Sound! Euphonium: media consumption and the ‘romance lens’

Hibike_11-01

I was debating whether I should address the elephant in the room…especially since I’d already written about it. But this is more than a follow-up to my first post — it’s something I’ve wanted to write about ever since I tired of the shipping in Macross Frontier. In fact, what frustrates me about the discussion that surrounded that issue is actually another example of the broader themes that I see Sound! Euphonium touching upon: the expectations that people have. The expectations in this case are what is born of the framework that most viewers have used to interpret what they see in the media they consume, which I shall call a ‘romance lens’. Whilst this lens can be used effectively in character analysis, for the most part, I’ve found that it tends to get in the way of fruitful discussion because most people are not aware of the biases that they bring to this framework. Let me explain.

Hibike_08-03
Must admit…I’ve got a quite few screencaps of Reina
that I haven’t managed to find a place for yet…

Sound! Euphonium’s most memorable scene—and I would be very surprised not to see this on a number of 12 days of anime lists at the end of the year—was undoubtedly the date between Kumiko and Reina in episode 8, which was immediately hailed as “the most romantic date” that many had seen this year. The comment made time and time again was that, if one of the two were a guy instead of both of them being girls, we would automatically see everything that happened that day, and since, as the two of them slowly testing the waters of an eros-type relationship (to use the Ancient Greek word for that kind of love). Hence, many viewers argued that KyoAni was either ‘yuri-baiting’ once again, or they were really depicting the tentative development of what would be a sincere, realistic lesbian relationship. In extension of that, some fans probably contend that anyone who does not see this wants to deny the possibility of such a relationship, whether due to outright homophobia (and there were a few posters expressing such sentiments on AS) or simply because they have their own heterosexual ship.

Hibike_08-05
“The Place I Found Love.”
And btw, the word for ‘love‘ here was “ai” — make of that what you will…

Personally, I felt that all the shippers had been trapped by the ‘romance lens’ that they chose to view Sound! Euphonium through. One thing that colours the way I interpret relationships in the Japanese media I consume is the fact that I lived in Japan for several years. I will not say exactly when, but I was there when Kojima Yoshio ‘reigned’. And when I say ‘lived’, I mean that I integrated into Japanese life as much as it was possible for a foreigner to do. I taught at a Japanese high school, and instead of seeking out English-speaking communities as many of my fellow ALTs did, I made it a point to hang out with my Japanese teachers whenever I could. Furthermore, instead of going home somewhere between half-past 4 and 5 (as we were allowed to), I often stayed back to watch my students at club practice, or joined them in preparing for the school festival or other school events. And of course, I joined them on as many excursions as I could. In short, I have observed Japanese school kids when they are at their most relaxed, and I’ve seen a lot of the touchy-feely behaviour that Westerners might find a bit too ‘intimate’ for friends. Trust me, JET teachers are not joking when they say that they’ve seen boys sitting in each others’ laps in the classroom.

On the other hand, if you want to know who is actually going out with whom, you have to be a lot more observant, for public displays of affection — even holding hands when walking home — are incredibly rare. Alternatively, you had to be at the right place at the right time…someone I know even came across a couple of boys whom she is convinced were kissing at school (of course, even if they had actually been kissing, it’s unclear whether they were just experimenting, or actually dating). To summarise, my experience living in Japan taught me that public intimacy is almost always between friends. And that skinship really is a thing over there. And I saw both sides of this in Sound! Euphonium: there was Gotou and Riko walking home together; boys and girls don’t sit next to each other on the bus unless you have no choice; the “OMG, we got through!” reaction shots in episode 13 — notice how all of the interactions between couples are a lot more restrained than amongst friends?

That’s not to say that I do not see where the majority of viewers are coming from. I’ll be honest: I do think that two sequences in particular, when taken on their own, lend themselves to the idea that Reina and Kumiko might be ‘in love with’ each other. Reina sliding her finger down to Kumiko’s upper lip in episode 8 and cupping Kumiko’s face in her hands in episode 11 are such intimate actions that no one in their right mind would argue that these two have a ‘normal’, platonic friendship. However, does that necessarily mean that the relationship can only be an eros-type one? When the animation supervisor for episode 8, Akitake Seiichi, noted in his post-episode comment that “the friendship(?) between Reina and Kumiko had deepened” in the course of their date, a number of viewers crowed that even he was pointing out that they were on course for an eros-type relationship. But do relationships fit into such neat little boxes, where people who aren’t ‘just friends’ necessarily have to be ‘lovers’? What came to my mind upon reading Akitake’s comment was something that novelist Asano Atsuko had said about a same-sex relationship that she’d written a few years earlier:

I rather like writing about relationships between people of the same sex. When you write about opposite sexes who are drawn to each other, you typically end up with them falling in love, or (becoming) husband and wife… To a certain extent, there is a fixed ‘template’. But if you write about people of the same sex, a relationship that you can’t express with words like friendship, camaraderie, love or hate is born. I think that there is great value in writing relationships where you can’t draw lines like that. … Of course, such ‘unique relationships’ can be formed between people of the opposite sexes too. It’s not like we get ‘mass-produced’ feelings whenever two people meet. But I really feel that what’s really interesting to write about are the ‘original’ feelings that come from relationships between people of the same sex.

