Sound! Euphonium – Episode 09

A not-so surprising turn of events, given the superior talents of Reina.

– In case you’re wondering about Taki-sensei’s opening dialog, yes, conductors do talk like that. When he says to do an accent at the top of C, he’s speaking about the rehearsal marking on the part the performer is playing (not the note C, tambourines are not pitched like wind instruments). And for those of you that don’t know, a conductor always will read from a full or condensed score, so they can keep track of what all the players are doing at all times.

– That being said, Taki-sensei seems pretty serious about his job, even requesting that they come see him individually after rehearsal for going over section parts, leaving rehearsal time for the whole group.

– Seeing everyone this motivated is really cool though. They’ve come a long way since the first few episodes.

– I like that each of the section leaders are playing with their sections though, instead of only leading them. I don’t know if that’s just how this ensemble does it, but seeing them all like this before even auditions is pretty nice. I also just like that everyone gets to participate in ensemble before the final seatings and chair positions are made. Keeps the motivation up and weeds out the slackers.

– Asuka is a pretty observant person though. And then the band relationships get exposed. Seeing Natsuki jump to the conclusion that it was a band member is to be expected in a setting like a high-school band. You spend so much time together as is that it’s hard to imagine it’d be anyone from the outside. Midori’s guilt is sad though ;_;

– Asuka is pretty cold here though… Like, why would she ask about it then leave saying she doesn’t have the time for it? She could just lead and say “Hey, drop the crap and stop being depressed while you’re here, do it after.” Or something like that. I guess this episode will probably drive home the fact that she’s obsessively focused on making/practicing music. If a minor inconvenience like that would cause her to walk out, she’s got a some self-indulgence going on for sure. Kinda reveals her to be less of a team player than I thought, and shows that even she can display some immaturity. Though she’s not a leader, Reina seems a lot more mature with regards to this stuff.

– This scene also totally shows me why she didn’t become president.

– Haha, George-kun~

– Either way, it’s nice to see Hazuki grow from the experience and not be too down about it. I was expecting things for her to really go south, but she totally took it in stride. Really nice. The conversation between the two of them on the train home was nice. Her seeing right through Kumiko was funny too. But then that avoidance when she sees him getting on the train and she goes out the other way… Man. All it took was that one little gesture to show that she’s not totally back yet. Those three seconds capping off this part of the episode tells the whole story, how part of her still hurts, and the stuff she didn’t say even to Kumiko. Really nicely done. I also like how she seems to put her friends first (despite going after Shuichi thinking she’d beat Kumiko to the punch, lol).

– And then Kumiko reflects on her feelings in the only way she really knows how; isolated from everyone else and in private. Then her awesome sister shows up and tells us that Taki-sensei is actually awesome (something we already know obviously, cause he is awesome). We haven’t heard much about his reputation, but if someone like even her sister knows about him, and in the context she found out about him, yeah, it’s a big deal. Especially if like she says, he’s someone who will attract talent just by being somewhere. Suddenly Reina’s motivations make a lot more sense to me. Though the school system is different in Japan, I know that I had similar experiences in college when choosing who to study with for both my degrees.

– Sapphire really is a considerate friend. During the phone conversation with her, Kumiko lays down that Hazuki really isn’t back yet. The strategy they both chose should work fine though.

– It’s nice that Reina’s maturity rubbed off on Kumiko. I wonder if she’ll end up telling Shuichi to BTFO, or if she’ll assert herself more in practice and the auditions.

– Kaori’s inspiration is nice though. It’s good to see her try hard. Though she knows Reina is a threat.

– All of a sudden Natsuki is going all in. Kumiko coming to that realization that everything is bubbling under the surface is great. You can tell that seeing the reality of the auditions is getting to her. While I was never too worried about most of my auditions, just seeing that the reality and gravity of the situation finally hit her felt really good. Hopefully she rises to the occasion! A lot of people tend to lose their composure around audition time, and it’s when everyone is most on edge.

– And the waiting for to audition together, that one girl who said she’s nervous when everyone else was quiet, all of it really takes me back.

– And yes, that does happen to bass players, though not blood shooting everywhere usually, haha. She’s being overdramatic for comedic effect but the other two are totally buying it.

– Just seeing them sit on those chairs outside the room while the other person they’re competing with is inside the room is enough to make even me feel sick. Everything about the framing of the shot, the body language of the two girls sitting there waiting… it all feels so real and is actually making even me feel uneasy and nervous for both of them. Like that anxiety is eating me up now! With the sound design though, you can hear the difference in ability from each of their auditions though. Like you can hear the nervousness in that last long note Natsuki plays at the end of the first phrase, just a little shake that is barely audible but paints a very clear picture about her emotional state in the audition. But then you hear her struggle more, lose tempo and syncopation, sound muddies a little… she just musically collapses. It’s all told through just that short audio clip.

