Anime, Yearly Summary

2018 Anime Summary – Overview

Happy new year, folks. I’m not beating around the bush here, these past few months I haven’t found much passion to write at all. I much prefer watching to writing and boy, did I watch a lot this past month. Although I can’t say that I love writing, I do want keep this blog as a logbook/ diary on what I had watched and what my opinions on shows/ films I watched at that given moment. It means that I’ll find new ways to keep you readers informed of what I watch during a month or so. On that end I’ll make a Movie/Show log every fortnight or so with a brief impression about them, and doing more seasonal reviews, bunk reviews instead of full reviews.

Towards that goal, this week will be about the comprehensive summary of 2018 in anime. In general, I consider 2018 an underwhelming year. It has many solid shows, but none breaks out as a modern classic for me. I suspect 2018 will be remembered as the year where Netflix original anime storms the mainstream. While I do have some reservations towards its models (never a fan of releasing the whole batch in one go, and I feel Netflix originals are a tad bit too retro, not in a good way), they do take risque and any platforms that brings more exposure to anime is always a welcome. 2018 is also a really strong year for comedy. Comedy that is plain silly (Grand Blue), comedy that makes you cry (Anzumatsuri), comedy that is too dry (Pop Team Epic)… this year has it all. Less idol shows this year compared to the last few years, but at the same time more hopeless isekai shows, imouto incest shows, shows adapted from mobile games and soft-core porn shows, 2018 sure leaves its mark boldly.

For the next few days, I will split the summary into 5 parts:

Part 1: My favorite 5 OPs, 5 EDs and 2 full songs of the year  Part 2: Several technical/characters/miscellaneous awards   Part 3: Genres shortlists and Awards   Part 4: Honorable Mentions and Top 10 shows of the year   Part 5: List and rank Anime Movies of 2018 (Note: at this moment I list 15 films – 5 watched, 5 more available, 5 non-available. I will post this part once I finish these 15 films in the shortlist.

Stay tune for the next day for Part 1 – my favorite tunes of the year

Anime, Seasonal Anime Review

Seasonal Anime Review: Winter 2018 Final Impressions

In keeping with my anime-mood at the moments (well, that also means I keep delaying on my 2018 Women’s Cinema Festival but I hope you readers don’t mind about that much), I revisit all the anime shows I watched on the Winter season. It’s the practice that might not be relevant with you guys much since it was already half a year, but it benefits me to put all my thoughts on shows I watched into some written forms. The more I watch shows and films, the more I realize that I will eventually forget most of them. Some vague feeling and a general impression about them, but hardly anything substantial. And I’m consistently reminded how wasted it is. At least, by writing them down, I still have some point of reference in the future: my feeling about those shows at that certain point of time.

The beginning season of 2018 calendar was an underwhelming one. There was a large amount of cute girls doing cute thing shows, and Violet Evergarden didn’t meet the hype it generated. Another special trend of this Winter 2018 season was the multi-release of Netflix original shows. I only finished Devilman Crybaby (I stopped after 3 episodes of AICO and I couldn’t survive pass the premiere of B: the Beginning). So while the quality can pretty much an acquired taste, those Netflix original shows do push more edgy context and mature theme into anime industry, just like in the old days. Anyway, the Winter season I finished around 12 new shows, including 2 carry-over from last year’s fall season (3-gatsu no Lion 2 and Mahoutsukai no Yome); plus 2 shows that would run over to the next season (Saiki K 2 and Darling in the FranXX). A bit of footnote here, while I ranked 3-gatsu no Lion 2 and Mahoutsukai no Yome in this Seasonal Preview, they are technically ineligible for 2018 Yearly Review.