These comments were what first got me pondering how I think about relationships between characters in the media that I consume. I realised that Asano had hit a nail on the head: when I see a close relationship between characters of the opposite sex, to a certain extent, I am prone to assuming that there inevitably has to been some kind of sexual tension in that bond. Admittedly, that did not happen with Harry and Hermione, as it was pretty clear to me early on that they were not interested in each other in that way. But even though I’d read that interview back in 2011, it still happened with a certain pair of Avengers. The good thing about the whole affair, however, is that, now, I completely agree with the point Joss Whedon made when quizzed about it in an interview: the existence of an intimate connection between two people does not necessarily mean that they are trying to sleep with each other. And this applies not only for the same sex relationships that form the core of Sound! Euphonium and No. 6, but especially for heterosexual relationships.

Hibike_03-01 Hibike_03-02
Even Midori made that assumption…

I am not saying that I’m against LGBT relationships. In fact, I strongly believe that Nezumi and Shion will fall into an eros-type relationship once Nezumi returns; and that such a relationship is a distinct possibility if Reina and Kumiko’s hearts actually take them down that route. However, as I pointed out in that earlier Sound! Euphonium post, reading such relationships just through a ‘romance lens’ typically means missing the foundations of that relationship, missing the forest for the trees, so-to-speak. Another thing I find really interesting is that, in my experience, the fans most practiced at looking beyond the ‘romance lens’ are fujoshi. I distinctly remember comparing discussions about No. 6 across a few different forums, and finding that the most interesting points by far were raised at a site catering towards BL fans. More recently, I’ve found this person’s comments on queer baiting in Japanese anime and manga to be really balanced. I’d be interested in exploring this further myself, to be honest, because I think it would give me better insights into the works that I watch and read.

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To summarise, I’ve written this post to encourage people to try to deconstruct the ‘romance lens’ that they use to interpret relationships in the media they consume. Whilst such a lens can certainly help illuminate relationships, I argue that being aware of its biases and constraints can only lead to more insightful analyses. In fact, the reason I would buy into a relationship between Reina and Kumiko is because I feel I understand exactly what has drawn them together, and it is something that has little to do with how physically intimate their actions vis-a-vis each other have been. So, if nothing else, dropping that ‘romance lens’ might just give you a better foundation for the relationship that you support. Care to give it a shot?

Hibike_10-03 Hibike_10-04
Oh, and here’s one of my favourite expressions of ‘love’ in this series ^^

p.s. I’d always thought that the Ancient Greeks recognised just four distinct types of love, because that’s all wikipedia identified. Turns out, there are many, many more…

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

21 Responses to Sound! Euphonium: media consumption and the ‘romance lens’

  1. Utari says:

    Gladly join you on board for the POV related to Kumiko and Reina’s friendship.

    I rather like writing about relationships between people of the same sex. When you write about opposite sexes who are drawn to each other, you typically end up with them falling in love, or (becoming) husband and wife… To a certain extent, there is a fixed ‘template’. But if you write about people of the same sex, a relationship that you can’t express with words like friendship, camaraderie, love or hate is born. I think that there is great value in writing relationships where you can’t draw lines like that. … Of course, such ‘unique relationships’ can be formed between people of the opposite sexes too. It’s not like we get ‘mass-produced’ feelings whenever two people meet. But I really feel that what’s really interesting to write about are the ‘original’ feelings that come from relationships between people of the same sex.

    Actually, after the series ended, I got much better grasp on how Kumiko feels about Reina. It is indeed something tighter than friendship but not the obscene/eros way, which I can relate. I agree it’s a daring way for a writer to challenge mainstream stereotype, because even being able to relate, I found myself doubting some time. Thankfully, Kumiko – Reina encounters in the last two episodes cleared my doubt. It’s actually heart-warming to see that those two are now there for each other, reached that depth of understanding in their own way (which is not the mainstream way of course. They are special, right?).

    Of course, there are also some who said Kumiko and Reina are lewd even at the last two episodes that I HAVE NO IDEA where that come from. Romance-lens is a scary paradigm.

    Get past of the romantic-lens issue and take a better look to all the details, Hibike! Euphonium is a beautiful, one of a kind slice of life series that won’t come around too often. I love it. 10/10

    Anyway, I decided to compare the series and the first light novel (though few pages full of kanji means hours of translating effort for me), I found that KyoAni is mainly following the flow and the feel of the original, so I dropped my doubt to KyoAni as well. In fact, in the audition part where Kumiko is catching up with Reina after she was confronted by Yuuko, the description of the novel version was even more… “daring”.

