“Mizore . . . let’s promise to get first place when we’re in high school.”
-Nozomi Kasaki, Sound! Euphonium Season 2, Episode 1
Speaking over the stifled sounds of bitter tears and a recognizable passage from Aleksandr Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances from “Prince Igor,” Nozomi angrily clenches her fists and makes this promise to her friend, Mizore Yoroizuka. On a long bus ride home from failing to claim first place, there’s little to do but wallow in the stench of defeat or look ahead towards the future. While Mizore reactively says that she hates competitions, Nozomi looks ahead, seeking a different outcome.
For Mizore, this statement is everything. Nozomi is her first real friend, the reason why she joined concert band at Minami Junior High, and later the reason why she continues with it at Kitauji High School — this promise that they will take first together.
The second season of Sound! Euphonium has begun with another lesson of what happens when people don’t talk to each other about their feelings or problems. While this may irritate or ostracize some viewers claiming that the series is making drama for drama’s sake, the execution of the series says otherwise. Mizore’s troubles are relatable and emotionally resonant. Sound! Euphonium has never shied away from the difficult and nuanced scale of talent against hard work, and here it applies that same careful touch to Mizore’s inner world — an isolated place born of self-loathing and no small amount of fear.
“I’m bad with people. I’m gloomy. I always had trouble making friends. I was always alone. Despite that, Nozomi made friends with me. I joined the concert band because Nozomi invited me. I was so happy.”
-Mizore Yoroizuka, Sound Euphonium Season 2, Episode 4
Everything that Mizore hears, sees, and perceives is filtered through her own experiences. She admits that she is not an easy person to get along with, preferring to keep to herself. The fact that Nozomi bothered to befriend her and keep her close means a great deal to Mizore. She puts Nozomi on a bit of a pedestal because of this and her internal filters work hard to keep Mizore’s impression of her own existence down. Rather than thinking of another reason why Nozomi wouldn’t tell her that she was quitting the band, her mind immediately jumps to the fact that she wasn’t important enough to Nozomi to warrant an explanation. Mizore’s world naturally places Nozomi as above her in the social hierarchy, and this colors all of their interactions — or in this case, lack of communication.
Anyone who has ever been depressed or felt out-of-place will easily relate to Mizore. How many times have you eschewed contact with others because you felt as if you didn’t deserve it? How many people have you put as above yourself because of your own self-loathing and doubt?
“You were nice to me because . . . you felt sorry for me. You pitied me.”
-Mizore Yoroizuka to Yuko Yoshikawa, Sound! Euphonium Season 2, Episode 4
Mizore’s friendship with Yuko Yoshikawa is a casualty of this inner filter. Sound Euphonium! has made it abundantly clear that Yuko is not the type to bother with people she doesn’t like — Yuko is a fiercely loyal friend, yet allows few people in. Mizore is one of those few people. Yuko wouldn’t be friends with Mizore if she didn’t care a great deal about Mizore. Mizore’s words hurt Yuko deeply. This is likely unintentional — Mizore is too caught up in her own world and lingering feelings towards Nozomi — but it incisively showcases how self-loathing can accidentally isolate others. Inadvertently invalidating another’s feelings can easily be a direct effect of internal self-hatred, turning that very fear into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There’s an obvious parallel between Nozomi and Mizore’s relationship to the central relationship of Sound! Euphonium: Kumiko Oumae and Reina Kousaka. Reina is the withdrawn individual who is brought out by Kumiko, the latter having a cheerier disposition and other friends. However, in their scenario it’s Reina who is the dedicated musician above all else, helping Kumiko rekindle her own love of music. When Kumiko asks Reina for whom she plays, Reina simply says herself and that she hadn’t thought about it much. Although Kumiko was initially inspired by Reina, it’s safe to say that Kumiko plays for herself as well. They balance each other out better than Mizore and Nozomi, with the latter doing most of the heavy lifting in the relationship due to the former’s depression and self-hatred.
“When was she being honest? When was she putting up a front? It was always so hard to tell. It was a little scary to consider what she was seeing from her perspective.”
-Kumiko Oumae on Asuka Tanaka, Sound! Euphonium Season 2, Episode 4
Sound! Euphonium also leaves us with Asuka Tanaka’s more cynical point of view: people cling to each other out of desperation, because they have nothing else. While Kumiko rejects this wholeheartedly, she also does well to remind us that it’s not simply Mizore that has a filter through which the world is shown.