Are you a concert band geek? Do you want animation that make Ghibli films look like knockoffs? Do you like cute girls (and guys)? Well, I have the anime for you. This series focuses on human and emotional conflict through the power of concert band.
Hibike! Euphonium (響け！ユーフォニアム) a.k.a. Sound! Euphonium has its eyes set on a dysfunctional high school concert band and the attempts made to restore it to its former glory. Our main girl is Kumiko Oumae, an apathetic euphonium player. Her last concert band in middle school failed to get a high enough ranking to be able to compete in the national competition, referred to as the Nationals. Her bandmate, Reina Kousaka, is left gravely disappointed by the band’s performance, and the two leave middle school on sour terms. Both girls attend the same high school. Reina and, while hesitant at first, Kumiko join the school’s concert band, both noticing how poorly they play. The band has a sour history to them as well, and the series is spent having the band training for Nationals while working out the preexisting and arising conflicts between the bandmates.
Of course, what stands out the most in this anime is the quality of it. The animation is absolutely stunning. The colors are vibrant, the movement of the characters, whether they’re talking or playing instruments, feels natural and looks amazingly smooth, and the voice acting pulls you right into the scene. Not to mention how realistic the band’s performances sound. I’m a bit of a band geek myself, and hearing the band’s first performance actually made me cringe. It sounded exactly like a bad high school band. Whenever the band was practicing, I could hear the problems that the conductor was pointing out. These elements are essential for having your anime-watching experience be an immersive one, and Kyoto Animation pulls out all of the stops to make this something you will never forget.
Of course, aesthetic isn’t everything; there’s writing and characters to consider as well. Kyoto Animation decided to be rid of the “unnatural hair color” trend while still having original and recognizable character designs. Each character has their own recognizable personality, and the drama that occurs between them feels real. Some characters are a little too competitive and try too hard to one-up each other. Others simply don’t care about Nationals and this creates friction between them and those who do care. To makes matters even more complicated, not all members of the band can perform in some competitions. None of the conflicts feel overdramatized or unnatural, and they’re still engaging enough to keep me watching. None of the characters are just an archetype, none of them are just added for fluff. Each one has their story to tell and it genuinely feels like they’re trying their hardest. Nothing is done out of plot convenience, the story actually works with the characters rather than making them part of the background, and that right there is this anime’s defining trait.
In conclusion, Sound! Euphonium provides down-to-earth human conflicts while still keeping them engaging and interesting. The characters are developed and given actual personalities, and the production quality alone is enough to keep you watching. Sound! Euphonium is definitely an anime worth watching.