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Literature / Sound! Euphonium

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Aim for Nationals.

Sound! Euphonium (original title Hibike! Euphonium, and note that "Sound"/"Hibike" here is an imperative verb, not a noun) is a Japanese novel by Ayano Takeda, published on December 5, 2013 by Takarajimasha. The story takes place in Uji, Kyoto, and focuses on the Kitauji High School Music Club, which is steadily improving thanks to the newly appointed adviser's strict instruction. A manga adaptation illustrated by Hami began serialization on the Kono Manga ga Sugoi! Web website on November 28, 2014. An anime adaptation, produced by Kyoto Animation began airing in Japan on April 7, 2015. The anime is directed by Tatsuya Ishihara and written by Jukki Hanada, with Shoko Ikeda serving as character designer and chief animation director, and Naoko Yamada serving as the series technical director.

Sound! Euphonium begins when Kumiko Oumae, a former euphonium player from Kita Middle School, visits her high school's brass band club as a first year. Kumiko's classmates Hazuki and Sapphire decide to join the club, but Kumiko sees her old classmate Reina Kousaka there and hesitates, recalling a poignant incident she had with Reina at a brass band club competition in middle school, where they had just narrowly lost their shot at competing in nationals. Still weak to peer pressure, Kumiko ends up joining anyway, and despite her best efforts to at least switch instruments, ends up playing the euph again.

The real adventure begins when the new club advisor, Taki-sensei, brings up the goal of going to nationals. Kumiko worries that it will end up a pipe dream once more.

  1. Sound! Euphonium: Welcome to the Kitauji High School Concert Band (JP 2013/EN 2017)
  2. Sound! Euphonium 2: The Hottest Summer of Kitauji High School's Wind Ensemble Club (2015)
  3. Sound! Euphonium 3: The Greatest Crisis of Kitauji High School's Wind Ensemble Club (2015)
  4. Sound! Euphonium: Secret Story of Kitauji High School's Wind Ensemble Club (2015)
  5. Sound! Euphonium Series: Welcome to the Rikka High School Marching Band (part 1) (2016)
  6. Sound! Euphonium Series: Welcome to the Rikka High School Marching Band (part 2) (2016)
  7. Sound! Euphonium Kitauji High School's Concert Band Diary (2016)
  8. Sound! Euphonium Kitauji High School Concert Band, Second Turbulent Movement (part 1) (2017)
  9. Sound! Euphonium Kitauji High School Concert Band, Second Turbulent Movement (part 2) (2017)
  10. Sound! Euphonium: True Stories from the Kitauji High School Concert Band (2018)
  11. Sound! Euphonium: The Kitauji Concert Band's Decisive Final Movement (part 1) (2019)
  12. Sound! Euphonium: The Kitauji Concert Band's Decisive Final Movement (part 2) (2019)

A recap film of the first season, titled Sound! Euphonium the Movie: Welcome to the Kitauji High School Concert Band, premiered in Japan on April 23, 2016. A second season for the anime premiered in the Fall 2016 season, and covers the two sequel novels. This season also received a recap film, Sound! Euphonium the Movie: May the Melody Reach You, on August 30th, 2017. Additionally, due to the anime's success, the series received two new theatrical films: Liz and the Blue Bird (2018), which focuses on side-characters Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki, and Sound! Euphonium: The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day (2019), which focuses on Kumiko's second year at Kitauji.

Trope! Euphonium:

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    A - F 
  • The Ace: Vice President Asuka is a very skilled player who commands pretty much everyone's respect without even really trying and manages to stay above the various internal squabbles of the band. This, however, hides the fact that she's actually rather the Broken Ace and uses her overachieving to shield herself from the problems she experiences.
  • A-Cup Angst: Kumiko is rather conscious of her breast-size, though she does take some comfort in the fact that her friends are even flatter than she is... and then she's floored by a view of Asuka. This later comes up again in the second season, as Kumiko compares her chest to Reina's, who is more filled out than she is.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The general consensus for the anime's redesigns compared to the original novel and the manga adaptation.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Quite a bit, as the book series is still relatively young, and hasn't even gotten past five volumes (as of this edit).
    • Since KyoAni once again chose to adapt a single book from an ongoing series, this has to happen. Of particular note is Reina's increased role and importance in the narrative, particularly with regards to Kumiko, which actually changes much of the Les Yay between them. By comparison, Kumiko wasn't as fixated on Reina, and indeed the first time they really had a chance to interact on a meaningful level was at the Agata festival. In this way, Reina has been Promoted to Love Interest.
    • There's a lot of focus on Reina's attraction towards Taki-sensei in the second season, specifically what it means to her own goals for being a musician. Compared this to how it was handled in the books, where it seemed to have been mentioned off-hand in book one just to prove that Reina wasn't a lesbian, then quietly forgotten afterward.
