you haven’t yet found such a thing, and your use of limited examples from the show and a very brief and passing analysis of them undermines the integrity of your argument. It’s much more effective, at least from what I’ve read and seen, to establish that something does exist and criticise it in a positive or negative light. Your entire response, for example, misses the sociological context of adolescence that the series is self-aware of.

      Apologies if you wanted a longer discussion, but I know these things have a habit of getting too convoluted to be of any use to either critic, so I’ll just leave this here as a suggestion that I think would help your appreciation of shows like Hibike! to be more wholesome in the future. Really, the second point above directly influences the first. By obsessing over what is there, rather than what isn’t, you tend to find more things to talk about, whereas perceiving an absence, especially without establishing the object that casts that shadow, leads you to look to the show’s existence as an artefact more quickly, distancing you from the themes and characters which should really take priority.

      This may just be more my approach, though. My main concern is that your approach doesn’t line up with any long-established critical lens that I’m aware of, hence the suggestion to try formalism before you make assertions about the show’s design.

      Your approach has, however, led me to realise that I often don’t make enough commentary about the show as an artefact after my initial analysis, and the utility of those points can be greater than those that remain locked from appreciation of author and construction when the reader of the review is looking for commentary about a show’s construction, considering it themselves foremost as an artefact. Thank you, therefore, for helping me guide my future reviews, and apologies again if this is the end to a discussion that you wanted to have in full.

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