If there’s one word to describe this show it would be authentic……. Colorful………….. Enriching… Well, I can’t just use one word! Sorry not sorry…
Our main character, Omae Kumiko is a high school first year student who apparently has an interestingly complex relationship with music and her instrument of choice, the Euphonium. Being a former member of the concert band in her previous school, having a big sister that played the same role and most of her friends being also part of the band, she seems to gravitate around music.
Music is a beautiful journey to pursue together, even in an innocent way as a school concert band. Yet, conflict between the different perspectives and expectations between the students can make relationships drift apart and dissolve. Such is the case of our heroine, whose relationship with music has been harmed because of what I could only call lack of passion.
Look at that beautiful work of art, Hnnng!
Kosaka Reina is a trumpet player, and as Kumiko was also a member of the concert band in the same junior high school. While Kosaka seems to put all her dedication and might into improving her play and being the best she can, Kumiko merely sees the band as a co-curricular time killer. This brings friction when the band fails to achieve a spot at the nationals. Kumiko cannot understand Kosaka frustration and ends up their friendly interactions with some uncomfortable words.
She sure has dedication.
At the new school (Kitauji school), Kumiko looks for a fresh start, away from music and her conflicting memories. Befriending Kato Hazuki, a friendly and lively girl with the most amazing naming skills on earth, and Kawashima Sapphire, a timid and shy girl with some contrabass skills, Kumiko ends up finding her way back to the Euphonium and the concert band. And she’s not the only one, as we find out that Kosaka has also joined the same school and same band has her.
Enter the enormous and diverse cast of the high school band. Tanaka Asuka, the brilliant and playful third year who also plays the euphonium and is the band Vice President. Ogasawara Haruka, also third year and president of the band; strong, with a good touch with people; plays the saxophone. Tsukamoto Shuichi, first year and Kumiko childhood friend and a very perceptive person; plays the trombone and seems to have some feelings for our heroine -no surprises there. Goto Takuya, second year student with a seemingly stoic personality; plays the tuba. Nagase Riko, second year and also plays the tuba. Nakagawa Natsuki, a second year that seems distant and uninterested but is actually very perceptive and understands everyone around her. Sato Aoi, a third year and old friend of Kumiko. These are just the ones that I remember the most!
The band is directed by Taki Noburo, or Taki sensei as the students call him. A seemingly very polite and charming man with particular methods to motivate his students. He is the band adviser and has very high standards for music.
Much of the drama in the first few episodes come from the confrontation of the students with Taki sensei, as he uses a very methodical and democratic method to put the students into the position to decide whether to pursue the Nationals or just play for fun through the semester. This is not problematic in itself, but it puts some students who are not interested in pursuing that goal in an uncomfortable position.
As the majority of the students support going for the Nationals, Taki sensei expects the best from them. Friction starts to arise as some students just don’t want to put the time and dedication needed for improvement, while others struggle to keep the crew together. History doesn’t help them either, as it seems that in the previous year a similar situation ended in the desertion of some first and second year students who where not interested to continue. All this brings an atmosphere of unease and resentment, which is totally understandable. Why should this time be any different?
The strength of the group should come from the head, and the president of the band should make an stand to talk with every side, promoting dialog and come with solutions. Yet there’s much doubt in Haruka herself, who feels unqualified to take on the task, or even be the center of the dialog. Many see her as unfit for the position, and they are not alone, as she shares the same fear. Others see Asuka as the stronghold of the group. Always showing a smile and positive attitude, always perfect. Shuichi said it perfectly once “She scares me. She’s just to perfect. I don’t know what is an act and what is really her.”.
Love is on the air! I love how characters are not “Moe’fied” and are shown as they truly are. Not all girls are slim or have huge breasts in high school!
To add more flavor to the mix we have the awkward moments between Kumiko and Kosaka, who just seems to be oblivious about Kumiko conflict with her. Hazuki struggle to become a good enough tuba player when she stands as a beginner in the group with her companion TubaCabura -I love this girl. Aoi’s inner struggle with her academic responsibilities and the scars of being in the middle of last years conflict. The amazing music. The colorful opening and playful ending. There’s just so much to love.
I love you TubaCabura!
Every episode is a bliss to watch. Every character feels so human, flawed and beautiful in itself. Learning to make music with an instrument it’s a beautiful journey that not many have the opportunity to live and it should not be taken lightly. High school it’s such a chaotic time in our lives, and I personally am enjoying the colors and perspectives of a school life as rich and fulfilling as the one portrayed here. I never had the opportunity to play an instrument at school, he’ll I was lucky if I had a classroom with electricity some years, so probably I’m a little biased.
At the end, there are many shades and brushes of drama and slice of life that feel so fresh and authentic. I have been walking in circles in my room for hours trying to come up with a better way to put the brilliance of this adaptation in words, but I gave up. I’m just not a good enough writer yet. I encourage you to watch it nonetheless. Even if you’re not into music or concert bands. Experience it for yourself. KioAni is really using the big guns on this one.
Asuka Sempai is best gurl!
See you in the next post!