Sound! Euphonium – Episode 3

We’re doing it. I think we’re doing it. Sound! Euphonium just keeps holding steady, demonstrating remarkable control in its direction and storytelling. KyoAni are pulling off a top-tier version of exactly the kind of show they do best, and it is damn satisfying to see it in action. At this point, it seems strange to me that the evidence is pointing to this being a one-cour show – the pace of character work and plotting here just seems much more appropriate for a twenty-something episode show. But there haven’t been any missteps yet, so I’ll trust they know where they’re going, and keep enjoying it as long as it stays this good.

Here’s my full ANN post. Notes below!

Sound! Euphonium

The little offhand moments in the OP plus that “three years pass by in a flash.” That really is how time works – you remember the silliest little things, and a year of hard practice suddenly becomes a few moments with friends and how well or poorly you did in the final competition

Usual speedy, purposeful shot transitions

Leading us through the parts of band practice. Again, taking care to bring us in on the ground floor of a great deal of how the ensemble works, so we’ll be better able to appreciate the cumulative drama of these experiences

Kumiko’s outside practicing circular breathing with the other first years, even though she obviously doesn’t need to. A nice unstated reflection of her lackadaisical attitude

Hazuki (tuba girl) is with her, but she clearly needs it. Nice silly faces

This shot of Midori opening her contrabass from the inside is great

“I’ll call it George-kun!” Midori is great in general. Funny without having to make jokes – just offhand stuff

“There are so many other instruments left.” More offhand storytelling. This school must once have had a much greater music program, and that’s something Kumiko notices instantly

The images in reflection are so good

Asuka has a lot of personality

Apparently “Natsuki” didn’t show up

“Call me when you’re good enough to play in an ensemble.” Damn, Taki-sensei

He recommends they learn the “Marines’ Hymn”

“Unless I find it with my own hands, there’s no point!” Used in a joking context by Midori, but reflective of the show overall

Great natural banter between the main three. Discussing getting used to instruments, how the band was lacking many second-years, what drama might have happened

Great shots that control the atmosphere as soon as we meet Kumiko’s big sister. She pushes Kumiko out of the frame from the foreground, we get a shot staring down at Kumiko’s feet, and then we get shots where they’re divided by a boundary as her sister says “don’t play the Euph. It’s too loud”

Now there’s a great series of tense closeups on clenched fingers as Midori brings up the missing second years

And the horns aren’t practicing at all. Kumiko is sad, but doesn’t say anything

The older students are impatient, and demand the teacher listen to them now, since the competition is coming up

Oof, they are not good. And you can tell. It’s nice work

And now he’s mildly, smilingly tearing into them. Great stuff

Oh my god, isolating the trombones and then making everyone hear the awfulness, and then agree that it’s awful. SENSEIIII

“The way you play now isn’t even good enough for instruction. Please don’t waste my time.”

Asuka’s a great leader

Midori provides a necessary counterpoint to the heaviness of everyone else. There’s a good balance in the cast – loud jokes wouldn’t be appropriate, but Midori works

Apparently the enthusiastic second years butted heads with the original lazy third years, and quit. So that’s why the band has no enthusiasm

The section leaders talking politics to control the section meeting. They are indeed trying to make use of as much of this cast as possible

“I gave up having fun after school for this.” In a shot where they’re contrasted against other clubs practicing, in a long shot that makes them look tiny and powerless in frame. And this also reflects on the “three years go by in a flash”

“We all face the same direction, and we all work hard.” Emphasizing the team element, as their sensei did. Another key theme here

“Do we have to work hard, while we get angry at the people who don’t care?”

Make the most of your time, and make the most of it together

Kousaka ends the episode with a lonely performance of “From the New World”

2 thoughts on “Sound! Euphonium – Episode 3

  1. I’m generally a big fan of Kyoto Animation, but at least so far, I seriously don’t get the love directed at this series. Of course, the animation and direction of the show are meticulous and a big cut above 99% of all other TV anime, as is very nearly always the case with this studio.

    But the story itself? We’re three episodes in and the characterization for anyone not named Kumiko is virtually nonexistent. Who are these people who don’t care; the second-years who walked away because of them; and why am I supposed to give a hoot about Kousaka when all we know about her is that she “cares deeply” about winning band competitions?

    I’d love to be proven wrong as the season progresses, but so far, this show amounts to little more than beautiful execution of pretty barren content. I’m certainly not averse to the idea of a club band’s growth as a metaphor for facing up to adult responsibility, but so far this show is doing a pretty lousy job of making ME care.

    • I would suggest that while you are overstating the point (there has definitely been characterization of Hazuki, Midori and Asuka at least, not to mention Kousaka); that this is kinda completely intentional

      We are seeing things from Kumiko’s point of view, we only see very little that she doesn’t see, and one of Kumiko’s most defining characteristics is she’s very bad at understanding other people

      We will learn to understand these people, when Kumiko learns to understand them, and not before.

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