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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Sound! Euphonium Season 3

How would you rate episode 1 of
Sound! Euphonium 3 (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.6

What is this?


If there's one constant about concert band, it's this: the drama never stops. Now beginning her third and final year at Kitauji High School, Kumiko Ōmae juggles her responsibilities as a euphonium player, band president, and senior preparing for the next chapter of her life. Her most immediate concern is recruiting new members to fill in the spaces left behind by last year's graduating class. Her long-term goal, however, is far loftier. After their crushing defeat at the regional competition last year, Kumiko is finally on the same page as Reina—she wants to go to the nationals and take home the gold. But this is their final chance to do so, and will the fresh faces in the band have what it takes to get them there?

Sound! Euphonium Season 3 is based on a light novel series written by Ayano Takeda and illustrated by Nikki Asada. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Sundays.

How was the first episode?

Steve Jones

It's hard to believe over seven years have passed since Sound! Euphonium last graced our television sets. The franchise, however, has been anything but dormant since then. If you're wondering why Kumiko is suddenly in her third year of high school, that's because a suite of theatrical releases covered her second year. The most relevant of these is Our Promise: A Brand New Day, but I'd be remiss not to enthusiastically recommend the spinoff Liz and the Blue Bird. Finally, the theatrical OVA Ensemble Contest Arc bridges the rest of the gap, but that, unfortunately, hasn't been licensed for streaming yet.

If you're not caught up, I wouldn't fret too much about diving into this third season. While Sound! Euphonium's plot is a part of its appeal, that's not where its true power lies. Kyoto Animation's cinematic presentation of quotidian teenage band drama has always been the anime adaptation's weapon of choice, and this third-season premiere brandishes an edge that feels as sharp as ever. The instruments look gorgeous. The editing is superb. The body language is flush with weight and character. Each individual's personality comes paired with deafening nonverbal cues, while the music at the story's core dictates the rhythm of their day-to-day activities. It's a tremendous feat of animation that comes across with a seemingly effortless grace. The halls of Kitauji are bursting with life, and despite the long gap between seasons, I feel like we never left them.

Naturally, though, things are a bit different. On the production side behind the curtain, Naoko Yamada has since moved on to other things. Taichi Ogawa has taken over the assistant director role (with Tatsuya Ishihara continuing to act as chief director). There's plenty of visual and stylistic continuity (i.e., lots of legs in the frame), but Ogawa certainly brings his distinct flair. It's a welcome flair, too, because he both storyboards and directs this episode, and it's easily the most accomplished premiere I've seen this season.

On the narrative side, this new chapter extracts much fun from Kumiko's new role as president. She's come a long way—it's impossible to imagine first-year Kumiko taking up these reins—but she still exhibits plenty of the nervousness and acidity that define her character. Second-year Kanade echoes many of Kumiko's personality quirks, which is why they butt heads so much, but Reina remains the queen of peeling back Kumiko's shell. Overall, the episode puts a lot of work into reminding us who these characters are, what they're like, and how they interact. It's a full episode, yet it never feels overstuffed.

I could go on. Sound! Euphonium has been a favorite series of mine since its debut. But as far as this preview guide is concerned, my main point would be that Eupho is back and just as lovely as ever. Fans of the first two seasons owe it to themselves to hop back in. And seriously, if you haven't done so yet, check out those movies, especially Liz and the Blue Bird. It's kino about oboe.

Christopher Farris

After two seasons, a spinoff movie, a direct sequel movie, and an OVA, Sound! Euphonium feels like it has built itself into a grand, orchestrated piece. Over nearly ten years(!), the audience has watched Kumiko grow into her role in the high school band, now as its president and entering her third year, managing its instrumental recruits and their dreams. Seeing Kumiko lead the now-traditional declaration of voting to work hard and go for gold at the nationals is a satisfying note for long-time fans by the end of this episode.

Getting there ostensibly means that much of this season premiere is a structural setup. But it's a very sound setup, thanks in no small part to Kyoto Animation's second-to-none grasp on atmosphere and character minutiae. Even as the new school year is piling even more characters onto what was already The Legend of the Galactic Heroes of school club anime in terms of cast size, the recruits distinguish themselves with their introductory eccentricities. All the returning characters aren't going to be pushed out anytime soon, either. Kanade's still the conniving little shit-stirrer I loved in the movie. I also appreciate the consistent chemistry between Kumiko and Reina, the lead partners in crime. It's hilarious that each time they get razzed about the guys they're crushing on, their response is to flirt with each other even harder.

That introductory atmosphere eases the audience back in, but Sound! Euphonium has never been lighthearted. The series is already as committed to its playing-for-keeps tone as the band members are to getting that gold. The series has already communicated in previous seasons that the third-years are running out of time to prove themselves with a win. Now that that deadline is bearing down on Kumiko, it truly feels looming. Sound! Euphonium is a competitive club anime about the band, but it is also about high school and coming of age overall. These fresh faces contribute to the realness of watching Kumiko's growth alongside her.

The final stinger, with the mysterious new euphonium player in particular, lingers with tantalizing questions. Beyond this episode being an introductory welcome back, it plays in concert to make all those previous seasons and movies feel like the prelude—like it's all been building to this grand finale that's now so dramatically kicked off.

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