Episode 1 Impressions: Sound! Euphonium

Anime has had its fair share of band anime, but not many including brass instruments in near exclusivity.  Kyoto Animation is here to break the mold a bit with a concert band club anime with a bit more of a serious tone than some of their other work.

Synopsis
At the Kyoto Concert Band Competition Kumiko Oumae’s school band received a gold placement. However this gold was in fact a gold dud.  Which means that they did great, but not well enough to make it to the nationals. While Kumiko and her classmates cheered at this achievement, a club mate named Kousaka was severely sorrowful of it. So much, that she found everyone’s joy to be upsetting.

Now entering High School, Kumiko seeks to start a new life for herself. A seemingly simple life, seeking out the simple things to change it up. She chose Kitauji High School for their cute sailor style uniforms, and also avoided the idea of even continuing in concert band. A logical choice as her first experience with the school’s concert band is terribly off note.

After being introduced to her new class, Kumiko quickly makes friends with Hazuki and Sapphire before they all start discussing brass instruments, all thanks to Kumiko’s instrument mascot key chain. Sapphire once played an instrument and is interested in the idea of a band, so the three of them take a trip to snoop in on the school’s band club.

Once there, the three are introduced to a few of the band members, including the eccentric Asuka. After getting a quick listen on some note playing, it’s obvious the band is unable to hold a common note. Surprising for Kumiko is the sudden appearance of Kousaka who fails to notice her and applies to join the club.

Once the group makes their escape, Sapphire’s desire to join the band is obvious. Even though the school’s band is probably only seeking to hit Silver (improved from the current Bronze placement), she believes music speaks to people’s hearts and thinks they can be their ace to turning them around.

With Hazuki joining in on the venture, it only seemed natural that they would ask Kumiko to join in as well. However every time she thinks of joining the band, the disappointed face of Kousaka from their past competition keeps coming to mind. Something Kumiko struggles with on through the night.

e1soundeuphonium13Despite this, everything turns around the next day when Kumiko gives a quick lesson on how to learn to blow into an instrument. She recalls the moment her tutor taught her as a child. Mixing that with the joy Hazuki and Sapphire find in learning band; Kumiko suddenly decides to join as well.

Thoughts
Kyoto Animation knocks it out of the park once again. My excitement level for this series ramped up quickly when I seen Kyoto’s name and I’m glad I was not disappointed after watching the first episode. The simple, slice of life elements were definitely in play and it led to it being slightly slow, but the character charm oozed out to keep it from ever losing entertainment value.

From Kumiko’s attempt to get a fresh start, to Sapphire’s innocent goofy nature, to Hazuki’s friendly outreach, and who can forget Asuka silly antics I fell in love with instantly. There’s also the subtle attention to details that I just love. e1soundeuphonium12During Kumiko’s first day, in High School, she attempts to start fresh and become something she’s not. She wears her hair back, skirt up, and avoids band. However, after she struggles overnight, she returns to school the following day as her old self. Wearing her hair down and accepting to join the band after recalling her childhood lessons.

Then of course, there’s the comical elements that never feel forced. Girls standing around and waiting on a cross walk light, only to realize it’s not active; Kumiko holding back a squeal of surprise upon seeing her past band mate; Hazuki finally discovering what sucked. It’s just well written.

I think my only fear at this point is the emphasis the synopsis gives to Kumiko’s past with Kousaka. I assumed it would be some grave occurrence, but in fact it wasn’t anything to fault Kumiko. So I hope at this point that it doesn’t turn into some melodramatic thing. For the moment, I’m already disliking Kousaka’s character and I hope she doesn’t just turn the show from fun and logical tension into some over dramatic with baseless tension.

Suffice it to say, this show definitely gets a recommendation and I can not wait to see the next episode.  There’s just nothing to fault here, even with my fears of what can possibly happen with a single character.

This show is streaming on Crunchyroll.com!

Episode 1: Welcome to High School

THUMBS UP!

IMPRESSIONS VERDICT:
Great!

Pros:

  • Great character design
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Attention to detail
  • Great writing
  • Likable cast

Cons:

  • Fears of Kousaka being melodramatic

Impressions are based on a single episode and don’t necessarily reflect the series as a whole. Unless dropped, we will continue to give updates on thoughts and impressions of the series as time goes by.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.