Sound! Euphonium at the theatre: a performance to behold
September 11, 2016 3 Comments
|July 1st, the final screening of the Sound! Euphonium film at Sunmall Cinema|
I can’t believe it’s already been 10 weeks since I saw Sound! Euphonium at the cinema. In fact, it’s been so long that the BD has now been released, and I’m wondering if you will actually believe that I did, in fact, write this review based on a trip to the cinema back in July.1 That’s a slightly depressing thought, considering that I had to take a 5-hour round journey out from Tokyo to find a screening in a small-town mall. I’ve taken day trips out of Tokyo before…but that’s the first time I’ve ever taken a day trip to see a film—at about $40, the train fare cost more than everything I bought at my destination! But…was it worth it? Absolutely.
** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **
They’re pretty slight, as I’m mostly referring to changes between the two versions of the narrative. But I still strongly recommend that you see the film for yourself first! —karice
Overall, there were five things I loved. First, as others have noted before, the dialogue was completely re-recorded. In particular, I felt that the Chikao scene—the one with his famous “I don’t dislike it”—sounds really different, as does the scene where Kumiko runs across the bridge. But it only reinforced, once again, just how much I adore Kurosawa Tomoyo and the authenticity she brought to the young and uncertain character at the centre of Eupho. It really is a wonderful performance, one that carries both the series and the film. I’m really looking forward to hearing her as Kumiko again this fall—just 24 days and counting!
It wasn’t just the dialogue, though, but also the sound. Although a lot of the side stories were trimmed, we got extended performances for both “Rydeen”—the song KitaUji marched to for the Sunrise Festival—and “Crescent Moon Dance.” And they were glorious: experiencing those two performances in a theatre were, on their own, worth the entire trip. But the experience was also enhanced by all the things I noticed because I’d been listening to the staff episode commentaries. For example, the floating particles in the air in that final concert scene, and the sounds of the pistons being pressed. I also consciously noticed some of the ambient noise, such as the cave-like drone of the concert hall, or the screeching cicadas in the summer. I still feel somewhat uneasy to be actively listening for the sound effects that help make these created worlds feel so real. However, I also found myself appreciating just how much care Yamada and her team put into making sure that the film not only looks right, but sounds right too.2
The last two elements in the film itself I loved came as the credits rolled. First, I felt that the tone of the theme song was perfect. It’s the opening song of the series—”DREAM SOLISTER”—so the lyrics still convey the message about one’s youth that runs through the story, but it’s been rearranged into an orchestral version that suits the more serious tone that the film has.3 Then there were the still shots in the ending sequence, especially the Takuya x Riku one, and the one with Taki, Shuuichi and Chikao. Altogether, those shots signify for me what this story is all about: the wonderful camaraderie that is built when people pursue an activity they love together. All of those bonds are unique in their own little ways, but there’s one thing they all share: a brightly burning passion.
There were a few things that I wasn’t completely satisfied with. First, I did not like the extensive narration; though perhaps useful for viewers partaking in this story for the first time, I found it distracting, more so than in the series. Thankfully, the use of this device was greatly reduced in the second half of the film, allowing the audience almost full immersion in the performances. But the other change was something that hit me more deeply. With a running time of under two hours, and with the two extended performances as well as a few new scenes, more than half of the content of the show had to be trimmed. In particular, there was a series of scenes involving Kumiko that I really wished had survived the cut. Admittedly, when I reflect on the tone of those scenes, I can understand why they might have been cut. And perhaps they simply weren’t that important for showing her character arc…though I still wish my favourite line of dialogue had been retained!4
On the other hand, those cuts allowed Yamada to highlight a different part of the story: Yuuko’s side of the main ‘conflict’. And this worked incredibly well—I had already felt for Kaori in the series, knowing what had happened to her the previous year. But the storytelling in the film made it very clear—to this viewer, at least—that Yuuko’s heart was in the right place. I understood her feelings when I saw the series last year, but with those few additional scenes, this time, I really felt them. As a result, on balance, I thought that the film worked. Ultimately, however, it may be most effective as a complement to the TV series. It should also whet your appetite for the upcoming second season—it certainly did mine!
|One of those extra scenes saw her speaking with Mizore… (scan from the pamphlet.)|
So in the end, taking that day trip out to see Sound Euphonium was completely worth it. It reminded me of how much I loved the story that Takeda wanted to tell, and the care and passion that Yamada and the rest of the staff at Kyoto Animation poured into it. And let’s not forget the voice actors, either. I only wish I’d been able to see it at the cinema again, but that Friday was the final day it was showing at that cinema out in Chiba prefecture, so I had to make do. Now that the BD is out, I’ll finally be able to savour it again;5 I only hope that the rest of you enjoy it as much as I did!
And a bonus:
|Here are my scans of the front and back covers of the pamphlet ^^|
- I took about 500 words worth of notes, and really should have written this up once I got home from my last trip to Japan. If only I hadn’t been distracted by Macross…!! ↩
- For those who might be interested in learning more, the sound director for Sound! Euphonium is Tsuruoka Yota, and the sound effects editor is Morikawa Eiko. Both of them regularly work on Kyoto Animation projects—in fact, I’m fairly certain that Tsuruoka has worked on all of them. ↩
- You can hear a sample on amazon japan. However—and I’m not sure why this is the case—it costs less to buy the film soundtrack on iTunes (¥2,100 vs ¥3,240). ↩
- I won’t say what it is here, but you can ask me elsewhere if you really want to know. ↩
- Once I can afford it, anyway, as Macross Delta is currently gobbling up my budget… This is also the reason I can’t share any screencaps—sorry! ↩