Episode 02 – “Nice to Meet You-phonium”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m really loving Hibike! Euphonium. Many people make the comparison to K-On!, which is natural enough considering they both center around high schoolers in bands and are animated by KyoAni, and while I really liked K-On! as well, I feel like both are very different series. Probably the biggest difference between the two is that Hibike! Euphonium, though only two episodes into its run at this point, is already more plot-driven than K-On!. Hibike! Euphonium even has the interesting characters to back it up, which may be enough to dethrone K-On! from its moe pedestal in my heart.
The only concern I really have is whether the characters of Hibike! Euphonium can function outside of the need of a narrative. What I mean by this is that each of the main characters is driven by the desire to join the band and make it to the National competition, which was a goal that is decided in this episode. If you take that motivation away, say in a second season, could these characters still be interesting? An example I can think of is Kuroko no Basuke, which maintains interest in its 3rd double cours season by continually having tournaments, introducing new characters, and having a flashback arc. Since I’m sure Hibike! Euphonium will only be one cour, this is an issue that isn’t really that big of a deal.
Besides, competition or not, these are some of the most entertaining, fresh characters I’ve seen in a school life anime in a while. There were moments this episode where I was laughing out loud to myself, which is pretty rare when I watch anime. Katou Hazuki is my personal favorite character because of her peppy optimism and her denseness is criminally innocent, leading her to be tricked into playing tuba. Kumiko makes for a great lead as well. From the way she sometimes speaks without thinking to her coyness around Reina, we get the sense that she’s a girl who has some troubling handling herself in social situations, which quite frankly may be true of most teenagers. I wonder if we’ll see some development in her character on this front.
This episode is pretty to look at, as usual. It feels like I’m watching a movie, and heck, I think it looks better than a lot of anime movies. Aside from sheer technical quality, Hibike! Euphonium does some stylistic things that really add to its visual style and makes for an atmosphere that is distinctly its own. For instance, there’s the blue rectangle motif that’s used in the OP, as well as in goofy, imaginary scenes like when Kumiko tries to talk to Reina or when Katou has her Cinderella moment with the tuba. Looking forward to more of this animation goodness, particularly when we get to some performances!
“You may not know it yet, but like man and woman, an instrument and its player are bound by fate.” ~Asuka Tanaka