Score: A

It says something about the level of drama in a show where I get an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach before even starting to watch the episode! The last one ended in such a way that there was no way for me to expect a smooth or comfortable episode to follow it. The euphos got gutted through this round of competition in multiple ways (darn tubas) and the solo situation just wasn’t going to lead to good vibes. In some ways it does reflect the downside of absolute focus on skill above all else. There is a human element and chemistry involved here. Mayu played better, but by how much? Enough to risk morale problems? I sure hope so since if they fall short here then there won’t be third audition. I already covered the awkward tuba situation last time, so I won’t intentionally repeat myself again.

A pouty Kanade is cute

Even if it hurts, I respect Kanade’s maturity in being able to assess the situation. She knows exactly why she was cut. That it had little to do with her own ability is probably what hurts the most though. It was a numbers game and more about bolstering the tubas. That Kumiko and Mayu are so good made it even easier. Taki likely felt there wouldn’t be a huge drop off and that wouldn’t be immediately offset from bolstering the tuba section. The painful thing though is I’m not sure how Kanade will get back on the team if that is the thinking. It doesn’t make sense narratively for Mayu to drop out, and for someone else to return someone must leave. So, will the tubas get trimmed back down to 3? Or will the trombones take a hit since we don’t have any attachment to them anyways?

Not the position Mayu wanted to be in

The little things make such a difference. I loved the little sigh from Kumiko when she heard Mayu chasing after her. It really had a “I’m not in the mood for this stuff” sort of feeling to it. It’s circling a similar conversation repeatedly. And obviously Kumiko is mentally exhausted. She didn’t want to lose the soli, fought as best she could, and her standards came back to bite her. Even Kanade was cut which I’m sure Kumiko wasn’t happy about. Having to constantly fight against her own desires is just killing Kumiko on the inside. There’s a clear desire to be selfish and take the offers Mayu desperately provides. But Kumiko doesn’t want to betray the standards she herself has fought to maintain just because it benefits her.

I do get it from Mayu’s point of view. Winning the soli wasn’t what she wanted. In fact, winning the soli puts her exactly where she doesn’t want to be. It’s not the pressure of the position or the performance itself that really matters. She clearly doesn’t want to stand out in that way, to potentially be in the middle of drama, and would gladly give up the role if she could. Of course that makes it more difficult on both sides. She really wants to give it up, but her requests forces Kumiko to repeatedly deny her own desires to refuse her. Kumiko’s desperate plea for Mayu not to offer that again was heartfelt. It just hurts too much when she can’t let herself accept it.

He’s getting frustrated here

Speaking of details, I did love how you can see the various waves of trouble rolling in. Shuuichi was grumpy towards Motomu at the fireworks event. He’d been trying to reach out to him and was clearly doing a good job since Motomu wanted to hang out with him. But it was clear as day that Shuuichi was so peeved about Kumiko getting dropped from the soli that he couldn’t even act like normal. It’s not like Motomu knows everything about what’s up with Kumiko and Shuuichi so I can’t blame him for not expecting him to be in a bad mood. Good work by Kumiko to cheer him up since she knows he’s partly upset for her sake. And I like seeing him be so aggressive with Reina. Kumiko is the one in the middle, so he almost must be the one aggressively fighting for her.

Honestly, I’m surprised Hazuki and Midori were in such high spirits considering what was going on. They did express their feelings later, but unsurprisingly reactions are split. Hazuki has missed out multiple times so getting a spot out of merit makes her feel good. But Midori doesn’t see the value in rocking the boat when the difference in ability is minor or non-existent.

Reina’s feelings are understandable

There’s no surprise in Reina trying to be as positive as possible about the audition. She is both in love with Taki and his most ardent supporter. He could set the building on fire, and she’d probably blame the building! She couldn’t provide a definitive reason why Kumiko shouldn’t be playing the soli. It is true she didn’t hear the auditions, but she just defaults everything to Taki and can’t bring herself to criticize him. She can talk about their performance or how the instructor should be trusted but that’s not it. She just doesn’t want the person she likes to be criticized and is willing to abuse her authority to scold people. That’s a risky road to walk down. She calls Kumiko a failure as a president but acts as if her blind faith is just fine.

