Sound Euphonium: How The Band Shapes The Characters

Article at a glance:

  • Sound Euphonium excels in natural character development, with protagonists like Kumiko evolving significantly through interactions and resolving tensions.
  • Highlights include Kumiko’s transformation into a leader, Reina’s ambition and vulnerability, Asuka’s hidden struggles, Mizore and Nozomi’s reconciliation, and the friendship between Natsuki and Yuuko.
  • Sound Euphonium masterfully combines character arcs with plot progression, creating urgency and depth, enhanced by stellar animation and voice performances.

Sound Euphonium Season 3 may end up being the last season of this amazing anime series, and so I wanted to talk about just how amazing the character work in the show is before it ends. Even if Season 3 isn’t the last, I think it is well worth highlighting just how well-written the characters in this show are. And I don’t think it is a stretch to say but this anime has some of the most natural character development I have seen.

Kanade from Sound Euphonium
She didn’t make it on the article but I love her too, she’s so sassy

The show uses everything at its disposal to create tension and as the tension is resolved, the characters also grow along with it. Other than providing character growth, this approach also gives us a strong sense of plot progression. It never feels like time is slowed down in this anime. This also creates a sense of urgency to see our main characters succeed in getting that national prize before graduating from high school.

So let’s talk about the amazing characters of Sound Euphonium today! Of course, I can’t cover every character here. But I’ll cover some of my favorites.

Kumiko’s Growth into a Proper Leader

Kumiko and Reina from Sound Euphonium

When you start watching season 1, you’ll never guess that Kumiko grows up to be a good leader. She is a little timid and tends to be a little pessimistic. And yet, recent episodes of Season 3 will prove you wrong. In Season 1, she is pretty much running away from playing the euphonium. She started playing it because of her sister but her sister moved on from music and Kumiko also wanted to try a different instrument after joining high school, even though she is good with the euphonium.

But then she sees what the band is like. At first, she is unsure if she even wants to compete in the nationals. But then Reina’s influence rubs off on her. And she starts to take things a little more seriously. And then she learns from Natsuki and Asuka. Now in Season 3, she is very passionate about winning the nationals and playing the euphonium. Her speech in last week’s episode of Season 3, almost brought me to tears. She learns a little from everyone around her and in turn, she helps others grow as well.

Reina’s Ambition

Kumiko and Reina from Sound Euphonium

In stark contrast to Kumiko, Reina has always had a fixed goal: win the nationals. She has been playing trumpet forever and has a very strong desire to improve and she is very proud of her abilities. This is very apparent during the whole re-audition thing with Kaori. She is obsessed with being “special” and this separates her from others around her. This is why she always comes off as cold and distant to people who don’t know her.

But, this is all a mask. She doesn’t want to seem vulnerable in front of others. Kumiko is the only person she reveals her true feelings to. She struggles with self-doubt at times but can grow because of Kumiko. Just as she helped Kumiko firm her resolve, Kumiko helped Reina loosen up a little. What was once a personal goal for her, not it also includes all of the band. Yes, Reina is still harsh when it comes to practice in Season 3 but that is necessary to compete in the nationals.

Asuka’s Facade

Tanaka Asuka is one of the most charismatic characters in the show. She is perfect in everything but it is always clear that she is hiding something. Despite understanding the club so well and being so good at playing, she never takes up the role of club leader. She is always running away from responsibilities. She never takes sides, she never shares her true feelings with anyone and she is very distant from everyone around her but in a different way from Reina.

But then we learn what kind of situations she has been through. Her father was a famous euphonium player and he left her mother when she was young. This is why Asuka’s mother doesn’t like her playing euphonium and dedicating her life to it. Her mom wants her to go to a proper university and this causes a lot of issues since Asuka is in the final year of high school when we meet her. And once again, it is Kumiko who manages to reach through to Asuka. And even now in Season 3, Asuka remains a huge influence on Kumiko, she is Kumiko’s role model.

Mizore and Nozomi’s Arc

Can I just say that Liz and the Blue Bird is one of the best anime movies ever made? And it is all about these two. KyoAni has had amazing animation throughout the series but they went the extra mile for Liz and the Blue Bird. And while Kumiko is involved in this arc, she doesn’t do much this time around. This arc takes place after the 3rd year students like Asuka have already graduated.

We’ve been seeing Mizore since Season 1. She is the quiet type, who arrives early and silently practices. Then we start seeing Nozomi, someone who left the club during her first year but now wants to rejoin. And despite Nozomi being pretty good, her re-entry is denied. This is because Mizore thinks Nozomi abandoned her back in the day and now she just can’t stand Nozomi. What follows is one of the best reconciliation arcs, yes it was a simple misunderstanding at the base of it, but seeing how deeply it affected Mizore puts a lot of weight on it.

The drastic change in Mizore’s attitude after this arc speaks volumes to what kind of burden was lifted off of her heart after this arc. And all this coincides perfectly with Liz’s story (the music piece they’re focusing on was based on that story).

Natsuki and Yuuko’s Friendship

Nakagawa Natsuki is among my favorite characters from Sound Euphonium. She is an unbelievably kind individual. She understands that she is not suited for going to the nationals but that doesn’t turn her off. No, she forms a group with all the band members that didn’t make it into the nationals team and they make charms to cheer on the people in the nationals team! She is also the first person to give Kumiko some major character development through her kindness and Kumiko’s actions also motivate Natsuki to get better.

Yuuko may come off as annoying at times but she is well-meaning. She understands that Reina is better but she still wanted Kaori to play the solo because it was her last year. She and Natsuki are often seen teasing or bothering each other but it is very clear that they care about each other. These two also had an important role in the whole Mizore and Nozomi affair. And it is fun to watch them together on screen. Their chemistry is spot on with Natsuki being the more calm and mature one while Yuuko is the hothead.

That is all for now!

Sound Euphonium has some truly amazing characters. I was only able to talk about a few here but trust me, there are a lot more. Even minor characters get a character arc in this show. And one thing I adore about Sound Euphonium is that every character learns something from others. A lot of people are responsible for Kumiko’s growth but similarly, Kumiko is responsible for the growth of a lot of other characters too. Also, one thing I didn’t mention, aside from the animations, the voice performance of characters is incredible.

So yeah, Sound Euhponium is amazing, one of the best band anime ever and I recommend you check it out. With that said, I will take my leave here. I have to go back to playing Elden Ring. See ya!

Also, check out some Guilty Gear anime news here!

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