Anime at a Glance: Sound! Euphonium

The tension in the room has built up to it’s final moments before the banner drops and reveals the names of the schools. After weeks of hard practice, this competition was the deciding factor of who would be going to the next stage of competition on the way to the nationals. As it drops, they see their school name next to the gold and the judge begins listing the schools representing the prefectural. Kumiko Oumae is happy with that news alone, even though the school wasn’t chosen to go further, she was happy that they performed well enough to be a ‘dud gold.’ As other classmates run off to celebrate she looks over at Reina Kousaka, clutching her knees and crying, “You’re happy enough to cry, huh? Congratulations, we got gold.”

“I’m so upset.”

“Weren’t we shooting for the Nationals?” After a brief exchange she runs off, upset about their half-win and the end of their middle school life not taking them further.

The first morning of high school, hair up in a ponytail, Kumiko walks up to her new school to get a fresh start. She watches as other new students get poached for clubs and a girl shouting a welcome to the school from the concert band catches her attention, all the members with instruments at the ready begin to play upon queue. Some of them are off tune, others are off beat, most of them not even synchronized with their conductor. Many of the new students seem impressed by the show and sound put out, but Kumiko could only hear the problems.

“Man, they sucked.”

Under her breath, before home room starts, she mutters that phrase unaware of the girl behind her eavesdropping. “Who sucked?” She introduces herself as Hazuki Katou, and begins to repeat her question until the teacher steps into the room. After correcting a few student’s choices in uniform modification, she settles everyone down and calls attendance and begins class. Looking to head home after class, Kumiko is stopped by Hazuki in a bright and cheerful manner, explaining she just wants to try new things in high school. She has also decided to be friends with Kumiko as they head out the door, bumping into another timid girl from class, Sapphire Kawashima. Being an incredibly embarrassing given name, she asks to be called Midori instead, as they drag Kumiko along to check out the concert band practice.

One of the girls spots them peering in from outside and brings them all in, startling them with simple tricks and jokes to lighten their experience. Everyone loves shaking hands with someone, only to have that person pull away and have their hand come off. As practice is about to start, one of the worst things to happen, that Kumiko couldn’t have expected, was seeing Reina Kousaka walk into the room and ask to join. Stifling a shriek of fear, barely rushing her hands over her mouth, over their last uncomfortable encounter her face turns red and she sticks to the back of the room. Midori comes over and mentions that they should get going, to which Kumiko enthusiastically nods in a rush to get away.

On the walk home, she explains the situation to her new-found friends. Midori explains to Hazuki, the only one of them not previously in concert band club, what the significance of a ‘dud gold’ would be and why Reina would have been so upset. Arriving at the train station, Midori parts ways to go back to her home, Hazuki and Kumiko get on the same train to head back their own ways as well. After a few moments of silence on the train, Hazuki starts the conversation again.

“Oh, I get it now. When you said they sucked, you meant the band.”

There’s enough awkward High School moments in this anime to keep it going through sheer entertainment value alone with some episodes, though it obviously offers quite a bit more than that. Settling the previous encounter with Reina and joining the Concert Band were minor compared to what the rest of the series has had to offer, but I guess my biggest interest in the show was really the music. Quite a while back I had previously taken an interest in a similar enough show about music, Your Lie in April, and it had helped convince me that music anime should be given a shot. Though the music isn’t the majority of the show, it is definitely more of a slice-of-life or high school drama.

While Sound! Euphonium has had a complete first season available for nearly a year and a half, I have only recently taken up watching it, and I binge-watched through up to the currently airing episodes of the second season. It also made me second guess doing a review like this for a while because it’s such a simple and innocent show about high school life and, mostly, centers around teen girls that it made me a little self-conscious.

While it may just be the fact that I had essentially 20 episodes built up that I could breeze through all at once, the fact remained that it held my attention better than any show I’ve been watching this season. One of the trademarks of many other good shows is that once you look past the surface, it does teach you a few decent life lessons if you look at the interactions between the character, and Sound! Euphonium can bring out the anthropologist in you if you’re interested in learning about people and interactions.

Though Izetta the Last Witch has been a consistent watch, it feels more like a really good commercial after spending so much of my anime watching time on Sound! Euphonium.

You can watch the full first season, and start into the second season, over on Crunchyroll.

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