Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)

Genre(s): School, Music, Slice of Life, Drama

Age-Appropriateness: 8+ (occasional language maybe?)

Platforms: Crunchyroll

Episodes: 27

TheAwersome Rating: 8.6 (A KyoAni Gem)

Premise: After having sworn off music due to an incident at the middle school regional concert band competition, euphonist Kumiko Oumae enters high school hoping for a fresh start. Yet, she’s surrounded by people with an intense interest in the school concert band, and with the help of these new bandmates, including the ace trumpeter from middle school, Reina, Kumiko is able to rekindle her enthusiasm for music. The band itself, however, is in chaos. Having had a drama filled year previous, and a new director bent on qualifying for nationals, will the band be able to function?

TheAwersome’s Thoughts: While one might look at the premise and say “Okay, a slice of life anime about music, meh” the fantastic artistry, directing, and heart of Kyoto Animation will pull this piece into a very special place in your heart. The animation, character design, and backgrounds are done by the same team that went on to do Violet Evergarden, so expect breathtakingly gorgeous transitions, backgrounds, and immersion. The directing for so many scenes is poignantly perfect, with every detail contributing to breathing life and reality into this work.

For me, a huge chunk of Eupho’s charm is in the small background elements, in the tiny, inconsequential actions and interactions between characters that don’t distract from the main plot or story but just add that extra taste of “Yeah, humans and life are great!” that’s so unique to KyoAni. You really feel the love the creators have for their work.

Story-wise, I felt more gripped by the first season than the second, but I felt that the second gave a lot more character exploration that made everyone feel real and intricate, without falling back on tropes.

TLDR: A beautiful heartfelt piece with KyoAni’s signature magic.

One thing that was noticeably more difficult in watching this anime versus several others is keeping everyone’s names straight. There are four “main” characters, and a sizeable cast of supporting characters, each with their first and last names, which get used interchangeably. Then there are the nicknames that certain characters use for the others, at which point it’s even harder. If that wasn’t enough, this is more of a realistic anime in which there aren’t un-ordinary hair colors, so even visually they’re pretty hard to tell apart. As such, I would recommend watching this one pretty regularly so as not to always be wondering who they’re talking about.

There are two recap movies for the series, so I didn’t really even bother learning their names, and a third continuing movie titled “Sound! Euphonium: Oath’s Finale” (sometimes titled Our Promise: A Brand New Day). While this aired in theaters in Japan and the US in early 2019, it has not released on Blu-ray/DVD, so I haven’t been able to see it yet.

A critically acclaimed spin-off movie “Liz and the Blue Bird” following some of the side characters from Season 2 will be reviewed next week.

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