Sound! Euphonium is GARBAGE


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; the word overrated is lazy. It is indicative of a person who is unwilling to analyze a story critically, but still wants to take a cheap potshot at it.

Demon Slayer is beautifully animated but the story is derivative, so it’s overrated. Attack on Titan’s ending didn’t have Eren ruling the world with his harem, so it’s overrated. Chainsaw Man didn’t give Makima the proportions of a hentai character, so it’s overrated.

I’ve made my point, but just leaving it at that would in itself be lazy. If you shouldn’t call something overrated, what should you call it? How do you explain this phenomenon where an anime is almost universally well-regarded, but it’s actually trash?

Simple, I’m about to do it. Sound! Euphonium is terrible, and here’s why.

Sound! Euphonium follows Kumiko Oumae, who you may know as the protagonist in literally every generic moe anime, because that’s about as far as the writer got in characterizing her. This time, the moe music anime is about a high school orchestra.

There’s a lot, and I mean, a lot of characters, but really the only ones that matter are Kumiko and deuteragonist Reina, and maybe Taki, their instructor. This show absolutely loves to throw dozens of characters at the audience who all apparently have their own stuff going on, but at no point does the writer ever actually try to make you care about them. They show up, maybe talk a bit, and then they have super important problems that are dramatic to them, and completely tedious to anyone watching.

A major late season conflict is that Reina previously knew Taki, so one of the students starts rumors that she got a solo in their performance because of nepotism. The character making that accusation either did not appear before Episode 10, or was a glorified extra, and now her relationship with her friend who got skipped over is a critical point in the plot.

Seriously, every time there’s a montage of characters practicing or having fun, I know so little about them that the feeble attempt to make me feel something about them only makes me angry.

Kyoto Animation is a phenomenal studio, maybe the best in the entire anime industry. However, that just feeds into my growing belief that the average anime watcher doesn’t know a good story from good animation.

By my estimate, nothing happens in Sound! Euphonium’s first seven episodes. There’s no meaningful conflict, no character writing to fill that time…it’s just nothing. When they introduce a love triangle between Kumiko, one of her friends, and her childhood friend, I realized that I was so starved for any sort of tension that a bare bones love triangle was the most interesting thing that had happened so far.

But the characters are real cute, and the animation is real pretty, so that’s why it has an 8.00 on MAL when Scum’s Wish is at 7.16 and Tokyo 24th Ward is at 6.35. If it was produced by a studio just a little less renowned than KyoAni, I guarantee you that this would have been dumped in the 7.00 and below club and forgotten by the next season.

And that’s not even counting that the presentation is not even that good.

It’s yet another music anime with a lackluster score, all the character designs have the same body type, and the school uniforms are brown! That’s not like a valid complaint or anything, but brown? Seriously?

But that pretty face is just covering up what I see as Sound! Euphonium’s most egregious sin; it was almost good.

Episode eight belongs to a completely different show. There is a scene where Kumiko and Reina explore their relationship, compare their approaches to music, and perform some legitimately beautiful music.

And it’s so bad that it is actually frustrating for me to write about it.

You had the ability to write scenes of this caliber the whole time, and you just didn’t? The beautiful animation actually matched the emotions in the scene? Where was this before? Where did it go after? I don’t know, but it’s baffling.

I can’t hate a show for being bad, or even being popular when it’s bad. Those shows are unremarkable, but you know what sticks in my craw? You know the fly in my ointment? You know what really grinds my gears? Well, I’ll tell you.

It’s when a show has potential that it doesn’t follow through on. There’s millions of bad writers who make bad stories, and a significantly smaller number of good writers making good stories. Sound! Euphonium is not a good story: the plot is uneventful, the characters are not endearing in a genre where characters have to be endearing, and it’s a painfully mediocre show that has gotten far more traction than it deserves.

However, being overrated is not the issue. The issue is that there’s a hypothetical version of this story where maybe the power of every scene matches that one in episode eight, and that is truly upsetting.

Maybe that hypothetical version is the novels, and the anime is just a badly butchered version where the original author’s intent managed to shine through. I’m not going to read them, because I’ve got way better school life drama novels to read. I’m reading Bunny Girl Senpai right now, and that anime was actually good enough to warrant picking up the books, which are even better.

In any case, I’d like to bid Sound! Euphonium adieu. I mean, it’s a little late to be trashing an anime that came out nearly eight years ago, but I’ve been trying to watch more moe, and boy, did I have too much to say about this.

So, how about in the comments below, you tell me an anime you think is overrated, and then tell me why, without just saying it’s mid. That sounds like a lot more fun than watching this.

Oh, yeah, and go do the thing on Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku, if that’s even a thing anymore when this essay gets published. I dunno, Elon is doing some weird stuff, and I’m not paying $8 for more people to dunk on my anime takes. Until next time, thanks for reading.


2 responses to “Sound! Euphonium is GARBAGE”

  1. It’s hard for me to point to any one anime and say that it was over rated or mid, because once I realized that I’m not enjoying an anime I stop watching it, and once I stop actively watching it I completely forget the anime ever existed. That’s the whole problem, the anime just weren’t good enough for me to remember them. So have I watched some no good, very bad anime that for some reason everyone else seemed to love? Yes! Can I remember the title of even one of them? No!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do find it really interesting that you have such a strong opinion on Sound! Euphonium since I have the weird perspective of former band kid who has not watched this series. Plus, I have only ever seen this show in particular get glowing commentary… So seeing something so drastically different from everything I’ve seen was really refreshing.

    Like

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