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Sound! Euphonium 3
Episode 10

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Sound! Euphonium 3 (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.6

se3101
I already marked out enough when Yuko and Natsuki returned to Sound! Euphonium back in the seventh episode. So now that Asuka's back this week I'm just going to be insufferable—and I am not going to apologize for it. That's on-brand for this episode anyway since Kumiko's visit with her old senpai is all about reinforcing her drive to move forward, confidently sticking to the decisions she made. She'll say she's sorry for the apprehensive way they initially approached the auditions but she knows she wasn't wrong for taking that approach to begin with. Just like I know I'm not wrong for clapping like a trained seal when Asuka appears on-screen.

Talking to Asuka turns out to be something of a "break glass in case of emergency" option that Kumiko needs. The current atmosphere of the band is absolutely wretched. Kumiko's initial attempt to confront Taki about working out the whys and wherefores of his choice that contributed to that situation fizzled out due to the lack of decisiveness she's still struggling with by this point. She isn't able to ask him for a solid answer on why Kuroe was chosen over her, then just to rub things in, Taki sees her off by handing her a piece of candy—the power imbalance and environmental maturity motivating this situation could not be more reinforced.

Worse, after the events of last week's episode, the executives can't even get in tune with each other to try to wrangle the work ethic of the club. Reina seems to be trying to pretend that her spat with Kumiko didn't happen and she and Shuichi are actively sniping at each other in full earshot of the band. Between that and the draining faith in Taki, it all demonstrates just how fatal failure of leadership in this situation can be. Kyoto Animation, as they always have, communicates that chaos with animated aplomb. The camera shifts focus and zooms in on Kuroe at calculated moments of accusation. It swerves around the arguing executives to make the halls and rooms of the school feel constraining and discordant.

The interactions are a series of peaks and valleys, showing that the strained relationships between the characters of Euphonium need not be defined by unilateral downer drama. Kumiko and Reina actually attempt to talk to each other and work out the rift between them caused by their reactions to Taki's decision. It confirms that they are still friends, regardless, wanting what's best for their relationship and the band's ability overall. But they just can't get on the same level, bluntly but brilliantly communicated by their shifting standing heights as they argue with each other.

And so, Kumiko needs to go to someone for outside help. It's honestly riveting to see her weigh the option of seeking out Asuka over the course of the episode, turning the postcard over and wondering how much this might constitute her failure to govern the band on her own. The irony then is that just reaching that decision sets Kumiko's path before she even has her conversation with Asuka—she just needs to be able to make a choice instead of wavering without committing.

Asuka's appearance is still essential to this episode and this arc of Euphonium overall, and I'm not just saying that because she's an all-time Best Girl. To be sure, there is still that. She makes the most of her walk-on scene here, riffing on so many of the expectations viewers themselves would have about a Kumiko/Reina rift, while not so much offering "advice" to Kumiko as reiterating what she already knew about herself. The artists at KyoAni are clearly having a blast just getting to play with her in scenes again. I could watch Asuka gesticulate with an Oreo while playfully roasting Kumiko all day. No wonder Kaori hooked up with her.

It's great because it also acts as a signifier of that forward progress this season of Sound! Euphonium has been so unsubtle about. Asuka has visibly changed, freed up from her self-imposed impersonalness in the club to simply be blunt about how selfish Kumiko should act in it—or how wrong she thinks she was in her callout in Season 2. As I said, it's less about the content of Asuka's advice and more about the simple act of hearing it that lets Kumiko come to her conclusion. She does this by dramatically running and monologuing about how sure she is now that she wants to do something. We are so back.

Sure, I could criticize this episode for skipping over another climactic competition performance. But I get the feeling they're saving that component of the show for the big finish of the season and Kumiko's decisive speech right before it is arguably the more compelling crescendo for this story to reach. It's important in how it demonstrates that she's not shunting blame onto Taki or trying to split it amongst the executive leadership. She's going to be frank with the band about what she thinks the band should be, and like Asuka, she's not going to apologize for it. Reaching that conclusion through the exquisite art of this episode, and bringing back one of my favorite characters as part of it, pretty much makes this a perfect entry for me.

Rating:

Sound! Euphonium 3 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris was in drama rather than band in high school, but he presumes the dynamics were similar. You can catch what he's conducting over on Twitter, or push your way into the orchestra pit that is his blog.


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