Continue reading “Seasonal Anime Review: Winter 2018 Final Impressions”

2018 Spring Anime, Anime, Seasonal Anime Review

Seasonal Anime Review: Spring 2018 Final Impressions

Welcome to the Spring 2018 anime review, in which I will give you my overall thoughts about all the shows I watched airing the last season. I’m intending to do the same for Fall 2018 in a few days time, so remember to go back for it. In general, it was the season that had wide range of recommendable shows, although except for maybe my top 2, I personally don’t feel that wild over the crop. Certainly it was a better season than the Fall, and looks to be much stronger than the current Summer season. I will rate all those finished shows. Shows that have second cour playing next season won’t be ranked or rated. Overall, I watched a total 10 new shows, plus 2 continuous shows and 1 OVA, that makes it 13 shows in general. Let’s run them down now, from worst to best:

Continue reading “Seasonal Anime Review: Spring 2018 Final Impressions”

2018 Spring Anime, Animation - Anime, Anime, Weekly Anime Summary

Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 11 & 12

As you might know, I couldn’t do last week in anime as I attended some film festival. So this week is a combination of week 10 & 11 and I’m a bit sad, as always, to see this Spring Season has come to an end (well, funny that it’s Winter going on here in Aussie). Two shows in particular ended this week: Hinamatsuri (I will write a full review on this) and Wotakoi, both finished in a relatively sweet note. Falling out of tune is Piano no Mori, which at this point I don’t even consider watching its second cour. Anyways, another good weeks in anime (I’m optimistic) and let’s just run them down:

Continue reading “Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 11 & 12”

2018 Spring Anime, Animation - Anime, Anime, Weekly Anime Summary

Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 10

This season has come to its last legs and as far as week in anime goes, this is another solid week. We have an arrival of a new show, and Megalo Box strips over from its crown, and these two might or might not have a connection. Let’s run it down now

Continue reading “Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 10”

2018 Spring Anime, Animation - Anime, Anime, Weekly Anime Summary

Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 9

SO we officially reach the two third of this anime Spring season, and it was a pretty light week with Die Neue These and Darling in the Franxx took a short break, coupled with me dropping Caligula, so for the first time this list becomes some sort of a top 10. Let’s get down to it:

10) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep09)

After a surprisingly excellent episode, Tada-kun falls back into its usual self. By now I can regard Tada-kun as a mix of unusual ingredients: it’s influenced by both the 50s, 60s Hollywood romance and anime romance, resulting in a product that is always fascinating but not necessary come well together. That’s why this might be the only anime series where high-society ball, PRINCESS exist alongside with school activities and idol girls. Let’s take this episode for a better demonstration. We have the main guy fallen sick after soaking wet from the rain (ANIME TROPES), that said princess girl can’t help herself and kisses him while he’s asleep (HOLLYWOOD TROPES), she realizes her crush and acts strange towards him (ANIME) but he still acts pretty much like a prince – pick out a random caterpillar from her hair (both ANIME & HOLLYWOOD). Doesn’t matter which inspiration this show has, it still embraces too many established tropes that it feels obvious at times.

9) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep19)

As I stated before I enjoy Saiki K the most when it focuses on a mini-arc (and by Saiki standard, 3 to 4 short skits), that is to say I’m wholy satisfied with Saiki K this week. Not only this episode brings along their core cast altogether (which the show wittily meta-mentions it), this play serves as a satire to the old classic tale. I bet most of us have bedtime tales that now thinking back don’t make a goddamn sense, right? I have, right here. This whole play escalates to an insane level of hilarity, which pretty much Saiki K at its most confident.

8) Golden Kamuy (ep08)

Welp, this time we get to another side-villain, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the idea of a murderer who gets aroused at the notion of “seeing death in the eyes” is certainly intriguing, he certainly reminds me of Hannibal Lecter for good reasons. The way Golden Kamiy brings that fetish on a visual level, with that weird shining aura around his pant, is so weird and far-out it’s actually wonderful. The murderer’s personality, however, beside his murder motive, is pretty weak in general. That issue becomes apparent in the later half when it focuses on his point of view, and he just can’t carry the narrative weight. His appearance, in a big picture, also means that the show will go for several small arcs before the three-way standoff of our duo, the police and the tattooed thief, in which I personally feel stall the main plot. With only handful of episodes left, it remains doubtful whether the show can wrap itself up meaningfully.