    It’s intriguing, I think KyoAni must’ve anticipated hateful reactions before deciding to take on the project. Instead they went for it with their best shot, highlighting those romantic scenes with all the mesmerizing art and music that were poured into them. In the end, I love all the details they put in this anime. Kudos to KyoAni.

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    • sikvod00 says:

      I agree it’s a daring way for a writer to challenge mainstream stereotype, because even being able to relate, I found myself doubting some time.

      Yep. Some scenes had me thinking, “How can this be interpreted as anything but homosexual love?!” But that just shows how strong (and limited) my perception of romantic relationships is. And KyoAni had to be completely aware of the potential “yuri-bait” accusations. Some people have more of an investment in shows that depict homosexual relationships in a meaningful and dignified manner. There’s no question that Reina and Kumiko would make for a great lesbian couple in anime.

      Still not sure if KyoAni took advantage of that ambiguity, to be honest… 😄

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      • sikvod00 says:

        Ugh. Not familiar with posting on wordpress or blogs in general. I used the wrong tag for quoting a comment. >_>

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        • karice says:

          What wrong tag? ^^

          I’m sure there’s a more convenient place I can put this, but for the moment, I have a page about the common html that you can use for comments. The tag for quoting is just “blockquote” within those brackets.

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        • sikvod00 says:

          Hmm. The browser on my work laptop displayed the text within blockquotes in a really strange way at first. But it’s fine now!

          Like

        • karice says:

          Hehe…well, I actually went and changed it, since I can edit all the comments here ^^

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      • Utari says:

        Still not sure if KyoAni took advantage of that ambiguity, to be honest… 😄

        They sure did. They definitely did it on purpose, they often arrange Kumiko and Reina side by side in many occassions, not to mention they put such effort on those scenes, etc. It’s almost like they were asking questions to the audience: “how about this? Will you simply judge this as yuri? Or will you bother to look beyond what people think and try to understand?” … Something like that. Ever since earlier part of the show, the question stucked in my mind, thus made me eagerly waited for the next episode everytime. Which – if it is measured in marketing lens – is a successful campaign.

        But I think the advantage is fairly challenged by the risk. I’ve seen people who just mock this series because of the yuri-baiting – despite the ever so obvious technical quality improvement. As if “KyoAni was so desperate to win the audience” they said. When that judgement stuck in people’s head, it blurred the specific details. It’s a shame that both praises and flames were concentrated on particular scenes while there are actually much more scenes that were beautifully executed and definitely worth to be cherished. I don’t remember the last time I fell in love with almost all of the characters – main and side – protagonist and antagonist – because I can understand the reasons behind why they do things they did throughout the series. The music and the art – well – we all know how beautiful it is.

        This romantic lens is either giving Hibike! Euphonium the spotlight or cheapens the value of overall experience and the studio itself. It is a scary game KyoAni is playing now.

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        • karice says:

          It would certainly be interesting if KyoAni were trying to pose that question to the audience, just like Joss Whedon purposely did in that blockbuster franchise. Out of all the KyoAni works that I know have been hit with the ‘yuri-baiting’ (or even ‘yaoi-baiting’) accusation, Sound! Euphonium is arguably best suited for prompting viewers to try to deconstruct that ‘romance lens’, because none of the others seems to have a same-sex relationship based upon such an intense emotional connection. I don’t have the time (or money!) to track down any post-series interviews, so I’m really hoping the episode commentaries will touch on it!

          But as you point out, there is the danger that viewers will simply see it as ‘baiting’, as indeed many have. Given the way queerbaiting remains something that many people (particularly in the West) are currently railing against, using a same-sex relationship to try and raise this question probably isn’t the best idea. A more effective way to do it would be to use a heterosexual relationship, as Joss Whedon did.

          I do agree that it’s a shame, though. So much time and verbiage that could have been used so much more productively, if only people had bothered to move on!

          p.s. Just realised that I’m not the only one bringing the whole issue of ‘audience expectations’ up! (though I don’t quite agree with everything that BCT says)

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    • karice says:

      Eh…’obscene’ and ‘lewd’ are words I definitely wouldn’t use with Sound! Euphonium, even if I did think that Reina and Kumiko were interested in each other — ‘seductive’ fits better, methinks!

      I must admit, I’m not entirely sure KyoAni was doing it to try to challenge mainstream stereotypes, because two of the scenes they rewrote are so suggestive that they really feel like baiting, or that the show is going for a relationship between the two main characters. That’s why one of the viewers who started reading the novel halfway suggested that it might be considered a ‘retelling’ or ‘alternate universe’ (and here’s a more detailed comparison from the novel thread if you haven’t already been there — huge spoilers, of course).