    • Liz and the Blue Bird is a movie with a completely new story that is only tangentially related to the story in the original novels.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Asuka's mother is overbearing and tries to force the school staff to bend to her whims in relation to her daughter. Specifically, she demands that the Vice Principal and Taki-sensei accept Asuka's club resignation, even though Asuka herself clearly doesn't want to quit. She even plays the Single Mother card to get them to acquiesce. After slapping Asuka across the face, the woman has to be lead out of the teachers' lounge by the hand.
    Asuka's mom: I raised her by myself. With no one else's help. By myself! So my daughter's future is my decision. The club is doing nothing but dragging her down!
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Kumiko, in the last episode. To Asuka.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The female Kitauji students' Sailor Fuku are navy blue in the novel's cover illustrations, but in the anime they're brown.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Taki-sensei swings from this to Stern Teacher and back again. He tells the club they are aiming for Nationals, then decides not to when the students look worried, then lets them to decide on for fun or for nationals being the goal. When the club votes on being for nationals, he then tells them not to bother him until they can play as an ensemble. When the club plays an ensemble for him in episode three, he basically says they suck and forbids them from playing in a concert until they can play well as an ensemble. He does all this with the same mildly bored but kind expression. It's pretty clear later in the series that acting like this trope was all an act to motivate the class to show him up, though.
  • Artistic License – Music: In minute instances. In spite of being faithful to the intricacies of ensemble music, former band players can still pick out minor things like clarinet players emphatically bobbing their heads while playing, which doesn't quite happen because the instruments are more restrictive than they appear, or even Mizore's over-handling of her oboe reed while playing, which would actually damage the reed and her sound quality. A more nitpicky example of the liberties taken by the adaptation can be watched here.
  • Ascended Extra: Mizore, the oboe player, appears in the background of season 1 multiple times before becoming a central character in season 2.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: The first season considerably ramps up the romantic tension between Kumiko and Reina, only to seriously downplay it come the second season, by comparison.
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • Discussed. Aoi explains that despite the band not being very good and lacking the attitude to practice, a majority of the members chose to go to nationals in Taki-sensei's vote for reasons like avoiding conflict or not wanting to seem lazy.
    • Reina tells Kumiko that she feel that under Kumiko's nice girl mask is someone who is a lot like Reina herself, a person who is distant and somewhat cold. She brings up Kumiko's habit of being insensitive when not thinking, as proof that she isn't nearly as nice as she pretends to be. Oddly though Reina loves that hidden Kumiko because it's a person Reina can relate to.
    • Plenty of her fellow students are certain that Asuka's demeanor is a mask for something, but it's so thick that they can never tell what, or when she's being real. Season 2 shows that she just plays Stepford Smiler really well — in reality she has a lot of tension with her Education Mama and longing for the dad she never really knew thanks to the very same mom.
    • The scene where Kumiko and Asuka rip into each other's respective facades is arguably the most emotionally charged in the whole story.
  • Big Brother Mentor: This is essentially the relationship between Kumiko and Asuka at the end of the day. Though they both won't hesitate to annoy and tear into each other, it's clear that Asuka has a soft spot for her classmate, and Kumiko views Asuka in the same eyes as her older sister.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Sapphire's eyebrows are rather thick.
  • Blunt "Yes": In the last episode, Asuka teasingly asks Kumiko if she came to her for relationship advice. This is Kumiko's response.
  • Book Ends: The first season of the anime starts and ends with the regional competition, with Reina in tears. The difference is they're Tears of Joy in the end.
    • Chikai no Finale shows the band's second attempt at reaching nationals ending with a dud gold in the Kansai Competition. After new member Kanade laments that all their work was for nothing, Kumiko just asks "Are you upset?" to which she repeats Reina's words from the prologue verbatim: "I'm so upset I could die." Cue credits.
  • Breather Episode:
    • Episode 6 of the first season focuses on Hazuki getting better with the tuba and sits right between the culmination of the SunFes arc and the episode where Aoi quits the band.
    • Episode 6 of season 2 is mostly a light-hearted school festival episode. It comes right between the conclusion of the season's first arc (with the band winning the Kansai Competition), and the beginning of its second arc (where Asuka's mother forces her to quit the band).
  • Brick Joke:
    • In episode 1, Hazuki overhears Kumiko's thoughts on the band (being that they suck) but she doesn't hear who or what she's referring to. It's only at the end of the episode, after they visit the band in question, that she figures out it was them Kumiko was talking about.
    • Kumiko expresses disappointment as there isn't a toy mascot for the euphonium, and has had to settle with Tuba-kun as compensation. At the end of Episode 12, Kumiko finally finds a Eupho-kun.