7) Wotakoi (ep08)

Wotakoi is still sweet as ever. I’m glad that they confront the main issue regarding our main leads, that they don’t have any romantic chemistry together. It always feels that Hirokata is way more serious about their relationship than Narumi, and he releazies that they don’t spend time like normal couples do. Thus the core to improve their relationship is that Narumi needs to find how much he meant to her romantically, and for Hirokata how to express that love clearly. I still think that they need to expand more with new characters, but the main casts are so engaging and natural that I’m fine with whatever way the show rolls. At least though, develop this couple’s chemistry to their full potential.

6) Piano no Mori (ep08)

While I’m not pretty wild about this show when they were kids, the 5 year gap proves to be its big improvement. I mean, Takako can do no wrong (subjectivity hereee) and I’m impressed with the way the first half comes together in a satisfying way with new characters pop in naturally and have their roles in Kai’s performance. It can’t help but praising Kai a bit too much for my taste, however, like the way virtually every character obssesses with Kai’s playing style. Now that everything is in place, I guess the next episode we will have another 1-year jump in to the Chopin tournament and I’m pretty excited for it.

5) Hinamatsuri (ep09)

In my opinion, Hinamatsuri is always at its best when they play around with their new characters. In this episode, we have 2 new additions, to a varied degree of success. Mao is a great addition to this ensemble cast, and the show makes her trouble hilariously (with its Cast Away reference) but never sells her issue short. Nitta’s yakuza brother, on the other hand, is weak and the whole yakuza affair just doesn’t do me much since it adds nothing exciting on the table. The only parts I enjoy in that segment are Hina’s poisonous remark that caused all this and how Nitta wakes up tied up in a concrete box. It’s striking and funny at the same time.

4) My Hero Academia 3 (ep47)

I was thinking during the middle part of this episode that it all comes a bit too easy for the heroes, and then… boom, we have a stake that higher than anything we’ve seen before in this series. That’s one of MHA’s quality, it has just a right balance between action/ character study; good/ bad and easy/ difficult. Now that’s the ultimate villain makes his first official appearance: “All for One” who goes against everything that Al Might and the hero society has built. The fact that Deku again is kidnapped also means that there’s still space for his personal conflict and there’s still room for all the League of Villains members another chance to fight and shine.

3) Hisone to Masotan (ep08)

Well, after a slip up in last couple of episodes, I’m glad that the show picks itself right up with this episode. With the first half the shape of their final arc is formed and overall I’m happy with it. There’s going to be a ritual, in which dragon pilots’ main role is to escort to giant “behemoth” to its new resting place. Not bad of an idea. It both doesn’t go down to the usual save the world plot and it furthers elevate the originiality of this world (also extra plus for Shrin maiden). The romance subplots, however, I’m not too keen on. Hoshino and whoeverheis relationship feels way too calculated to me, although I do enjoy the chemistry between Hisone and Okonogi. The new twist about Okonogi to be a important figure for the ritual, and the appearance of his lover, don’t really bode well with me. It’s like the most common anime cliche ever.

2) Steins;Gate 0 (ep8)

This episode feels like a short detour, and design as one, as Okabe finds himself in the beta world, just so at the end he transverses back to the old one. Part of me feels it’s a wasted opportunity, especially how they could make tons of interesting developments into it. But the focus this time squarely places into Okabe’s own mind. He carries a big burden, and this short visit into the world where Kurisu lives further reminds him that doesn’t matter what his choice is, he still blames himself for the death of either Kurisu or Tutturu. On that front the show succeeds magnificently. The drama this time can go a bit cheesy and it’s a bit too convenient that Kurisu just builds another time machine for him to go back. I would’ve preferred him staying in that world line, if only for the fact that Kurisu and Okabe could then make something interesting to bring Mayuri back. I know Kurisu would.

1) Megalo Box (ep9)

An absence of Die Neue These means that the top slot is very well claimed by Megalo Box. While I feel the overall plot so far is predictable and sometimes even ham-fisted, this show knows well how to build up tension and successfully invites us to get behind and cheer on the underdog Joe. I swear I get the feel of Joe K.Oed the opponent and it feels so worth it that he can make it to the Final 4. Being said that, the fight itself repeats the same pattern of previous fights: Joe gets beaten up pretty bad before defeat the opponent with a one-punch. I hope they don’t repeat much on that and God, him intentionally let his guard down in a boxing matching is way too lame and unrealistic. Speaking of Nanbu, I have a feeling that this time he won’t get away scotch-free, in order for Joe not throwing this match he might put his life literally on the line. Let’s see.

