Wow this was a fantastic anime! The realism, the music, the drama, the animation: it was always a treat to tune in to Sound! Euphonium each week last season. I would love to watch it again some time! I found immense enjoyment in this show, and I hope I can communicate my love for this anime well in this review!
I’d like to make special note here to anyone who’s been involved with orchestras or bands or music: this anime is for you. Not only was my heart warmed as a piano player watching this, but every single person I saw online who’d been in an orchestra were people who especially appreciated the realism and messages of this anime. So if you’re a music person, I’d love for you to know this anime exists!
Music | Drama | Slice of Life
Spring 2015 | 13 episodes | PG-13
Hoping to find a fresh start in a high school where no one knows her, Kumiko finds herself joining the school band, despite her cringing ears. She’s dismayed to see several familiar faces there, a brilliant trumpet player in particular, whom she’d had an uncomfortable moment with the year before.
While she finds two new friends, Kumiko is once again pressured into taking up the euphonium, though she’d have preferred a new instrument for a change of pace. She begins to feel the gentle presence of peer pressure and unenthusiastic band members as the band focuses on winning the championship. She also finds herself facing her own passive perspective of music.
To cut to the chase immediately, the special thing about Sound! Euphonium is that its very relatable, even if you’ve never been in a music band before. While the show is often compared to Kyoto Animation’s earlier music anime K-On!, Sound! Euphonium is not moe-blob. Instead it is an in-depth perspective of creating music with other people and facing inner truths and uncomfortable situations by becoming true to yourself. Yes, it managed to still be a fun show, but the story has a very realistic edge to it that is brilliant.
That is also in part to KyoAni’s drop dead gorgeous, yet chillingly realistic animation. The entire anime was shot from simple but often intimate angles; This Japan felt like one you could step into and walk through, holding your breath. The streets and instruments, unique background faces of the band, and the glimmer in water, felt not only breathtakingly beautiful but also very real.
As I said, Sound! Euphonium covered a lot of relevant struggles most of us have experienced in our life times. One of the most memorable was from the first episode, when the band’s director asked them to vote for their goal for the year: play for pleasure or play for championships. Nearly everyone in the class voted to play for championships–but most of them neither wished nor had the drive to practice for such a goal.
While it sounded and looked good to say “yes, we want to be champions”, many students backed themselves into walls because they hadn’t voted for what they truly wanted to do, putting the entire band under pressure. I have seen this happen over and over in life, and how Sound! Euphonium addressed this issue was very relatable.
The characters of Sound! Euphonium were wonderful; main characters and side characters interacted to create both humor and melodrama, driving the story forward beautifully. There are several memorable minor or side characters that really made the show worth watching; IE, Senpai Asuka is memorable for being a hysterical girl who knew how to tease while also completely against involving herself with the melodrama, which was very refreshing. XD
Kumiko was a very likable lead character. I found her relatable in her flaws, her passiveness, in her confliction between what the class wanted and what she wanted. Her struggles to understand her old acquaintance Reina, the trumpet player, was also relatable in certain regards. I thought Kumiko acted incredibly realistically for her age and by the last two episodes she received some wonderful character development.
I also adored the band’s leader, Taki-Sensei. He was very firm, as he expected his students to strive for the goal they’d set for themselves, but he was rarely truly cross or harsh. Though he really pushed the children, I thought he was also a kind, encouraging person who wanted to help them develop both as musicians and as young adults by teaching them to mean what they say.
Having studied a little music, I myself know how important discipline is to a musician who is learning an instrument and musical pieces. So Taki-Sensei was a very enjoyable, admirable character for me because he’s plays such a necessary role in the world of teaching music.
There were two romantic opportunities for the main character Kumiko that didn’t go anywhere–and this could be seen a negative. While Sound! Euphonium was airing, a lot of people got excited over the idea of Kumiko entering a yuri relationship with her old friend and then became disappointed when the show did nothing with their interesting interactions.
Personally, I spent the season shipping Kumiko with a non-human–her euphonium–and music. I wanted her story to be about falling in love with music and her instrument. And I was rewarded, so I do not hold unresolved romantic tension against the story, even though it sometimes felt out of place.
One of the great parts about Sound! Euphonium was its music. Such wonderful band music! And this anime was more than just “students playing instruments”–we got a full look into how the band practiced breathing, marching, and organizing for marches and competitions. It felt very realistic; mixed with the gorgeous animation and music, it was a real treat to watch.
The entire world of school music and its difficulties and sore fingers and funny instruments was on full display in Sound! Euphonium and it was beautiful. The competition in the last episode was so well realized that the suspense of these students’ performances and how they’d placed had me on the edge of my seat, fully involved in their hard work!
When it comes down to it, I give this anime a very high score for several reasons. If you don’t already know by now, I rate anime not just by its presenation and storytelling and characters, but also by the journey it gave me personally. How else are we suppose to rate stories?
So, while Sound! Euphonium isn’t perfect of course, it still managed to find ways to relate with me as a person. I had a blast watching it; I found myself holding my breath just from the animation alone! And it reminded me of how difficult yet beautiful music is.
Star Rating: 5/5 | Rewatchability: Medium | Definition: “Music…it’s a powerful language.”