I don’t really know what possessed me a week and half ago to finally watch Sound Euphonium. Urm. . . It’s been a while a series has made me cry multiple times within a single episode. It’s a familiar warmth your constantly feeling.
Feel like it’s been overdue long enough discussing an anime. To be honest all this time I haven’t come across a series that made me want to write about it. Until this sweet melody of familiarity crept up on me before I realised it. I became swept up in Sound Euphonium enchantment.
Sound Euphonium on the surface appears your slate of music, slice of life reminding me of another series La Corda D’oro centring on protagonist Kahoko who has no musical ability but a fairy bestows her with a magical violin allowing her playing any music piece. Kahoko begins to feel guilty, where everyone else is working hard for the competition and is cheating through magic. Kahoko finds a new resolve for herself to not rely on magic and learn the violin on her own. You can stay on the sidelines content that you gave something your best shot, never aiming higher or not be ‘everyone else’ and breakaway into the scary unknown of what is possible. Sound Euphonium follows it’s characters personal struggles within a high school concert band setting, that is encapsulating in all your fails, that the passionate drive to go on is still there, no matter what.
Unseeing Frustration Turn Into Passion
An opening quote from the first episode wedged itself so hard into my brain that unknown to me would ring out, a strong meaning later on. The main series focus follows Kumiko a awkward, indecisive individual who likes to remain in the background and stay on the sidelines. Fit into the margin of ‘like everyone else’ where Kumiko would never have to put herself out there. Only winning dud gold during her middle school concert band national competition, Kumiko was satisfied with this result in not getting the ultimate Gold. Kumiko is surprised sitting beside her, band member Reina expresses how upset the whole thing makes her. Including how the whole band was satisfied with this result also. That opening quote “I’m Upset I Could Die” from Reina’s pained expression wedged into me like a nail.
The struggle is real when you’ve worked so hard towards something, poured your soul into it then the results come in short – in not how you had desired, strived for. Kumiko never understood Reina’s entire upset until entering into high school and wanting to make fresh start. Kumiko however couldn’t resist the pull of joining the high school concert band and playing the euphonium once again. Kumiko is pushed into a outer comfort for so long wished to remained in the safe. Encountering Reina again in high school breaks Kumiko safe shell, challenging her presence and thoughts to be heard more.
“I want to become special I don’t want to become same as the others”
There’s a scene Reina and Kumiko hike up to the top of a mountain and Reina states her reason for wanting to reach Nationals – to be ‘special’. It’s this moment Reina becomes the anchor that steers Kumiko’s passionate drive towards her music and becoming more aware of whats going on around her. Many of Reina’s quotes stung me like a bee, powerful yet relatable. During high school one of the very few things I was good at was shot put, where you throw a heavy steel ball far as you can. I’ll tell you there is nothing better than throwing that ball when your angry, haha, it’s an exhilarating feeling. I was selected to represent my school in a sports competition, never did I dream being picked for such a opportunity.
It felt an honour to be picked for something like that, I practiced like crazy. Borrowing a shot put from school, my dad would take me out to a large field, to practice and give me tips. Come the time of the competition after all the effort of perfecting the shot put best I could, 7th place was my result from that. Glad I wasn’t the last place of 8th but it was the first time, I’d experienced such frustration of defeat. It hurt more because shot put was one of few sports I felt good at, but this experience still never wavered my love of the sport. I still love it to this day and actively watch it when the olympics come around. My frustration never reached the extent of Reina’s but it was up there in feeling a disappointing result. From the blood sweat and tears of effort that hurts the most. Reina’s transparent goal wanting to be special, not be like others who never sets their sights high was such a aspiring thing to see over and over through the series.
Kumiko stepping out of her safe bubble the hit of frustration that ‘makes her want to die’ is the hardest blow, ripping away her mask. When music teacher Taki tells Kumiko her current “all” is not enough, risking her place in the National competition. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a dramatic scene of upset, be so impactful. Kumiko screaming out her internal feelings of agony and inner desire to excel herself. Kumiko for the first time understands Reina’s upset that had played over in her mind all this time, Kumiko begins to step out and become more aware not just her own feelings but of others and her surroundings.
Kumiko’s transformation to better herself through music and not stay in the “everyone” pack was more impactful, than I saw coming. Kumiko is the realist representation of us all, where we might settle for second best, remain content with the effort we have given to whatever was the goal or aim. But watching her process of breaking free of these safe binds is something real, raw and honest, it was hard to take my eyes away for even a second. Reina and other characters propel Kumiko by the end into the aspiring protagonist, you know is there from the start. Kumiko doesn’t seem special at the start but what comes after is like looking into a lens, an aspect of life we deal with everyday. To excel ourselves further than our capabilities when were beaten down, to experience sheer upset that only fuels our passionate drives even more.
