Hibike’s second episode is one of transition. The band’s off time and following training camp allows focus on the characters’ inner worries, from the smallest to the biggest.
Following up on the first episode, the pool scene mainly dedicates itself to the predicament surrounding Nozomi. While Nozomi decides against confronting Asuka, Kumiko interferes by asking her about the situation, more specifically why she is so fixated on garnering Asuka’s approval. Her reason stems from a simple story: when she confronted the third years and quit the club as a result, Asuka was the one who tried to stop her. Nozomi now understands this, and, in a sense, wants Asuka to accept that she’s reflected on the advice she rejected back then. She needs her in order to truly put her past foolishness behind her.
She also gives insight into Yoroizuka’s hostility toward her. They were a small group from the same middle school, and Yoroizuka is the only one Nozomi never contacted after leaving. She had her reasons, but only left Yoroizuka with dejection over the promise they’d made; the promise Nozomi one-sidedly broke.
We then come to the main question: why does she want to rejoin now? After what Asuka told her back then, and seeing the group’s progression, she thinks lowly of her past behavior. She wants to make up for her past mistakes, and do what she loves most again. She even cries over Asuka’s rejection. Pushed by tear-jerking spectacle, Kumiko promises to ask Asuka for her reasons. While Nozomi opposes, Kumiko with her “bad personality” is curious and can’t get it off her mind.
But we don’t stop at Nozomi’s side of the story. Yoroizuka is a mysterious type, and doesn’t teach us much about herself beyond a hatred of competitions. She’s letting herself be carried by the rest of the group, but appears nearly disgusted at their progression. She doesn’t even know if she wants to continue. In fact at this point it’s hard to tell what’s keeping her in the band. The hope she and Nozomi will make their promise come true, maybe? At any rate, it seems we have yet much to learn about her.
A much more talkative character is Nakagawa, Nozomi’s close friend. What she reveals is that, to defend her when she confronted the third years, she directed insulting words toward them. The result? She only precipitated her friend’s fall. Now she wants to atone for that by helping her back into the club. What she reveals through this is genuine admiration for her friend, a sincere and hardworking girl. Their opposite personalities seem to be the foundation of a strong bond.
Having had both Nozomi and Nakagawa’s input, having had to witness the sincerity of their feelings, it is only logical Kumiko would feel compelled to act. She’s now resolved to act as she had told Nozomi she would.
Another noteworthy aspect of this episode is Reina’s growth. There’s her gain in bust size, but more importantly her surprising enthusiasm about going to the pool with everyone. While Kumiko insists she’s completely different from the average teenager, her behavior and interactions with her friends are starting to resemble that of a regular girl her age.
Oh, and there’s also the expression of her terrifyingly heterosexual feelings toward Taki-sensei. Her eyes glow when he claims he’s single… and then die when he introduces a new female teacher who’s not only his age, but also very beautiful. Who knew Reina would one day act so normally? Perhaps this gives a hint as to the meaning of what being “special” is for her.
This was a nice Euphonium episode. It built on the major issue posed by the first episode by doing what the show does best: introspection. The calm atmosphere set by the generally discreet soundtrack is perfect in allowing Kumiko to peer into people’s minds, and in that regard this was a satisfying entry. Once again, the second season’s going down the same path as the first, a very successful approach as far as we can tell. Some may call this unspectacular, but Hibike! Euphonium was never a show to wow the masses. It’s simply good at what it does, even if the nature of what it does isn’t the most incredible.
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