I know this will sound odd in retrospect, but considering a lot of my appreciation of Sound! Euphonium came in retrospect anyway, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to state this here; I didn’t truly appreciate Eupho until it featured a tasteful lesbian romance. Usually that’s the last thing a show like this would need, as it’d end up getting played as comic relief or ditsy side character nonsense, but Eupho is a KyoAni drama, and if there’s one thing KyoAni dramas excel at, it’s…
…well, no, never mind, KyoAni dramas excel at pretty much everything.
Though despite Kumiko literally saying the phrase “this is a confession of love,” the relationship between her and Reina wasn’t even fully confirmed as canon by outside sources. Which is strange, considering how emotionally-charged scenes like this and this are. Yeah, yeah, in the original material Kumiko had a crush on Tsukamoto or something or other, whatever. I don’t ship often. Maybe like .01% of the time with any fictional thing ever, but it was hard not to cheer this one on, even if ultimately the show’s purpose wasn’t romantic (or to provide me with GY!BE puns).
Maybe that first clip, from episode eight, was really just the first time I realized Eupho could wow me on a production front, but Kyoto Animation is no stranger to beautiful scenery, gorgeous character designs, and acute attention to detail, so that shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s still amazing how much I feel like visual excellence can back up a romance that as far as the show’s adapters want to admit, is only subtextual. But subtext can be pushed into the undeniable forefront with precise direction, and Eupho’s direction in all aspects – sound, art, dialogue, etc. – is all wonderful. With some of the series’ most compelling scenes featuring Reina and Kumiko in a setting that couldn’t be described as anything but tastefully intimate, it’s almost easy to forget how well-rounded and fantastically-produced Euphonium was in all other contexts. But make no mistake, the band’s performances were incredible (or intentionally not so, which is just as impressive), the drama was earned and controlled, and the comedy never felt too off-putting to break the mood. Kyoto Animation’s mostly been cranking out acceptable passes since 2012, but Euphonium is an Anime of the Year contender and represents the studio’s strongest return to form since Hyouka, without a doubt.
Even if- no, partially because it has tasteful lesbian romance. Come at me.