2018 Spring Anime, Animation - Anime, Anime, Weekly Anime Summary

Weekly Anime Summary – Spring 2018 Week 7

Welcome to the first new content of this blog, with this weekly summary, where I give my episodic impressions in chunks for all those anime shows I’ve been following so far. So far, this season has offered a solid number of good shows, at least the top 6 shows can be a heavyweight in any other season, although it’s one rare instance where I don’t have a real favorite pick. Let’s get down to it, in preferential order:

13) Caligula (ep06)

Caligula remains a show that splits me neatly in half. The theme it’s trying to explore: about a bunch of characters who have painful memories in real life so they take solace in this fake Mobius world created by μ still keep me intrigued, and there are some neat ideas being explored (I like the story of a girl who erased her mother) and some nice visual presentation (like those people with their faced digitally blurred), but on the other hand, the one noted cast who often speaks meaningless dialogues also mean that we have a hard time to identify with them, let alone care for them. It says something that after halfway through I still don’t care and don’t know most of the characters, main guy included. This last episode signals the climax when with an all-out battle, that makes me wonder how the hell Caligula handles the rest of its run. At this point I don’t consider dropping it but if the characters don’t improve soon, it won’t have much to leave a lasting impact.

12) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep07)

So, a slice-of-life plus romance plus anything goes from photography club activities to dancing in the ballroom? The writing is pretty inconsistent, the titular Tada-kun is still very plain and the cast’s quirks can go a bit overboard at times, but there’s a weird charm to all of this. The latest developments, however, make me quite concerned. First, the introduction of Tada’s rival, Teresa’s fiancee Charles doesn’t bode well for me. Charles feels too perfect to be a real character and he adds an unnecessary love-triangle conflict to our main leads. Second, Teresa being a royal princess of some small European country is something that we suspected from day 1, but God why it wants to go in that direction? The show wants to be in the same vein with Roman Holiday (there’s a reference in the OP), but as cute as Teresa is, she can’t compare to the Goddess Audrey Hepburn and certainly Tada-kun doesn’t one-fifth the charms of Gregory Peck. So yeah in terms of actual romances from this show, they’re suck.

11) Piano no Mori (ep06)

The story gets into a nice grounding now that the piano competition’s over, but this last episode further shows many of Piano‘s issues. The production simply can’t keep up with the weekly schedule, resulting one of the most uninspired and just downright distracting CG animation I’ve watched this season. It feels like a product of 15 years ago. In this episode, Kai lost his piano forest in the dumbest way – thunder strike. Really? One thing that I like, however, is the way previous episodes suggested us that Kai would go overseas to study piano, while Shuhei remains in Japan to become the best piano player in the country. Turns out in this episode they’d do the opposite, Kai decides to stay in his little world not because of all these things that tied him down (the piano, his Mother), but because he realizes all that he needs is right there. The pacing, however, goes so fast to depict Kai’s struggles that we just don’t feel relate in any of his development. The lackluster production is something we need to live with at this point, so I hope the story can improve so that at least we can have something to look forward to.

10) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep17)

Saiki stays true with its quirky self this week, which also means that I don’t have a lot to talk about. Look, this show is a simple test, If you already like the first season then this second season offers more of the same, with even more expanded cast. This episode places Saiki into trouble with 5 entirely different set of characters, which works for the show’s benefit. The last few episodes have wear me down a bit, but for my money this show’s at its best when it plays around with new characters (in which next episode we will have one), or having Teruhashi constantly failed to approach Saiki. That girl, I swear…

9) Wotakoi (ep06)

To my surprise, despite its sitcom-like format and it doesn’t offer much in terms of the big picture, I still enjoy Wotakoi and the quartet week to week. The show’s main issue for me lies in its squarely focus on just those 4 characters and kinda ignore the rest of the world, which for me feel very limited and unrealistic. But apart from that those 4 have an interesting and natural chemistry together that it feels great just to watch them bouncing off each other. It helps that the dialogue feels real and they never play up their otaku nature. But the inclusion of Hirotaka’s brother: this show’s version of non-otaku character, doesn’t add up much (he’s a boring character). Still, I’m interested to see the development between Hirotaka and Narumi’s “romance”, which step by step has progressed more like a real couple. They’re getting there.