      (And btw, that scene where Kumiko caught up with Reina is apparently nothing out of the ordinary in the novel — the author describes a lot of physical contact between Kumiko and her other friends too.)

      That said, my experiences teaching in Japan mean that I don’t think that some changes are as bad as much as larethian seems to suggest. For example, I think changing the last Kumiko-Shuuichi scene to a fist-bumping one actually fits better given the stage their relationship was at even in the novel.

      Admittedly, this is not based on a thorough reading of the novels — I haven’t had time for that yet. I just know what broadly happens in each volume.

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      • Utari says:

        Duh, I shouldn’t have chosen the words. Sorry. But I’ve read people pointing S!E as ‘lewd’, but leave people with their own fantasies.

        Thank you, I’ve checked the links. The spoilers are rather safe too ^__^” (…I actually stumbled upon Asuka’s background story on later volumes that I deeply regret that I read it T__T)
        That’s food for thought. I’ve read some of the changes pointed by the discussion in the novel, but I think I need to properly finish reading the novel to gather my own thought regarding the adaptation. But at this point, I love how things are progressing in the anime.

        Regarding Kumiko-Shuuichi,
        Even without being described as clearly as in the novel, Kumiko’s feeling to Shuuichi was actually quite obvious to me, especially at the scene where Hazuki was off to talk to Shuuichi, Kumiko subconsciously grabbed Reina’s hand harder with troubled look on her face. The way Reina stared when catching that reaction was also priceless.

        I think Kumiko took Shuuichi’s presence for granted until the festival and of course – that fist bump scene, I love it. Very fitting, the way Shuuichi’s words just ease her nervous state and thus she return the affection with peace offering fist bump (and how lovely to witness her stubborn pride crumbled right in front of our eyes with that pout).

        …ah this could go endless if I choose to carry on babbling. And those are two from lots of scenes worth noted.

        Anyway, though I am set to buy the relationship between Kumiko-Reina and actually love the dynamic of their friendship, I would mind if KyoAni would carry on using too much baitings if they opt to make season 2. We have seen how the impact blurred the focus for other scenes.

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        • karice says:

          …I really have nothing to say to that… Some people are weird…

          (…I actually stumbled upon Asuka’s background story on later volumes that I deeply regret that I read it T__T)

          Ah, I’m glad I haven’t come across that yet then! I’ll be careful about looking around until I’ve actually read them myself!

          Even without being described as clearly as in the novel, Kumiko’s feeling to Shuuichi was actually quite obvious to me, especially at the scene where Hazuki was off to talk to Shuuichi, Kumiko subconsciously grabbed Reina’s hand harder with troubled look on her face. The way Reina stared when catching that reaction was also priceless.

          Agreed – I interpreted all those little details as suggesting that she had feelings for Shuuichi that she hadn’t quite processed yet, and that Reina had noticed. I remember some people saying that the scene in episode 8 where Kumiko stares blankly as she dropped her shoes on the ground was her thinking ‘OMG, what have I done asking Kousaka-san to the festival’. But to me, that doesn’t make sense, since her reaction to Reina’s “So where and what time are we meeting? We’re going to the festival, right?” suggests that she didn’t think Reina would take that seriously.

          Admittedly, if I hadn’t spoiled myself a little by then, I’m not entirely sure how I would have interpreted the date, since Reina seemed so serious when she said “this is a confession of love.” The second time I watched the episode, I did indeed see two girls playing around and teasing each other, but the first time around…

          But yeah, I thought the fist-bump scene was really cute, too, and it said so much about the two of them!

          Anyway, though I am set to buy the relationship between Kumiko-Reina and actually love the dynamic of their friendship, I would mind if KyoAni would carry on using too much baitings if they opt to make season 2. We have seen how the impact blurred the focus for other scenes.

          Yeah…if all they’re doing it for is ‘baiting’, then I think they should definitely tone it down. Even if they were trying to be a bit meta and challenge their viewers about the ‘lenses’ they use, I don’t think S!E’s quite the right story for that.

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      • Utari says:

        Admittedly, if I hadn’t spoiled myself a little by then, I’m not entirely sure how I would have interpreted the date, since Reina seemed so serious when she said “this is a confession of love.” The second time I watched the episode, I did indeed see two girls playing around and teasing each other, but the first time around…

        Argh, YES! My thought exactly. The first time I watched it, that ep 8 was actually quite a shock for me, and definitely changed my impression to Reina from “cool” to “crazy”. Hahah. And I took that confession seriously as well.

        Later on, I realized it’s just their language. They are both have a bad social skill, especially Reina. Her seiyuu also pointed that “she sucks in Japanese, really”. From that point on, I find Kumiko-Reina friendship dynamic is much more interesting and unique.