  • Broken Ace: Asuka's bubbly and ditzy facade actually hides a difficult home life and a lot of psychological problems, which made her quite hypocritical; and her overachieving is actually a way to shield herself from these problems.
  • Call-Back:
    • At the show's start, Taki-sensei asks the band to vote whether or not to go for nationals. Everyone except Kumiko votes, as Kumiko is indecisive. Come Episode 11, when Taki-sensei again asks for a vote, this time, determining who should play the trumpet solo; Kumiko immediately supports Reina without any hesitation, and it's almost everyone else who can't decide.
    • In the same pep-talk she gave Reina, Kumiko also calls back two other instances — her meeting with Reina in episode 4, where she was afraid that the former would literally murder her at the back of the school, and their hike up the mountain in episode 8. This time around, she now no longer minds if Reina does "murder" her, and returns her "confession of love" as well.
    • A callback to the first episode occurs in Episode 12, after Kumiko is forced to sit out of practice for a difficult part in the concert piece. Kumiko says, "I'm so upset! I'm so upset I could die," the very words Reina said to her in middle school.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Despite feeling the need to do so, Kumiko initially has a lot of trouble bringing up the incident in middle school to Reina (and by extension, has difficulty even talking to her). This is partially because she doesn't believe she's at fault, especially since she never meant anything bad. Eventually, Kumiko decides it's okay if she doesn't.
  • Cathartic Scream: Reina finds a nice, isolated place to let one out after hearing news that just confirms the band's lack of initiative for real practice. And again in season 2, after she finds out Kumiko knew Taki's wife passed away, but didn't tell her.
  • Childhood Friends: Kumiko, Shuichi, and Aoi.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Asuka is pretty out there, and often has to be brought under control by Haruka.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The scarves on the female students' Sailor Fuku are different colors depending on what year they're in; first-years have red scarves (though they're pink for the summer uniforms), second-years wear blue, and third-years wear green. Their tracksuits and indoor shoes are also similarly colored.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Hazuki gets a lot less screen time after she fails the audition.
  • Companion Cube: Sapphire affectionately refers to her bass as George-kun and believes they locked eyes the moment she unzipped him from his bag.
  • Conveniently Seated: As usual, Kumiko sits next to the windows, second from the back. Hazuki is behind her and Sapphire is at the front of the row next to her.
  • Cover Version: Kitauji's piece for the SunFes in the anime is "Rydeen" by Japanese Synth-Pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra, a band widely considered one of the most important and internationally influential Japanese artists of all time. In the book, however, it's an arrangement of "Can't Buy Me Love" by The Beatles, to whom YMO's influence is often compared in Japan.
  • Cram School: Aoi, Kumiko's childhood friend and senior saxophone player, is seen leaving band early in order to attend Cram School. Later, in S1 E12, after she quits band, Aoi bumps into Kumiko on her way to Cram School in the evening, when Kumiko is walking home from band practice.
  • Creepy Crows: Accompany Kumiko and Reina to the back of the school while Kumiko is under that impression that Reina will kill her.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: This happens to Kumiko a lot.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kumiko and Reina's relationship plays with this.
    • The trope is played straight when it comes to Reina, though Kumiko's effort to defrost her only goes as far as "try to make her not hate me" before Reina starts making her own effort to open up.
    • In Reina's perspective, Kumiko is an inverse of this trope, as she wants to get close to Kumiko to make Kumiko be her actual, cold and distant self instead of always putting up a friendly front. Since Reina, even post-defrosting, still distances herself from anyone else, she finds that part of Kumiko to be someone she can relate to and be herself with.
  • Demoted to Extra: Reina, Hazuki, and Midori are still present but take a back seat to the character development and issues Asuka goes through in Season 2.
  • Duet Bonding: Reina's idea of a festival date with Kumiko consists of them climbing up Mt. Daikichi for a trumpet-euphonium duet without an audience.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness:
    • Asuka displays some in episode 9 after they lose some practice time due to Midori suffering a Heroic BSoD and not playing well as a result.
    • This also happens comically in season 2, after Reina is lead to think that Taki-sensei and Niiyama-sensei are dating.
      Kumiko: Sitting there was Reina, with the eyes of a dead fish.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Kawashima's given name is Sapphire, which is a typical example of a "kira-kira name" with a pronunciation that is hard to guess from the Japanese kanji (緑輝, meaning Green/Shining). It causes Sapphire endless embarrassment, so she insists on being called Midori, which is the pronunciation of the first kanji in her name.
  • Evolving Credits: In the second season, the first half of the episodes (up to episode 5) feature opening credits in black and white. They turn to color on the following episode once the Kitauji Concert Band wins the Kansai Competition, meaning that they reached their goal of making it to the Nationals.
