Hibike! Euphonium S2 – 03 Review
Constructive criticism that every teenager would like to hear, I’m sure!
Hibike! Euphonium S2 03: Kumiko finally uncovers the root of the problem: It’s Yoroizuka! Apparently, Nozomi makes her vomit! That’s quite the problem to have as a teenager… I never knew PTSD was part of the coming-of-age experience.
Also, Kumiko finds out that Taki’s past is quite the sob-story.
Wait, what about critics and knowledgable fans? Musicians aren’t the only ones who can judge music…
Competitions aren’t usually something you aim for in animes but instead something that needs to be overcome. And usually it’s all about being the best. The reasons are deeply personal and somewhat relatable. This formula are what drives most shounen-sports-series (Touch or Kuroko’s Basketball for example). What Hibike Euphonium talks about in this episode, though, is very different from that. Here, being the best is less important than just being good in a professional sense and the reasons for that are a matter of propriety instead of personal ambition. All the personal stuff is what’s standing in the way. This is what produces as much the insubstantial character-arcs of the series as its philosophy regarding drama.
Multiple characters in this episode talk about competitions, both directly and indirectly. What emerges are less different points-of-view but rather incomplete parts of a single idea. Everybody seems to justify competitions in one way or another in this episode. For Yuuko it’s just the knowledge that the ensemble did their best as a whole that would give her satisfaction (the fact that the “bad third-years” didn’t try hard enough is what soured her on the 2nd place in the flashback). Reina meanwhile thinks that only the good musicians deserve to talk about music. This attitude harkens back to that professional pride I talked about in the last review. In her words, it kinda sounds like there’s a right way to play music and a wrong way. Just as you would judge a car mechanic by how well he can fix a car, playing music seems to exist in the same realm of judgment in this series. Less than creativity and raw emotions, the series seems to favor technical prowess and professionalism as the deciding factors of a performance. Rather than winning the competition, it’s about acting like they’re the best already. It’s again a perspective that is about avoiding regret instead of the passion-fueled, driven optimism/idealism you see in most other animes.
The question, then, is where that leaves Yoroizuka with her hatred for Nozomi and competitions. What is it that makes her sound “boring”? One of the advisors told her that she needs to sound like she wants to be the best. This isn’t a very surprising interpretation considering what this series thinks of hesitation. Anything that isn’t earnest or straightforward is considered to be flawed in this series.
Why is he telling Kumiko this? As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing special about Kumiko – except that she’s friends with the talented trumpet player (Reina) who’s in love with Taki. And I assume he isn’t telling every student this at the first opportunity. So, why…?
And here’s where the plot hits a dead end: So, what’s Kumiko supposed to do about that? First of all, it already took the series three episodes (technically, it’s even four) just to get to the point where both Kumiko and the audience know what the hell is going on. And it isn’t like the second and third episode have added much to what’s been established in the first episode. All the participants in this little drama-arc are still in the same place as they were in the first episode. Nothing has changed! With the exception, of course, that Kumiko now has taken an interest in what’s going on and tries to do something about it (so far unsuccessfully, though).
What’s bothering me even more, is that the discussion of competitions isn’t really something that anybody but Yoroizuka struggles with. Kumiko is clueless, of course, but the rest all seem to be on the same page (more or less…). This makes it seem like the arc is about “fixing” Yoroizuka. After all, she’s the only problem. If she could fix her problem with Nozomi, everything would be fine. And it turns the whole arc into the typical idiot-plot: If only said idiot could stop being an idiot, all problems would go away. You just have to ask yourself what Yoroizuka has contributed to this story-arc despite being the central problem… Yeah, she’s a character who does nothing, doesn’t have a motivation you can relate to (because it’s still unclear what exactly her problem with Nozomi is) and she isn’t even doing well in the ensemble. Yoroizuka fulfills all the categories of what a character should NOT be like. She’s nothing more than a plot-device at this point.
Again, Hibike Euphonium delivers an episode that shows more consistency than improvement. I’m already getting tired of that first story-arc and I honestly hope it will be resolved in the next episode. There’s nothing more to get out of the episode except to solve Yoroizuka’s problem with Nozomi.
- That female advisor seems to be married. Good for Reina! … I guess. I don’t think anybody is hoping for Reina to get together with Taki. It’s more like a cute, little joke at this point.
- Am I the only one who couldn’t care less about the lengthy explanations of how the ensemble still sucks? Sure, it adds some authenticity to the proceedings but story-wise it doesn’t add anything and plot-wise we don’t follow any characters right now who struggle with practice. It’s more or less just filler at this point.