Sound! Euphonium: The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
Slice of life shows often time make me the most emotional. Not because they are inherently designed to elicit emotions, but because the characters are often on screen for so long that it becomes only natural to be invested in what’s going on. I mean, it’s not like their’s an overarching plot most of the time. Sound! Euphonium, however, is different. It has a goal for the main characters by episode two, and it details their struggle to achieve that goal. What is not different, though, is the attention to detail when it comes to the characters. Sound! Euphonium goes the extra mile to make sure that the characters have lives of their own lives, and by the end really capture what it means to be apart of something.
Sound! Euphonium centers around Kumiko Oumae, a freshman Kitauji High School. Upon attending her first day she is greeted by a performance from the Kitauji High Band, and is less than impressed. Later that day she meets some newfound friends and decides to join them in checking out the band. After a day of not really knowing what to do, she decides that she will join the band and once again play the Euphonium. Now in Kitauji Band, Kumiko meets a whole host of other music nerds, including Reina Kousaka, a skilled trumpet player who has her sights set on the band’s new teacher.
As with other Slice of Life shows, the characters are at the forefront of the story. Kumiko and her friends develop over the show’s two seasons and come out having learned what it is they really want. Hazuki gets her arc first, falling in love with Kumiko’s childhood friend Shuuichi and enlisting the help of Kumiko in order to help her with her feelings. She remains indecisive on the matter, but eventually with encouragement from Kawashima and Kumkio telling her that she doesn’t like Shuuichi, a thought that was largely holding her back, Hazuki decides to ask him out. the date goes well enough, but Hazuki soon realizes that Shuuichi is not going to reciprocate her feelings. This experience not only makes Hazuki more worthy of sympathy but also makes her realize that her passion can lye in more than just romance and that her love for Tuba-kun is just as strong.
Asuka, the Band’s Vice President, is explored in the latter half of the second season. Her arc involves the abuse from her mother and her mother’s insistence that she leaves the band. It is later revealed that this hatred of band comes from her having divorced a famous Euphonist. This abuse from her mother finally gets to Asuka, and she decides to leave the band, rarely if at all showing up for practice even right before the national competition, but Kumiko decides that Asuka needs to return, and spills her heart out in front of her. Asuka’s always cheerful attitude and resistance to talking about her personal circumstance appear true to life, as many who are going through abuse are often the most involved in making sure others are happy. Whether they be happy or depressing, the show remains committed to telling the stories of its characters.
Sound! Euphonium also shows the realities of being involved with an organization in high school. I know from personal experience that no matter how much you do not like someone, you have to stick it out and work together with them. But, more often then not, for every person you do not like, there will be 10 more you do. Kitauji High’s Band is a great example of finding a community of people who share the same passion you do, and getting to have fun with them while also improving at the thing you love. It is a reminder that high school is can often time be the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and that chapter can only be a good as you make it.
The show’s excellent writing aside, its animation is another great point. Kyoani put together a great team for Sound Euphonium, and ended up with a great result because of it. Everything, from the fireworks at the festivals to the performances and even the background, oozed talent and attention to detail.
The music, while still being good, was, unfortunately, one of the weaker points. Both of the show’s openings and endings were nothing worth mentioning and all but one of tracks in the show could be described as “adequate.” The one exception, of course, is the track the show is named after, “Sound! Euphonium,” a song that captures the emotional nuance of the show in a way that words would have a hard time competing against.
Sound! Euphonium, having remained off my radar for a long time, is a show that all will always remember fondly, largely because of when I watched it. Its ability to tell a compelling story about a bunch of band nerds wanting “to be the very best like no one ever was” is a testament to its quality. Even with only an above-average soundtrack, the show will likely remain in my heart as a go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a good high school slice of life.