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I first watched Sound Euphonium in my freshman year of college, thoughts of my next steps still safely ahead
I'd recently started a YouTube channel on a whim, and even covered the series in one of my earliest videos,
describing it as a bit slow and certainly nothing too exciting,
It's been three years since then.
I graduate in May, the future is no longer then and I can confidently say,
Sound! Euphonium is my favorite work of all time
When we first meet Oumae Kumiko, she doesn't seem like the type of character a story should revolve around.
Indecisive and awkward, she absent-mindedly blurts her thoughts out loud and second-guesses her decisions, even those as banal as ice cream flavors.
Kumiko would much rather blend in with the crowd,
then stick out, avoiding confrontation where possible and accepting whatever's put in front of her.
She only started the euphonium in the first place because nobody else wanted it.
She doesn't put herself out there for fear of being let down,
a safe weak play shielding her from pain, but also the true joy of accomplishment
the series opens to her final middle school competition, and Reina's despair at their failure to advance
Kumiko is the type of person who's okay with settling for a dud goal. She wouldn't let herself believe
they could do any better, but Reina is a different sort of person. Where Kumiko is content
just looking ahead, Reina sets her sights high. Laying it all on the line for the chance to be special
Thoughts of Reina's drive pushed Kumiko away from the band, afraid to commit herself wholeheartedly towards a goal
She always keeps "one foot in, one foot out"
I now see so much of my old self in Kumiko at the start of the series.
Aimlessly wandering through life without much direction. I went to university because it's what everyone around me did,
I only chose my major because it's the one I was told would best position me for medical school.
Why did I want to do that again?
I'd shuffle from one class, one obligation to the next with only exam weeks connecting the loose threads.
Even my Youtube channel, originally created as an outlet free from my daily grind, started to fall into the cold pattern of routine
Soon days turned into weeks, weeks into semesters, and semesters into years.
Where was the experience I could call my own, was I doing anything of my own volition was, I doing anything at all?
My mind would always come back to Sound! Euphonium. Funny how certain things can have such an impact on you without you even realizing it.
Just look at Kumiko that image of Reina never leaves Kumiko's mind
she wants to put it all behind her, seeking a fresh start at a school not known for its concert band.
Much like her new hairstyle, Kitauji was her way of cutting clean from that past. Even so, she can't avoid the band's pull
Hazuki's honest excitement at creating sound reminds Kumiko of her own first steps with music, relighting that spark just enough to call her back
She ditches the ponytail, that's not her, and agrees to join Kitauji's band. Unlike Midori, though,
who unabashedly proclaims her love for the contrabass. Kumiko looks to a new instrument, wanting to break away from the euphonium,
but a part of her knows how deeply she loves the euph, even if she doesn't consciously realize it.
Season 1 centers around Kumiko discovering her passion, leaving that directionless haze behind her and living authentically.
when Taki sensei gives the band the choice of chasing nationals or having fun,
Kumiko abstains from the vote, unsure what she wants or what Reina would think. She exists on the periphery,
totally non-committal. Aoi warns Kumiko not to let these years pass without living to her true feelings.
She makes the point that everyone chooses what's safe.
Nobody's willing to make the jump it takes to put themselves out there, to reach for what's in their heart.
Nobody except Reina.
Throughout the first season, Reina represents this vexing, faraway mountaintop to Kumiko.
Listening to her trumpet fills her with the desire to play harder, to reach her level
She's constantly framed following behind, or looking up at her. Reina is the image Kumiko aspires to reach. Subconsciously or otherwise.
During their hike in episode eight Kumiko remarks "this must be how it feels to lose your life,
drawn to a beautiful thing despite your fears".
In some ways Reina is the antithesis to Kumiko.
She hates routine and structure, often wanting to leave it all behind, if only for a moment
But even if she can't make the impossible leap, she won't let that stop her from taking the smaller one right in front of her.
She didn't reach the summit to admire the view,
but because nobody else would. Reina doesn't want to blend in with the crowd
she wants to stand above it. To be truly special.
her fierce, unending determination to make that happen is almost blinding, leaving Kumiko in a trance as if having an out-of-body experience.
No matter how many times I watch this scene, I can't help but feel like Kumiko, swept away by this dreamlike beauty.
I feel that burning desire, pushing me forward. Later the others note how Kumiko sounds more expressive and mature than before,
as she chases that image of Reina on the mountain. She won't let Reina fall short of her goal.
She's going to become special. She is different from the others. Kumiko needs to believe in that Reina.
She no longer awkwardly stumbles through every conversation with her, that discomfort replaced with understanding.
Kumiko looks her square in the eyes now,
Not backing down or trailing after her. In a complete turn of events from the earlier vote on the band's goal; the once guarded, distant Kumiko
suddenly becomes outspoken in support of her friend, vigorously cheering for Reina while the others remain silent.
Kumiko's growth here culminates in episode 12, forced to confront what the euphonium means to her;
after Taki sensei gives her a challenging new part to play for the competition
and she struggles to get it right, no matter how much she throws herself at it, still it eludes her.