  • Eye Catch: In season 1, it shows members of the band according to their instruments. In season 2, it focuses on a specific character and their instrument.
  • Film the Hand: Natsuki in the second season opening.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Kumiko, Shuichi and Aoi, though Kumiko and Shuichi refer to Aoi more formally in public since she's two years older.
    • Hazuki does this with Kumiko and Sapphire from the start, even introducing Kumiko that way. Kumiko is taken aback at this.
    • Kumiko and Reina upgrade to this in episode 8.
  • Flat Joy: After a club member praises her trumpeting skill, Reina says she's "delighted" with little to no tonal variation and a straight face.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hazuki decides that as a complete beginner, her first year of playing the tuba is a basically a write-off. She reasons that she'll have other chances to fully participate in her second and third year. Asuka scares her into taking practice seriously by warning her that more talented first years may join the school, and overshadow Hazuki. Come Episode 11, we learn that this is what has happened to Kaori in her final year.
    • Asuka mentioning that she wish that the summer would never end during the performance in the final episodes. It's later revealed that Asuka can't stay in Kitauji for the whole school year it would take for the school to qualify for the National finals.
    • The recap movie for season 1 adds in an extra scene after Reina and Yuuko's argument, where Yuuko speaks with Mizore. This establishes their relationship early on, which comes back into play for season 2.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The second-year students hailing from Minami form this.
    • Nozomi (sanguine) is popular, social, and a natural leader.
    • Yuuko (choleric) is aggressive, yelling about the solo in season 1 and playing the bad cop to Natsuki's good cop in Liz and the Blue Bird.
    • Natsuki (phlegmatic) is lazy and withdrawn, but she's nice and a good friend.
    • Mizore (melancholic) has trouble making friends and is depressed by her loss of Nozomi.
  • Funny Background Event: In Episode 12, Natsuki can be seen in the background while Reina is speaking to Kaori and Yuko. Upon seeing Yuko, Natsuki proceeds to prance off-screen and pull a Stealth Hi/Bye of sorts on her.

    G - L 
  • Genki Girl: Hazuki makes up for her lack of skill with enthusiasm.
  • Goofy Suit: Kumiko was tricked into wearing a Tubacara suit.
  • Gratuitous English: Natsuki and Yuko's t-shirts in season 2 episode 2 respectively read "Cement Addiction" and "My Staple Food Is Love".
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Asuka engages in this from time to time; it's mostly English, but she has also used Spanish and French on different occasions.
  • Gray Rain of Depression:
    • The rain on the day Aoi leaves the band continues to the day afterward, where Kumiko and Haruka deal with their feelings toward the event.
    • In season 2, the weather is very gray when Kumiko tries to confront a distant Reina, but it clears up in time for her to confess her feelings about Taki.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Kumiko engages in a brief one with Shuichi in episode 12, with both of them yelling at each other that they want to improve their instrument playing. They shout because they're across the street from each other.
  • Hand Gagging: People do this to Kumiko a few times (including Kumiko to herself) to cut her off from saying things she probably shouldn't.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works:
    • Discussed in the show, and mostly played straight. There are some who have practiced for years, only to be shown up by a younger freshman during the auditions. However, it's mostly justified due to the fact that said freshmen have played for a long time prior to high school, so have more overall experience than someone who started practicing for the first time in high school, such as Kumiko who's played the euphonium for seven years by the time she enters high school, contrasted with Hazuki, who just started playing the tuba.
    • It's further discussed in the second season regarding the nature of concert band competitions. It's argued that unlike sports competitions, music competitions are entirely subjective to the judges' personal tastes regardless of how well the band performs. Even the possibility of picking a song that the judges dislike might serve to hamper whatever efforts the band put into practice. This is also lampshaded earlier on the first season too, when the bass section first listens to Crescent Moon Dance as the piece that Mr. Taki selected for competition, and then mentioning that it's an equally strong and ambitious endeavor to play it for competition, meaning that Taki is serious about his intentions with the concert band, implying that it's going to take a great effort to be able to play it as an ensemble.
  • Hate Sink: It's suggested that Taki-sensei invoked this to unify the music club's efforts in episode 4. It works, as they do learn to play together fairly quickly because of that.
  • Heroic BSoD: A few happen throughout the show:
    • Haruka suffers one in episode 7 and misses school after Aoi quits to focus more on studying.
    • Midori goes through one in episode 9, having felt responsible for what happened in episode 8, when she kept egging Hazuki on to give a Love Confession to Shuichi. Though he rejects her, and Hazuki gets over it rather quickly, Midori can't help but feel she might've screwed things up by making her friend rush her confession like that.
    • The entire band suffers one in episode 10 after Yuko accuses Taki-sensei of playing favorites and picking Reina for the trumpet solo because they knew each other prior to the club. When he confirms it the prior relationship, that only seems to confirm the rumor. Consequently they all lose morale and don't perform very well as a result.
