Score: B+

This episode was a ride. In some ways my thoughts are still a bit muddled over how I feel about the direction they chose to go here. And it might depend as much on what happens in the next episode as what happened in this episode. The drama itself was done well in that it was incredibly uncomfortable to watch at times! It makes the high points work when things get messy and ugly. But there are elements that left me wanting a bit more out of this episode and leaves me worried about how they’ll proceed after this episode. Because not sure I feel nearly so triumphant as Kumiko was looking at the very end of the episode.

Darn you candy!

Maybe I had too high expectations for the discussion to start this episode. But I was hoping for a lot more to come out of it. It feels like Kumiko wasted her shot. There’s so much more I would have wanted to see come out of that discussion. Like we got a “strengthen the bass” as the straightforward answer to the tuba thing. But I wanted way more than that. Does weakening the euphos and adding one extra tuba really strengthen the group? Is he not going a bit far by keeping one person that’s there purely for volume and then adding an extra person to make up for that lack of skill? It puts Kanade in a tough spot since even if she has a mind-blowing performance she still won’t get through the next audition.

And I get she didn’t want to seem selfish by asking, but the Mayu is a big part of this. Beyond even that there’s the human element I was really hoping Taki would be confronted by. Because I think out of the cast, he’s the one with the most potential for an interesting change but the one that has been the most static in the franchise. He’s thinking about the music and trying to tinker with the lineup to get the best performance, but I do think he’s honestly neglecting the human element and group chemistry. If the band leadership is failing anywhere, it is not pointing this out to him. But instead, Kumiko just takes her damn candy and leaves! Didn’t need to say “give me my soli” but did need to say…something more. But I guess if she did that, we wouldn’t have gotten all this extra drama!

Just out of control this episode

Reina’s defensiveness and combativeness didn’t help one bit in this episode! Kumiko may have a flaw of holding her feelings back too much, but she knows there is time and place for things. And right when the President got things to calm down a bit in practice…Reina chucks a live grenade in. I get she’s got her frustrations between desperately wanting to win and defend everything that is Taki. But picking fights isn’t going to make anyone calm down and trying to be a tyrant in a band like this isn’t going to work out. Even if Reina tried to make decent arguments as she went along, she blew a hole in the dam of discontent!

I think the argument early in this episode shows that mistakes were made. Multiple auditions had pros and cons. But I do think the leadership deciding that without feeling out the group wasn’t necessarily a good move. They know auditions are full of tension and bring drama. Asking for that to happen over and over had risks. I also think the whole idea of auditions without explanations is problematic. Obviously, it’s tough to do that in general and especially over multiple auditions. But with multiple auditions it’s almost even more essential. With one audition you can say “this is the best group, that’s it.” But with multiple auditions you must tackle more questions. Why a certain person makes it in one audition and not another is tough to answer. And it’s even more tough to just ignore entire changes to the numbers for each instrument.

Kaori was a comfort to see again too

One thing I do love is that Asuka totally gets Kumiko. That she told Kaori the reason why Kumiko would come visiting just had me smiling. Which was good with how heavy and dramatic everything is right now! Even better was how cheerfully she said “you finally got into a fight with Kousaka” XD! My god, Asuka! Read the room! Still, Asuka is good at being objective. To resolve the situation with Mayu it’s simple, let her step down. Even if we see flaws with Mayu’s mentality it isn’t Kumiko’s job to fix her. Just that one thing would ease tensions significantly. And Asuka is right. If Mayu was objectively better people wouldn’t be so upset. But she’s not. If she won by anything it was the narrowest of margins. It’s not spitting in the face of meritocracy. It’s just bending a little bit to avoid breaking completely.

This might be the right move but…

It’s an interesting idea that Kumiko by being president has lost one thing that made her so effective. She’s held back her true thoughts repeatedly to be a good president (hilariously contrasting how Reina views things). But Kumiko’s strength is speaking her mind and running with it. Even if she’s wrong, there’s a value in being able to passionately fight for what she believes is right.

So, in a sense her speech at the end was good since she was much more herself here. And it was what they needed to get through this challenge. So, in that sense I’m fine with the results. And it’s not like Kumiko’s passion to win and getting across how badly she wants this is a bad thing. I’m good with that and I’m glad it worked. But it’s a speech that’s very risky. Because I don’t like the idea of Kumiko taking all this blame and that’s it. As if it’s the right thing to vindicate all of Reina’s commentary or the idea that Taki should stand back to protect his own reputation and standing. There is responsibility that lays with Kumiko as the president of this group. But it’s not just her responsibility and honestly Taki’s mistakes aren’t her burdens to carry.

I bet that was a great performance!

Once more I’ll nitpick again. It feels in a show called “Hibike! Euphonium” that we are getting way too little music! This is another performance that was completely skipped over. I’m sorry…cut out the freaking ED! It’s not even all that fitting in this moment anyways. But heck if you cut the OP too that frees enough time for a performance! We can’t tell how good this group is or how the sound is changing if we never hear them perform. How good is Mayu and Reina’s soli? I don’t have a clue! Admittedly I don’t have the best ear for music. But the drama in this show is circling the music and the performances and we aren’t getting either.

This show can look really good!

I’m glad things worked out in this episode. But next episode has a heavy burden. There are 3 episodes left here! And hopefully the last one will have a darn performance taking up a good chunk of it. I don’t want this situation just resolved by Kumiko apologizing and everyone just moving on. No, Reina giving a smile and effectively a thumbs up to Kumiko’s speech isn’t good enough. She needs to wear some responsibility for this mess and her own actions. Frankly I want to see and hear Taki’s regrets over his decisions and not just hearing them from Asuka. There’s a lot for the rest of the show to tackle and I hope it sticks the landing.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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