Score: B+

The end has arrived. It’s a strange feeling saying goodbye to a show that I was talking about nearly a decade ago! It’s been a long road since this series started off back in 2015. It isn’t all about the destination and the journey matters too. But this episode is of course all about the destination. They finally got that grand performance and everything was put on the line to try and get gold. They managed to do it. Kumiko and the other third years can graduate knowing they accomplished the dream they’ve spent years dedicating themselves to. That is something worthwhile.

Honestly don’t see that working out

The Reina and Taki thing is such an odd part of the show to me. Crushes on teachers aren’t anything new of course. But it’s treated with such seriousness on her part (even if Kumiko constantly laughs at it) that I feel the need to look at it seriously. One thing that’s stood out this season as much as any is how it’s never going to work. People don’t necessarily need to perfectly complement each other and make up where the other person lacks. But compared to his deceased wife it’s not even close. Reina is pretty much Taki’s flaws ramped up to 11. While Reina may love him for what they do have in common, I can’t actually ever see Taki developing serious romantic interest in Reina. She’d just be a respectable colleague in the musical sphere.

Kumiko and Taki’s decent connection has actually been built up more in this season than anything between Reina and Taki across the whole franchise. Reina feels more like a fangirl that hasn’t been able to see the flaws of her idol. Her inability to recognize his flaws is another decent hurdle. I don’t think Taki would really grow as a person even if an awesome Reina approached him in 5-10 years and asked him out. All of that is saying nothing about the fact that he doesn’t seem remotely close to moving on from his loss. He’s doing alright in life of course, but I don’t see him getting involved with someone else anytime soon.

Glad he’s useful for holding trophies!

Speaking of romantic interests though. It’s really quite odd how little presence Shuuichi had in both this episode and this season. He’s the vice-president of the club but he’s practically a ghost. On a meta level I feel like arguing with Reina a few episodes back got him in such trouble that he was banished for the remainder of the show! This is the love interest of the main character! I know it doesn’t feel that way with the ship-teasing with Reina, but it’s still clearly supposed to be there.

They had this “we’re keeping our distance until this year is over” thing going on earlier in the show, but this last episode highlighted the odd non-existence of Shuuichi this season. Admittedly I do think the drum major has more than enough importance to get a speech before the final performance, but I find it hilarious that Shuuichi is left only to give a nod during it. That’s his role in this band XD.

I was about to snap!

I swear when they cut out the first piece that I was about to lose it. There were definitely interesting thoughts floating around in my head that could be summed up as “I swear if you guys skip both performances in the final season of this show!” It’s the final episode dang it! Yes, they didn’t skip both. But they shouldn’t have been skipping either! People can endure two musical performances in a single episode.

The visuals were nice enough for the performance. I can’t help though being a bit twisted in thinking the reason they were showing the journey to this point wasn’t simply because of symbolism but because they didn’t want to show people playing instruments for a couple minutes. It could be nostalgia, but I do think they were really on top of pulling this off for the original show. But it’s also fair to say that…things have happened over time. It’s tough to ask KyoAni for that level of perfection. They did show enough of people playing and it was a good final performance. And it was a good way to put a cap on the series.

I am happy for the cast overall

That they won is obviously good. I’ll admit that it doesn’t mean as much to me after the last few episodes wore me down a bit. This episode was more of a “ok, let’s get this over with” rather than pure hype in seeing whether the character’s years of hard work would pay off or not. Which is a shame, but it’s not something I can do anything about so that’s how it goes. At least they did score that win and the characters could graduate with pride. It was nice sitting back and enjoying the show. And I could get behind the emotional reactions for the characters when their gold performance was finally recognized! At least they don’t have the regret of failure weighing down on them.

I’m curious about her next year

How did things go though in the year following this one? I can’t help but feel like it was a bit of a disaster. All the best players were third years which is a good thing for competition, but it means the next generation might not hold up so well. You have Kanade as the third year for the Euphoniums but she got next to no experience at these higher levels thanks to missing the cut on two auditions. Obviously, it’s not really (though it is) about the Euphoniums, but it’s a tough spot in general. Kitauji maybe got a boost thanks to their performance this year, but regardless this will be a “rebuilding” sort of year. It probably will be another 3-year cycle for them. Next year was probably pretty bad but they were building up the first years and working towards the future.