        Yeah…if all they’re doing it for is ‘baiting’, then I think they should definitely tone it down. Even if they were trying to be a bit meta and challenge their viewers about the ‘lenses’ they use, I don’t think S!E’s quite the right story for that.

        Yep definitely. Though I am actually quite OK with that scene in Solo re-audition because the tension behind it – compared to that pointing head-to-lip part on the mountain scene, it is out of nowhere!

        I will not try to defend KyoAni against all the accusations on that scene. ^__^”

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        • karice says:

          Later on, I realized it’s just their language. They are both have a bad social skill, especially Reina. Her seiyuu also pointed that “she sucks in Japanese, really”. From that point on, I find Kumiko-Reina friendship dynamic is much more interesting and unique.

          Was that on the radio show? If so, I must have totally missed it…I’m only half listening ^^;

          Must admit, if I’d been following the radio show stuff all the way through, I’d definitely have gone ‘oh, that (confession) was just a joke’ straightaway. Though they were surprised at the finger thing from Reina, the seiyuu themselves are so clearly into certain male characters, and they discussed the date all in terms of what it meant for Kumiko and Reina’s friendship. In the end, I’m left wondering why there is such a huge disjunct with viewers, especially Western viewers…
          (^_^;;; )

          I was also fine with the scene just before the audition, because I consider that ‘confession’ as Kumiko extending the ‘joke’ as her way of showing her support for Reina. What I ended up being uncomfortable with was how some viewers insisted that ‘it had to be taken literally, as a real confession from Kumiko’. To me, such an interpretation makes Kumiko’s character really inconsistent, especially when you consider her reaction in episode 10 to Reina saying that she’s in love with Taki…

          But I’m waiting to see what else the staff decide to say about it. ^^

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        • karice says:

          Ah…Got to MCのいない音楽会~ ♪6 today, and found that bit about “Reina sucks at Japanese (grammar).” Must admit — the comment surprised me a little, because I feel that rearranging phrases like that is quite a normal way to talk. But I kind of get it — it’s just that you normally wouldn’t expect someone like Reina, who looks like she should be from one of those high class families (especially given what she wore during that episode 8 date), to speak like that. You’d expect her to speak ‘properly’, like an upper class young lady.

          I’ve been finding the radio shows really interesting — even though the way the seiyuu act all cutesy drives me a little crazy, the things they point out and talk about are really really interesting. Has me really wondering how to account for the difference between them and the Western audience…and tempted to go and find some Japanese bloggers who covered the series… (^_^;; )

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      • Utari says:

        Must admit, if I’d been following the radio show stuff all the way through, I’d definitely have gone ‘oh, that (confession) was just a joke’ straightaway. Though they were surprised at the finger thing from Reina, the seiyuu themselves are so clearly into certain male characters, and they discussed the date all in terms of what it meant for Kumiko and Reina’s friendship. In the end, I’m left wondering why there is such a huge disjunct with viewers, especially Western viewers…
        (^_^;;; )

        Ah…Got to MCのいない音楽会~ ♪6 today, and found that bit about “Reina sucks at Japanese (grammar).” Must admit — the comment surprised me a little, because I feel that rearranging phrases like that is quite a normal way to talk.

        Yes, that’s the show. The seiyuus quite clearly are rooting for those male characters, and that Kumiko and Reina are friends. ^_^

        My take on “sucks at Japanese” part is Reina’s choice of words – more like “she sucks at talking to people”. Even for Kumiko, – who is just slightly better at socializing – Reina’s choice of words, choice of topic, choice of timing, course of actions, are confusing at first. But she understands because she could grasp the way Reina is thinking and feeling since they are similar to hers. Reina is also able to talk to Kumiko at ease because Kumiko doesn’t judge her for that, since she also has that “terrible personality”.

        Thus, from first meet-up at shrine to that spot in Daikichiyama, Kumiko could significantly fast at getting comfy talking to Reina.

        I was also fine with the scene just before the audition, because I consider that ‘confession’ as Kumiko extending the ‘joke’ as her way of showing her support for Reina. What I ended up being uncomfortable with was how some viewers insisted that ‘it had to be taken literally, as a real confession from Kumiko’. To me, such an interpretation makes Kumiko’s character really inconsistent, especially when you consider her reaction in episode 10 to Reina saying that she’s in love with Taki…

        Agreed. Remember, on ep 8, Kumiko was incredulous when Reina “confess her love”. But then again, she pick those very words when supporting Reina so she could clear any doubt about her willing to support Reina against everyone (Probably because even the statement “If I betray you, you can kill me.” was not even enough to convince the trumpeter). Turns out those words worked, and Reina needed to hear nothing more. (that Reina’s eye close up shot added with the background music were fantastic, btw. One of my most favorite shot)

