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Sound! Euphonium 3
Episode 7

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Sound! Euphonium 3 (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.3

se3071

Some pretty monumental happenings occur in this week's episode of Sound! Euphonium. Yuko and Natsuki return for a guest appearance! Kumiko and Reina wear matching swimsuits! Truly a veritable spectacle of story content. Okay, the episode also confirms that the Kitauji band took gold in their competition and will be going on to the Kansai contest but that was such a foregone conclusion that it skipped over showing the actual performance of the music in this music anime. That is rather appropriate since this episode is about the liminal distraction the high school band club is from students' futures. Kumiko still allows it to occupy her time—even the summer break afforded here is spent with her organizing bass section get-togethers as she tries (and fails) to have a single proper conversation with Kuroe.

The thing is, progress is continuing to be made by Kumiko on both the emotional outreach and future-planning fronts. She's amusingly galled to hear that Kanade, her junior, is more on top of post-high-school plans than she is. Of course, knowing Kanade, half the reason she made those efforts was specifically to screw with Kumiko. Kumiko also goes along with Hazuki to a college fair, where the subject of teaching as a career possibility is broached. As Hazuki points out, sometimes you just need someone else to ask if you're interested in something before you realize you actually are. Kumiko as a music teacher seems like an obvious avenue now, especially as she's come into her own as the club's president. But it wouldn't have occurred as an option if not for this innocuous breaktime indulgence.

The return of Yuko and Natsuki feeds into this assessment of the future. They're reminders of the inevitability of growing up. They are also adorably married, wearing matching hair clips and sniping at each other for doing so. It's their love language. As well, I love Natsuki being able to effortlessly rebuke Kanade's bullshit—she knows that type exactly. As much as Sound! Euphonium has always been a glamorization of the high school phase of life, appearances like this, and Asuka at the end of the movie, serve to reinforce that the future and adults are still involved with it. Senpai is furthering their education, yes, but they can still make time to drop in and provide some perspective.

Kumiko's been racking up perspective in everything she's dealing with. The break means it's also the right time for her sister Mamiko to pop in for a visit. The issues brought on by Mamiko's college drop-out/career switch are acknowledged as adding another layer to Kumiko's stress over choosing her career path. No wonder she'd rather focus on managing the band as much as possible. No one's decisions are made in a vacuum—Mamiko is a microcosm of that but this idea is also seen in the pool trip planned around this episode.

It starts with Reina insistently wanting to go out with Kumiko to show off the matching swimsuits they picked out together (Adorable!) and then intersects with Kumiko hoping to get that conversation with Kuroe—which necessitates it growing to involve inviting all the girls from the bass section. The whole group winds up inadvertently involved due to the competing affections and desires of just a few people.

That unavoidable influence helps to illustrate how Kuroe's desire to not cause trouble for others is fundamentally incompatible with the effort required of the band. The performance of "Liz and the Blue Bird" from…Liz and the Blue Bird is invoked here, a reminder that a player can't be truly great unless they are playing for something they love. This was the awakening that allowed Kumiko to pursue betterment and Kuroe's self-enforced lack of passion naturally reminds Kumiko of her similar middle-school self. There but for the grace of God, and all that, with the extra layer of irony being that Kumiko knows exactly how much that attitude can hurt people even if you're specifically adopting it to avoid hurt. That intersects with Kumiko's still-ongoing issues with her fear of being personally known: only once you can love can you then be loved.

It isn't the open conversation Kumiko hoped to have with Kuroe, but it gets close, at least as far as communicating things to the audience. The direction drives the idea home in Sound! Euphonium's usual un-subtle way, isolating Kumiko and Kuroe from each other in camera cuts even as they're sitting right next to one another. It's the opposite of the intimate understanding communicated by Kumiko and Reina's swimsuits.

Kumiko's efforts are well-intentioned, but her attempt to include Kuroe in being photographed with the group where she'd previously stood off could only have backfired in this askew way. Kuroe only feels more assured that she's not meant to fit in with the Kitauji crew, so what does that mean for how she's going to play to win in the auditions? Sometimes you just need someone else to ask if you're interested in something before you realize you actually are. Haruka Tomatsu delivers her line about understanding she has to do what's best for the band as such a threat and I love it. This episode was about keeping an eye on all elements of the future, from the inevitable career choices the students will eventually settle on, to the ominous storm on the immediate horizon after this calm summer break.

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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