    • Kumiko suffers a brief one in episode 12 after failing to play a tough part good enough during practice. Taki-sensei then criticizes her indirectly when he just asks Asuka to play that part by herself.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Those only familiar with how the anime portrays the relationship between Kumiko and Reina should be very wary in bringing that perception when reading the original novels. While the atmosphere between them gets very sexually charged at times the two remain, at best, only close friends, if mutual artistic inspirations for each other. Reina openly professes her attraction for Taki-sensei, and come the latter books, Kumiko herself settles for Shuichi.
  • Hime Cut: Reina.
  • Hot Teacher: Taki-sensei is pretty good-looking, and Hazuki doesn't hesitate to point that out to Kumiko not long after he's introduced to the club. The same can be said of Niiyama-sensei, to the point that even the girls point out how pretty she is.
  • A House Divided:
    • In the previous year at the high school, there was a huge rift among the band members, with the freshmen who wanted to play seriously, and the seniors who had a culture of mediocrity & seniority. Consequently, many of the newer members quit, and also caused Haruka, a junior at the time and the club president, not to be too antagonistic lest she scare off new members. This event is referenced numerous times when Kumiko and her friends join the next year.
    • There is seldom deep conversation among Kumiko's family, mostly due to the fact that her sister is attending a university that doesn't have a good reputation and everyone in the household questioning her life choices (even herself).
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode of both series is named in the same format as the title: a Japanese word followed by an English loanword. For example, the first episode of season 1 is named "Yōkoso Hai Sukūru" ("Welcome to High School"), while the first episode of season 2 is named "Manatsu no Fanfāre" ("Mid-Summer Fanfare").
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Before she tries to confront Reina, Kumiko imagines how it would ideally go: Kumiko brings middle school up and says to be friends anyway, Reina agrees, then they shake hands and hug. The reality ends up being that Kumiko can hardly say Reina's name.
    • Asuka tries to prompt Hazuki into taking audition practice seriously by saying that a tuba player from a prestigious school like Seijo (Sapphire's old school) might one-up her next year. Hazuki then pictures appropriately-named Palette Swaps of Sapphire arriving and immediately starting a tuba duet.
    • On learning that she might be in a Love Triangle with Hazuki and Shuichi, Kumiko considers what would happen if it were revealed: Hazuki would cry on Sapphire's shoulder, Sapphire would accuse Kumiko of lying about her feelings, and Shuichi would make an ill-timed attempt to defend Kumiko's reputation, to Kumiko's chagrin.
    • In season 2, there's a call back to the first example of this trope when Kumiko tries to confront a distant Reina. Her ideal vision is that they hit it off and walk home together, smiling and laughing. In reality, Kumiko barely stammers out a greeting and Reina walks away without a word.
  • Immediate Sequel: Season 2 takes place directly after season 1, starting with the same photograph that begins the first season's end credits.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Kumiko in the prologue, which ends up being the reason she's initially so jumpy around Reina:
    Reina: Why are people happy when we didn't even make it? Weren't we shooting for nationals?
    Kumiko: Did you really think we could make it to nationals?
  • In Medias Res: The first episode of season 2 starts in winter, briefly showing Kumiko hugging a notebook, before going back to the previous summer. We learn in the final episode that this notebook is Asuka's piece "Sound! Euphonium".
  • In-Series Nickname: The percussion section leader is nicknamed "Knuckle".
  • Irony:
    • The band introduces the newcomers to the various instruments they can pick up, and after Gotou's less-than-stellar intro about the tuba, Hazuki mutters, "No tuba for me." When the time to pick an instrument comes...
    • When Reina leads Kumiko to the back of the school in episode 4, the atmosphere makes Kumiko think Reina is about to kill her. Come four episodes of Character Development, Kumiko becomes so entranced by how Reina looks during the festival that she thinks she wouldn't mind if she died right then.
    • Kumiko's Innocently Insensitive remark in the prologue is the reason Reina is drawn to her.
  • It's All About Me: Asuka's mother shrieks that her child is clearly playing in band against her wishes just to vex her. It's later revealed that this is because Asuka's father, who her mother divorced, is a famous euphonium player and her mother likely doesn't want to be reminded of him.
  • Karma Houdini: Asuka's mother, who forces her to quit the band after an embarrassing scene in the faculty room involving slapping her as detailed in Why Did You Make Me Hit You? all implicitly to prevent her from performing for her own father. Much of the tension in the latter half of the second season is because of her, but the closest to comeuppance she gets is that Asuka uses her fantastic mock-exam scores as leverage to get back into the band in time.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: This is teased at in Episode 9 before the audition, when Reina steps right up to Kumiko and does something that gets a muffled sound out of her. The camera is focused on their feet, making it seem as though they're kissing, but cutting back to head height reveals that Reina is actually squishing Kumiko's face with her hands.