        Anyway, I think Kumiko is actually supportive about Reina’s feeling towards Taki. The last scene on episode 12 where Kumiko met Reina at the station confirmed it. Kumiko called Reina to meet-up quite late at night (best guess, around 10-11 PM) knowing that what she had to say could justify the effort. As for Reina’s feeling to Taki, action speaks louder than words with her reaction. Those innocent reactions were there only when it comes to Taki.

        the things they point out and talk about are really really interesting. Has me really wondering how to account for the difference between them and the Western audience…and tempted to go and find some Japanese bloggers who covered the series… (^_^;; )

        Yup, pretty much as what you pointed out on your posts regarding Japanese social demand. Even the Seiyuus found it quite a shame for Kaori to miss her last chance playing solo, and given the fact that she is already in her last high school year, it would be nice if Reina just gave up the solo in that regard.

        By the way, I feel like the reason why I could relate so much about the course of actions and the feelings that were portrayed in this series because I found many nostalgic moments in it that similarly happened to me at my high school years. The problems here in S!E are so… Joshi Kousei-rashi, with lots of trivial emotional conflict involved. I was wondering whether male audience could also keep up with it.

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        • karice says:

          Yes, that’s the show. The seiyuus quite clearly are rooting for those male characters, and that Kumiko and Reina are friends. ^_^

          Yeah. Poor Chika-pet, however, seems to be on her own in loving Taki and having no interest in Shuuichi!

          But I think what made me smile the most was how they keep going on about ‘my angel Chikao!’ Doesn’t he have something like two lines in the entire show?

          My take on “sucks at Japanese” part is Reina’s choice of words – more like “she sucks at talking to people”. Even for Kumiko, – who is just slightly better at socializing – Reina’s choice of words, choice of topic, choice of timing, course of actions, are confusing at first.

          I agree that both Kumiko and Reina tend to speak their minds — though the former used to do it only when she was going with the flow rather than against it, which is one of the points of her development in S!E — but the discussion didn’t actually go there.

          The main thing they discuss during the “sucks at Japanese” bit is how Reina’s sentences are kind of jumbled up (倒置法が多い). That’s because she doesn’t interact with people much, so in the end, the foremost thing on her mind is what comes out of her mouth first, and then she follows up with the little phrases that put it in context. The example they gave was:

          話してみたかったの、前から

          Normally, it’d be reversed:
          前から話してみたかったの。

          They do mention how becoming friends with Kumiko changes Reina so that she become better at interacting with e.g. Kaori and Yuuko (in episode 12). And Kumiko changes too, as a result of her interactions with Reina…but they actually change in different ways ^^

          =====

          Anyway, I think Kumiko is actually supportive about Reina’s feeling towards Taki. The last scene on episode 12 where Kumiko met Reina at the station confirmed it. Kumiko called Reina to meet-up quite late at night (best guess, around 10-11 PM) knowing that what she had to say could justify the effort. As for Reina’s feeling to Taki, action speaks louder than words with her reaction. Those innocent reactions were there only when it comes to Taki.

          “Knowing that what she had to say could justify the effort”? I’m not quite sure what you mean…Kumiko wanted to tell Reina that she loves the euphonium, that’s all, non?

          But yeah, it’s all in the details, rather than the ‘dramaticised romantic tropes’. Reina’s kind of weird, but she never came across to me as being all that different in terms of the kinds of crushes that (Japanese) girls her age have.

          p.s. Even teachers are kicked out of schools by a certain time at night, so I seriously doubt it’s beyond 9/9.30pm when Reina and Kumiko meet up. High school kids also get reported if they’re out and about without guardians after 10pm at night, so…

          Yup, pretty much as what you pointed out on your posts regarding Japanese social demand. Even the Seiyuus found it quite a shame for Kaori to miss her last chance playing solo, and given the fact that she is already in her last high school year, it would be nice if Reina just gave up the solo in that regard.

          hm..I seem to have totally missed that… Was it on the video show, or the audio one?

          By the way, I feel like the reason why I could relate so much about the course of actions and the feelings that were portrayed in this series because I found many nostalgic moments in it that similarly happened to me at my high school years. The problems here in S!E are so… Joshi Kousei-rashi, with lots of trivial emotional conflict involved. I was wondering whether male audience could also keep up with it.

          This might be where the problem is. Since most of us viewers are adults, we’ve come to the show with very different ideas about what these behaviours mean. Furthermore, Japanese high school girls aren’t really that similar to Western high school girls — after all, this is a country where even young working women want to be ‘cute’ as opposed to mature and sexy, if you know what I mean!

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      • Utari says:

        But I think what made me smile the most was how they keep going on about ‘my angel Chikao!’ Doesn’t he have something like two lines in the entire show?

