hibike! euphonium

The Flower Language of Liz and the Blue Bird

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Naoko Yamada that flowers and flower language have their place in her latest film: Liz and the Blue Bird. For Yamada, flowers take the place of things left unsaid when people are unable to express their feelings for each other due to a physical disability (A Silent Voice), mental illnesses or internal fear (also A Silent Voice), societal expectations (her episode of Violet Evergarden), or myriad other reasons. When important context goes unsaid, Yamada frequently turns to flower language to do the emotional heavy lifting.

Her usage of flowers in Liz and the Blue Bird has a defter touch than A Silent Voice and Violet Evergarden‘s camellia princess. Many things go unsaid or unspoken between leads Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki and Yamada wisely uses what unites them — music — to express most of them. Flowers create a secondary, background context, featured more prominently in the Liz and the Blue Bird storybook — used as another framing device for Mizore and Nozomi’s relationship — with a few flashes to real-life flowers at key moments between the two.

(more…)

[Two] No Words, Just Music

taki-sensei hibike! euphonium, sound! euphonium, sound euphonium episode 5, episode 5 performance sound! euphonium episode 5 kyoto regionals taki-sensei

The fifth episode of Sound! Euphonium‘s second season is one of the most sublime moments I’ve ever seen out of an anime production.

(more…)

For Whom Do You Play? — Sound! Euphonium’s Seven and a Half Minutes of Music

sapphire kawashima sound! euphonium, sound! euphonium seven and a half minute performance sapphire contrabass, sapphire contrabass performance, hibike! euphonium sapphire-chan performance

“I’m going to play for you.”

-Mizore Yoroizuka to Nozomi Kasaki, Sound! Euphonium, Episode 5

It had to be Nozomi Kasaki.

No other young woman could lead us onto the stage prior to Kitauji High School’s concert band performance at the Kyoto Regional. Nozomi, of whom we were not aware until this second season of Sound! Euphonium, represents a core tenet of the series as a whole: finding inspiration and love through music. Mizore Yoroizuka found her love and inspiration in Nozomi and the girls’ reunion and reconciliation formed the narrative during summer practice that led to this performance. Nozomi spent the majority of that time forbidden from rejoining the band even to help with menial tasks. Now she leads the viewing audience to their exclusive seats for the show.

In the moments before Nozomi pulls back the heavy stage curtain, Mizore tells her that she’ll play for Nozomi. Reina Kousaka overhears this and immediately tells Kumiko Oumae that she’ll play her trumpet solo for Kumiko. Senior trumpet player Kaori Nakaseko tries to pass off the band to second-year Yuko Yoshikawa who passionately insists Kaori stop that line of thinking — they still haven’t made Nationals together. They raise their hands in solidarity and the small subgroups of band members around them, including Kumiko and Reina, follow suit. In that moment they, without speaking a word, make the promise to play for each other.

Nozomi’s presence at the start of the performance again hints at this question, which is answered time and time again throughout the seven-and-a-half-minute song.

For whom does everyone play?

(more…)

Mizore’s World in Sound! Euphonium

mizore yoroizuka, yoroizuka-senpai oboe player sound! euphonium, happy yoroizuka in hibike! euphonium, hibike euphonium mizore yoroizuka crying

“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.

(more…)