For this review we are going to do things a little differently. I will divide it into two halves: The first half being the overall review and the second being a spoiler heavy discussion of the important events that took place for the mystery of Eupho 2 must be solved and I am the most qualified person to do so. Why? Because I am The Freakin’ OG-Man and this is Hibike! Euphonium 2.
Check out my review of the first season HERE.
Alternate Title: Sound! Euphonium 2 (EN)
Themes: School, Brass Band, Yuri (Maybe), Band Club
Number of episodes: 13 (1st episode is over 47 minutes)
Plot Summary: Kumiko and her teammates have won the Kyoto regional tournament. From now on, life will be getting a lot more hectic. With the national tournament fast approaching, Kumiko’s band is doubling down on practice and discipline, leaving little time for sleep or other recreational activities. The redoubled practice schedule brings Kumiko and Reina closer together, but elsewhere in the band, it seems like drama threatens to tear the group’s unity apart. The ghost of the prior year’s mass band exodus still haunts many of Kumiko’s classmates, and with former band member Nozomi Masumi now asking to return, it seems like the grudges of the past will soon be impossible to ignore.
For the most part Euphonium 2 delivers a lot of what made the first season enjoyable:
-The challenges of being in a band and seeing everyone work extra hard to win the big one. This season it is more important than last time as they are one step closer to reaching that goal.
-Awesome musical numbers with a bit more variety this time besides orchestral.
-Relatable, for the most part, dramatic character arcs for both returning characters who had not got much in depth exploration and newcomers whose personal troubles intertwine with the rest of the band, meaning Mizore and Nozomi’s arc.
-Vintage KyoAni high quality animation and as good of a soundtrack as the first season’s.
-Shuuichi, aka “What’s His Name” is still a worthless character. In fact, this season he might as well have changed his name to “What’s His Name”. He is THAT worthless to the plot. The one and only time he did something it did nothing for his character. What I mean is if he were replaced by a girl, like Kumiko’s friend from the other school, it would have had the same effect. Basically he is easily replacable. His ONLY worthwhile contribution will be discussed in the spoilers section.
-Asuka is still best girl.
-Even “that” is present here but it does not go as one would either expect or hope.
Overall Euphonium 2 in my opinion, despite there being some parts that annoyed me, is as good as the first season. It is neither better nor worse than the first one. It is another enjoyable entry in the series. Readers who enjoyed the first season as a whole will most likely enjoy this one too. As far as the Yuri Nation goes…yeah go for it. Stick to it till the very end.
Alright. Now that that is done and over with let us discuss the juicy parts of the show. For everyone who are interested in the show and want to go into it as blind as possible, this is your last chance to turn back. For everyone who has already seen the show or do not care about spoilers and want to read what I thought about the major story events that took place, let us begin. Grab some popcorn kiddos, this is going to be another long one.
Let us start with the first major character arc, Mizore and Nozomi’s torn relationship and how it was connected to the “band club disaster”. While some might consider this arc to be melodramatic, it made sense since Mizore had terrible social skills and Nozomi was the only girl who really tried becoming her friend, thus she dearly cherished their friendship. Both were at fault for not telling the other how they really felt, Mizore running away from Nozomi and developing a personal disgust towards her out of fear, despite her still caring for her deep down and Nozomi not having told Mizore that she planned on quitting. Yes, Nozomi thought it wasn’t necessary because Mizore worked hard to master the oboe and she did not want to drag the quieter one down with her but I am certain they could have worked something out if they took the time to talk about it. Still, the previous third years were jerks and a lot of stuff worked against the duo, making things far more complicated. Thankfully they patched things up and yes I ship them hard.
The side characters who got to shine the most this season besides the ones who got major character arcs, like Mizore and Nozomi, were Natsuki and especially Yuko, who seemed to have taken the place of Hazuki and Sapphire as the most prevalent side-characters. Hazuki and Sapphire are more comedy relief and supporting characters but they still gave viewers several fun and inspiring moments, including a quick cameo by Mini-Sapphire. Back to Natsuki and Yuko, Natsuki was pretty cool doing what she could to help Nozomi and the same goes for Yuko with Mizore. Poor dear almost had her heart broken by Mizore when she made it seem like she did not consider Yuko a true friend. That was cold considering how hard Yuko defended her. That and her actions in the second half explain why she was appointed the new Band Club president. While Natsuki’s contributions also explain her nomination as the new vice-president, everyone knows the real reason was because of NatsuYuko. Yes, I admit that while I did not see much chemistry between the two last season, this time I believe they were born to find each other. The pairing is a classsic “feuding duo” but they are just so cute together that it makes sense to imagine them eventually falling in love. Perhaps it is because they somewhat remind me of NibuDeko.
Yes I know what everyone is REALLY here for. You want my thoughts on what happened between KumiRei and another certain couple. First of all I would like to thank the Yuri Nation’s insanity in regards to the KumiRei phenomenon. It played a part in my becoming less invested in the pairing as time went by. In my mind there were only a few directions they could take this pairing:
- Their relationship is not tarnished and they will continue snuggling for years to come.
- Have one of the two go after a guy, either Kumiko and “What’s His Name” or Reina and Professor Taki.
- Have both go after a guy.
