Hibike! Euphonium: A KyoAni Masterpiece!

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When people ask for a musical anime series, the most common answer will be either one of two series – K-On and Hibike! Euphonium. After all, both were made by Kyoto Animation(KyoAni for short), one of the top animation studios in Japan and also dazzled audiences with their captivating stories(more so Hibike! Euphonium).

After hearing season 3 was coming, I decided to start watching it. Words cannot describe the depth of my love for this series as I was in awe after watching the first season. It was mind-blowingly good and it’s perhaps one of the best KyoAni series I’ve ever watched.

I can’t praise its story enough for its engrossing story telling of the various characters in the series. The first season follows Kumiko as she initially struggles with joining Kitauji high school’s band as she recalls her past failure to advance to the Nationals in her junior high school. The situation doesn’t get any better for her as she meets Reina Kousaka, who was a fellow band member in her previous school. One would think that this unintentional reunion will be difficult right? However, despite their initial frosty interactions with each other, slowly but surely they end up forging an unbreakable friendship where both of them support each other in times of need.

It’s not just the 2 of them who caught my eye in the series. I think the most influential person in the series is none other than Taki sensei, who not only became the band’s instructor, but also set the lofty goal of taking the band to the Nationals. This didn’t sit well with the members initially as everyone didn’t see the need to improve themselves in their performances, much less be in top shape for the regional Kansai and National competition. However, after the countless training sessions that Taki sensei held for them, they slowly began to believe that they could have a shot at making it to the Nationals.

A criticism I have about Hibike! Euphonium is that there are too many characters. It is to be expected considering almost all of the characters belong to Kitauji’s band club. At times I felt lost when a particular episode kept ping-ponging between the various characters. However despite my criticism, the side characters were extremely well written and some of them served a purpose in the series.

One character that I’d like to mention is Asuka, who is one of the seniors in the band. She can be a hard character to read at times as she has many faces behind her usual carefree and cheerful self. What I like about her is she always gives support to anyone facing trouble, especially Kumiko since both of them play the trombone. Her support ranged from helping Kumiko playing the right notes to helping Kumiko communicate more effectively with other members of the band.

In addition, being the vice president of the band, she’s the one who always motivates the band members before each competition and during their practices. She’s a very influential member who strives to make the band a place for everyone. However, behind her carefree nature lies a serious side to her. She can be a bit harsh towards certain members of the band when the situation calls for it. She refused to accept Nozomi back into the band after she quit as it would upset the chemistry within the band. Putting it all together, she’s a very interesting character to watch in Hibike and she’s a character whom I admire and respect!

If there’s one aspect that KyoAni excels at, it’s the animation, and it nailed the animation of Hibike! Euphonium. It’s a very beautiful anime to watch as each of the scenes were highly detailed and remarkable, especially when it came to the colour palette. Kitauji’s school uniform differed from a rustic brown colour for its winter uniform to a blue and white sailor uniform for its summer uniform. Moreover, the fireworks when Kimiko and Reina were at the summer festival were breathtaking and beautiful. The various scenes that showed the beauty of Kyoto were also very well presented and I can’t praise KyoAni enough for its brilliant work in Hibike’s animation.

The pacing of Hibike Euphonium’s story is perfect. It’s at an equilibrium whereby the viewer doesn’t feel bored and is captured by the story. It also doesn’t feel as if KyoAni is just motoring through the story. Each episode has its purpose, and it showcases what and how every character is doing and feeling. For example, when there was a dispute between Kumiko and Kaori over who was going to be the one to take part in the qualifiers for the Nationals, Kumiko felt that she was the most qualified person. However, Yuuko countered her as she wanted Kaori to be the one to represent the band, getting into an argument as a result. In the end, it was settled by a competition between Kumiko and Kaori, which Kumiko won in the end. It took several episodes to cover this event, but the pacing was excellent as the viewer didn’t know how this dispute would end, and it displayed the feelings of Yuuko’s admiration and respect to Kaori wonderfully, so much so that she cried when Kumiko beat her in the competition.

In conclusion, Hibike! Euphonium has been one of the best series I’ve ever watched! Its engrossing story, beautiful animation, and wonderful characters have been a delight to watch! KyoAni has seriously done an amazing job with Hibike! Euphonium. If the story of season 1 ended with Kitauji qualifying for the Nationals and season 2 ended with Kitauji falling short at the Nationals, it looks like the band is in for revenge in the third season and I can’t wait for it to air in a few weeks!

Rating: 9.5/10

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