8) Darling in the FranXX (ep17)

Darling goes for a darker route now, which I’m glad. There still no subtle bone in their body, but at least in the last episode they manage to ask many intriguing questions about the nature of the world those kids live in and the nature of being human – which are the show’s core theme. I still don’t like the quick interference of The 9s or the whole Papa thing, and the ambush right where Mitsuru and Kokoro exchange rings further underlines Darling‘s shaky execution. Consider we have a quick glimpse of the leaders of APE, I have my theory that the Klaxosaur was indeed once human race, but they advanced their technology in order to modify their human body. The APE, on the other hand, still retains human form but starts do regress any human’s basic characteristics: no reproduction, no emotion, no dying process. I’m interested to see how they go from there, but embrace yourself since this one won’t go down happily.

7) My Hero Academia 3 (ep45)

I’m never much a fan of My Hero Academia, too much explosions and screaming for my taste. But this arc has kicked into gears and I like what I see so far, with all the Bakugo-kidnapping business. Bakugo’s character has always acted like a villain: thrust for power, never cares for anyone else and full of hatred. So this arc can serve as a good basic to challenge him and makes him see why he chooses to be hero in the first place. The more pain the better. At the same time, the kids from Class A and even some from Class B has developed in such a way that it always feels like they’re part of one big family – they feel like our dear friends now, and with their quest to bring back Bakugo, it could serve for some great characters moment here. And that blood-sucking girl, what’s her deal? What’s her Quirk? Man, I’m all in now.

6) Golden Kamuy (ep06)

Golden Kamuy has a very solid premise, but the pacing remains this show’s biggest issues. Whenever it comes to the gold hunt part it rushes way too fast, and then in quiet moments they spend to much time on food-porn cuisine and Ainu culture, without much related to the main storyline. The episode 6 starts out that way with Sugimoto and Asirpa… hunting deer. It feels like Golden Kamuy loses its focus until everything comes together neatly (a bit too neatly) in the last moment. Now the super bear hunter is also a tattooed escape prisoner, so by killing him they will be able to save Rectar, AND have another human map too boost. The story still has some potential but I sure hope they tone down on those wilderness cuisine.

5) Hisone to Masotan (ep06)

HisoMaso has the most gorgeous visual of this season, and expressive characters’ movement, but the story is so far too light. Now that it tries to tie up some thematic relevance with more serious tone, I’m a bit worried how they’re going to handle it. So far, HisoMaso gets away with lost of stupid details because they have a godsend ability to flirt around with their concepts, and I’m much prefer it that way. I don’t buy what Administrative Vice-Minister Iiboshi is trying to sell at all. What’s all this about White Lovers? Torii gate and shrine? The show’s other focus – about the relationship between dragons and their pilots – fare much better. Hosino nearly pisses me off for her stubbornness, but it ends well so I’m done complaining. This show has the look, so hopefully Mari Okada can give this story a fair treatment.

4) Hinamatsuri (ep07)

Hinamatsuri ceases to be a comedy show for me. There’s still absurdity sense of humor, sure, but it done drama way better than it has any right to be. Anzu and Hitomi slowly take over this show, for good reasons, and they have come to develop a lot since we first met them. I also like this version of Hina this week, her stoned face and mono-tone need to contrast with something as bombastic and out of left field as nominating herself for School Council President just so she can have more sleep and more food. Hina and Nitta’s chemistry also takes a nice step this week, with her helping Nitta to talk Usako into having a date with him. I don’t really like the montage-like from their date since we have a pretty good idea that Nitta’s getting rejected, so the pun doesn’t work for me.

3) Steins;Gate 0 (ep06)

Ohh, finally. The drama kicks in, in first season fashion to boost. Before that last-second event however, I actually consider this episode a weak one, with too much light-heart moments that don’t go well with the serious tone of this show, and the entire cast appears that make me feel like the show fan-services us blatantly. Turns out this is a part of the plan, showing the last moment of happiness before shit hits the fan. I supposed our new loli girl will be the one who died this time, and Okabe will begin his cycle of suffering real soon. The amnesia elements I can live without, but I believe all the main ingredients are in place, so from now on the story will run in full speed. And time-travel and drama are those things that this show does best, so bring it on guys!!

