Sound! Euphonium – Episode 12

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Sound! is back with its best episode so far this season.  Kumiko’s struggle was compelling and beautiful.  I’ll be sad to see this series end.  It’s been a joy to watch.

General thoughts:

Taki-sensei was back in character after losing his confidence over the last two episodes.  His actions toward Kumiko fit better with his no nonsense approach in the earlier episodes than his shrugging of responsibility the last couple of weeks.

Shuuichi is still hovering at the fringes, making me wonder if this will still reverse course on the girls romance in the future.

Natsuki was great in her only scene.  Give us more please.  Can she pick on the the bow-haired girl every week?

Reina and Kumiko didn’t interact too much, except to show that Reina is ready to be there for Kumiko just like Kumiko was for her.

Learning how to work hard and pushing through your own barriers is something that every teen needs to learn.  I didn’t, and I drifted aimlessly for years relying on natural abilities instead of work ethic.  Even seeing even a fictional character find the drive to push herself is inspiring to me.  I only wish I had found that drive sometime before my late 20s.

There isn’t a lot to say this week.  I can’t frame the episode better than it did itself.  If for some reason you are reading this and haven’t watched it yet.  Go watch it now.

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3 thoughts on “Sound! Euphonium – Episode 12

  1. JekoJeko June 26, 2015 / 2:05 am

    Huh, I’ve never seen Taki-sensei shaken in the decisions he’s made over the series. Just as the second audition was orchestrated by him to help alleviate the rumours that were wounding the band, his challenge at Kumiko continued to help the band in every little way it needed help. I’m hoping the last episode sees something happen with Shuichi, as I’d say he’s the last person to have been blessed under Taki-sensei’s guidance.

    • wellspokenman June 26, 2015 / 8:11 am

      The decision to re-do the solo audition bothered me. He also chose to do it in a very unfair way. He mostly been harsh but fair in the show, after letting them make the initial decision to aim for the competition. Here he waivered in his initial decision and then was decidedly unfair in asking Reina, a loner freshman, to compete against a popular senior with the band as the judge.

      There are only a couple of possible justifications that I can see here. One, is that both players were so good that he didn’t feel that picking one over the other would matter. I don’t buy this as we heard both play and Reina was obviously better. The other possibility was that he felt Reina was good enough to win everyone over. The problem with this is that it didn’t work. Reina was better, most of the band abstained, and the girls clapping for their friends were the only ones heard. It was a popularity contest.

      I like how he has challenged the band and I like his character overall. Those two episodes I were not in sync with how he has been potrayed in the rest of the series.

      • JekoJeko June 26, 2015 / 2:09 pm

        I’ve seen a number of people take this approach, but it’s a misunderstanding of Taki-sensei’s purposes. If you’re a music teacher who knows your stuff, you know who’s the better soloist if you hold an audition for the part. Taki-sensei already knew that the band needed Reina to play the solo. The problem wasn’t making sure that was the right choice; the problem was the aftermath of the choice, the feelings of Kaori and the rumours of the band. The focus of the second audition was thus on them, not Reina, fitting in with his continual efforts to ‘challenge the band’ as you say. He had no intention of the soloist changing.

        By being ‘unfair’ to Reina, he was giving her another chance to be special, which is actually what she wants deep down (something Taki-sensei can likely read from her character, as must good teachers can understand their students on a deeper level). But more importantly, by ‘waivering’ his decision, he was giving the rest of the band the ability to feel like they were part of the choice, knowing – he knew – that most of them wouldn’t vote in the end. He could read the atmosphere, the adolescent peer-pressure, the hiding behind rumours and group-think. He set up the audition so that the rest of the band would have to deal with the fact that they don’t have the guts to decide this for themselves. They don’t have the guts to go against talent and choose Kaori, and they don’t have the guts to go against seniority and favouritism and choose Reina. The decision to use clapping (an individual action that draws attention to your decision) to not have a blind audition (furthering the lack of deceit) evidences the fact that Taki-sensei wanted – and evidently succeeded – to alleviate band tensions this way. No lies, no mystery, and no more rumours. Open, honest, peaceful (except for Yuuko xD) acceptance of his original decision. A masterful and subtle display of authority.

        The last part of his plan was the part that involved Kaori herself, as she needed to find herself through this process. She needed to be able to continue as part of the band despite losing the solo. With the attention of her and everyone giving off the impression that she should be doing the solo instead, she needed a platform upon which she could step down from that glaring spotlight that was blinding the band’s progress, and Taki-sensei provided her with that. He asked ‘will you play the solo’, with the use of ‘ga’ in Japanese to signify stress on whether it’s YOU who should be playing the solo, and that pushed Kaori into the position she couldn’t push herself into, in front of the whole band who had to watch in silence, where she could help everyone save face by humbly concluding the tensions through her dismissal of the potential for the role as soloist. She couldn’t accept the part. That’s what she had to accept herself, and that’s what the rest of the band had to accept. They didn’t need to know that Reina should take it. They needed to know that Kaori won’t take it.

        Taki-sensei’s social engineering in this regard is incredible. He’s in full control of this band, just as they need him to be to make it to nationals, forcing it to get past the troubles that can hold it back both musically and socially, understanding the troubles of adolescence and how they affect the development of group artistry.

        It’s fair to misunderstand his decision at first, just as the band were shocked to hear of the second audition themselves. But just as the band have come to accept Reina as the soloist and Kaori losing that opportunity, viewers should also, in parallel, have come to accept that Taki-sensei’s call was the right one to make. This was never about the music, but rather the fragile social paradigms that worm their way into performances and, as we saw, leave the band in a mess. By ignoring these issues, Taki-sensei would have failed as a teacher. But by addressing them in the way he did, he proved himself to be more than just a musician, and worth way more than his paycheck.

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