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


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poisondusk



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Brighton, UK
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 6:18 pm Reply with quote
I don't think queerbaiting has ever needed to be malicious to 'count'. It's clear from the term's history in relation to western TV shows and interactions between creators/actors and fans during convention panels, interview comments etc that it's often more about staff enjoying teasing fans without realising that some of those fans are queer, starved of representation, and are emotionally invested beyond the level of someone who is just enjoying a bit of fanservice.

Certainly there are corners of fandom who misuse the term, using it to criticise explicitly queer characters and relationships because they didn't go 'far enough' with depicting physical intimacy according to the arbitrary standards of individual fans (Yuri on Ice got a lot of this). But it is still a thing that happens.

I think with Sound Euphonium, the blame lies squarely with those who made/permitted the creative decision to push the dynamic between Reina and Kumiko so far when they canonically have romantic feelings for men in the source material. It's not like Free or Sk8 where the source material is distant or non existent. Maybe they'll leave the ending more ambiguous in the end, but it just made things messy and the actual canon romance fall flat. It's especially understandable that the English-speaking fandom generated so much discourse because the vast majority came into it with no access to or knowledge of the novels. The 'bait' scenes are absolutely not the same as standard girl-on-girl boob-grabbing fanservice scenes, there is a clear chemistry to them that resonated with a lot of queer fans. They may look/feel the same to, say, a straight guy who is just enjoying the cute girls interacting, but as a bi guy watching that one scene in the first season, it definitely hit different.

And also on the bi topic, I am tired of people using 'but bi people can be in straight relationships too' to excuse this stuff because discourse around bi people with a straight partner is only an issue within queer communities and not relevant to mainstream fictional rep, where there's a long history of bi women being placed in 'acceptable' relationships with men in the end. It's absolutely fine and not biphobic/erasure to be frustrated when characters with good queer chemistry and fanservice suddenly end up in het relationships.
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Saeryen



Joined: 26 Aug 2020
Posts: 940
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 6:37 pm Reply with quote
Panino Manino wrote:
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.

I still think a vague statement like this implying personal attacks on the workers is crossing a line. Especially if you say “for years,” that implies you included people who died in that statement, which is a really horrible thing to say.
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#Droneku



Joined: 28 May 2022
Posts: 32
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 6:46 pm Reply with quote
“Yo, That's cool, I'm really happy for you. I'mma let you finish, but EUPHONIUM IS THE BIGGEST QUEERBAITING ANIME OF ALL TIME!"
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
Posts: 2401
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 7:04 pm Reply with quote
As a lesbian who is starving for proper representation and finds Euphonium to be stray off that mark big time, I feel like there's a huge difference between criticism and toxicity, and I have just seen so much toxicity around this topic in particular, including shaming people for enjoying the queer scenes or even going after other queer people who aren't bothered by the bait-and-switch and express their own personal feelings to that end. I see this collumn as the latter, and while I don't agree with either viewpoint (like, at all), I don't really feel the need to call it out as though both authors are ignorant or perpetuating problematic issues themselves.

While I think all criticism mentioned is warranted against the show (S-Class trope in particular gets frustrating really fast), and I think discussing it in the comments is a great way to further the conversation, I do think the better approach is less to send the entire internet's wrath on the showrunners, and more to seek out and promote shows with better representation. I've seen enough of hollywood acting like it's trying to "appease" angry queer people and meet queer representation quotas. Make good queer shows and movies so we can praise them. I sincerely hope the popularity and love for positive steps like Yuri on Ice and G-Witch open the way to encourage more anime to go down that road and innovate.

All this said, I've been able to enjoy Euphonium regardless, criticism intact. It is a beautiful show with beautiful directing, all things considered, and I think that's why people are so frustrated with its missteps.
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Nekbone



Joined: 28 Dec 2023
Posts: 28
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 7:07 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.