An abrupt end

The epilogue…was brief. I can’t say it was actually good since they just didn’t have any time for it. They had to cram a lot of the aftermath of the win into the credits as still images. It was something, but just not a lot. And there was no time for the look forward. We know Kumiko ended up becoming a teacher (focusing on music) and that’s about it. Reina is in the States playing, but we don’t know much beyond that. Midori and Hazuki were saved for a single sentence saying that they aren’t jobless XD. That’s how little room this finale had to maneuver. We did mostly set up what Hazuki was going to do with her life, though I don’t actually recall if Midori had something like that. Point being it was tight. Even Shuuichi wasn’t even mentioned (what a shock).

I wish we’d gotten more performances

Final Thoughts

This was an interesting final season. There is I believe room for more OVAs and maybe a movie in the future, but this is pretty much it. And I’m not sure how I feel about this season overall. It was a season that was full of strong moments. I’d say for most of it I’d place this around an 8/10 if I was scoring it that way. It was good. But when I look back to those first two seasons, I wonder how much better this third year for Kumiko could have been.

There’s just a huge difference in potential when you have 26 episodes versus 13. The movie covering their second year had that problem even more. But it was the middle season between the big first and third years so it still worked. And it’s not like this season was bad. But I think there’s a standard that first seasons set that this just couldn’t match up to. There was just such little room to breathe. Everything had to constantly be chasing the next big milestone. But whenever they got to that milestone they had to quickly move to the next one.

There were ups and downs this season

Just looking at the soli thing. There was so much spent last episode on that…but this episode had nothing. There was a small scene with Mayu, Kumiko, and Kanade but that’s about it. It wasn’t even about the soli and honestly if you changed the result of that audition…nothing there changes. And after the soli itself…Mayu is a side character. If they had more episodes, they could have spent a whole episode on the aftermath of that. Or they could have spent an episode on the epilogue! Let the performance land in one episode and get the news/aftermath in the next. It would have allowed for a much stronger finale. It’s been a long journey with these characters, but we simply didn’t have time for more than “oh hey, they won!”

It’s a lot to ask of a show to have another season to pace things out better. But this is a series I think that deserved it. But it’s a tricky situation. KyoAni creating anime like this again is pretty amazing considering all that happened. So, there’s only so much I want to ask for. But in terms of just looking at the third year for Kumiko, I feel as if this really needed that extra season.

I don’t hate Mayu, just the choices made

This will be my section of being petty. But I still hate that choice for the soli. It just took away from the performance in the final episode. Kumiko should not be sitting there doing nothing while Reina and Mayu go all out. There’s narrative value in giving the soli to Mayu in terms of Kumiko’s journey. And it focuses heavier on her role as president instead of as a performer. But I still don’t like it. The breakdown was on the thinnest of margins. It’s not like the vast majority thought Mayu should have that. Just an insanely slight majority. They took away from the final performance of the series for such a reason. I can’t get behind that.

A lot has happened

It’s tough to really lock down my feelings about this season. It’s sad to see it all end. But I’m not as gutted about it because of my mixed feelings about this season. There were so many oddities like how the Reina situation was handled as the season went on. But the drama was still good. The early part of the season was fantastic. Seeing Kumiko really work to be as good a leader as she could be was great. And the setup for her struggles over deciding her future (even if I don’t think they quite nailed the payoff) was great. There was good drama with the new cast and the potential of Mayu as this mysterious rival. It may have stumbled near the end, but they did a lot of good here.

Farewell!

I will miss this show. But I’m also ready to let it go. It’s not the worst way a series has finished by a long-shot. We still got a good musical performance in and the main character’s future was reasonably established. We at least know what Kumiko is doing with herself. I’d say this was still a truly worthwhile experience. It wasn’t everything I could have asked for, but it still had many great qualities. Farewell Hibike! Euphonium.

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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.

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