May 26, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep08

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep08
In contrast to last week's episode, Episode 08 was much lacking in The Goofy Cute.  She was very much a tertiary character this week, as the show focused on relationships between the mains this time around.

But that's okay, because this episode was amazing.  I mean, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself as much watching an episode of ANY anime as much as I did this one.  I laughed, I teared up a bit, I wished I was 30 years younger for a few minutes. 

Asuka wasn't in sight very much, but a little speech she gave after one of her friends prayed for luck at auditions was telling.  I paraphrase: "Playing music is all about your effort, hoping a god helps you just cheapens it."  Amen, and that's why I was never very good.  The thing was, I knew I wasn't very good, and that after all the effort, after all the practice... I still wouldn't be very good.  It's a humbling experience to know that.

If you're not watching Hibike! Euphonium, you're missing out on the best series this season, and probably this year.  Sure as heck it's the best series KyoAni has done since Clannad/Clannad AS.  I have high hopes for the new ARIA series coming out in a few months, but it's going to have to work really hard to surpass HibEuph.

So why aren't you watching?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:56 PM | Comments (17) | Add Comment
Post contains 241 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Amazing, absolutely amazing. If they don't bobble this, it's going to end up as one of the top couple or three shows KyoAni have ever done. Everything works, every single bit of it.

This show may also become the gold standard for yuri storylines in anime, if this episode is anything to go by. Yes, I am rooting for Oumae/Kousaka here.

Posted by: GreyDuck at May 27, 2015 10:53 AM (/zxpg)

2 Well, since you asked nicely... I'm not watching because the way it handles the story and characters is not very fun. It's basically Yowamushi Pedal with girls. I dropped Euphonium twice: after the first sub-arc finished in ep.4 and at the end of ep.7 after the excessive enthusiasm by CKS made me restart. Not fooling me twice, bloggers. I agree that's a Hyouka-level animation, possibly even better.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at May 27, 2015 02:47 PM (RqRa5)

3 Pete, I sincerely wish you could enjoy this series the way some of us are.  I haven't enjoyed a series this much in years.

Having said that, I really do not see the Yowamushi Pedal comparison; but I've only read the first few chapters of the manga.

Posted by: Ben at May 27, 2015 04:57 PM (XtR0g)

4 Save for Azumanga Daioh, Pete and I have never liked the same shows.  I expected him to pop up and state his dislike of HibEuph, and he did not disappoint.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 27, 2015 05:53 PM (jGQR+)

5 I'm saving it up to watch it straight through.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at May 27, 2015 07:24 PM (2yngH)


Wonderduck (And it appears the majority of Euphonium watchers here.) and I are going to have to agree to disagree about Asuka, but Sound! Euphonium is shaping up to the best KyoAni, and one of the better anime titles I have watched.  That being said, Peter's opinions about the series is not, unfortunately, rare, even if the misgivings about 'another KyoAni series' are ignored.

Posted by: cxt217 at May 27, 2015 08:36 PM (9dbN0)

7 That's a nice 4-valve euphonium. Not sure why she's clutching it like that. I miss having one around the house to doodle on.

Posted by: Will at May 28, 2015 03:09 PM (/2EVT)

8 Because it is her One True Love, Will.  Seriously.  That's what she says.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 28, 2015 03:55 PM (jGQR+)

9 Well, it can't really be a yuri show, given that we've just found out that the show is practically shouting that the main girl likes the main guy and vice versa.

They actually seem to be trying to present a more realistic view of "girlcrushes," where the girls admire each other and try to deal with suppressed parts of their own personalities through the other person. (Of course, the super-traditional girlcrush is to hero worship and admire a teacher or an older and more poised girl, which is pretty much the exact same mechanism behind giving seven year olds a Barbie doll.)

Now, whether or not they actually have the guts to continue this route and point out that "teenagers blush and get flustered every five seconds, so of course you can blush and get flustered around someone of the same sex while being heterosexual," I don't know.

It's also possible that they're going for some kind of unrequited love thing or the theory that you have to fall in love with the less perfect match first before you can get along with the husband material. Or I could be totally wrong. All I know is, shows that go full yuri cease to be about recognizably real girls, so I hope they avoid that.

I also hope they don't go with "Asuka doesn't have a boyfriend, so she must be yuri." That would be depressing, too.

But it's been a good show so far.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 29, 2015 02:22 AM (ZJVQ5)

10 the show is practically shouting that the main girl likes the main guy and vice versa.

We must be watching different versions of HibEuph.  Souichi IS interested in Kumiko to be sure, but when have we seen that interest returned?  Never, far as I've seen.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 29, 2015 02:55 AM (jGQR+)

11 Kumiko is completely baffled by the idea that Shuichi wants to date her.  And it's not the typical "I never *thought* of that" confusion...when she thinks about it and realizes he's trying to ask her out, Kumiko seems rather put off by the idea.

Now, how Kumiko feels about Reina may or may not be leaning more toward traditional girl crush, although I think the line "I was about to be sucked in..." is telling.

How Reina feels about Kumiko is apparently several miles past the "girl crush" border...

Posted by: Ben at May 29, 2015 09:58 AM (S4UJw)

12 Well, I don't think Kumiko thinks she likes Shuichi, but apparently everybody else in the entire universe does think so. And she certainly seems to like Shuichi at every point when she's not actually in his presence, and she hasn't been doing anything to vary her way home and not meet up with him.

Now, you could argue that she is treating him either in a tsundere way or a brother way, because she does seem to treat a lot of people she cares about with that flat affect. And it's how her sister treats her.

