This week was the end of Sound! Euphonium 2, which I shall abbreviate as H!E (for its Japanese name, Hibike! Euphonium).
Now the first season is perhaps the first “proper” anime I’ve ever seen (I don’t really count the Cartoon Network ones), since it was released during my high school senior spring. This is important, because I had started band in fifth grade and had actively continued with it up through twelfth grade; and when I say active, I mean active. I was in jazz band every year, I was section leader, I attended honor bands, etc. When I came to university, however, I realized that the wind ensemble was…garbage, to put it nicely. Throughout the summer H!E had been on my radar, but I started watching it once I realized how much my university’s wind ensemble sucked and how much I missed being part of a great band.
And I enjoyed the series. The beautiful animation, the choice of music (“Orpheus” [the one with the can-can] was one of our competition pieces one year), and the premise of building up a garbage concert band into a nationally recognized one (again, see: terrible university wind ensemble). The yuribaiting between Kumiko and Reina was an annoying tease, and much of the drama was overblown and overacted, sometimes eye-rollingly so, yet I found myself really enjoying the show as it progressed. Once the band accepted Taki as the adviser and really started working towards the Nationals, I found myself being reminded of my own adventures in band; in particular, the international competition we attended in my sophomore year. I remembered the months of hard work, the numerous extra rehearsals, and the beautiful resonance of the hall as we ultimately took home the championship and a cash prize. As the first season closed with Kitauji taking home gold at the Regionals I was excited to see the band grow into season 2.
Unfortunately, the second season did not deliver quite as well as the first. The series diverted away from the actual music and focused more on the interpersonal connections; a logical direction for production, as non-music fans may not want to listen to the same pieces more than once, but I feel as if the series lost a lot of its charm. However, the second season seemed to set the actual competition as an afterthought; much of the season was split between three or four overarching plot arcs, making the entire season as a whole seem a little incoherent. Combined with the overdone drama carried over from the first season, I had less patience for this season than the first; Hazuki and Midori’s absence from the main cast of four also led to this season feeling hollow to me. The animation was still enjoyable, though, and I loved what little music there was , but I feel like something was lost in the time between the first and second seasons.
Also, no KumiRei. C’mon, gimme that KumiRei. >:L