The odds of the two becoming canon was incredibly slim because this is KyoAni we are talking about. KyoAni is KyoAni and KyoAni are infamous for toying with the Yuri Nation’s emotions. The ONLY time they kinda held back on their trolling was with Chuunibyou’s NibuDeko. I do not count KonaKaga because that pairing needed lots of research before that one OVA came out and gave the Nation hope for them. Anyway back to KumiRei. To me it was evident from episode 2.1, as soon as Reina brought up her crush on Professor the 2nd time I told myself, “Yeah this pairing is doomed”. I then asked myself based on reports and fandom insanity the following question: “Why were KumiRei diehards still hanging on to the hope that they would at least maintain their status quo?” I watched and then noticed, it was because Reina was still in Kumiko’s mind and Reina was still flirting with her during the first half of the show. After the “Nationals Qualifying Concert” it became 99% clear KumiRei was doomed and then the last 1% came in episode 12, or maybe even 11. To be honest…it did not bother me. sure it annoyed me at first because this is “vintage KyoAni” but that did not last long. It had become clear that KumiRei from the very beginning was meant to be seen as a…platonic relationship, meaning they are intimate with one another but not romantic or sexual. Basically they are REALLY close but not close enough to be in love or even “friends with benefits”. Perhaps it was meant to be perceived this way from the start but…KyoAni is KyoAni. Would not surprise if them intensifying the platonic nature of their relationship was a stunt to get more eyes on the product to unveil the truth.
The next question I asked myself was “Did I like Reina as a character or because of her amazing seduction techniques on Kumiko”? Once it was made clear that Reina’s character arc would be about her crush on Professor Taki…yeah Reina’s appeal was all about being sexy and her seduction. Basically on her own there is not much to her. While I admit that I too was smitten with KumiRei’s shiny bonds, it did not last long because as delightful as it was, deep down I had a feeling it would mean very much. I was right. Like I said though I am not upset…not because of what I will talk about next but more I had prepared myself for the inevitable. To be fair Reina’s character arc was nowhere near as bad or broing as the other student-teacher one in Maria-Sama ga Miteru Season 11 (Now THAT ONE SUCKED!) but this one is just…”eh”. Definitely the 2nd weakest character arc in the series. the first one is “What’s His Name’s”…did he even have one worth noticing? Whatever.
And now for the main event and the biggest surprise of the season that for many was unexpected but hopefully welcomed, AsuKo or AsuKumi. It definitely surprised me at first but quickly made me very, very happy. Not just because of my Asuka favoritism ever since season 1 (I had not turned my back on her once), but because it felt natural and made sense for it to happen. I will do my best to explain why.
See, after thinking about it I realized it all started in season 1. While Asuka was her usual awesome self when not serious, she playfully teased her bandmates like Sapphire but the one person who got extra special teasing was Kumiko. In season 2 that became more prevalent. As Kumiko said during that wonderful scene in the finale, she did not like Asuka much because she thought Asuka was annoying and difficult to understand, not a fan of her cynic worldview. However, during the Mizore and Nozomi arc, she started noticing things about Asuka. Besides the GLORIOUS Asuka in the field scene there was also something about how she coldly pushed Nozomi away that felt different from when it happened to Aoi last season. When she asked Asuka directly and she explained herself, Kumiko was shocked but not really angry at her.
Another hint possibly came from Asuka during the “Nationals Qualifier Concert” when it looked like both Kumiko and Asuka looked at Reina getting ready for her signature trumpet solo but I believe Asuka was looking at Kumiko.
Then there were the Asuka and Minako character arcs (My top two arcs in the overall Euphonium series so far.) and how they are intertwined. The hints of AsuKo/AsuKumi possibly becoming a thing were more prevalent in the 2nd half of the show from Asuka looking at Kumiko from the rooftops, more teasing (especially when wanting to give dating advice) and how she most likely felt that Kumiko could be the one to break through her cynical barrier and free her. Asuka deep down wanted to find a reason to finally stand up to her mom and fulfill her dream of going to the Nationals and play in front of her father.
Kumiko also gave more hints of her growing fascination with Asuka from one of the songs of her favorite euphonium composer sounding very similar to the one Asuka played in the field, a sense of wanting to help her not go through a similar fate as her older sister Mamiko and of course the growing desire to play the euphonium together with Asuka, even before she learned the reason why Asuka had a cynical worldview and why she was cold towards people who did not give their all during performances. It was a mixture of motivating bandmates who were taking things seriously, helping people avoid facing harsher truths and of course her somewht selfish wish. Besides the similarities between Mamiko, both the good and bad ones (childhood inspiration and struggles with fulfilling her own dreams) there was also Kumiko’s attraction to curvy hotties with long dark hair, like her “ex” shall we say.
As far as the confession scene goes and episode 13 for the most part, absolutely GLORIOUS! How Asuka gave Kumiko her special composition as a gift to always remember her when they are not together. Asuka being Asuka could not show weakness because it embarrasses her a lot but it was clear that she appreciated Kumiko’s cofession far more than Professor Taki did Reina’s. Also the show’s title now has a lot more meaning because of what happened. Heck, I would go as far as saying that Kumiko grew out of Reina’s shadow and became one of the best characters on in the series alongside Asuka. Their union is icing on the cake. Oh and that ONE useful thing “What’s His Name” did, getting Asuka to playfully tell Kumiko that she would not mind being her sweetie.
I could go more in depth but I think that is enough explanation for why I approve the direction they went with Kumiko’s love life. I am also concerned about a continuation, if there is one. KyoAni being KyoAni I would not be shocked if they were to screw the Nation over somehow. Hopefully they will do the right thing and keep AsuKo/AsuKumi the intended direction for Kumiko should there be a continuation. It is a shame that KumiRei most likely is done but it led to something far better so I have no complaints…except why “What’s His Name” is a thing since all he is now is a pest in the way of a GLORIOUS conclusion to the series should it continue.
For more AsuKumi/AsuKo analyzing check out: