Sound! Euphonium

Sound! Euphonium

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It’s Spring in the first year of high school and Kumiko, who was a member of the brass band in middle school, visits the high school brass band club with her classmates Hazuki and Sapphire. There she meets Reina, a former classmate with whom Kumiko has a complex relationship. Whilst Hazuki and Sapphire decide to join the club, Kumiko is indecisive. She played a lot when she was younger, but she can’t decide if she wants to take it further. That’s when she realise that the club is struggling, and they need advanced players like her. Therefore Kumiko gets roped into joining the club and continuing to play the euphonium.

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With a cast and concept similar to the renowned K-ON!, Sound! Euphonium is full of wistful, shoujo-style backgrounds and a cast of cute characters that are all instantly likeable in their own quirky ways. The main characters are all female, though there are a few male supporting characters helping to move the plot along in the wings.

As far as interactions have gone, everything has been very pleasant and enjoyable. It’s quite light-hearted with a bit of schoolgirl drama interjecting every now and then – struggling with schoolwork, hints of love triangles and trying to get along with everyone during club hours. At first, I didn’t expect things to develop any more beyond that, which would have been perfectly acceptable. I was keen to stick with this anime because of the musical aspect, something which Your Lie in April really opened my eyes to. But recently extra elements have been added which make for some truly meaningful events, complemented by the musical themes inherent throughout the anime.

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As is often the case with the slice of life genre, there is a danger of storylines growing stale and repetitive, but the scriptwriting in Sound! Euphonium is very well executed. The pacing has had some real thought put into it, mixing the character-driven scenes with Kumiko’s narration, musical scores and the clever use of montages to keep your attention. This type of anime lends itself to an ambiguous tone, walking a fine line between drama and comedy that can change a scene at the drop of a hat. But I thought this was very fitting for a school setting, as in reality a day at school can easily be both.

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As a result, there is a good transition of mood that accentuates the details of the story and gives them that extra believable element. In an episode-by-episode basis, the story seems quite unremarkable. A group girls join a club and realise their responsibilities, relationships and try their absolute hardest to be good enough to play at the upcoming festival. In reality, the objective is pretty small-fry and microcosmical, and we only see the real impact when we look at how the characters have developed since the first episode. It’s this coming-of-age element that makes you realise just how well-put-together this series is.

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The direction, animation and production in this one are very impressive and deft with perfectly executed settings and atmospheres. It’s clear that a lot of research has gone into conveying ensemble music and the way people deal with playing musical instruments, such as learning how to hold it, how to breathe properly and how to stay in tune. At the same time, there’s always a kind of lazy, romantic feel to scenes that you associate with girls at school in the spring.

As it persists in releasing feel-good, relaxing episodes, it’s not going to be the most action-packed anime of the season – but on the whole everything about Sound! Euphonium is very pretty and nicely-handled. If you’re a big slice of life fan and enjoyed shows like K-ON! and Your Lie in April, you won’t want to miss this one.