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SOUND! EUPHONIUM Review: A Concert Band Character Drama

The anime industry is no stranger to music anime. Shows like Beck, Nana, and K-on! delved into the idea of rock bands. Still, other shows such as Your Lie in April and Nodame Cantabile explored classical music, duets in particular. Sound! Euphonium delivers an experience in the music genre that is unique in its focus on the trials of a high school concert band.

The show is appealing in its balancing of the conflicts it presents. Sound! Euphonium introduces and develops the struggles of the band as a whole in competition and performance and a human dynamic in difficult character relationships and internal struggles. There is interplay between these two in how the various characters come to realize and grow in what music means to them. The juggling act Sound! Euphonium about the passion of humans in their formative years results in an empathetic story for its audience.

Story

The story of Sound! Euphonium begins at the turn of the new school year. Kitauji High School is welcoming a slew of new faces into the school’s concert band club, including the euphist Kumiko Oumae, trumpeter Reina Kousaka, contrabassist Sapphire Kawashima, and tubist Hazuki Katou. Alongside these additions, the band is also welcoming the intriguing and demanding new instructor, Noboru Taki.

The usual source of conflict in Sound! Euphonium stems from the drama amongst the band members. A conflict early introduced in the show is the one between the lackadaisical and carefree personality of most of the band and the new conductor who is pushing them to achieve something more. The overarching struggle here is handled well in Sound! Euphonium with this particular conflict dominating the initial parts of the story and remaining a constant factor throughout, while it is slowly resolved as the two halves build trust through working with each other.

Sound! Euphonium also introduces several other interesting plot threads. These additional plot points add different facets to the shape of the story as whole without detracting from the overall direction of Sound! Euphonium. One such thread involves the struggle of the current president of the club and whether she feels she is truly equal to such a task. Even if such a point is not dominant, it helps to flesh out and humanize several characters in Sound! Euphonium.

Characters

The overwhelmingly large nature of a high school concert band does in fact produce a large cast in Sound! Euphonium. Due to this, it is unsurprising that the show chooses to focus on four main characters, three of which are in the same low brass section. The supporting characters are also primarily from the low brass section as a result of this. This ultimately leads to much of the rest of the band being unexplored, which is an unfortunate but understandable sacrifice for the sake of narrative focus.

Source: animeguiden.dk

Source: animeguiden.dk

Sound! Euphonium definitely makes use of the number of characters they choose to focus on, however. The show is able to explore several aspects of the characters themselves as well as their relationships. Kumiko in particular is displays some interesting characterization and character development as the show progresses. The most obvious way she changes through her experience with band at Kitauji is how her reason to play changes in addition to her desire to even play at all.

What music means to them is a question for several of the characters and one that is addressed in Kumiko’s growth. Her changing relationship with music is further addressed through her relationship with Kousaka Reina, another central character in the show from the same middle school band as her. Reina’s more focused drive and passion for music is part of her characterization, and the clash between these two ideologies is one of the ways the characters grow and interact. The distinct personalities of many of the characters and how they approach the band they are a part of allows the show many interesting interactions.

Art

Kyoto Animation’s reputation for lavish and beautiful animation quality is not without good reason. Their addition to the Spring 2015 lineup is, unsurprisingly, no exception to this. The backgrounds are vividly detailed and colored, which greatly enhances the impact of the scenes in the show. The character designs are certainly pleasant and pretty as well.

The outfits donned by various characters throughout the show are lovingly detailed as well. In particular, the colors of the cast’s parade uniforms are very lively and fitting. The instruments in the show are also depicted honestly and beautifully. The animations of the characters’ performances throughout the show are organic and, at times, truly emotional to add another layer of visual beauty to the show. Kyoto Animation delivered another superb product with Sound! Euphonium.

Overall

Sound! Euphonium is definitely not short of gorgeous visuals and music. These are still only supporting aspects of a larger narrative. Luckily, Sound! Euphonium still delivers through the exploration and growth of the characters as well as through following the overarching struggles of the band as a whole.

The characters of Sound! Euphonium are a distinct and interesting bunch. One of the highlights of the show stems from these personalities inhabiting the same space and clashing. The narrative contains interesting points through both their internal struggles about themselves and their passions, but also in how the characters in the show learn from each other through their interactions and dialogue with each other. Sound! Euphonium is more of a character driven narrative that follows a collective band with some similar ideals and it is quite good at being that.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Categories: Anime Reviews

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