If I had to guess I would say because most of those actual yuri shows are not that popular while Sound Euphonium is. So getting to claim a popular show as one of your own means more to people. And I would further say part of the reason shows like Sound Euphorium are so popular is because it's not a romance series. The second you committ your show to being a romance show, let alone a yuri or BL show, you severely limit it's broad appeal to the average viewer compared to a music show, an ice-skating show, or a Gundam show. It's why people don't show up for actual BL and yuri anime like they do Sound Euphorium or G-Witch or Yuri on Ice. There's plenty of anime out there if people want to see boys and girls kissing but they're always going to be niche compared to more mainstream shows that people will have shipping wars over and be seen by more people.
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Wasureta



Joined: 21 Dec 2015
Posts: 53
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 9:23 pm Reply with quote
You can find yuri in any anime if you look hard enough. The little side glance will trigger it. This feature article is just dumb.
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Raebo101



Joined: 17 Mar 2010
Posts: 806
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 9:25 pm Reply with quote
I feel so bad for Shuuichi, because like... why is he here? The showrunners clearly don't care about him, so he's only really there because he was there in the original text. Kumiko shares these incredibly intimate scenes with Reina, but suddenly, we're supposed to buy that Kumiko DOES have feelings for Shuu? HUH? WHAT?? If that's true, we could've, maybe, SEEN some of that depicted in the show, but Kumiko and Shuuichi's relationship ain't gonna bring in the viewers that are here for Kumiko and Reina, so in the corner he goes! Frankly, it's maddening. The series would literally be better off without him.

Sound Euphonium has to have the gayest depiction of a non-gay relationship I've ever seen. "But Kumiko and Reina could easily be Bisexual!" NO. That is a cop-out response. Bisexuality could, and should, be depicted more in media (preferably in a non-fanservice-y kind of way). But if there were any indication that this is what the showrunners were going for, then we probably wouldn't still be having this conversation today.
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SciasSlash



Joined: 09 Jun 2015
Posts: 119
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 9:54 pm Reply with quote
I think this conversation, by being self-admittedly by people who 'haven't read the source material,' is a little missing the point. The tension between Kumiko and Reina wasn't added in the anime, it existed in the original material. If anything, the original material is more sexual - the novel's depiction of the scene on the hill in season 1 makes note of the characters touching eachother, Kumiko even makes note that she can see the outline of Reina's body through her thin summer dress. The dialogue is a little more innuendo driven.

I think there is also a lot of disservice being done to the author of the original novels. She's literally done interviews with yuri authors talking about things she likes.

I think the original novels are largely a story about shifting relationships, and things that seem intense and then move on. Reina's crush on her teacher, something that feels intense at the moment but will surely fade with time, as it's not something that will be pursued. Everyone's involvement with the band. And yes, Kumiko and Reina's relationship. They aren't in a place where they'd want to pursue a romance with each other. There is something deep and intimate between them, but they don't have the kind of foundation that'd lead to a lifelong romance. That's what the series is about.

I don't think it's some kind of unawareness of what's going on, or something that the animators forced upon the material. It's just the material.
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Vaisaga



Joined: 07 Oct 2011
Posts: 13233
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 10:24 pm Reply with quote
Nekbone wrote:
So getting to claim a popular show as one of your own means more to people.


I totally get that. But enough people can gather together and make something popular. From what I've seen there are tons of yuri fans out there, so any of these true yuri shows can make it big if fans support them. Yet traditionally true yuri shows have terrible disc sales, so much so that they don't get second seasons because if it.

So until true yuri makes it big we're going to be stuck with queerbaiting. I don't think these creators are trying to piss off the LGBTQ+ communities. They're just using what they know works.

But then again, there's stuff like the Amanchu incident.
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Piglet the Grate



Joined: 25 May 2021
Posts: 681
Location: North America
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 10:26 pm Reply with quote
I would be a lot more interested to have someone summarize what the Japanese viewers have to say about Sound! Euphonium having yuri or not, since they are of course a lot more in tune with Japanese norms of behavior than we in the Anglosphere are.

The second group we need to hear from (at least those of us who find "The Death of the Author" concept to be bunkum) are the authors of the source material and the anime scriptwriters.

No offense to the shippers, but I do not find any significant yuri in Sound! Euphonium, but rather just friendship between girls with a strong common interest.
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Kadmos1



Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 13584
Location: In Phoenix but has an 85308 ZIP
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 11:31 pm Reply with quote
Piglet the Grate wrote:
No offense to the shippers, but I do not find any significant yuri in Sound! Euphonium, but rather just friendship between girls with a strong common interest.

