Hibike! Euphonium S2 – 13 Review
You just gotta end a sentimental series like Hibike! Euphonium with a love confession, right? Except, well, it isn’t really a love confession – since, I guess, in this series’ universe girls say that all the time to each other apparently.
Hibike! Euphonium S2 13: Graduation! The third-years go, new first-years arrive…
It’s a time of goodbyes and new beginnings but Kumiko has one regret! She has yet to confess to her beloved Senpai!
I mean, this would be like the third woman she has confessed her love to within a year, but hey, what can you do, right? That’s what being young is all about!
And all the while people keep yammering about how she should be in love with Shuichi. That joke never gets old, I guess.
I don’t think the same character who gleefully declared “I will peel your mask off!” would say something like that. Previously the undertone of Reina’s weird behavior has always been that she somehow knew Kumiko really well.
So, what does one do about regrets? The epilogue offers a couple answers to that question but you can’t help but wonder why the series would open that can or worms in its last two episodes. When the series previously talked about regret it was all about contrasting adolescence and adulthood and the series firmly believes that the former is the best time of your life. But this epilogue picks up on the idea of regret in a more general sense which at this late point doesn’t have the impact it should have.
The Asuka-Kumiko-scene is pretty much what the entire series amounts to. It’s especially obvious since the music-piece Asuka gives to Kumiko is called “Hibike! Euphonium”. The episode sets up this moment through a ton of flashbacks that explain Kumiko’s thinking and what you immediately notice is just through how many hoops this narration is jumping to get to this moment and how much build-up has been invested into this. In many ways, it’s more the conclusion to the Asuka/Mamiko-arc instead of the entire series. Because the build-up consists of the time Asuka played for Kumiko, the confession of Mamiko and the last episode’s scene where Kumiko told Mamiko that she loves her. The ingredients of each those scenes get mixed together for this scene. You have the music-piece that was handed over from father to daughter, you have Mamiko telling Kumiko that she shouldn’t have any regrets and you have Kumiko openly admitting her love for Mamiko. And so in the final scene you get the remix-version: Kumiko openly admits her feelings, she tells Asuka to not be a wiseass and then Asuka gives her father’s music to Kumiko. By handing over her music, she creates a legacy and ensures that Kumiko could maybe get further than her. As an ending to an arc, it’s wonderfully done, as an ending to a series… less so.
Legacy isn’t the only way regrets get addressed in this episode. There’s also a short scene where Taki and that other teacher (whatever her name is) talk about how another year comes to an end. While Taki seems melancholic, the female teacher thinks it’s a good thing how a new year means a new chance to do better. Simply the optimism of looking at a new year as a new chance is enough to supposedly give hope. Of course, I’ve already talked about previously how Sisyphean this thinking is and it still has little to do with realism.
Well, at least, if the series ends we won’t have to see this dynamic play out the same way a million times. That tsundere-shit gets tiresome really fast.
But what would Hibike Euphonium be without love, right? I guess, all the girls in this show are in love with each other. What ‘love’ in this case means is anyone’s guess. It still baffles me which writer constantly jumps right to the “I love you!” for these emotional scenes between girls. Does that come from the novels? Or is that an anime-thing? I mean, what’s the difference between Reina says it about her teacher and when Kumiko says it to Asuka? Both are emotional scenes and there’s nothing in the text that relativizes those words. And even beyond meaning what is the series trying to say with that? That all girls are like that or should be like that, that every relationship between girls can be described as love? What is the point of choosing such hyperbolic language to describe these relationships?
What’s really weird, though, is the relationship between Kumiko and Shuichi. I mean, at this point Shuichi seems just as disinterested as Kumiko – while the world STILL keeps making jokes about them being a pair! It’s just harassment at this point! The anime keeps in all the parts about how everybody thinks they should be together and how Kumiko constantly tells them she isn’t interested. But the series never dropped the assertion that Kumiko and Shuichi should be together for some reason. They even cut Shuichi out of the series for the most part! What was the reasoning behind that anyway?! It’s so weird to watch Kumiko and Shuichi in this episode interact based on the fact that everybody is making trouble for them while they finally start to interact again like sort-of friends. There’s no chemistry whatsoever. But try to think of the relationship-arc this series has shown with that: It started with a disinterested girl and her childhood-friend who was secretly in love with her. And it went nowhere! In fact, the guy has lost his interest in her and just tries to be nice to her instead.
And if you think about what this episode offered, then it’s disappointing how much it doesn’t feel like a conclusion to a series. Kumiko still has a long way to go before she can enter adulthood without regrets (unlike her sister) and without that the series still feels incomplete. This episode finds a nice ending for the Asuka-arc but it neither offers enough to make a new season interesting nor does it conclude the series satisfyingly.
If episode 12 was a whimper, this episode was the sigh of resignation that followed it. This isn’t really the way you should end a series…
- So, how exactly did Sapphire and the other one know that Shuichi had given something to Kumiko? Well, not that it matters, but this was certainly a sign of the series overdoing the whole matchmaking-bit.
- Kumiko writes a letter to her sister… Maybe someone should tell her the good news that there’s something called E-mail now. Oh wait, is she even aware that the internet exists…? Joking aside… Even if it’s in the novel, it would be SO easy to update that! Just show her seeing a lengthy email from her sister on her phone or something and then later sitting down at home writing an equally lengthy email. Done!
- I guess, since we mention modern technology, Asuka could have simply copied her notebook from her dad and given the copies to Kumiko.
- I guess the parents aren’t that interested in what Kumiko is up to. Her winning Bronze at the Nationals didn’t get her a new phone or some other kind of reward.
- Bad story-ideas for a third season: Shuichi starts to date a new first-year-student and Kumiko gets jealous, Yuuko fails at her ensemble-president-duties because she has an anxiety-problem and feels overwhelmed, Reina coincidentally sees Taki in the city looking to buy a suit – she immediately thinks he’s going to get married again and freaks out, Kumiko’s father has cancer (and naturally everyone wants to win gold at the Nationals this time). I mean, why wouldn’t you look forward to that third season 🙂 ?