The anime TV series Sound! Euphonium is a satisfying work that deftly balances the human drama of relationships with the emotional charge of music, competition, and the different degrees to which its characters embrace those elements. After two seasons, the story ended in a fairly satisfying if open-ended place, and it’s interesting that the sequel film, Sound! Euphonium – Our Promise: A Brand New Day, would focus the entirety of the main character’s second year into a roughly two-hour movie. The result is that the film is primarily about how Kumiko and the other remaining members of the Ensemble Club have changed, but also where they still need to go.
WARNING: SOUND! EUPHONIUM TV SPOILERS AHEAD
Having reached third place at Nationals, the Ensemble Club of Kitauji High School—filled with players of tubas and contrabasses and (of course) euphoniums among other instruments—got a peek at the top and are eager to go higher. But with all the third-years graduating, the complexion of the club is blind to undergo a dramatic change. Kumiko, now a year older, is tasked with guiding the incoming first-years. While she’s come to understand what it means to be passionate about her own music-playing, being a mentor is an unfamiliar challenge for her, especially with some of the eclectic new students who have signed up. Perhaps the most significant of these is Kanade, whose social interactions seems Machiavellian at times.
By virtue of medium, the A Brand New Day covers a lot of time in less than two hours, so it can often feel more like a series of vignettes. It eschews the slow burn and gradual character development of the TV series in favor of highlighting the most dramatic moments, and also using the crop of new first-years to show how much the core cast has changed, and also where they have room for growth. For example, both Kumiko and Kanade are euphonium players who try to go along with the flow, and who are afraid to step on others’ toes, but their similar behavior comes from different places, and Kumiko has learned to mitigate this side of her to some degree. Hazuki, who only started playing the tuba in her first year, is constantly with two new tuba players with a lot more experience. Midori finds herself mentoring a younger fellow contrabass who, like her, is sensitive about his name. Reina mentions that the first-years all think they’re ready for competition but aren’t—somewhat ironic given that she was the freshman prodigy just a year ago. One of the messages of the film, and part of what makes it feel so transitional, is that experience, both in music and in life, are factors that can’t always be replaced by talent and genius alone.
There’s also a bit of romance sprinkled throughout the film, but the boy-girl situation Kumiko finds herself only serves to emphasize the heavy yuri vibes between her and Reina. The former is full of nerves and panic, while the latter is like watching someone put on a comfortable shirt. It makes me wonder what the source novels are like in regards to this subject.
Not all the characters are given much screen time, but that’s also because this film’s story runs concurrent with Liz and the Blue Bird. Another Sound! Euphonium film, it centers around Mizore and Nozomi, who were major parts of the second TV series. One more interesting thing is that the Japanese name of the film, Sound! Euphonium the Movie: Oath’s Finale, is very different from the official English title. I wonder if the word “finale” was thought to be too confusing, especially because the film is anything but a conclusion.
Sound! Euphonium – Our Promise: A Brand New Day is a welcome reunion with the musicians of Kitauji High School, but it comes across more like set-up for what’s to come. I’m looking forward to the next film to see how Kumiko and the others continue to grow.