Score: A-

I do feel bad for not having gotten to see this movie before. With anime movies I kind of lose track of them. Only ended up buying it during a huge bulk purchase when Rightstuf “closed” last year. So I know not a single soul was waiting on me to talk about this. I’m still here though to talk about it because this franchise will never stop grabbing at my heart. The highs and lows just pull me in regardless. And it just leaves me completely hyped for what season 3 is going to bring!

Obviously, this movie has a different feel to it than what came before. I mean Kumiko’s first year took place over 26 episodes. Her second year? Effectively 5 episodes or so! You just can’t get the same level of depth and character development. The movie at times felt like it was a speedrun where you couldn’t stop to breathe for long. I’m not sure how much material there was to cover here compared to Kumiko’s first year. But I can imagine there was at least more than they could easily cover for a film like this.

Star of the movie for me

There’s something to be said of course in that they still found big moments. Kumiko and Natsuki confronting Kanade was great. Natsuki opening with really getting mad at Kanade for trying to throw away a spot in the competition. And finally, the mask came down. Kanade was an enigma for much of the show. It was tough to get a feel for what she really felt. If she just wanted to be a troublesome imp and a bit of a disturber or if there was something more. And finally, they got it out of her. She was protecting herself and didn’t want to face snide remarks if she made the competition squad and they failed. It was easier to take a fall here and not rock the boat.

But I’m glad Kumiko reached out to her. And it forced her to open up as well. She already learned in the previous year about herself and how she was like Kanade. But because she was similar and had changed it was possible to get her to change paths. The fear of failure is tangible. It’s hard to escape that fear, that tension, that worry. That they can give their all and it simply won’t do anything. But there’s value in the struggle, in dedicating yourself to something, and seeing it through. One of those messages that is just universally applicable to us all.

Her arc was alright

Kanade was honestly my MVP for this movie. She was the rock that kept events rolling. Most major events involved her to some degree and as a fellow Euphonium player I was engaged in what her story was. And in that sense, she helped events along. We wouldn’t have gotten as much into Mirei’s head if Kanade wasn’t digging at what was truly bothering her. And in some ways, I get it. Mirei was such a good player she took Hazuki’s spot at the competition. But she wasn’t getting along with her team as well as her old friend Satsuki who was more openly friendly. But in the end Mirei built her own walls and convinced herself she wouldn’t be liked…and so others couldn’t get close. Once she decided to change things dramatically improved for her.

Things weren’t universally easy though. Motomu for example got his character arc started with him being prickly and spatting with Kanade at points. But whatever character arc he had…just resolved itself offscreen! He was suddenly friendly and close to Sapphire. They did kind of sum up what went on there, but obviously that is something that could have been fleshed out more in a full series.

She’s come a long way

One cool thing with this story is that we get to see a lot of time pass. This is a series that will cover Kumiko’s three years of high school. The movie just getting a very compressed form of her second year. So, in that way we get to see characters mature and evolve. Yuuko for example went from kind of an antagonist for Reina in the original series to being a very responsible president. We don’t get that much of her since the story has to jump around, but you get the feel that everyone really does respect her. And credit to her for picking herself up after being devastated by them falling short. She sucked up that pain and helped get everyone to head home with heads held high!

Love the music of this franchise

The competition was good. Even if the movie had to compress many things, it still gave us a wonderful performance from the girls. That’s one charm this franchise has above any other. It can just embrace the beauty of instrumental band performances. Just letting the music speak for itself. And letting the characters show how they are feeling from their expressions. It doesn’t compare to how amazing the original series was on that front, but it still does a great job!

Surprised that they took a step back

And with that the stage is set. Kumiko has now gone from a troubled first year…to a third year and president of the band! This is her time now and suddenly…her last shot! The last chance she and Reina are going to have (unless they both go pro) to play together and certainly their last shot to go to Nationals. And I am glad that their bond was kept reasonably strong in the movie. Reina was constantly there to support Kumiko. And I think she provides an example. Kumiko knows she loves to play the Euphonium, but is she going to commit to chasing going pro like Reina? I don’t know.

One thing that was kind of surprising was the situation with Kumiko and Shuuichi. It opens with him pretty much confessing to her! And the movie dances around what she wants to do and how close they can get. And it ends for this moment on them deciding to step back from each other. Kumiko is just utterly sucked up by the music right now. She just isn’t ready to commit to putting her focus into romance. She’ll leave the door open if he still feels the same way about her by the end of their third year. But it does leave the door open for anyone to make a move until then. Hard to say what will happen.

RIP Toriyama

The movie was good. I enjoyed following along even if I could feel the strain of the story trying to cover everything for a whole school year into a small period of time. But it was still enjoyable, and I liked seeing how the new characters integrated themselves into the story. It leaves me curious how the third year will unfold and the new characters that Kumiko will deal with there. How will they compare to Kanade? And will they be able to bring an elite group together that can reach their goals?

I’m going to leave a small note here. Absolutely off-topic, but I felt the need to go here. While writing this the news about the passing of Akira Toriyama. I may do a bigger post later, but just wanted to express how hard hitting this news is. I think for many anime fans the existence of Dragonball is something special. It may not have been the gateway for everyone into this medium, but I’m sure it was for many. The nostalgia I have for the franchise is hard to measure. It isn’t my favourite series of all time, but it’s special. It’s sad to see a legend like him pass away. All I can say is, thanks for the memories!

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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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