I don't follow the series but sometimes a shipper might take a close same-sex relationship and even different-sex relationship to each be romantic when there is the classical brotherly/sisterly love angle. I might be guilty of this from a hetero shipping stand point.
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Nev999



Joined: 05 Aug 2021
Posts: 139
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2024 11:59 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, I stopped watching Euphonium after the first season and I don't regret it, I tried to watch some if season 2 but couldnt do it.

I have to say y'all saying its all right or doesn't count doesn't mean much to me, because it's something that's going to sting much more if you're a queer woman specifically. I'm sure there were queer women that weren't frustrated by it, but for me...there's something kind of horrible about knowing two girls can literally confess love to each other onscreen, but the show will be able to backpedal and say "OH BUT THEY'RE STRAIGHT ACTUALLY THAT LOVE CONFESSION? FORGET IT". Whatever the reason for it, whether it was a disagreement with the source material, that sucks. That makes you feel the tiny swoop in your stomach that says 'ah. even if i see a love confession between girls in an anime I can't expect the studio won't just say 'oh that wasn't a gay thing' and shuffle them back to prescribed male love interests. That's how invisible we are to them".

It's not like I was shattered by it, they weren't characters I was over the moon for, it was just yet another thing that made me very cynical.

I had so little trust in Witch of Mercury because of this, it took me a long time to say "ok, this is really happening." If it's not a yuri I'm always waiting on them to jump in and take it all back. (And notably, Bandai DID still try to do that).

I think a textual confession of love being ignored and backpedaled on is a really clearcut example of the kind of thing that will make you cynical (and perhaps unwanted) as a queer fan interested in seeing those relationships, so I'm not sure why we need to prove malicious intent. I'd say most people don't do it maliciously, they just don't care or think about how it might feel. You don't have to call it queerbaiting, but you gotta look at it for what it is and acknowledge why someone might be turned off by it, or why it might make it hard to trust.

(Edit: and people on the thread saying "I didn't see yuri in it" and "some people just ship any same sex friendship" when they literally said "this is a confession of love" makes me feel like I'm insane. Stuff like this is so bizarre and why people get so upset about this stuff. if a het couple had a scene like that you all would expect them to be together but if its two girls you're suddenly confused why anyone would see them as in love, whhhyyy would anything THINK that just because they SAID they were??" Do girls have to have sex onscreen for you to think "that's gay"?)

Also I haven't seen Liz and Bluebird but according to the director she didn't intend it to be gay, so that's not a great defense for the team being pro-yuri.


Last edited by Nev999 on Wed Apr 24, 2024 12:45 am; edited 6 times in total
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Cardcaptor Takato



Joined: 27 Jan 2018
Posts: 4978
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2024 12:11 am Reply with quote
The obvious solution is Kumiko and Reina are bi.
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Nev999



Joined: 05 Aug 2021
Posts: 139
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2024 12:16 am Reply with quote
Cardcaptor Takato wrote:
The obvious solution is Kumiko and Reina are bi.


Bi people who confess love to girls but then forget about having established a romantic relationship the next day, but retain memories of their crushes on men for some reason? Idk don't think that solves the problem
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Nev999



Joined: 05 Aug 2021
Posts: 139
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2024 12:31 am 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.


Why can't we be content with two or three yuri shows come out per year? Well you run through them pretty quickly, they never last more than one season, and sometimes some of them are bad. And then maybe you like watching shows for other reasons because you have other interests, shocking, I know. I didn't go into Euphonium expecting the scenes it had, I just heard it was a beautifully animated girl band show but when it had them and then tried to pretend they never happened, it was still annoying.

Honestly, I'm fine with some good subtext. Love Falin/Marcille from Dunmeshi for instance spoiler[and am fine with them not being confirmed, especially since the manga never confirms any of the other/het relationships either, it's just uninterested in that.]. It's the backpedaling and "well they'll grow out of it" attitude pervasive in anime that gets to me.
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