My biggest problem with Reina’s perspective is that you can’t force trust. The second you start stamping out disagreements or grumbling it becomes a dictatorship. There is a lack of trust in Taki from the students in the first two years, that is undeniable. Ignoring it or trying to stamp it out isn’t going to help. Trust is something you earn. In a variety of ways Taki has failed to earn the trust of his students this year. Their talk on the bridge reflected that. Kumiko is going along with it, but she doesn’t trust Taki’s calls this year. That even came from the first audition where she didn’t suffer. All Kumiko got from Reina was the clear answer that she chooses trusting Taki over her. Anyone that doesn’t trust Taki isn’t dedicated or working hard enough. Which is effectively what she said to Kumiko. That is cold right there.

I’m curious what Taki will say next episode

I honestly am with Kanade when it comes to Taki. It feels as if his friend was giving him a shot during that first practice after the auditions as well. His decision-making feels off and a bit messy. Team chemistry is certainly not being taken into consideration, but the tubas reflect how uncertain he is. He wants more punch so he includes someone that can’t play up to a high level in most of the tuba parts so will have to be silent outside of key moments. Then he seems to only suddenly realize that it would leave the tubas with only 2 competent players most of the time, so he cuts a eupho to add an extra tuba. It doesn’t feel like his vision for this group is solid. Kanade is right. He should have added that extra tuba from the start. He’s meandering.

The same does go for the soli. Kumiko and Mayu aren’t far apart in terms of skill. Kumiko won the first soli audition with good reason. Reina did say he was a bit more critical of Kumiko lately, but was it just that Mayu played way better? It does feel plausible that Taki’s standards going into the audition changed compared to the last one. And he doesn’t really spell anything out which leaves the students guessing as to his intentions. Did he simply want someone that would be easier to manage like Mayu since she’ll tune her performance to what he’s after in each moment? Maybe. More than any other year it feels like Taki is digging his own grave here. If he’s making choices on paper thin differences in ability, then messing with team chemistry to change the soli seems foolish.

This had to happen

The ending point to this episode was a good one. And I’m 100% with Kumiko on having a one on one with Taki. She is the band president and the situation as it stands isn’t good. It can easily come across badly since she’s someone that “lost” in this latest audition. But I think the mood within the band is so shaky that she needs some answers. There is value in Kumiko having answers to give people even if nothing changes coming out of this conversation. I honestly think Taki explaining his rationale to the heads of the band after each audition should be a given. Any grumbling can at least be tackled by the heads being loaded with answers. The approach right now presumes the kind of absolute trust that Reina has.

I’d honestly love for Taki to be caught a bit off-guard here. Again, I think his friend nailed it. There is supposed to be a sense of joy and enjoyment in playing music. The translation in the subs felt shaky, but I presume it’s all about kanji within music. Point being, the performers should be having fun. And the latest auditions feel like Taki is focused so much on the technical side that he’s lost focus on the enjoyment side. Who is playing the best and what grouping will bring out the best overall performance? I think he tried to choose based on skill alone, but the cost came at the mood. Choosing mood and intentionally making them play worse isn’t the answer. But it feels like a sense of balance was lost. If they don’t sort this out it’s going to cost them.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom…

I feel as if I wrote an essay about this one XD. This episode was dense and full of weighty drama. My feelings at the start of this review is honestly true. I was nervous about jumping into this one and seeing what was going to happen. And they aren’t through the lowest point. But I do have faith that the talk with Taki will be a turning point here. It kind of has to be! There are only 4 episodes left and two major competitions remaining. I’m half expecting an OVA or movie or split cour announcement coming here. Can they seriously clear the drama, the next competition, next audition, and final performance in 4 episodes? We’ll find out!

Monthly Sponsor



Advertise on Anime Evo!

Help us pay the bills and work with us to promote your awesome product, service, website, comic or anything else you want to show off. We here at Anime Evo work with our advertising partners to promote products that are actually relevant to our audience, and give you the best bang for your buck!

Current Series

About

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.

Discussion Rules

Comments on Anime Evo are not only welcome, but the thing that we writers look forward to the most. Please, however, bear in mind that there are certain things that you just can't do as it ruins the fun for everyone:

  • No Spoilers of Any kind please. No hints, no discussion of future stuff from the source manga/light novel. Keep the discussion to the current episode's events, and that's it.
  • No personal attacks. Debates/Disagreements are okay, but keep things civil and be nice.
  • No advertising/Links to promote your personal website/article/products. We have a way to advertise on the site if you're interested.