If you follow me on Twitter you probably know Kyoto Animation is one of my favourite anime studios. While I haven’t yet seen any of their lower rated stuff (I plan on it though) They currently have made 5 of the anime in my top 10 of all time and even the ones I don’t rate so highly I can find enjoyment in (Except Haruhi 2009 cause screw Endless Eight). Did Hibike! Euphonium stand up with the rest, or is it my first bad anime by KyoAni? Let’s find out!
The story follows a young girl entering high school this year, Kumiko Oumae. In middle school she played the euphonium in the concert band which we see in a powerful opening scene with the band learning they didn’t score high enough to make it to Nationals. Kumiko seems a little sad but she turns to her band-mate Reina Kousaka who is balling her eyes out. Kumiko can’t understand why Reina is so upset as it wasn’t that big of a deal to her. Now fast forward to Kumiko’s first day of high school and she’s disappointed because she heard your breasts are supposed to grow a lot when you enter high school. Following Kumiko we learn she went to a school a decent ways away from home so she could get a fresh start. She makes two new friends fairly quick namely Hazuki Katou, an energetic girl who wants to switch from the tennis club to band and Sapphire Kawashima who’s more shy and hates her name, plays the contrabass and plans on continuing. With her 2 new friends joining the band club Kumiko isn’t left with much choice. She thinks about going with a different instrument which leads to my least favourite plot element pretty much every work of fiction uses “let’s make an early conflict completely spoiled by the title, summary, opening, pretty much everything”, the title is Hibike! “Euphonium” not “Trumpet” or “Tuba” so why bother? Something Kumiko discovers while in the band room is she isn’t the only one from her middle school to come here. Reina makes an appearance, at the amazingly shocked face of Kumiko. So now we have Kumiko who wanted a new life but is back in band, still playing the euphonium, still with Reina.
Characters are one of the areas Hibike Euphonium exceeds. All of them are unique while still being interesting. While I haven’t read the light novel (despite wanting to there is no way currently without knowing Japanese) so I don’t know how much KyoAni made themselves I can’t imagine making the amount of characters in here that have personality all unique was an easy task. My favourites have to be Reina and Kumiko which is always great when the main characters rank high, the teacher Noboru Taki, the club president/saxophone leader Haruka Ogasawara, and the one everyone talks about, vice-president and brass section leader, Asuka Tanaka. All the characters were great (except Yuko Yoshikawa, I hate her) those were just my personal stand-outs.
I like to dedicate a paragraph to flaws but I’m finding it quite hard. I gave a couple in the earlier 2 paragraphs but I can’t think of much to add. Most the issues I posted on Twitter while it was airing such as me hating everyone in the band for voting to work hard and go to nationals then complaining about the amount of work, I ended up seeing the point in that as the series went on. I guess if I had to give something I wish we got more of a backstory to Taki-sensei. We learn his dad is pretty well-known and he knows Reina from before but that’s about it. Oh, I also wish it was longer but that ending was so perfect I’m not sure if I actually do. Without spoiling it I think the ending perfectly encapsulates what the show was about, shows the progress all the characters have made, and while not as much as other series I’ve reviewed such as Clannad or Anohana, is just super emotional. That was a terrible flaws paragraph but I sat on this for a day and still couldn’t think of anything to add.
It’s by Kyoto Animation so of course it’s amazing. Lighting effects are something I rarely bring up (and I don’t think many other people do) when talking about anime but it really is amazing here. I’ve seen scenes of some of KyoAni’s other works such as Kyoukai no Kanata and watched K-On! and while they are far better than Hibike! Euphonium in the lighting area I still can’t help but be amazed. The other visuals are pretty great too. Animation is fluid, characters all look unique, hell, even the band members that aren’t important enough to get named actually have appearances (and I think they made the band members and kept them the same characters through-out the series which surprisingly isn’t something I see very often.). To me the fingerings on the instruments seem off. I have no musical instrument experience outside of the recorder and I haven’t seen any other complaints about this so it might just be baseless, if they are correct that really is amazing though.
It’s a music anime so if the sound wasn’t at least good I wouldn’t have kept it long enough to be reviewing it. Luckily the sound was outstanding. I saw a first impressions video someone did (I’d link it but I can’t remember who) where they commented on how rare it is to see anime based on a full concert band instead of just a 5 person rock band due to the amount of unique notes they need but it was pretty good. Character voices were also really with again, stand-out being Kumiko. Her “gahs”, “tschs” and other sounds were all weird but amazing at the same time. I can’t think of a single voice I didn’t really like or thought could have been done better by someone else which is quite rare.