Impression – Hibike! Euphonium, Episode 12

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Episode 12 – “My Euphonium”

I feel a bit guilty for complaining this series for what seems like forever, so I’m going to try to be more positive this week. That shouldn’t be that big of a challenging, actually, given that this week’s episode was the best one in a while. The Reina and Kumiko shadow that was cast upon the series as of late dissipated, just a bit, this time around, leaving the core narrative of not only the band’s but also Kumiko’s saga to shine for the first time since the beginning of the series.

Before I get on to all of that good stuff, I’ll concede that there was still some “baiting” going on between Kumiko and Reina, when the two are together as Kumiko is practicing her part. Once again, it’s a great scene for the development of the relationship between these two characters, but it’s continuing to raise expectations that were perhaps never meant to exist in the first place. Though, as evidenced through several pieces of official artwork depicting Reina and Kumiko intimately close together, KyoAni will market this nonexistent relationship to the grave.

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Anyway, perhaps the best part of the episode is when Kumiko becomes frustrated with herself when she can’t play as well as she think she should be able to, which is a moment that every single musician faces and can occur numerous times throughout one’s career. It’s that wall that impedes progress, with no visible or apparent method of overcoming it. It’s in this moment that Kumiko realizes exactly how Reina felt when they didn’t proceed in their middle school competition. This is more important than it may first appear because all series long we’ve gotten the sense that Kumiko is this girl that lacks a certain amount of empathy and is never quite sure of what to say in each situation.

For the first time, Kumiko makes a visible connection with another character’s emotions, which helps her come to greater understanding of herself and what her ambitions are. She declares that she loves the euphonium, and that’s the only reason needs to push herself over that mental wall, refusing to quit like her sister and friend Aoi before her. As I’ve mentioned before, and no matter how cliche it is, in this age when the study of the arts is devalued, Kumiko’s resolute ambition actively becomes that much more valuable.

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“It’s a lie that the gods smile upon those who make an effort, but today the god of destiny gave me a wink.” ~ Kumiko Oumae

B.W.

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