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This Week in Anime - So, Is Sound Euphonium Queerbaiting or Not?


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malvarez1



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 1785
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 12:55 pm Reply with quote
I think the queerbaiting discussion is one of the most tiring ones (the Naruto discussions were AWFUL back in the day) but I will say I enjoyed reading this article, so kudos.
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Sailor_Arashi



Joined: 21 Oct 2016
Posts: 3
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 1:54 pm Reply with quote
Whether the show is baiting or not, this article absolutely is. Moving the goalposts so far out of reach that you have to prove active malice or it doesn't count, and then complaining about moving goalposts? Laughing
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catterbu



Joined: 29 Apr 2023
Posts: 5
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 2:06 pm Reply with quote
Generally a thoughtful article, though I do think I does miss a little bit in one aspect. The Class S genre has a long history of doing everything but confirming yuri couples, then suggesting that they will "outgrow" their yuri phase and move onto a more "proper" life with a man.
Personally, I would be fine if Kumiko and Reina do not end up together. I think it would feel more like a betrayal if we continue to have Shuuichi be such a non-character (nice enough, but not much there), and then have Shuuichi and Kumiko get together at the end of high school. Intentional or not, that would feel a little like the anime team was reinforcing the Class S trope that people should grow out of queerness. Especially with the lack of focus on Shuuichi. It would feel almost like she ended up with him because that is what society dictated. There is a way to do it well, but runs the risks of stripping Kumiko and Reina of the important of their relationship. If they want to leave Kumiko and Reina as a deep intimate friendship, I can accept that. However, if they imply that that relationship is less important than a straight romance with a character who has received very little screen time, then however you read Kumiko and Reina's relationship, the show would be retroactively devaluing it.
While I do believe the Kumiko is presented as Bisexual, it is another trope (especially in American shows) that the bisexual character has all sorts of queer relationships, then ends up in the societally-approved straight pairing at the end. It reinforces this idea that queerness is okay, but do not try having a queer relationship be one's end desire.
Based on the movie and what we have seen in season 3, I would love for Eupho to end on an ambiguous note with Reina holding one hand with Kumiko and Shuiichi holding the other. They really would make for a good polycule with Kumiko as the hinge and Reina and Shuiichi as metamours. They each balance each other in different ways. One can hope...
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
Posts: 748
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 2:13 pm Reply with quote
Know what is infuriating about KyoAni?
It's both queer AND hetero baiting.

There's something very wrong with the people who work there.
They're so good in everything else, but the have this with problem with the writing they seem unable to overcome.
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Minos_Kurumada



Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 1090
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 2:35 pm Reply with quote
Whenever this discussion pop-ups I remember the Tokyo Ghoul: RE situation which makes me remember why fujoshi means "Rotten Girl".
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Vaisaga



Joined: 07 Oct 2011
Posts: 13230
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:02 pm Reply with quote
In theory "queer baiting" should appeal to everyone since we should all be able to play nice and agree to like the show in our own ways. Of course this is shipping on the internet so we can't be that civil.

I grew up in a time where anime girls would grope each other's breasts and kiss each other and no one made a big deal about it. Those same girls would still go after their male love interest so there was never any debate. No, that was saved for two men who hated each other but were obviously hiding their true feelings!

So when I watched Euphonium I didn't look at Kumiko and Reina's behavior as "obviously gay". I do openly prefer Kumiko with Shuuichi but saying as much results in accusations of homophobia. This is a lot worse than ship wars of days past since calling someone a bigot ends all debate.

I prefer definite answers so I want "queerbaiting" to end but i doubt it ever will, if only because of how lucrative it is. Look how huge Euphonium is, compared to the many true yuri shows that have aired since then. Even yuri fans seem to prefer endlessly debating about Euphonium than hyping up Sing Me a Love Song.
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Saeryen



Joined: 26 Aug 2020
Posts: 920
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:18 pm Reply with quote
Panino Manino wrote:
There's something very wrong with the people who work there.

