Sound! Euphonium is a mess of fun and out of tune notes

Music is many different things to many people. Some musiciansba2c6a7f9e96fe5164c110e1e73ba7ab1428165704_full strive for perfection and others simply play for the thrill of it, and because of that there is no such thing as perfection in the realm of musicology. In any constantly evolving media, i.e. music, it is impossible to ever be the best, particularly when there are always new songs to train up to a performance standard.

And Sound! Euphonium, sadly, only plays a few notes correctly.

The story of Sound! Euphonium, otherwise known as Hibike! Euphonium, is a rather simple one. Kumiko is one of two euphonium players in the Kitauji High School Wind Ensemble, who finds herself caught in the complex politics of the band’s desire to play in the Nationals.

For those not in the know, the Nationals, for just about any country, are the top-tier competitions for musical groups to prove their worth, and as such are rather prestigious.

Like just about any sporting team, the Wind Ensemble wants to reach the grand finals, however like with all things, there’s a large differnce between saying you want to do something and actually doing it.

Because of this, the band’s newly appointed conductor, Taki, is placed in the awkward circumstance of having to train his students, while also beating them over the head when they don’t stay true to their word.

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The subtle greatness of Your Lie in April

Is music something solely technical, something above that of common folk? Can a person truly be defined by their past, even their own failings? The answer is and isn’t yes.

Your Lie in April is quite an interesting show. It grasps the complexity of depression from all sides, and even delves into the intricacy of music. Each core character is given enough development to feel real, and for a show so vibrant, for every feel-good scene there’s a bitter sweet moment of complexion.

“Piano prodigy Kousei Arima dominated the competition and has become famous among child musicians. After his mother, who was also his instructor, died, he had a mental breakdown while performing at a piano recital at the age of eleven. As a result, he is no longer able to hear the sound of his piano even though his hearing is perfectly fine. Two years later, Kousei hasn’t touched the piano and views the world in monotone, without any flair or color. He has resigned himself to living out his life with his good friends, Tsubaki and Watari, until, one day, a girl changes everything. Kaori Miyazono, a pretty, free-spirited violinist whose playing style reflects her personality, helps Kousei return to the music world and shows that it should be free and mold breaking unlike the structured and rigid style Kousei was used to.”

Perhaps it’s from my lack of avid anime watching, but there was something that just clicked with this show.

As a musician myself, it struck each and every note of a story perfectly. Your Lie in April captured the sinister side of professional music, one that requires rigorous skill and perfection, but also bought light to the talent needed to make music sound good.

The art of performance is shown to be much more than bland technicality and metronomic-precision. It’s something that must come from within.

The show asks a simple question that applies to everyone, regardless of whether they play an instrument or not. Who are you doing this for? Do you succeed in life to conquer someone, or do you live to make an impact on someone?

Paying tribute to something is a common feature in Your Lie in April, with both Kousei and Kaori having to find their own answers.

Even the darkness of abuse is given a twisted sympathy, with Kousei’s own mother terrified over whether or not her son will be good enough. She wants to know that her only child will be prepared enough to live alone in this world, knowing fully that she’ll never see him grow old.

Each character is running from something, whether it be Kousei from his mother, Takeshi from his long-gone idol, or even Tsubaki, an isolated girl who only wants her beloved childhood friend to succeed, though it mean losing him.

For a show with such a bitter sweet ending, it still makes you happy. The viewer grows with the characters as they develop over the show, with each and every small interaction feeling human. It’s now that I look back on this show, as a fan of big-bang action scenes and whatnot, and realise that Your Lie in April did not come close to any of the blood-pumping awe.

What it did however, is something simple but complex.

It made me care for these characters in a way that I haven’t felt for quite some time, going all the way back to my first viewing of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shows like Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Steins;gate, Trigun and so on were cool, but I wasn’t involved with the characters. I don’t feel like their journeys could hit as hard as they did in Your Lie in April.

As a writer, I strive to write characters even half as emotional as the ones seen in Your Lie in April. As a viewer, I’d love to see much more of what the Your Lie in April team has to offer.

Your Lie in April gives the simple premise of music an overwhelming depth of characterisation, and even if you don’t care for the classics, the body of this fine show is much more robust. And that’s something I can’t say for a lot of shows.

There is certainly a lot more I’d love to add, but I don’t feel as if words alone can justify the connection I had with this show. The one thing I can recommend is that you watch it.

But until then, this is ZeAnime sounding out.

Should you read The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan? – A first impression

So I’ve been rather interested in this manga/anime spin-off for a bit, mainly due to it being apart of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya universe while also serving as a a quasi-season three for the popular anime as well. Personally I thought the film from which this series is based off was great, and as such I was naturally interested to see where Kadakawa would go with this story. Continue reading

Should You Watch Gurren Lagann?

What Is It?

Simon spends his entire life digging deeper and deeper into the earth, searching for resources locked away under the surface, desperately trying to provide for his village trapped in the pits of the Earth for centuries. Each day earthquakes rattle the sky-less village, remnants of a much larger battle happening unbeknownst to the majority of mankind who spend their lives shackled to the same fate of imprisonment.

With the help of his soul brother Kamina, Simon makes it through each day one step at a time, until a giant mechanical beast known as a Gunmen falls through the ceiling, followed by scantily-clad hot head Yoko. Together they slay the giant mecha, learning that there is a far greater force that wishes to destroy the galaxy in its entirety.

Gurren Lagann, otherwise known as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Translating to ‘Pierce the Heavens, Gurren Lagann!’), originally aired in 2007. As of this review Gurren Lagann is available for purchase from Aniplex of America, Anime Limited and Madman Entertainment.

Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and writer Kazuki Nakashima headed Gurren Lagann and eventually formed Trigger, the makers of Kill La Kill.

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Should You Watch Shiki?

What Is It?

Picture a secluded village tucked away in the middle of nowhere surrounded by an over encompassing forest, a village where the locals all know each other and trust their townsfolk so much that they leave their doors unlocked at night, and well, you have Sotoba, the setting of Shiki.

Everyday life is simple for the residents of Sotoba, with many relying on their own sense of community instead of the shifty outside world, until one day when the Kirishikis decide to move into an abandoned mansion. Soon mysterious deaths follow their arrival, with villagers dying with no cause of illness or injury, and at alarming pace too.

Is a simple epidemic to blame, or is there something far more sinister happening in the town of Sotoba?

Shiki is based off the manga by the same name, written by Fuyumi Ono. The show aired in Japan during 2010 and was also simulcast by FUNimation. As of now you can buy Shiki on DVD and Blu-Ray from FUNimation’s website.

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Should You Watch Cowboy Bebop?

What Is It?

As humanity has spread through the stars at a rather quick pace the police rely on these bounty hunters, known as Cowboys, to round up notorious criminals for some quick cash.

This is where Spike Spiegel and Jet Black come in, scratching up whatever bounty they can in order to pay the bills, because as the series shows, bounty hunting is expensive. Especially when your spaceship keeps on getting blown up in some sort of fashion and your bounty keeps on running away. Of course Spike and Jet aren’t your best Cowboys, often losing their bounty entirely, forcing them to make do with the little they have, which is more often than not spent by their companion Faye Valentine on gambling.

Cowboy Bebop has received critical acclaim from most anime-centred sites and is viewed widely as one of the best anime ever created, if not the best. First airing in Japan during 1998 the show was Toonami’s first ever anime broadcast, airing in the West during 2001. The show also had a PS2 game spinoff as well as two manga titles associated with it.

As of now you can buy Cowboy Bebop from Funimation (North America), Anime Limited (UK) and Madman Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand).

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Should You Watch Trigun Badlands Rumble?

What Is It?

Gasback is an almost superhuman robber, travelling the wasteland planet and stealing whatever he feels like, until one day his group of merry men turn on him, leading the good natured Vash to save him from certain death.

Twenty years later in Macca City bounty hunters populate the town with rumours spreading that Gasback will return in order to claim revenge over his former partners. Enter – once again – Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, insurance workers sent to the town to inspect its largest asset: a giant bronze statue of the city’s mayor, who also turns out to be the very same partner that Gasback is looking for.

Trigun Badlands Rumble is the only film of the popular series Trigun. It was released in 2010 and was made by Madhouse. Badlands Rumble was directed by the original Trigun anime director Satoshi Nishimura and Trigun manga author Yasuhiro Nightow.

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