The First Ensemble

Synopsis

With each meeting of the band, it starts with a talk of what they’ll do that day, then each section practices on their own. Kumiko, Hazuki and Sapphire choose their instruments from the music store they have. They do notice there are a lot of instruments left and start to wonder why the number of people in the band have dropped so drastically.

Taki leaves them to their own devices saying to only call him when they’re good enough to play together as an ensemble.

So with instruments picked, the bass section with Kumiko, Hazuki and Sapphire practice together. Hazuki starts learning how to play her tuba and tune it whilst Kumiko takes her Euphonium home to clean it.

But as they practice they notice something there’s a lack of second year students, though everyone seems to want to keep the reason a secret. Unrest spreads around as others aren’t happy the advisor isn’t taking charge especially with two performances coming up, one of them is the SunFest where they always play at.

So, Taki takes charge for on ensemble performance but is treated to a dire performance. He leaves again saying that they need to improve much more before they can play at any event.

They find later that apparently, half of the second years quit because they were too enthusiastic and clashed with the third years because of that. So the second years remaining are fairly lazy ones that don’t care.

Turmoil envelopes the band again as practice is cancelled due to some being unhappy with how the advisor is handling things. So, Kumiko and gang don’t really have a choice but to sit and wait.

Thoughts

For once I see a show that follows slice of life in one of the most realistic manners. Usually a slice of life means comedy or a bit of fun, but this show does well in focusing on the real life problems of high school and convey the feelings and emotions of Kumiko in a believable way.

Although, I’m not saying this show doesn’t have any comedy as that’d make it fairly dull. Some quirky but fun moments such as Sapphire naming her double base George made me laugh. Just the randomness of the name for one and actually naming your instrument for another. Though I guess it’s not completely uncommon nowadays. People name everything, pretty sure most of my friends name their computers, I don’t understand, but if they feel close enough to whatever they’re naming then sure.

One of the scenes I found quite powerful was the scene where Kousaka played her trumpet alone. I feel that it showed her frustration at the whole situation and the need to let off some steam, which was made very obvious by her scream. But I think it also showed us how lonely she felt being probably one of the only ones in the band that wants to do well.

Taki is an interesting advisor, whilst he’s being extremely harsh and smiling through it, which makes it worse, he has a fair point. The band is in no condition to perform, they obviously haven’t made an effort to get to the required level to perform and he’s quite right that they’re wasting his time, and in fact they’re just wasting their own. If the goal truly is nationals then you have to make the effort, you can’t play about and hope someone else will pick up the slack. If everyone voted not for nationals it would’ve been fine, but they voted in favour. And to pick up on something that was said last episode and revisited this episode, three years go by in a flash to waste your time.

With the concert band in this state I think one possible solution is to split up the band into one that isn’t so concerned about competition and one that is. Although at the start it seems like though some of them don’t care, they’re still trying for nationals. So I guess nothing stops them from joining the ‘serious’ group to troll.

Again though I see an opportunity for Kumiko and her group to break away. I don’t know if this is actually how it’s going to go because the anime does seem very focused on the issues of the concert band’s situation and forming their own would be essentially running away from the problem. I would like them to branch off, just because they would do much better together separately.

The show does well utilizing the time to delve into each character. Making it easier to empathizes with them and fully understand the conflicts that they’re going through. I may have said this previously, but I’ll say it again, for once I’m not really bothered how slow the story seems to be progressing, the characters’ emotional exploration makes it so much worth the watch.

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