  • Lonely Together: The crux of Kumiko and Reina's relationship is how they both naturally drift away from others. "Lonely" in this case doesn't have the usual sad connotation. See Defrosting Ice Queen above.
  • Love Confession:
    • Hazuki gives one to Shuichi. She gets rejected.
    • Reina literally uses this term while speaking to Kumiko.
    • Reina gives two to Taki, the last of which right before Nationals.
    • And then there's the scene in the very last episode during which Kumiko gives one to Asuka, of all people.
  • Love Triangle: In the original novels, Hazuki and Kumiko both crushed on Shuichi, who only reciprocated Kumiko's feelings. One of the differences the anime has from the novels is that Kumiko isn't romantically interested in Shuichi, or is at least better at denying it.

    M - R 
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Happens to Reina on the Mountaintop.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In episode 2, Kumiko attempts to steer away from picking the euphonium, as she wanted to play something different despite Asuka's insistence. However, Aoi, a childhood friend of hers, accidentally reveals that Kumiko knew how to play it, and gets dragged back to the instrument by Asuka.
    • In episode 10, Yuko is angry that Kaori didn't get the trumpet solo part. She then drags out a rumor she heard that Taki-sensei knew Reina prior to the club, and that he played favorites. This causes a lot of strife within the band, and none of them can perform well, nor do they seem to listen to Taki-sensei much. He decides to fix it by holding a second audition between Reina and Kaori, this time in front of the entire band, and to have them vote on who they feel deserves that spot.
  • No Antagonist: Most of the conflicts in the story come from the flaws within the characters and situations around the band as a whole. Even Taki, who is notorious within the band, is one of the main forces that helps them toward Nationals.
  • Out of Focus:
    • In the adaptation for book 1: literally any student who isn't one of the most prominent four, Kaori, Asuka, Haruka, Aoi, Natsuki, or Goto. Shuichi fares rather well all things considered, but he still counts when compared to other major characters and being Demoted to Extra compared to his novel counterpart.
    • In the adaptation for books 2 and 3: literally everyone except for Kumiko, Asuka, Mizore, and Nozomi. Reina gets a bit of development, but she's mostly Demoted to Extra as a result of Kumiko's other relationships. Midori and Hazuki barely get their lines in and most prominently appear in the ending sequence.
  • Picture Drama: Photo Session e Youkoso is a set of three shorts teaching theater manners that were shown before the May the Melody Reach You movie, which included a segment during which visitors were allowed to take a picture.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Kumiko telling her sister she loves her is one of the big emotional moments of the second season.
  • Plot Hole: Though it's not that apparent, it's not quite known why so many students from Minami Junior High enrolled in Kitauji and joined the concert band with such high expectations, especially considering that the Kitauji band hadn't ranked even remotely decently in competition in a whole decade; however, it's implied that because of their failure in the previous year (a silver in Kyoto), they weren't scouted by better school bands and had to settle for Kitauji. note 
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Reina learning about Taki's dead spouse was handled differently in the book and the anime. In the book, Taki straight up tells her himself, but he's confused as to why she didn't know so before as he told Kumiko about it. In the anime, Kumiko tells Reina about it as precedent for her having a chance to get with Taki later.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot
    • The band class practices in socked feet, even taking off their Inside Shoes before going into the band room.
    • Asuka Tanaka admits she large feet, so finding comfortable footwear is hard for her, and she goes completely barefoot while at home, shedding her socks with her shoes.
    • Both Kumiko Oumae and Reina Kousaka kick off their shoes after their climb up Mt. Daikichi and play a song together barefooted. In the latter's case, she made the mistake of wearing dress heels. Oumae also kicked her shoes off on a long subway ride home.
    • Mizore Yoroizuka took off her shoes and socks and rested barefoot on her class's bus following a very disheartening competition lost that caused several of them to go home in tears. In her case, she was just plain tired, and shedding her footwear helped exemplify it.
    • The second ending of the anime features the main cast going barefoot, even rejecting shoes (well, shoe-shaped cakes, but you get the idea).
  • Product Placement:
    • Yamaha is one of the main sponsors of the show, so consequently all musical instruments and accessories featured in the series are actual products made by Yamaha. The only exception is Midori's acoustic double bass, since Yahama doesn't make those.
    • Keihan Electric Railway is another sponsor, which explains why the majority of train stations shown are Keihan stations.
  • Punny Name: Hazuki's "Tubacabra".
  • Put on a Bus: After Aoi leaves the band, she completely vanishes from the plot. She briefly appears again in Episode 12, though, and then sporadically throughout season 2.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • In their first run, Kitauji wins the Kyoto and Kansai Competitions, earning a place in the Nationals... where they get a bronze.
