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Sound! Euphonium 3
Episode 6

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Sound! Euphonium 3 (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.2

se3061
In case you hadn't clocked that the auditions were going to cause contention within the band, Sound! Euphonium will happily remind you at least dozen times in this week's episode. They've always been a key element of conflict in this series but it feels like the third season has been hammering on them. Kuroe repeats her issues with the process—which itself is a reiteration of the broader worries about supplanting established band members with new ones. We're shown a few new angles in regards to the situation—mostly thanks to Kanade's shit-stirring tendencies and her honestly good point about how presumptuous Kuroe is about her chances—but for the most part, it feels like a recap of the previous five weeks.

The first half of this episode reiterates a lot of points. Last week, Kuroe's outsider status was demonstrated with her taking photos of the rest of the club while not being in them herself. This week, the episode just outs and textually details that aspect for audience members who haven't figured it out yet. In another example, Kumiko runs into Azusa so they can circle back to the subject of post-graduation plans and the possibility of going to music school again. I appreciate Sound! Euphonium's bluntness regarding its ideas, but bluntness typically also implies brevity. All the rounding reiteration in this episode just drives me dangerously close to shouting "Yeah, I get it already!" at the show.

Thankfully, the anime does know when to stop teasing things and get on with it. The auditions arrive and the fallout is…not quite as extreme as might have been foreshadowed—still, there's plenty of time for things to go south. Either way, it's the shot of storytelling juice the episode needed. The narrative tension up to the moment of Kuroe's audition, as both Kumiko and the audience question if she might throw it the way Kanade did in the movie—and how the President might react in that situation with her spot on the line—that's good stuff. And following that, it's pretty awesome to see how, after months of hemming and hawing, Kumiko has arrived at simply being motivated to do even better by this whole emotional ordeal she opted to put both herself and the band through.

Even if Kumiko gets into the performance just fine in this round, her place as President still necessitates her navigating the other members' resultant issues. As with Sally back in the third episode, Kumiko welcomes the likes of Micchan by directly talking to her about her feelings. Communication continues to be essential to keeping this group playing in harmony. That highlights the extreme irony in Kumiko herself not opening up, especially about Kuroe. For all her carefully managed niceties, Kuroe continues to come off as a calculated menace with the way she visually intrudes on Kumiko's euphonium practice zone. Kumiko's reactions have been key to portraying Kuroe as such a threat, with the way our lead recoils or instinctively obfuscates the truth about Asuka's euphonium piece. Invoking Asuka in this instance also deepens those complexities; Kumiko is practicing her version of her past upperclassman's habit of keeping people at arm's length as she directly states her fear of the mortifying ordeal of being known.

That sits alongside all that staid reiteration from the first half of this episode to demonstrate all the room for growth that Kumiko still has in her story. It creates an interesting, inherent conflict in the way she needs to, as President, consider what's best for the band and their success as a whole—contrasted with her desire for personal betterment and victory. That's compounded by Taki's insistence that he's not the one "taking the band to Nationals"—but believes they are going to get there with their abilities. These auditions are needed to bring the best performers together for the show but they result in hurt feelings and discordance which can affect the band's collective ability—that's the catch-22. And I hope that Sound! Euphonium can find more thoughtful ways of actually advancing that narrative as it did in this episode's second half, instead of just reiterating the same points it's made since its first season.

Aside from all that though, do you want some real long-term payoff in the storytelling? Hazuki finally passed an audition! Look how delighted she is celebrating with Sapphire. I couldn't be happier for her. I was just going to throw this in as a funny little aside coda, but actually, it effectively counters the tension raised by the other results of the auditions. Even among all this competitive consternation, moments of joy like this can still be found in doing an activity you love, with peers who care about you. Perhaps that foreshadows how Kumiko's simmering competitiveness within the euphonium section can ultimately be resolved with her role as a leader.

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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