        Oops! I didn’t even realize that! X’D facepalm
        I guess I will try watching the show again and see if I can find any of them.

        I agree that both Kumiko and Reina tend to speak their minds — though the former used to do it only when she was going with the flow rather than against it, which is one of the points of her development in S!E — but the discussion didn’t actually go there.

        The main thing they discuss during the “sucks at Japanese” bit is how Reina’s sentences are kind of jumbled up (倒置法が多い). That’s because she doesn’t interact with people much, so in the end, the foremost thing on her mind is what comes out of her mouth first, and then she follows up with the little phrases that put it in context. The example they gave was:

        話してみたかったの、前から

        Normally, it’d be reversed:
        前から話してみたかったの。

        They do mention how becoming friends with Kumiko changes Reina so that she become better at interacting with e.g. Kaori and Yuuko […]

        Ah! So that’s how it is. X’D

        Many thanks for explaining! Admittedly my Japanese is still at the point where I can only understand what the general topic was. ^_^” so don’t be surprised if I misunderstood the details.

        They did mention how Reina was influenced by Kumiko to improve herself and try to talk to Yuuko and Kaori (and how awkward she became when trying), right? I love that part, both the actual scene and the comments at euphoradio. I hope I didn’t misunderstand it :p

        “Knowing that what she had to say could justify the effort”? I’m not quite sure what you mean…Kumiko wanted to tell Reina that she loves the euphonium, that’s all, non?

        But yeah, it’s all in the details, rather than the ‘dramaticised romantic tropes’. Reina’s kind of weird, but she never came across to me as being all that different in terms of the kinds of crushes that (Japanese) girls her age have.

        Um, I do think Kumiko asked to meet with Reina because she had many things to say, especially about what just happened between Kumiko and Taki at school
        「実はね、今まで滝先生と二人きりだったから。それでね、滝先生が私の…」
        that kind of topic would surely piqued Reina’s interest anyway.

        Probably the thought of telling someone that she likes euphonium has been filling her head before, and then she just had to say it out loud when she saw eupho-kun mascot.

        p.s. Even teachers are kicked out of schools by a certain time at night, so I seriously doubt it’s beyond 9/9.30pm when Reina and Kumiko meet up. High school kids also get reported if they’re out and about without guardians after 10pm at night, so…

        New fact learned! Thanks, I didn’t know that before (^∇^)

        Yup, pretty much as what you pointed out on your posts regarding Japanese social demand. Even the Seiyuus found it quite a shame for Kaori to miss her last chance playing solo, and given the fact that she is already in her last high school year, it would be nice if Reina just gave up the solo in that regard.

        hm..I seem to have totally missed that… Was it on the video show, or the audio one?

        Eh, I’m pretty sure I heard that. Maybe it’s on MCのいない音楽会~ ♪5 where they mainly talked about the audition.

        This might be where the problem is. Since most of us viewers are adults, we’ve come to the show with very different ideas about what these behaviours mean. Furthermore, Japanese high school girls aren’t really that similar to Western high school girls — after all, this is a country where even young working women want to be ‘cute’ as opposed to mature and sexy, if you know what I mean!

        Yes. No wonder there are arguments about all sort of things here and there. I wonder how most of Japanese viewers think of S!E…

        I talked to one of my male friend about S!E. He said the story is “such a shame” given the quality of the art and music and asked me why I love the story. I wouldn’t blame him though, somehow I found S!E was directed to female…, maybe.

        …This show piqued my interest in so many ways (beside being so good, that is). The question word “why” keep popping up even until now. I would love to watch or read KyoAni interviews about this show, but reading Japanese magazine articles is much harder than listening/ watching the videos. (^_^) v

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        • karice says:

          Oops! I didn’t even realize that! X’D facepalm
          I guess I will try watching the show again and see if I can find any of them.

          I think they talk about it a lot more on the audio only radio, so if you’ve just been watching the video, it’s not as obvious. But don’t worry, you’ll find those bits 🙂

          Ah! So that’s how it is. X’D
          Many thanks for explaining! Admittedly my Japanese is still at the point where I can only understand what the general topic was. ^_^” so don’t be surprised if I misunderstood the details.

          They did mention how Reina was influenced by Kumiko to improve herself and try to talk to Yuuko and Kaori (and how awkward she became when trying), right? I love that part, both the actual scene and the comments at euphoradio. I hope I didn’t misunderstand it :p

          No worries. Radio shows are difficult to follow – when I first started listening about 6-7 years ago, I think I got maybe 50-60%. Now I’m up to about 90% on my first loop — if I’m paying attention, that is — though I still have to look a few words up most of the time. Well, I see it as an opportunity to learn new vocabulary! Keep listening, especially as you follow the show as well, and I’m sure your Japanese will improve pretty quickly. As you picked out, they were talking about how becoming friends with Kumiko helped Reina talk to Yuuko and Kaori more ‘naturally’, so to speak. I hadn’t actually noticed how Reina crumpled some if the fabric of her skirt in her hands until they pointed it out!

