Kyoto Animation is my favourite animation studio, and has been since I started watching anime as I know it. To me, the best show, from a technical standpoint, was Ishihara’s Chunnibyou. That was until Sound! Euphonium came out April last year.
Helmed by director Tatsuya Ishihara (Haruhi Suzumiya, Nichijou, Chunnibyou), series directed by Naoko Yamada (K-ON!, A Silent Voice, Tamako Market), and composed & scripted by Jukki Hanada (Beyond the Boundary, Kancolle!, Love Live).
It’s really hard to have a new voice about Sound! Euphonium’s first episode after basically everyone and their blog has covered it. Thankfully, you have blogs like Sakugabooru who translated all the credits, and who is VERY VERY good at what they do. Check out their post on Sound! Euphonium episode 1, and their ongoing coverage of all things Naoko Yamada!
Spoilers on the first season, duh!
How Season 2 of Sound! Euphonium Came To Be
When we last left the Kitauji high school concert band club, they had just won the gold in the prefectural qualifiers, letting them advance to the Kasai regionals. This is exactly where the hour long first episode picks up, with the girls celebrating their win over the other schools, who don’t seem too pleased with their loss. Though why would you be?
As explained above, Sound! Euphonium is an animated powerhouse from the creative minds of Tatsuya Ishihara and Naoko Yamada, whenever she got the time to work on Euphonium between A Silent Voice cuts. Helping lighten the load is Yamada’s protégé Haruka Fujita, who directed the second half of the episode along with the ED, her first time, which is usually Yamada’s wheelhouse on Ishihara x Yamada shows.
The Beautiful Animation of Sound! Euphonium
If you’ve seen Chunnibyou, you’ll understand what I mean by Ishihara’s style, and what generally Euphonium is going for in terms of it’s animation. And ponytails, this guy has been loving ponytails ever since directing Haruhi Suzumiya. His work directing the first part of the episode does a great job of drawing us back into the Euphonium world and familiarising us to the giant cast of characters and some new faces that first popped up in this episode (even if they were in the film).
The moment that stood out most to me in the first part was Team Monoka’s performance. While it’s was shockingly short, you can tell that love went into crafting this sequence. From the fine detailed dents on Hazuki’s tuba, to the motion of the flute being played, this is the audiences first performance of the season, and needed to come out of the music hall loud. I couldn’t help but empathise with Kumiko or the President while watching the sequence. This was Ishihara telling us “Euphonium is back, and we aren’t slowing this train down”.
On the subject of trains, this is where we got most of the character growth from Reina and Kumiko. Other than the fireworks festival.
The blooming fireworks of the second half
The second part of the episode was handled by Haruka Fujita, who also directed the eighth episode of season one, which features that mountain scene. To me, it seems like Fujita is handling the hands on work of Yamada, while she focused on A Silent Voice. There’s no doubt Yamada was way too busy working on A Silent Voice to handle an episode this early on, or even at all. With Fujita at the helm, who takes quite a lot of cues from Yamada visually. Not only is Euphonium in some of the safest hands at Kyoto Animation, but viewers won’t see that much of a disconnect between the two seasons.
In saying that, Fujita has her own style, as any director would. You can tell in the difference of colour between the first and second parts, with Fujita being more cooler than Ishihara’s tungsten (warmer) lighting. It’s subtle, but with the story moving forward with the vice-president and whatever is going on with them, the cooler tones are much more suitable.
Of course, I can’t speak about the episode without discussing the fireworks festival. Ishihara worked a lot with storyboarding it to life. Though I feel Fujita’s use of camerawork and lighting lets us understand the feelings of Kumiko and Reina visually. It’s also helpful that the camera, rather than being fixated in one focal length, is used to move between the characters and give the world depth. A depth of field as they’d say.
Moving forward with the rest of Sound! Euphonium S2
This was only episode one, and rather then having this go on forever (and take forever!). I’ll leave it here and discuss more about the show during the next few weeks. There’s more to discuss such as episode director styles, voice direction, and hopefully more Yamada.
Also Reina and Kumiko shipping as well, obviously.
So, are you enjoying Sound! Euphonium season 2 so far? Let me know down below or on any of our social networks (Twitter, Facebook). Until episode two, mata ne~