– I just really like how easy it is to get so engrossed in this part of the episode. It’s so well-done that I can tell exactly how they feel to the point that even i’m starting to feel anxiety and the butterflies in my stomach just from watching this. It’s not too easy to tell if you haven’t been in the situation before, but auditions can end up being some of the most stressful times of your life, depending on your ability or situation. I really love that the anime is doing a great job of showing how well everyone tries to hide those feelings too. Even the friendships and pleasantries are temporarily halted because that person you’re friends with is now your competitor. And all of their body language, lack of conversation, and demeanor tell the whole story very well! They show both the internal and external intricacies of how these situations go, and in an incredibly realistic and compelling manner.

– And then what happens next is probably Kumiko’s worst fear for these auditions; Taki-sensei is aware of her history with music. Meaning now she’s probably scared of not living up to his expectations for someone with as much experience as she has. Oh god, I can feel the dread increase exponentially.

– Also for this episode, it’s interesting to see that they do face-to-face auditions. Most of the schools i’ve been to and auditioned at have all been blind auditions (judges sit behind a partition, auditioners are given a number at random, are only heard by judges so the evaluations are only based on musical ability performed during the audition, keeps biases out, etc.). Usually having them blind helps ease the players a lot more. Part of me wonders if Taki-sensei is doing this to see if they could overcome their fear, if he can address and assess each player’s abilities in a direct manner. Or maybe it’s a Japanese thing, I don’t really know here. Either way, in my experience blind auditions have been the way i’ve done things almost 80% of the time.

– But then he asks her if she’s okay facing them for the audition. I guess giving them the option may help some of the players if they find they lack the will to face this scary situation head-on. It doesn’t seem like he’d judge them negatively or positively depending on which way they face since it seems like he’s giving them the option. Super cool.

– Also interesting here is that while chair placement auditions for most ensembles take place at the start of a semester, these band members are auditioning to take place in a specifically constructed ensemble for a specific contest. So while normal chair placement auditions would use things like etudes, scales, and orchestral excerpts (this last one depends on your instrument of choice), they’re all auditioning on the specific parts of the music that they will be performing if chosen. What’s really cool about this situation for Taki-sensei is that not only does he get to choose the best performers for each part, but everyone busts their butts preparing the very things they will be fervorously working on in the days leading up to the competition. As an added bonus, the people who don’t make it can remain on as backups, since they should be familiar with the music having practiced it enough to audition on it.

– So far so good though. She wasn’t asked to repeat the section. I started getting nervous when he tapped his fingers though, as if to indicate whether or not Kumiko was maintaining tempo properly during the syncopated parts. You could still hear that while she did better than Natsuki for that excerpt, there was still a sense of roughness, especially on the 16-th note ascending scale line. You could hear the roughness of the tonguing, with her tongue struggling to keep up with the tempo on such a short and fast part of the passage, something Taki-sensei notices, but decides not to dwell on. It’s a good passage for an audition that will help weed out people quicker due to how technical it is (syncopation, covers a decent middle register of the instrument, quick tonguing passages), especially since it’s not slurred which would be 1000000x more easy.

– Awwwwwww man. Here it is. The one thing she probably prayed he wouldn’t ask about, he does. Everyone does this. I can literally feel her dread now, as the tension of the situation is even getting to me, holy crap. And you can see she’s losing it a little. Oh god this is unbearable.

– The stuff she mentions after is so true. You never know how much time passes when you’re in there, because while it happens you feel like it lasts an eternity, measuring every tick of the clock as if each second were an hour long. But when you finish and they tell you that you can go, usually with a straight face or a smile as to not give anything away, it feels like the ten years you thought you were in there for only lasted ten seconds. It’s really cool how the situation makes her feel alive.

– I think I would die if I had to wait a few days for audition results. Usually it’s like 8 hours at most!

– And Kumiko is right. That atmosphere is super tense. Even just watching this I can feel all the feeling I had during these things. How thick the air becomes, how how the room becomes, how you feel that weight go down on your chest, how the butterflies get even more crazy the closer you are to knowing the moment of truth… Woah, this show is totally nailing it.

– Aw man, Natsuki. She started practicing and everything. And Kumiko’s face tells the whole story. And even the other band member’s reactions are just so well done. I’m still happy that Kumiko made it!

– Moment of truth: Trumpet stuff. This is where the drama will begin since we heard about the solo stuff a few episodes back. That Reina’s name was last would scare me if I was in her shoes. Suddenly…

– OH CRAP REINA GOT THE SOLOS OH GOD THIS IS THE TRIGGER THAT BEGINS EVERYTHING

– Ribbon is going to be so pissed, while it looks like Kaori knows what happened. And while Kaori looks sad, she looks almost relived in a way, despite probably being really disappointed.

Oh god oh god oh god next episode has the potential to be amazing (and of course it will be!) and showcase just how dysfunctional a band can get at moments when people are in direct competition with each other.

Also, have this bonus image of Kumiko.

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