Considering how a lot of its workers were murdered in 2019 I find this sentence in particular to be rather tasteless.
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fathomlessblue



Joined: 28 Mar 2012
Posts: 356
Location: Manchester, UK
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:28 pm Reply with quote
The Shuuichi hate genuinely baffles me, given that he’s arguably the biggest victim in the entire series. He’s just a slightly boring dude with a crush that the narrative decided to do dirty the entire way through.

First you have season one, where Kumiko’s main reaction to him is either “urgh/geh” or just completely not recognizing his existence, with season two being barely an improvement (there’s a few scenes where Kumiko grumbles about her troubles to him in passing). Then we go from 26 episodes covering an entire year to a single movie covering the next, where his confession is dropped in the cold open, almost like a joke. Now suddenly we’re expected to believe Kumiko also shares feelings towards him, despite every bit of textual & visual imagery exclusively focusing on her intense, almost visceral fixations towards Reina & Asuka.

The poor guy has basically been forced into a romance subplot, despite every piece of information the show presents us depicting something else entire. Like, even now in his supposedly higher role as vice-president, he barely has a shot in the OP & nothing in the ED. The kid’s been royally screwed over by the narrative he exists within.

From what I understand the original book also presents Kumiko's fascination & pining towards some of her peers as pretty intimate, but as you’ve said, Kyoani’s direction under Yamada takes it to a whole other level. It’s hardly the first time she’s done this, with A Silent Voice & Heike Story also spinning the narrative in favour of her particular fixations, to the detriment of the original text (well, mostly with Voice), & when it’s done this aggressively it actively undermines parts of the original text, while over-emphasising others. So now the new staff are effectively left having to continue legacy content that has reframed & muddled up all the central character relationships.

Personally my head cannon is that Kumiko is absolutely gay (still not convinced about Reina tbh), but is trapped within the narrative, like a marionette being puppeted by invisible strings, to believe she isn’t. So after the show ends she & Shuuichi will date for like 6 months before the realisation hits her like a bolt of lightning. Then she’ll go on to find true happiness, while Shuuichi will throw a dried dog turd at Yamada’s front door for wasting everyone’s time. The end.


Last edited by fathomlessblue on Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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rfletcher



Joined: 20 May 2013
Posts: 28
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:37 pm Reply with quote
catterbu wrote:
Generally a thoughtful article, though I do think I does miss a little bit in one aspect. The Class S genre has a long history of doing everything but confirming yuri couples, then suggesting that they will "outgrow" their yuri phase and move onto a more "proper" life with a man.


And catterbu nails it. Having intense queer subtext (and even text) only to have things end in nice, convenient hetero pairings just reinforces the harmful Class S stereotype that queerness is a dalliance of youth, to be grown out of.

Just a phase, am I right?

Normally TWiA is one of my favorite features on this site, so I don't mind saying that this particular edition felt rather condescending, leaving an aftertaste of: "You should be happy for what you get, plebes."

I am disappoint. I guess they can't all be gems.
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strawberry-kun



Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 301
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:50 pm Reply with quote
I keep hearing about how good this show is, and I love KyoAni. However, the queerbaiting just makes me not interested in the show sadly. I read and watch a ton of yuri anime and manga, but I am not a fan of the whole Class S thing for reasons already stated here. It’s a harmful trope.

Last edited by strawberry-kun on Tue Apr 23, 2024 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Mello



Joined: 31 May 2004
Posts: 2272
Location: Online Terminal
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 3:54 pm Reply with quote
catterbu wrote:
Generally a thoughtful article, though I do think I does miss a little bit in one aspect. The Class S genre has a long history of doing everything but confirming yuri couples, then suggesting that they will "outgrow" their yuri phase and move onto a more "proper" life with a man.

That had slipped my mind when thinking about this area of conversation. What I did recall was that oftentimes (at least in American media) a creative team will deliberately pitch more overt stuff for the specific purpose of being rejected by the suits in order to get what we actually see onscreen. It would not surprise me if more explicitly overt displays of queerness are fed to the suits in a similar manner.

However, and I do recognize that I am probably not the person to be entering this discussion, I feel like too much of American society is based around people's sexual relationship to each other. Just because two people exist in a space (or even multiple spaces if you're that kind of writer) doesn't mean they are trying to get in each other's pants. Intimacy/love takes on many forms and shapes. Maybe they're queer, maybe they're friends, maybe they're stupid and haven't figured out what they are yet. Who knows?