She tells Reina of her feverish desire to improve, to be special like her, as the frame boxes her in,
unable to break through to that level
"The fingertips, the strength, and timings of my breath. I can hear the sound I want in my head.
The frustration of being unable to reproduce it."
I often come back to this line, how helpless that feeling is when you know what you want to do, but can't find the way forward.
Throughout the episode, shots of a butterfly follow Kumiko, but now it's caught in a spider web unable to move ahead.
Finally Kumiko's desire to be better that's built up inside her explodes out into a desperate cry.
I want to improve. I want to be special. I'm not content wading through life, or taking the easier route simply because it's clear
I'll find my way forward, whatever that means, wherever that leads me. I feel that painful yearning inside like Kumiko,
so upset she could die.
Kumiko finally understands how much it hurts to completely put yourself out there and come up short. She defiantly tells her sister
there is a point to sticking with the euphonium: because she likes it.
Only when Mamiko leaves, does the weight of these words hit her, as she looks into a mirror and reiterates much softer
"I like the euphonium."
Taki reassures her you really only need to enjoy something to do it,
that's as good a reason as any.
I remember coming back to the series long after I'd first watched it and being struck by how deeply I felt Kumiko's emotions here.
I realized, I don't know what my passion is but seeing, Kumiko find hers, with the resolve to see it through, filled me with determination
It was like a light went off in my head, where the patterns I'd fallen into seemed
so small and the answers became clear. Stop living to what's expected of you. Live to yourself
Kumiko discovered what drives her and is committed to make it a reality. In a perfect world we could do that all the time,
but even if it's only just for now, this moment is all that matters to her.
Kumiko has to be Kumiko. I have to be me. It sounds so simple, but maybe that's enough.
Two recurring questions pop up throughout the series; why do you play and who do you play for?
When Kumiko presses Gotou on "why tuba?", he responds with a straight face: "I like tuba".
Ultimately, Kumiko discovers how much she enjoys the euphonium,
realizing that that's all the reason she needs.
The second season centers around the latter: "who do you play for?"
Reina says she plays for herself, Asuka plays for her father, Taki for his deceased wife, Kumiko for her sister.
But how do you get these feelings across?
The staff described the theme of season 2 as a "reach you".
Be it Mizore's inability to put her thoughts into words with Nozomi, or Kumiko's own struggle to communicate her feelings
to Asuka and Mamiko. Where season one shows Kumiko finding her passion, season two is about finding her voice.
Up to now
She's remained on the edge of conflicts, a bystander to these events, unable to influence any of them, offer any solutions,
or voice her true feelings.
Look no further than the season's first arc.
With Nozomi out of the band, Mizore
no longer knows why or who she plays for. She says she hates competitions, a reminder of her former friend and their broken promise.
Mizore is afraid
She isn't as special to Nizomi as no Nozomi is to her, that Nozomi was friends with everybody.
She was just one more face in the pack. Eventually, Yuko and Nozomi herself pull her out of that self-destructive mindset.
But again, Kumiko serves as little more than our lens to view the conflict. She plays no real role in the resolution.
As a person who's also non confrontational to a fault, I can relate to Kumiko's detachment from these issues
when a social situation turns tense or quiet,
I too blurt out whatever comes to mind in a desperate attempt to fill the silence and I often value keeping the peace at the
expense of speaking my mind.
That quickly goes too far, as you bury your thoughts deeper and deeper.
While she's become aware of her love for the euphonium, Kumiko still doesn't connect with her feelings towards the people around her.
She's sure of herself, but not of others.
It's only when she begins to understand the nature of others through listening to their thoughts, that she confronts and vocalizes hers.
Seeing how Nozomi and Mizore honestly share their feelings with each other pushes Kumiko to consider her own for Asuka and Mamiko.
But can't she make these known? When both start to drift out of her reach
Mamiko leaving home and Asuka forced out of the band by her mother Kumiko comes to terms with what they mean to her.
Mamiko inspired her to take up music in the first place. Her dream was to play with her someday.
But as time and circumstance forced them apart,
they lost sight of that.
Only with the finality of her sister gone does Kumiko remember how important she was to her and how sad she truly is to see her go.
But first she leaves Kumiko with a warning, reminiscent of Aoi in the first season,
don't be left with any regrets. That thought sticks with Kumiko as the conflict with Asuka reaches its climax
She struggles to crack her code, as images of her flitter across the screen.
Finally resolved to make her feelings known, Kumiko confronts Asuka
Not as a liaison for the band or even her underclassmen,
but a person who deeply cares for her. From the onset, Asuka plays a mystifying presence among the band. Even more reticent than Kumiko,
she puts on false airs to create this playful atmosphere.
Rarely letting anyone catch a peek behind the curtain to what's really going through her mind.
She stayed detached from the band's conflict because she didn't want them to grow too reliant on her.
Asuka is always looking beyond the others, like she sees an entirely different world then them
She's special. Even her instrument stands out, a brilliant silver. Director Ishihara described her as the final boss for Kumiko,
and she doesn't back down easy here.