2) Megalo Box (ep07)

Megalo Box is still goddamn good. But first allow me to address the tiny elephant in the room: the boxing fights lack weight. There’s a nice amount of animation by all means, but every time one of the character hits the opponent, it doesn’t feel much impact. After Joe’s fight with Nanbu ex-pupil with I regarded as this show’s best episode (well, the episode before the fight anyway), I also find myself enjoying his new opponent, in a narrative sense. Here, we have Joe, a gearless boxer versus a man who uses gear so advanced that it does all the work for him. It’s the true battle to Megalonia, my friend, except that… the fight will never come (or so we’re led to believe). It’s anti-climatic for sure, but I have no doubt that Joe will be back on the ring, maybe with the assistance of someone’s certain sister. We’ll see.

1) Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These (ep07)

And to top the list this week, it’s Yang Wen Li who takes all the spotlight here. This show balances extremely well between the epic part (all those space battles that run more like an open history book) with the more personal moments of our two leaders. It’s that we have to know where all these characters come from, what their philosophy is like in order to invest in this galactic battles, and so far it succeeds on doing just that. Watching Yang Wen Li’s plan carrying on in real mission is thrilling, and they also place a small doubt seed into the possibility that Rozenlitter might betray, and thus bringing the whole plan down. Other moment I enjoyed is when Yang orders his ship to minimize the unnecessary casualty. It further highlights Yang’s desire to end this long-winded war, but as fate would have it, the persona s talented as Yang will always be pulled back into the endless war no matter what.

Animation - Anime, Anime Review, Silver Moon in Full Bloom

Sound! Euphonium 2 (Fall 2016) Anime

Original Name: Hibike! Euphonium 2

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Season: Fall 2016

Episodes: 13

MAL Link: https://myanimelist.net/anime/31988/Hibike_Euphonium_2


(Note: Originally published over psgels.net)

I must admit that out of all the series I was blogging last year, Sound Eupho 2 was the one I’m saddest to see it ends; not because it was my absolute favorite anime last year, but because the sheer amount of their attention to details and their ridiculously quest for perfection are something that out of this world, in this day and age, which I will get to that later in my review. This is a sequel to Sound Eupho last year but I will keep the comparison to the first season to minimum in terms of quality because this season is great enough to be judged by its own.

The story is a direct continuation from the end of last season, as the Kitauji high school concert band just qualified from the qualifying round, now heading to Kansai region competition and later on, the National competition. Unlike the first season where the main dramatic events like Aio pulled out from the music club to focus on her study; the audition to choose the best players for the competition or the challenge to pick the lead trumpet arise and resolved around the development of the band club itself, the second season concentrates more on the band members’ personal issues. This change of focus is more apparent in the second half, when the show completely drops the band practice, even to the point of not showing the national performance at all. I understand this bold choice can cause disappointment to many fans who want to see the band in action, and moreover focus on individual character drama can cause the lack of cohesive theme; this shift of attention, on the other hand, also brings out some of the best character developments and intimate moments the show has ever achieved.

I will get to the negative part first. When the show concentrates more on character’s heightened drama, those dramas can be uneven and doesn’t add up much to the big picture. Two of this season’s acts for example: Yoroizuka and Reina act don’t play well for me because they have the exact opposite problems. Yoroizuka (the only character that I used by surname here, as this is how Kumiko refers her) is a secondary character who was suddenly given the spotlight and while her final confrontation with Yuuko and Nozomi was effective, the drama was resolved too quickly, Yoroizuka changed so fast that I personally don’t see her grow as natural at all. Reina’s affection to Taki-sensei grow to another level this season, but I’m not alone to say that this was the show’s weakest act because almost everyone can see the outcomes. That drama isn’t much to speak of to begin with; it’s a shame because Reina was my favorite character the first season and I’d like to see other kind of developments for Reina, any other development but this.