Sound Euphonium is not a series to be underestimated from the mundane premise just about a high school concert school band wanting to reach nationals. I found the musical perspective to be really interesting and intricately detailed the ups and down of pouring your time into music. The best thing from this musical aspect was Reina and Kumiko don’t take centre stage only, the whole concert band and side characters are given lime light. Equally torturing and impactful alongside following Kumiko, being brought to light the personal struggles of the other members. All the characters main or minor are all bloody, adoring bunch, and their love of music.
This series made me feel so many emotions, taking me back to my own backstory with music. Until now I’ve had no reason to bring up but following these characters in a high school concert band, anyone with a musical background – will relate in all the same sense. During primary school for a period of time I was learning the flute, honestly can’t remember why I wanted to learn the flute. I loved the sound this elegant instrument made but eventually my parents made me give it up because I never practiced enough. My interest wasn’t enough and thinking back on it now, I regret for ever giving it up. Sadly I doubted myself a lot that I would ever be able to learn such a hard instrument, it’s not easy requires a lot of breathe control.
Watching Kumiko’s new friend Hazuki learn the Tuba as a beginner reminded me of my frustration with getting my breathing right. As I blew into to the flute tip. Then I don’t know what possessed me but I joined my high school choir and remained with all my 3 years in high school. Our choir was split up in three parts high, low, medium range, I was in the medium range which was fine with me. My voice always knew was in the mid range but purely I joined because I loved to sing. Kumiko’s desire to better herself quickly as possible playing the Euphonium made me think a time, a time I tried to hard. There was one girl in our choir called Grace and. . . she had most graceful voice out of everyone, bad pun. Lots of people were jealous of her talent and I was one of them, unknown to me I was chosen along side her. To do a duet and then do my first solo part. WHAT?!? was the next passing thought in my brain, someone picked the wrong person for this, haha.
I practiced like crazy not desiring to be better than the other girl but to be on equal standing, least not to try embarrass myself anyway. How did it go? Looking back it went okay, I knew my voice was no grace but I still feel somewhat proud. Singing in front of an entire assembly of people is an achievement folks. At the end it felt good to be apart of something and just like the high school band of Kitauji come to learn. No-one desires in the beginning for nationals but with the guidance of Noboru Taki their music teacher, the turn around is again inspiring.
Why Do We Still Do This?
Just when Sound Euphonium couldn’t become anymore amazing to me, it had delivered on something that has been on my mind always. Kumiko for the longest while was indecisive in why she was pulled back to the high school concert band, when she wanted to start a new slate? Why she picked back up the euphonium, when she wanted to steer clear? because she comes to face and acknowledge the fact; she likes the euphonium. The endless hours practicing, perfecting her craft best of her ability all because she likes. . . no. . . loves the euphonium.
Why did I give up my lunch breaks for choir? Why spend 2 hours editing one video? Why right now . . . at 1:30am am I finishing to write this blog post? because I loved singing, I enjoy editing process of videos and blogging into late hours of the night. I’ve questioned so many times in my life of my hobby choices, never picking something as simple as knitting or being content with just reading. But doing these things I enjoy a lot only pushes your passionate drive even more. Through the failures and flops your strong like for what you love still sticks, theres no way around this. It took Kumiko forever admit to herself her love of music and the euphonium, applying what was missing for Kumiko to go beyond within her capabilities.
Denying your unruling passion for what you like or love, your putting yourself automatically in the “everyone else pile”. Staying in your safe popular zone not requiring to put yourself out there. Hobbies like youtube and blogging you are putting yourself out there to the world, this fact never seems to sink in for me. I’ve tried in the past to move on from either of these but it never will budge. I’ve grown to love doing them too much, to be undone.
Sound Euphonium is a sparkling spectacle in the failures of what you like or love only fuel the passionate drive more. This series more than about just the musical aspect but accurate lens into how we pour our souls into something, the utter upset than can come with that – still . . . continue to do it. Kyoto Animation know how to draw out the full emotional potential within their series. . . but this one. Sound Euphonium has hit the hardest so far for me, a one of a kind music journey, that sends amplified waves of exuding passion.
Nearly 2000 words, longest post in a long time I’ve written but there . . . and still is a lot to say about this series. I just need to let out all these emotions this DAMN series made me feel. I’ve never had a series make me cry in a span of every single episode. Be WARNED Kumiko’s outbursts of her thoughts are earth shattering for your soul. . . YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Sound Euphonium is just gorgeous, can’t believe how fast I was under it’s spell. Expect probably more seperate posts about this series. . . because there is still a lot TO SAY!!
Hope you guys enjoyed the read and . . . Lita was in a choir that was a fun fact for the day. haha. Don’t ever ask me to sing for you.
Go watch this beauty just freaking do it LOL
I’ll see you all in the next post!!