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[Rewatch][Spoilers] Hibike! Euphonium Episode 8 Discussion Thread(r/anime)
“This must be how it feels to fall victim to a siren, drawn to something of beauty, despite your fears. I was about to be completely pulled in. At that moment, I felt like becoming her victim wouldn’t be that bad.”
We’ve arrived, at long last, to the episode that launched a thousand ships. Well, really just the one ship, but with the force of one thousand. Prior to the airing of this episode, there may have been occasional good-humored shipping of Kumiko with Reina, but I think most viewers assumed the show would follow the predictable route of having her slowly fall for Shuuichi. Oh how things changed in the span of twenty-three minutes. In the aftermath of the show, there has been a lot of discussions, arguments, jokes, and memes about whether Kumiko and Reina’s relationship is romantic, or just so-called “yuri baiting,” and I think it’s unfortunate because it takes attention away from the rest of the show’s major accomplishments and themes. So all I’ll say on the subject is this: There are certainly different ways to interpret the scene, especially in light of revelations yet to come. One could see Reina’s display as an act of someone who isn’t used to having close friends and a poor understanding of social interactions. Or it could all be good-natured joking – Reina has certainly demonstrated that she isn’t without a sense of humor. But when I look at Kumiko’s perspective, at her inner thoughts and outward emotions, I think her feelings in the moment, no matter what may come, are perfectly clear.
This might be my single favorite episode of any anime ever. I’ve watched the second half countless times, and I still can’t get through the credits without tearing up. Everything, from beginning to end, just clicks so well. From the very start, we have the love triangle teased with playful self-awareness, via the title and Kumiko’s fantasies. We have a return to the light-hearted tone with Hazuki and Midori’s antics, and Kumiko’s accidental invitation to Reina. The festival scenes are breathtakingly beautiful, seeing characters in their yukatas and casual dress amidst the colorful backdrop. The tone of the episode shifts as Hazuki makes her confession to Shuuichi, with her displaying strength and resolve despite the crushing weight of sorrow she must feel. And of course, everything culminates with Reina bearing her soul to Kumiko while overlooking the festivities below. As Kumiko and Reina’s beautiful song echoes through the night, we watch stories wordlessly unfold, tales of love and sadness told through the universal language of music. But in the end, life must go on. With each new dawn will come new struggles and heartbreak, but also the hope of bright futures yet to come.
I may have gone overboard with the screenshots this time…
Character of the day: Shuuichi Tsukamoto is a first-year student and Kumiko’s childhood friend. He played french horn in middle school, but switched to trombone at Kitauji. He’s been mostly ignored by Kumiko since a quarrel in middle school, but has recently begun making an effort to become closer to her.
People really love to hate on Shuuichi, and I can’t say it isn’t without good reason. Kumikousaka fans don’t want him threatening the sacred yuri, not to mention his rejection of Hazuki’s affection in this episode. Now I’m hardly a Shuuichi apologist, but I just can’t bring myself to hate the guy. He’s a nice guy who deserves more credit. Yes, he has a crush on Kumiko, but he really has no idea what’s going on in her head. He continues to be supportive of her, even though she tends to act cold towards him. And you won’t find a bigger Hazuki supporter than me, but I can’t fault Shuuichi for rejecting her, either. It was a one-sided crush from the start, and if anything, one should respect the fact that he was direct with her and didn’t lead her on. And for Hazuki’s part, she deserves better than him anyway. I think under almost any other circumstances, Shuuichi would be a lot more popular – he just has the misfortune of being caught in the wrong love triangle.
Shuuichi is voiced by Haruki Ishiya. One of the least experienced members of the cast, Haruki has only had a handful of minor supporting roles outside of Hibike.