Score: A-

Now the story is rolling along! Honestly it feels like a lot of time passed within this single episode. And in some ways that makes sense. We all know the drama is going to come from the competition, auditions, and chasing the true goal for the main cast. So, we might as well move along in terms of establishing the band as they currently stand and steadily move towards the high-tension moments.

It also makes good sense from our perspective. We are following Kumiko and the third years mostly. This is their story and the one we’ve engaged with. They aren’t going to have that many strong bonds with the first years because there’s just a huge difference in perspective. The first years are mostly dipping their toes into the pool, engaging with music, and just learning so much. But the third years are now hyper focused on the coming competition and that’s where their heads are at.

He asks a lot, but supports them well

And in a sense, that’s what this episode was about. Setting up the future drama and really adding some early pressure. I loved Taki giving those three a choice for what they’d play for their free piece. He was likely honest about part of the reason being the fact that they have been with him for 3 years now. They are the first group of students he taught and unlike the previous 2 years there is a sense of trust built up over a long time to work from. But I also think it’s partly because he likes challenging his students.

This was a challenge to them. Did they want to take it a bit easier and choose a piece that required only technical ability or only expression? Or did they want to take on a much greater challenge of a piece that demands excellence in both ability and expressiveness? For their goal the answer was of course simple. To challenge the best schools and surpass all of them they needed something much greater than what they’ve had previously. The free piece is a chance to overwhelm other schools that may be even when it comes to the required piece of music. It’s a challenge that they are ready to face, but it will likely be a source of drama as the other students struggle to match it.

I’m expecting drama from her

For once I was right about something! So Mayu was a transfer student from Seira Girls’ School. For some reason I didn’t think she’d also be a third year. But in a sense that is absolutely fitting. Who better to provide serious pressure on Kumiko than a fellow third year? Mayu is someone with her own Euphonium and gives vibes to Kumiko like Asuka. If anyone could potentially steal Kumiko’s thunder or force any changes to the band, it probably is her.

I do wonder how legitimately concerned Mayu is about all that. Was she honestly going to stay clear of the band if Kumiko didn’t openly welcome her? She could be like Kanade in being worried about potential harassment coming from showing others up. At the very least she exudes confidence when it comes to her own ability. She seems certain that her presence could cause drama and force others to step aside for her. But I think it’s still a good thing to have Mayu. Their school needs all the firepower it can get. And for Kumiko having a rival at the same instrument that she can struggle to stay ahead of might pull out her best performance.

Reina really is top tier

There’s quite a bit of back and forth with Reina and Tsukamoto this season. Reina is aware of Kumiko’s feelings and gets on his case when he unintentionally throws more pressure onto her. Plus, she even was aware of the bad idea of having Tsukamoto escorting her home when he and Kumiko have a thing going on between them. One could say she’s a bit too concerned about things like that, but it just shows how much she cares about Kumiko’s feelings that she wants to avoid things like that. I do think it’s a good thing to show what kind of connection these two have considering most of his scenes through the show to this point have been him and Kumiko interacting.

One unavoidable element for the show has been that friendship with Kumiko and Reina. It was heavily ship-teased in the first season, but it has turned into a close bond regardless. They both do have male love interests, so it is fair enough to just treat them as close friends with a strong focus on the same goal. Even if sometimes it sure seems like the show wants to take a “oh sure, friends” approach to them. The good thing is that regardless of how things are perceived, Reina is the kind of support Kumiko needs. I’m glad they overcame the issues that existed between them in the first season to be completely in sync now.

This girl is pure entertainment

I love how Kumiko obsessed Kanade has become over time. She’s always getting right into Kumiko’s space and inserting herself into conversations wherever possible. A lot did happen during that movie, so I get why she’s so attached. But I feel bad for Kanade since eventually Kumiko will graduate and she’ll have to be the third year Euphonium player on a band that might be a bit lacking in terms of firepower compared to the group they have right now.

It’s also worth seeing how Kanade and Mayu’s relationship develops. Kanade was all over investigating her when she joined the band, but she’s also keeping a certain distance. Even though Mayu would prefer to be called by her first name Kanade is sticking to her last. There’s still some distance to work on there. But I also wonder if it will be that easy to erase the distance anyways if Mayu ends up competing directly with Kumiko for spots. I guess she’s also competing with Kanade for playing time, but somehow, I don’t think that’s a huge issue for Kanade. She’s good enough to be there regardless, even if in a minor role.

Hopefully Kumiko is ready for upcoming challenges

A solid second episode for sure. It feels as if we’re really moving along though. Competition practice will kick off immediately after SunFes. And that should unfold quickly into the next episode. I’m sure the personal drama (like the career plan survey) will lead to some drama at home for Kumiko. And she’ll have to manage all the drama going on around her with improving her performance to the greatest heights she can achieve. If nothing else, I think the performances coming up will be a treat for the ears. And I’m sure the drama will keep us all invested in where this goes. Here’s hoping they can achieve their goals since they’ve got no runway left to do anything less than that.

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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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