I get wanting media that represents you in an affirming manner, especially when a lot of media still does not, but sex and gender are just two variables of the infinitely long equation that describes being a human.
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MemoBookworm



Joined: 09 Jul 2015
Posts: 12
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 5:00 pm Reply with quote
Count me in as someone who found this article to be hurtful and condescending. There's too long and ugly a history of media setting up queer pairings only to swerve into hetero romances or just killing them off for me to dismiss this stuff as fans looking for maliciousness
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malvarez1



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 1785
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 5:20 pm Reply with quote
Like someone else mentioned, there are actual yuri shows. I don’t see why people who want to watch those shows would even bother with series like Euphonium at this point.
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
Posts: 748
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 5:44 pm Reply with quote
Saeryen wrote:
Panino Manino wrote:
There's something very wrong with the people who work there.

Considering how a lot of its workers were murdered in 2019 I find this sentence in particular to be rather tasteless.


I'm crying about for years, long before the crime.

fathomlessblue wrote:
The Shuuichi hate genuinely baffles me, given that he’s arguably the biggest victim in the entire series. He’s just a slightly boring dude with a crush that the narrative decided to do dirty the entire way through.

First you have season one, where Kumiko’s main reaction to him is either “urgh/geh” or just completely not recognizing his existence, with season two being barely an improvement (there’s a few scenes where Kumiko grumbles about her troubles to him in passing). Then we go from 26 episodes covering an entire year to a single movie covering the next, where his confession is dropped in the cold open, almost like a joke. Now suddenly we’re expected to believe Kumiko also shares feelings towards him, despite every bit of textual & visual imagery exclusively focusing on her intense, almost visceral fixations towards Reina & Asuka.

The poor guy has basically been forced into a romance subplot, despite every piece of information the show presents us depicting something else entire. Like, even now in his supposedly higher role as vice-president, he barely has a shot in the OP & nothing in the ED. The kid’s been royally screwed over by the narrative he exists within.

From what I understand the original book also presents Kumiko's fascination & pining towards some of her peers as pretty intimate, but as you’ve said, Kyoani’s direction under Yamada takes it to a whole other level. It’s hardly the first time she’s done this, with A Silent Voice & Heike Story also spinning the narrative in favour of her particular fixations, to the detriment of the original text (well, mostly with Voice), & when it’s done this aggressively it actively undermines parts of the original text, while over-emphasising others. So now the new staff are effectively left having to continue legacy content that has reframed & muddled up all the central character relationships.

Personally my head cannon is that Kumiko is absolutely gay (still not convinced about Reina tbh), but is trapped within the narrative, like a marionette being puppeted by invisible strings, to believe she isn’t. So after the show ends she & Shuuichi will date for like 6 months before the realisation hits her like a bolt of lightning. Then she’ll go on to find true happiness, while Shuuichi will throw a dried dog turd at Yamada’s front door for wasting everyone’s time. The end.


The solution, at least to me, seems very simple, just erase this relationship.
I really can't understand why they didn't do this. The Movie and OVA ended with the two apart after breaking up. They had agreed they didn't had time anyway for a relationship and would talk it out one last time before this third year started.
But what KyoAni did? They did both! They're both going out but at the same time they don't because they don't have scenes together, Shuuichi at this point has more scenes with Reina about his relationship with Kumiko than with Kumiko herself!
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ScruffyKiwi



Joined: 25 Oct 2010
Posts: 685
Location: New Zealand
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 6:13 pm Reply with quote
malvarez1 wrote:
Like someone else mentioned, there are actual yuri shows. I don’t see why people who want to watch those shows would even bother with series like Euphonium at this point.


I like yuri shows and I like Sound Euphonium because I love brass/silver bands. Unlike Liz and the Blue Bird it’s also not really a romance.

I’ve always interpreted the feelings of Kumiko towards Reina as intially romantic, peaking around when the two watch the fireworks together in season 1. After that Kumiko slowly ‘falls out’ of love although Kumiko probably isn’t aware as she lives in a very heteronormative environment.
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