Kumiko pleads everyone wants her back, but sensing an opening Asuka presses her on this claim. Who is everyone, and how would she know?
Kumiko was caught in Asuka's web, unable to move as she continues speaking for the others, not herself.
Asuka cut straight through Kumiko's mask, laying her anxieties completely bare.
She captures Kumiko's nature so sharply, leaving her speechless
Asuka turns to leave, insinuating it's best she simply fade from view.
Clips of the others describing Asuka,
claiming to know who she is, and what she wants flashed through Kumiko's head before ending on her sister's warning: no regrets.
Finally Kumiko speaks from her own heart, nobody else's.
Forget everything and everyone. She wants to play with Asuka. That much she knows. So what if it's childish.
Kumiko calls her out for acting all mature, as if she's so special when she's just a high schooler like the rest of them.
Don't throw away your wishes and desires like they're meaningless.
Asuka wants to play at nationals more than anyone. "Please don't make choices you know you're going to regret".
She breaks Asuka's shell, bringing her near to tears. In touch with her own feelings with the will to communicate them clearly,
Kumiko finds her voice.
But the thrill of Asuka's return soon turns hollow, as the end of the third-year's time in the band suddenly becomes real.
Kumiko can't escape the nagging regret
there's still more to say. She hasn't let Asuka in on the love she feels for her as her
underclassmen, as her friend, as a person.
With that in mind, she plays her song.
The one she first heard that morning at training camp, the one Asuka played for her by the river.
A strange piece. Warm. Lonely, yet oddly kind
Fittingly, on graduation day, Kumiko finds Asuka at the entrance steps where she first saw her, and lets her know how she feels.
How she wants to hear her music again and play like her. Only now do we learn what that piece is called:
響け! ユーフォニアム (Sound! Euphonium)
I'm amazed at how human these characters are. Their conversations,
relationships, and anxieties feel truly genuine. Even moments as simple as a morning train ride offer subtle depth to their common humanity.
their struggles so naturally reflect our own, I feel there's at least one character everybody can relate to.
Maybe it's the driven star aiming to be special, the older sibling struggling with the pressure of expectation, the role model forcing on that mask,
the quiet supporter learning to lead, the introvert grappling with the walls
built inside, or the slacker finding the willpower to succeed, but still coming up short.
Every character holds unique motivations and takes a different route to personal growth. It goes to show,
there is no singular way to grow. We all have to find our own path forward.
Then, there's Kumiko.
From the rudderless drifter, with no sense of direction to a determined person
confident in her feelings. No character in anime or any medium has resonated with me like her.
Sound! Euphonium is the story of Kumiko's transformation into a true protagonist.
Asuka puts it best when she tells her "You sure are a euphonium Oumae. To think there was such a euphonium-ish kid around".
Kumiko does not seem special. In fact,
she seems shockingly ordinary, but she provides support, an anchor to everyone around her, like a euphonium.
She won't steal the spotlight, but she makes it all come together.
It wasn't a new hairdo or a new club Kumiko wanted, but a new place.
Surrounded by people who loved what they do, and inspire her to aim higher.
Kumiko found that, and now it's her turn to do the same for others.
in a letter to Mamiko,
she describes her resolve not to let her parents worries guide her, but to chase nationals as best
she can. To not leave any regrets and live for herself. Even now, her dedication inspires me to find my own.
Whenever I feel myself falling back into routine, or sense my motivation slipping away,
I remember Kumiko on that bridge. The feverish desire to improve, to commit entirely to that with both feet forward.
Looking back at where I was when I first watched Sound! Euphonium, I feel almost nostalgic at how much things have changed.
I'm in a different place now than I was three years ago.
More mature: hopefully. More experienced: definitely. But most of all: more assured
Even if I don't know what I want to do, I'm determined to find it. To do whatever necessary to live out my passion.
When I graduate, I'm not shuffling immediately along to medical school like I once thought. It's not what I want to do right now.
I'm not saying I won't ever take that step,
but I'm not ready for such a giant leap just yet, when there's so much
I don't know.
I can't make the next step without finding my footing first. As long as I focus on that, whatever path
I end up following, I'll know it's the one I chose.
My favorites are personal, and as such, extremely fluid. Just as I change as a person,
It's only natural for works to have a shifting effect on me.
Where once Eupho wouldn't have cracked my list at all, now It's clearly at the top. I am where I am today;
I'm headed in the direction on going because of Sound! Euphonium.
Maybe you find it silly to be so swayed by a cartoon, but that's sadly limiting to me. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Someday I may fall out of love with Eupho when it no longer holds this magic for me.
But that won't matter because there was a time when it did.
A time when Hibike! Euphonium was exactly what I needed to hear.
No matter how much I change or how many years go by, I'll never forget. Well, you know
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為何吹響吧!上低音號是我最喜愛的動漫 (How Warm It Sounds | Why Hibike! Euphonium Is My Favorite Anime)

718 分類 收藏
yu 發佈於 2019 年 9 月 23 日
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