    • In Chikai no Finale, the following year, Kitauji wins the Kyoto Competition, but gets a dud gold at the Kansai Competition, meaning, they didn't get to represent Kansai at the Nationals.
  • Real-Place Background: Kyoto Animation again lives up to its reputation of faithfully depicting locations in or around Kyoto. This time it's the town of Uji (which coincidentally also is home to KyoAni's headquarters).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kumiko and Asuka end up ripping into each other in Season 2 episode 10, finally exposing the true faces they've been hiding the whole time.
  • Recognizable by Sound: Kumiko is able to distinguish Reina's style of trumpet playing from across campus.
  • Red String of Fate: The first ED shows Kumiko and Reina tied by one.
  • Role Called: Kumiko is at the story's center and her instrument in the band is euphonium. She's been playing it for seven years, with several fruitless attempts in the past to weasel out and switch to something else. One such attempt is foiled at the story beginning.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Episode 12 is full of it. A particular subtle one (and easy to miss) is shown in the part where Kumiko gets back her phone, and calls Reina, all the while looking at the night sky. Notice something? Explanation 
    • This can be noticed throughout the series if you pay attention, particularly during the duet in Episode 8. In this case, reality provides the symbolism, as if you'd stepped outside the night those episodes aired, you would have seen the same thing.
  • Running Gag:
    • Asuka not using Sapphire's nickname and Sapphire's reminder going unheard.
    • Asuka going off on a passionate spiel about something related to music and not finishing it.
    • In the anime adaptation, Kumiko always greets Shuichi with a dismissive "oh, it's you".
    • Whenever Kumiko wants to talk to Asuka privately, Asuka jokingly deflects by asking if she needs relationship advice:
      • Played straight in a flashback at the beginning of S2 E3.
        Kumiko Do you have some time later?
        Asuka Nani nani? Do you need relationship advice?
        Kumiko Could you not do that? This is serious.
      • In S2 E10, Asuka teasingly asks if Kumiko is finally going to confess her love, before Kumiko shuts her down with "That isn't it."
      • Subverted in the last episode of S2, when Kumiko responds with a Blunt "Yes".

    S - Z 
  • Sailor Fuku: The school uniforms worn by female students at Kitauji. Initially, the only reason Kumiko chooses to go there is because it's one of the few high schools that still have them (since in Real Life, Sailor Fuku are being phased out as high school uniforms and are more often worn by middle school students).
  • Scary Shiny Glasses:
    • Asuka every now and then, though usually for comedic effect.
    • Happens for a moment to Taki-sensei in Episode 12.
  • Senior Year Struggles: A recurring theme throughout the series.
    • In S1 E7, "Crybaby Saxaphone", Kumiko's senpai and 3rd year sax player Aoi is called out by the band director for not practicing or playing at the level needed for the band to make Nationals. She makes the tough decision to quit band altogether in order to focus on studying for her college entrance exams.
    • Asuka's entire arc in S2 essentially boils down to this. After failing to even make it out of Prefectuals in her first two years, Asuka finally has a chance to make it to Nationals and play in front of her dad. Unfortunately, her mom wants her to quit band in her senior year so she can focus on her entrance exams.
    • This trope is emphasized even more in Liz and the Blue Bird, as the Minami Quartet are all seniors. Mizore and Nozomi have to figure out whether they want to apply for music school or a normal college. Mizore is talented enough that the Woodwind instructor Niiyama specifically recommends her to consider music school, but she mainly just wants to go wherever Nozomi is going. Nozomi, on the other hand, flirts with the idea of applying for music school but realizes that she doesn't actually want to go pro.
  • Sequel Hook: The final episode has lots of these that were picked up in the second season. Particularly, we see Nozomi in the audience, who plays a major part in season 2, as a flutist who quit the previous year who wants to rejoin the brass band now that it's serious about competing.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Gotou & Riko, as they are both the only second year tuba players and are frequently seen together. Confirmed in Episode 8 as they've been going steady for quite some time.
    • Hazuki and Shuichi as of episode 6, especially with her giving him longing looks. He turns her down, though.
    • Kumiko and Reina, of course, which still persists in Season 2. After Asuka's issues are brought more into the forefront, she gets a lot with Kumiko as well, though it's implied their relationship is more sisterly.
  • Shrinking Violet: Several different characters have different elements of this trope.
    • Kumiko bows to pressure pretty easily, and gets very nervous about having certain conversations with people.
    • Sapphire wishes she didn't have such an unusual name.
    • Haruka sometimes struggles with her role as club president, worrying that she's not a natural leader and that someone like Asuka would be better suited.
