The Euphoric Sound of Ambition and Expectations
I recently saw what could be the best representation of what it feels like to be insanely ambitious in arguably the best movie of last year, Whiplash. It centered around two very heavily egocentric but determined individuals both seeking to find and become the best musicians the world has ever known, a simple task no? Whiplash worked because it showed the dirty side of this selfish lust, it was both inspiring and kind of scary to see the lengths that these individuals would go to achieve their goals.
A similar piece of entertainment which should be more familiar to you guys would be Chihayafuru. Ive written about Chihayafuru before briefly, its basically an intense sports anime that wraps itself in the facade of a josei drama. It is extremely intense and quite frankly awe inspiring to see what the characters in the show have to go through to get to where they are.
So, what do both of these media have in common? Intensity, hard work, ambition. Hibike! Euphonium… does not, not enough of it not for now atleast and I’ll tell you why that’s discouraging.
At first glance Hibike! Euphonium, the new show from Kyoto Animation can very easily be labeled as a K-on! clone. They do share the same motifs, 4 girls in a band, lots of leg shots, high school etc. But this show has a different feel to it. For one thing, the main cast of characters actually have a sense of urgency and ambition about what they want to achieve. The show doesn’t quite feel like a comedy sitcom and more like a slow paced drama more akin to Hyouka which was the last good KyoAni show I thoroughly enjoyed.
Hibike! Euphonium looks great, its got amazing animation something we have come to expect from KyoAni over the years but thats not enough to make the show great this time. Neither is the “cute girls doing nothing but having fun” thing, not for the cast of characters or pacing they have chosen for this show. Which unfortunately is what most of the first episode was. Im certainly a fan of those shows but I cant help but feel that KyoAni have an opportunity here to make something just as good or better than Whiplash or Chihayafuru. Hibike Euphonium sets itself up as a sports anime, Saphire, Reina and Kumiko all have experience with bands and competitions and the protagonist seems to come from a family with a deep culture in brass. Reina has high expectations of herself and the band, she wants nothing but the gold, the best.
These scenarios are the perfect setup for an epic sports anime, marry that with the talent that Naoko Yamada has for creating a sense of camaraderie and friendship and you have a recipe for a one of a kind unique experience. Maybe I’m being selfish, maybe my expectations are too high, maybe I’m looking for something from the wrong show or maybe KyoAni just aren’t as ambitious.