Posted by SuperMario on 20 October 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

This week, we follow an almost 24 hours of Kumiko practicing music, Kumiko interacting with other members, Kumiko having a sleepless night in a band camp, and that’s basically it. In a very Sound Eupho’s way of storytelling, there seems to be not much going on, but this episode actually lays a lot of groundworks for the future drama of this season. This is essentially a set-up episode, but boy; does the execution shine through that make me completely hooked.

First, let me talk about Kumiko as a protagonist first. The show tells the story squarely through the point of view of Kumiko. It literally means that she appears in almost every moment of the show. We follow her every step, we see what she sees, we hear what she thinks. It’s actually a huge burden on her character, because if she’s not interesting enough, we will have a hard time getting on with her behaviors and thus could potentially bring the show down. Moreover, unlike most main characters in that situation who usually drive the plot themselves, Kumiko is passive. She was dragged to join the musical band, and then got swept away by the enthusiasm of the band. She’s even insensitive with the feeling from her surrounding, like she flat out rejected Shuichi (her childhood friend who also plays on the band), or never seems to comprehend Reina’s thoughts. Yet I believe she carries her roles very well. She has that cynical side of her, and her flat delivery (kudos to the voice actress here) both reflects really well her personality, and somehow adds charm to her character. She’s not a perfect person and that precisely why she’s believable in a way actual people behave.

Most of the drama this episode heads towards Yoroizuka’s issues (an emotionless girl). Although everyone agrees that her oboe skills are excellent, she can’t express herself very well. That problem echoed her confessions to Kuniko last week: that she doesn’t know why she keep competing, even though she’s clearly not enjoy playing anymore. In addition, when Kumiko confronts the always-scary Asuna, it is then revealed that the main reason Asuna refused Nozomi from coming back was because of Yoroizuka. She gets sick when hearing Nozomi’s sound and she can’t seem to operate when Nozomi is around. I suspect this was because of Nozomi’s very promise (to win a competition in high school) that put Yoroizuka in a trance, but I’m sure we’ll know the answer in next episodes. The message here is clear: Yoroizuka needs to open herself up in front of Nozomi, that coming event will both decide if Nozomi gonna be back to the band, and Yoroizuka’s solo performances issues. Neat tricks, Sound Eupho! Suddenly everything tied up to a neat package.

Upon seeing Niiyama (the female instructor) together with Taki-sensei, Reina, feeling insecure, couldn’t stop herself to ask for their relationship. This is for me the only clumsy part in this episode, as it feels very forced the way Reina stormed through everything to ask Taki about his affairs. Again, Kumiko is the one who get the real info dump: Taki had been married but his wife passed away sometimes ago. Taki almost gave up on music after that, but eventually he decided to teach music in this high school. Remember last week when he mentioned with a smile that he has no family right now so he spends most of his times for works? This competition training is a way for him to get his head out of his trauma. That’s a good character’s development and I’m amused to see how the show develops this little drama to its full extend. But please don’t make Reina confessing her affection to him. I just dislike it if the show goes to that path.

From last season, the question of pushing the band into competitive level has been addressed many times (pushing the band into competitive level means that those who play music just for pleasure will be left out. Hard but true), in this season again those questions become a central theme: Is competition fair at all? Do the players really enjoy competition? Kumiko receives different opinions from her peers, they are after all depend on each player’s perspectives. Yoroizuka explains that competition is to unfair, because all the hard works are being judged by something intangible: gold; silver; bronze; ranking, and playing competition is a pain for her. Later, when she asks Yuko (a girl who adored Kaori) that very same questions, she argues that trying to become better is worth more than doing nothing (like last year’s drama), but the competition assigns superiority (I like how she described it!) means that most of the time the end results justify the mean. Lastly, Reina says that she likes competitions and only winners get to say that judging music using ranking is worthless, because if losers say that they are nothing more than, well, sore losers. Those arguments all make sense and I’m glad that the show goes that far to explore different angles from the girls. This is a very solid Sound Eupho episode because they successfully plant all the drama seeds for this season, now let wait and see for all those seeds to blossom.

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