Moreover, sometimes it does feel like Sound Eupho stumbles around those dramas in order to “create the situation”; as a result sometimes the show loses its focus because it has to cover too many grounds (like in episode 6), other times some of the conflicts feel forced and calculated (of all time, Mamiko choose she decided to tell her parents to quit college on that stormy night, and “she quited because it has to be now”. Why?). While the Mamiko act actually turns out pretty great, those issues speak to the lack of single unified theme that made the first season so tightly constructed. The last issue, which was also the show’s biggest flaw, lied in the fact that when they focus too much on one set of characters for the drama, other cast members unfortunately don’t have much roles so all they do is hanging around and making the best out of little screen time they had. Reina, before reaching her act, serves as a shadow behind Kumiko; Shuichi becomes the unluckiest guy in the world and worst of all, Hazuki and Sapphire don’t have any development anymore, given that they are still billed as the lead characters.

In contrast, if anything, this season will be remembered as the season of Kumiko and Asuka. They are the heart and the soul of this season, and it’s a blessing to see how far both of them have matured in the end. Asuka has been one of the most complex character in Sound Eupho’s universe and the show did a damn fine job to underline her struggles with both her parental figures, as well as gradually peeling off the mask to reveal her true feeling inside. The most brilliant part of it was that she never lose her strong side at all, never in many moments we are allowed to see her vulnerable side, because it’s more that she becomes honest to herself, embrace herself to what she loves most and comes out even stronger than before. In additions, most of Asuka and Kumiko moments develop into the highlights of the season. When Asuka played that Sound Euphonium piece to Kumiko in episode 9, it was one of the best moments of the whole show, period. When Kumiko poured her heart out to convince Asuka to come back to the band, it was one of the most effective drama the show could ever committed. As the two getting closer and more honest to each other, it makes a whole lot sense that we have that final confrontation between them that warmly tied up this whole season together. This show indeed ends on a high note.

Kumiko also deserved to be one of the year’s best character here as she has changed a lot from timid and passive with no real passion into the one who is really honest to what she feels. Aside from her interaction with Asuka, her moments with her sister, while soft and never overly dramatic like other acts, feel all too real ans intimate on how siblings care about each other. The last few episodes when we follow her through her quiet tears on the train, her outbursts, her confessions were a joy to watch and each step she made feel like a natural progression. I have to give extra gratitude Tomoyo Kurosawa, the saiyuu of Kumiko, for delivering such a deadpan, plain but strangely distinctive voice of our main girl.

But what make Sound Eupho stand head above the rest of the crop lies in its production values. That 10-minute performance in episode 5 simply outperformed everything else I watched in recent years. KyoAni’s always known for their gorgeous designs and their attentive to make every little detail right, but this is just another level of insanity the more you get to know what they achieved. Almost every performance you heard in the show was correctly timed to their single notes (meaning that if you hear the character hits the notes onscreen, they were the right notes), the position of their fingers, their postures, even down to the preparation of the members before hitting the notes, were all accurate. Now imagine all of these in animation with a band of thirty something characters for the whole two seasons. I can’t even think how on earth one could achieve animating all that, let alone making it all flawlessly. They even go as far as making the echo of the announcement on the firework scene in the first episode, because they wanted it to be real (the city Uji is surrounded by mountains). No, something as insane as this don’t happen often, especially on TV-anime level, so to see it finally at the end of its road suddenly make me feel a little sad.

This second season is indeed a worthy follow up to the Sound Eupho the series. Just a bit of note that the score I’m giving above is for this second season alone, if I have to give a score for the whole series it would be 93/100. Sound Eupho is an install classic and for me is up there as one of KyoAni’s best works to date. As of this writing right now, there is one more novel about our Kitauji school that is more of a collection of short stories (like the real reason Aoi quit the band, or the story of Shuichi finally confesses to Kumiko) so I think OVAs will be the most possible outcomes. Otherwise we have the spin-off novels that focus on Azusa (Kumiko’s childhood friend) and her Rikka high school marching band and for now I think there’s a high chance that in the future KyoAni will return back to that universe by adapting this spin-off. Well, they better adapt it, or on that note, why not adapting Haruhi season 3?