          Um, I do think Kumiko asked to meet with Reina because she had many things to say, especially about what just happened between Kumiko and Taki at school
          「実はね、今まで滝先生と二人きりだったから。それでね、滝先生が私の…」
          that kind of topic would surely piqued Reina’s interest anyway.

          Hm…the first person she said “I like the euphonium!” to was her sister. Then in her conversation with Taki, she confirmed that liking it was enough of a reason to devote herself to it. And Taki asking her to practice the difficult bit for the Kansai competition reassured her that her effort was bearing fruit. That those feelings of frustration that Shuuuichi helped her let out at the bridge would not be wasted.

          So I think that Kumiko was going to say “I was just with Taki-sensei, and he told me to keep practicing that part so that I can play it at the Kansai comp!” Etc etc. I think she was just completely absorbed in her realisations that night, so she didn’t even realise that her throwaway comment about Taki would put Reina in such a fluster ^^;;

          Eh, I’m pretty sure I heard that. Maybe it’s on MCのいない音楽会~ ♪5 where they mainly talked about the audition.

          Thanks. I’ll check when I have the time. In the audio radio, they spend quite a lot of time on episode 11 as well, and it was really interesting, and again quite different from the Western reaction. For example, they said that the students who did not vote understood what had happened in the previous year, which is why they couldn’t after hearing Reina. But Hazuki supported Kumiko (and Reina) because she still didn’t quite understand. It’s like they said in episode 4, band is a group activity, and everyone has to be at peace with the decision – they even called Taki out on his apparent decision to make them choose!

          I talked to one of my male friend about S!E. He said the story is “such a shame” given the quality of the art and music and asked me why I love the story. I wouldn’t blame him though, somehow I found S!E was directed to female…, maybe.
          …This show piqued my interest in so many ways (beside being so good, that is). The question word “why” keep popping up even until now. I would love to watch or read KyoAni interviews about this show, but reading Japanese magazine articles is much harder than listening/ watching the videos. (^_^) v

          yeah. My own impression is that most viewers didn’t quite get what this show was about. The key words in all the PVs and CMs – which I finally saw after the first BD was released – were “youth” and “music,” IIRC. For a while between episodes 8 and 10, I was wondering if most viewers thought that the most important thing about “youth” was “love”!!

          Like

      • Utari says:

        Hm…the first person she said “I like the euphonium!” to was her sister. Then in her conversation with Taki, she confirmed that liking it was enough of a reason to devote herself to it. And Taki asking her to practice the difficult bit for the Kansai competition reassured her that her effort was bearing fruit. That those feelings of frustration that Shuuuichi helped her let out at the bridge would not be wasted.

        So I think that Kumiko was going to say “I was just with Taki-sensei, and he told me to keep practicing that part so that I can play it at the Kansai comp!” Etc etc. I think she was just completely absorbed in her realisations that night, so she didn’t even realise that her throwaway comment about Taki would out Reina in such a fluster ^^;;

        Hmm.. I guess you are right. Her mind was full of euphonium that night. (I almost forgot all those incident happened in one night :p)
        Poor Reina though, hehe.

        No worries. Radio shows are difficult to follow – when I first started listening about 6-7 years ago, I think I got maybe 50-60%. Now I’m up to about 90% on my first loop, if I’m paying attention, that is, though I still have to look a few words up most of the time. Well, I see it as an opportunity to learn new vocabulary! Keep listening, especially as you follow the show as well, and I’m sure your Japanese will improve pretty quickly […]

        Thanks! Yes it’s still difficult for me to understand. I had to replay many parts over and over again to understand.

        Euphoradio is the first untranslated japanese video show that I watched (with the intention of understanding the topic). I kinda feel much improved during S!E since I have to push my own Japanese if I want to try digging around more about the original source and the creators. (especially when lots of English forums are too distracted with the pairings! Ugh)

        Still a long way to go. I’ll keep your advice in mind. ^_^

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        • karice says:

          Poor Reina indeed 😄

          If you’re keen on using anime radio shows to help improve your Japanese, I’d also recommend episode commentaries if you can get your hands on them. They’re really useful because at least half the time, the seiyuu (and the staff for staff commentaries) are referring to what’s happening in the show, in the scenes that they themselves are watching when they record the commentaries. The staff ones are harder to follow, though, so I wouldn’t really recommend them unless you’re really interested in animation, art direction etc etc…

          And one more thing…(unfortunately) devoting some time to reading interviews etc also helps reinforce any new words or phrases you come across, so I would actually recommend doing that too… ^^;;

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  2. Pingback: 10 things I learned from the Eupho Quartet!! | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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