Impression – Hibike! Euphonium, Episode 04

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Episode 04 – “Singing Solfege”

When I said that Taki-sensei has some unique teaching methods, I certainly did not know the half of it. This week, he has the concert band club run laps around the school, blow tissue into the air, all sorts of other crazy stuff, and I think he does this less because he thinks they’ll grow from these exercises and more to break them out of their habit of doing nothing to prepare for band. Results come from effort, and any effort is good effort when it’s directed towards a goal in mind.

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While the bass section seems to get off the hook easily with solfege singing exercises, the flute section gets berated by Taki-sensei. He even makes one of the girls cry, which kinda breaks my heart because if she’s crying that means she actually cares about band, and Taki-sensei shouldn’t have to be so hard on people who already care. Still, that’s the harsh reality of band. Perhaps more than any other high school organization, it has an incredibly high mixture of different ego levels and emotional limits, and it’s almost inevitable that people will get their feelings hurt.

This scene actually brought up a bad high school memory for me. In my junior year, I only had one solo in our jazz band music, and I’d be terrified every time I had to play it during rehearsal. I memorized the days that piece would come up in our practice rotation, and the night before one of those days I practiced that solo for a good hour. The next day, when I stood up for the solo, my mind and body just seized up and I totally screwed up the solo in front of everyone. My teacher, with a face of complete disappoint, asks me, “have you even been practicing at all?” and told me to sit down. I couldn’t even muster a response, and I think that’s the closest I’ve been to crying in the middle of class. So I can sympathize with that poor flute player, who I can only assume is doing her best, but is called out by Taki-sensei.

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Other than all of that serious nonsense, KyoAni makes use of those wonderful facial expressions that I’ve been so keen on since the first episode. They’re extremely animated without needing to be over the top with a bunch of lines bursting from behind the characters. It’s all in the eyes and the shape of the head plus some help with the great voice work. When you combine all of this, you get moments that feel candid.

That, to me, is the beauty of Hibike! Euphonium. We get characters in situations that feel real. When we see Kumiko earnestly trying to make amends with Reina; when we see Haruka doing what she can to keep the band together; when we see a girl crying because her teacher says she’s not good enough, these moments resonate because it’s easy to know what they feel like.

As promised, here’s more concert band music! This is a bit out of season, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

“Do a lap around the school as fast as you can. You have ninety seconds.” ~ Taki-sensei

B.W.

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