Another extremely strong episode of Euphonium this week, though I know many people were understandably disappointed. Personally, I agree that the framing so far has seemed really supportive of some kind of romantic tension between Kumiko and Kousaka, but as long as the storytelling stays this good, I’m pretty fine with wherever this all goes. All I know is this episode made terrific use of all the character development so far, playing the characters against the main ideas in a way that felt natural and dramatically satisfying. Euphonium continues to impress.
Here’s my big ol’ episode post. And lots of notes below!
“Hey, are you mocking me?” We’re finally getting that flashback Kumiko kept returning to, the one that made her insecure. Great filters over this
“If you weren’t here, I could have played at the competition.” So Kumiko feels insecure about striving for her own success
Kumiko’s insecurity is a good stand-in for the self versus group conflict of the show overall. As she becomes more comfortable reaching for what she wants, the show explores other characters grappling with the same issue
And now Natsuki wants to talk to her, unsurprisingly
“People are complicated.”
Wow, the band sounds a lot better now. NOW THAT THEY’VE CUT THE CHAFF
Natsuki getting right to it, “man, I bombed the audition”
Natsuki being really expressive here. Great detail work as usual
And she’s taking this much less seriously than Kumiko. Both natural and kind of her to do
“Sensei saw through me. He asked me to play the parts I hadn’t practice, and it was a disaster. You won because you’re capable, Oumae-san.”
“Go for the gold! Let’s play together next year!!” Natsuki being a great friend and lifting Kumiko up even when she herself doesn’t get to contribute
The shot transitions here are great too. Natsuki looking away from the camera positioned at Kumiko’s perspective, and then closer and closer cuts of Kumiko getting emotional as Natsuki tries to play it cool
“We all have to work together towards the gold” Kaori making that message explicit in the face of Yuuko trying to blame Kousaka
Yuuko getting hysterical while Kaori tries to be strong. Great cut to a distant shot
And awesome match cuts of Yuuko remembering Kaori. This overbearing white filter with the shadows of petals falling. Great use of lighting this episode
Sensei finally being liked by the students. Now that they’re all on the same page, it’s easier
“Is it true that you knew Kousaka before this?” “What do you hope to achieve by asking that?”
So yes, Taki-sensei has known Kousaka since she was in middle school
“You know very well why I was chosen. It’s because I’m better than Kaori-senpai.” Reina and her pride. And the shaking of the chair, demonstrating what she was holding in. Everyone thinks Kousaka is proud because she doesn’t say anything, but the truth is… that yeah, she really IS proud, and that she avoids talking because she’s kind of an abrasive person
“If you’re going to complain, do it when you’ve surpassed me.” Kousaka, queen of empathy. She’s basically like Asuka here
“Don’t stop practice”
“I can’t stand her.” Yep. Reina stomps out, not because she’s sad, but because she can’t hold in how much she hates Yuuko for her impertinence. She gets away, and then we immediately see the Kousaka we met in episode eight, who she’s comfortable showing to Kumiko
It’s nice that this element of “true selves” isn’t really a general theme of this show, but instead just a way it truthfully elaborates one of its central characters
“I like Taki-sensei.” Oh my god Kumiko’s face
Reaaally good animation here. Once again, wonderfully expressive faces, and the conversation moves very well. And Kumiko’s voice acting is great
And now there are rumors of favoritism. The band as a group working for one purpose is weakened by the thought Taki isn’t working for them
So the trial really is becoming Kousaka’s individual glory versus group unity
Taki’s finally at his own breaking point. Snapping at the kids for not taking something seriously, when usually he’d just be cool. He can’t coddle people. Sorta like Asuka in that way
The bass section pressuring Kumiko to fix things, to talk to Asuka
Asuka says she frankly doesn’t care, as she would. And Kumiko says “I couldn’t tell if she was lying. Her mask was too thick to peel off,” echoing Kousaka’s line from episode 8 to her
Really expressive animation all through this episode, for a variety of purposes. Natsuki’s body language, Kumiko’s funny emoting, and Kousaka’s tension
But Asuka actually did go to talk to Kaori
And now Haruka steeling herself to deal with the problem. This episode is basically demonstrating what kind of person all of this show’s characters fundamentally are
“Music is nice. You can’t lie. You can only admit when something sounds good.” But there are different kinds of lying. Sometimes you lie to be kind
“If you still have a problem, don’t whisper about it behind our backs.” So there’s the bad lying – the lying that tears the group apart.
Taki offers a second audition, where the whole group decides together. This is his solution. There is no deception in the actual sound
And one more thing! I actually did write a brief paragraph for the “confession” scene, but ultimately cut it since it didn’t flow well with what my post was actually about. Here’s that!
She also wants more than that, as she revealed to Kumiko in the next scene; apparently, she wants Taki-sensei too. This confession was a bit of a shock, but the character animation of both the girls really sold it, and it’s ultimately not that surprising that Kousaka would somewhat idolize the man who seems to share her views on excellence. It’s definitely a bit of a cliche beat, and so far somewhat unnecessary for her motivation, but it didn’t feel actively obtrusive.
Twitter was also blowing up about the whole thing, which prompted me to write a longer piece on ask.fm.