Reina has no friends that we've ever seen, and she's a teenager, and her only emotional and hormonal outlet up till now is cramming tons of music practice -- but at least to outside observers, she does only what she feels like doing and is free from the constraints of Japanese society.

Do I expect her to act rational or know what she wants? No. Is this exactly the kind of friend that is likely to fascinate Kumiko, who apparently never shows her true self to anyone? Sure.

But I have to say, Kumiko reads much more as wanting somebody to tell her what to do (and hence relieve her of responsibility) than actually somebody who wants to have a relationship with anyone. (Cue the Gothic romance lines about Yuki-onna.) And Reina sounds more like she wants to destroy Kumiko than get to know her.

Obviously a lot of female friendships have problems with territoriality and exercise of power and the line between sharing secrets and being nosy, but this one could get pretty creepy. If they really do intend to play yuri romance with it, it sounds like they want it to be something that ends in drug use and multiple deaths, not a nice story about kids in high school band. So my conclusion is that they aren't going yuri, because otherwise everybody dies in a haze of blood.

Finally, Reina was not shown as having giant blisters and cuts all over her feet after that walk. I've got heels in exactly that style, and it's practical, but there is still no way in heck that anybody got up that mountain (carrying a euphonium too!) without a line of bloody circles at the top of every toe as well as on the back of the ankle. And since they are white, the shoes as well as the feet should have looked pretty disgusting. That girl should be limping for the next week. So I think we've found the limits of realism for the show.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 29, 2015 04:20 PM (ZJVQ5)

13 Well, maybe not a haze of blood, but anytime there's just one leader and one follower, friendship between girls becomes ugly. Two equals or having three or more friends in the group is a lot less likely to encourage bad decisions.

Actually, this brings another question. Everybody is in high school, but apparently they've never before dated at all even though they are fifteen or sixteen. Similarly, the friendship patterns are now seeming much more like junior high than high school (except nobody is fighting enough for junior high). Other parts of the story seemed much more like actual high school.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 29, 2015 04:36 PM (ZJVQ5)

14 sounds like they want it to be something that ends in drug use and multiple deaths...

I don't much like the version of HibEuph you're watching, Banshee.  I much prefer mine.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 29, 2015 05:25 PM (jGQR+)

15 I'll blame Evangelion for everything, then. Had some gloomy memories of bad stuff that happened to people I knew.

Well, it's surprisingly hard to find stuff on the Internet about social hierarchy among women, but all my female consultants agree it's a bad sign when one girl or woman lets another girl or woman have her way in everything. And after a couple tentative attempts from Reina at getting feedback, that's exactly what Kumiko lets Reina do. Even when expressing consensus, you always have to say (or do) something to show your own status is just as high as the other woman. The only thing Kumiko does without orders is sit down.

Letting a guy tell you what to do has its reasonable side, because guys are programmed to behave nicely in such situations. Absolute submission among women puts you at rock bottom, lower than a little kid. There's literally nothing instinctual to stop the girl in charge from doing anything cruel. From the point of view of humans as a primate band, the only evolutionary advantage is that the dominant female uses the totally submissive female as a meat shield, so she gives you food and attention when not doing more important things. Being touched in that context is a declaration of property control. So whether it's a yuri relationship or not, it's an unhealthy relationship. Kumiko or Reina can change that (all Kumiko has to do is talk and not let Reina interrupt or walk off), but at the moment there are no signs of it.

I don't know why they threw this dark moment into a happy series. If it's some kind of Japanese romance convention, fine. But in the real world, it's not a good sign whether you're lesbian or not.

(And see how much I've said in response to the show and to Wonderduck, to establish my status? Unlike Kumiko, I talk back at it.)

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 30, 2015 07:06 AM (ZJVQ5)

16 "If it's some kind of Japanese romance convention, fine."

Despite how realistically many story elements and details are depicted, I think Hibike! Euphonium is still fundamentally fiction and uses a lot of the standard tropes of the the genres in play.  I'm pretty sure whatever is going on between Kumiko and Reina is around 99% to 100% pure storytelling without regard to realism.  If it *is* based on something real, then I would bet the anime version is *highly* embellished.

Based on my own limited knowledge, I get what you're saying about the IRL implications of what has been depicted.  But (of course there's a "but") I think you have to consider firstly that this *is* a fantasy story about real life things, and also that Kumiko apparently has at least two ways of exercising power over Reina that have been depicted:  she takes some delight in embarrassing Reina with risque humor, and her habit of blurting out observations that, in traditional Japanese society anyway, are rude and insulting.

Would that mean anything in real life?  Probably not.  But yuri relationships, whether they're just typical girl crushes or actual long-lasting couples, are rarely treated in a negative manner in anime (anywhere, really).  I guess that provides the viewer a level of protection to get invested in the relationship (Oh, it's a yuri relationship, those are always magical and perfect.)  But, if a series uses a storytelling element that the viewer doesn't like, whatever I type here probably won't help.  Here's some of my own of heresy:  I can't stand Noir, don't like Cowboy Bebop very much, and despite being possibly the biggest Macross fanboy in the universe, never finished Macross F because I thought the first three episodes were terrible.)

Posted by: Ben at May 30, 2015 09:15 AM (S4UJw)

17 I don't know why they threw this dark moment into a happy series.

I think it's clearly a matter of interpretation.  I didn't see it as dark, or creepy, or anything like that.  I saw it as banter between two people on the verge of becoming close friends.  You're choosing to read into a show something that almost certainly isn't actually there.

Why is that?

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 30, 2015 10:27 AM (jGQR+)

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