Hibike! Euphonium 13 is a solid finale, where everything is focused on the contest, and the little dramas percolate underneath.
And it was often excruciating. The first half was Kumiko getting up and ready, meeting at the school, loading the instruments, taking the bus to the theatre, every mundane thing the band has to do before they get to perform. During this, little affirmations are made between friends and rivals, but there is no crisis, no bad vibes; everyone’s on the same page. And when they’re there, and finished tuning, there’s the waiting, oh, the waiting. We’ve all been in a situation like this, where you have to do something important and not fuck up, but you can’t do it yet because it’s not your turn, and there’s nothing else you can do but cook in your own nervous juices. I can’t remember being as nervous for an upcoming scene in an anime show.
And then they perform. Apart from a couple voice-overs from Kumiko, and a couple breathless comments from girls backstage, all we hear is the music. We get little shots of this character and that as something that features them is played. I thought Reina’s solo was a little sharp, actually, but no one reacted. As for the dreaded euph part, I didn’t even notice it, even though it was set up by Natsuki backstage, and there was a quick glance between Kumiko and Asuka. And then it’s over.
And they wait for results, and then celebrate. What I liked here is that by now it didn’t really matter where they finished. They might have just missed moving on to nationals, that would have been fine with me. Like the best competition anime, the important thing is that they’ve grown, both as individuals and as an ensemble. Which might make it odd for me to say that I’m surprised the series is ending here, with both goals accomplished, but it’s not because I want to know how they’ll place in nationals, but because many of the characters are so well-drawn that I want to see more of them. I’m guessing there will be a sequel, anyway. Well, chalk up another great, if more subdued show by KyoAni.