    • In season 2, we learn that Mizore the oboist is a very nearly Emotionless Girl who hardly speaks to anyone.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rikka High School, the school in the city for Kitauji to beat if they want to have even a chance at competing at the Nationals, is a twofer. First, they're clearly based on real-life Kyoto Tachibana High School, who are famous for their international-level marching band; for double bonus points, Kyoto Tachibana has been nicknamed "The Orange Demons", whereas Rikka is called "the Blue Devils" in-story. Second, the real-life Blue Devils are an American drum and bugle corps based out of Concord, CA who are famed for being one of the best even among their fellow World Class peers, having won more Drum Corps International championships than anyone else.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The story puts a lot of effort in showing the intricacies of how a concert band works, particularly the instruments, but also the complex web of interpersonal relationships (and conflicts) that form when one tries to make fifty or more teenagers work together as a harmonious whole. Many viewers with experience playing in a competitive musical ensemble especially appreciated the latter.
    • The anime adaptation also happens in "real time", marching in step with the same timeframe in the real world, enough to count as Viewers Are Geniuses at times. For example, in a brief scene in episode 12, we are shown a shot of the night sky, which coincides with an actual astronomical event during that time period. Explanation 
  • Significant Name Shift: There's a fateful moment when Reina and Kumiko hike up a mountain together. Before this, they refer to each other as "Kousaka-san" and "Oumae-san"; afterwards, they drop the honorifics and become much closer, referring to each other by first name only.
  • Skewed Priorities: The primary reason why Kumiko joined the Kitauji high school is that they still have the traditional sailor school uniform.
  • Spinoff: Kumiko's friend from another school, Azusa, got her own novel detailing her experience in the marching band titled Rikka Koukou Marching Band he Youkoso.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The anime adaptation serves as this to KyoAni's previous music-based work, K-On!. Both series focus on high school music clubs; however, while K-On! is a very lighthearted comedy centered around the main characters goofing off and having fun while only occasionally practicing their musiic, Euphonium is more dramatic and focuses on the struggles of becoming a great musician, with more emphasis on actually practicing in order to achieve that.
  • Spoiler Opening: The first opening lays out who makes the cut and who doesn't for the band competition, albeit in a Freeze-Frame Bonus manner: neither Natsuki nor Hazuki are shown, and episode 9 eventually shows that they fail the audition.
  • Stern Teacher:
    • Matsumoto-sensei, especially when it comes to dress code. When she leaves a room expect sighs of relief to follow.
    • Taki-sensei becomes this, but gives the club the option of being for fun, or for nationals. After the vote decides the club will be for nationals, he enters Stern Teacher mode.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Kumiko's reaction to Asuka's claims of an instrument and player being bound by fate, though she's cut off with a 'Shut up!' and Hazuki believed it anyway.
  • Stylistic Suck: The band's performances at the start of the series.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Kumiko practices talking to Reina for the first time in front of her cactus.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Reina says she's in love with her teacher, Taki-sensei. It's incredibly one-sided on her part, as Taki is over twice her age and his wife passed away years ago, making him a widower. When she confesses to him at the National Competition, he treats it as admiration from a student rather than genuine romance.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Kumiko and Reina. It's fairly subtle at first, but then gets throttled to new heights in episode 8, significantly increasing the Les Yay between the two.
  • Title Drop: The epilogue of book 3 and the last episode of season 2 reveal that "Sound! Euphonium" was the title of the euphonium piece that Asuka liked to play when on her own, which was composed by her father.
  • Title Drop Chapter: "Sound! Euphonium" is the title of book 3's final chapter (not including the epilogue), and of season 2 episode 9.
  • Title-Only Opening: Episode 13 does this.
  • Wham Line: Two are said in episode 7:
    • Aoi delivers one during the middle of a practice. Due to studying for college, she can't devote as much time to band practice as she'd like, so she ends up quitting while everything seemed to be going well.
    • Hazuki asks Kumiko if she's dating Shuichi at the end of the episode, having developed a crush on him recently and curious due to him spending so much time with her.
    • At the end of season 2, from Kumiko to Asuka: "I used to hate you, but now, I love you!"
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Asuka's mother pulls this on her in front of the teachers. It has the standard effect: the victim placating the attacker and instantly forgiving them. At least, on the surface.
  • Woman Scorned: Asuka's mother hasn't gotten over her divorce from her husband and the girl's father. She has made every possible effort to keep them separated, making Asuka's playing of the euphonium a bitter reminder of him (as he is a famed euphonium player himself). She is especially resentful of the fact that the instrument that he mailed to Asuka has utterly dominated her everyday life since day one, making a lasting impression on the girl with relatively little effort.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Taki-sensei does this for Kumiko near the end of episode 12.

Alternative Title(s): Hibike Euphonium, Sound Euphonium