k-chan (karice67) wrote,

Some quick thoughts on Sound! Euphonium (SPOILERS)

I hadn't really been thinking about this series all too deeply...and then this week came along. At first, what I was really surprised about was the reaction in the Anglosphere, where everyone seems to be talking about one thing and one thing only. My own personal vibe about episode 8 is related to something that both Asano Asuko and Joss Whedon have referred to: how the template that we expect for a relationship between people of the opposite sex tends to put blinkers on the way we think they should relate to each other. Not that I'm going to put my foot down and say that there's no way Kumiko and Reina will end up together — I just don't want to box their relationship into one of those typical labels or 'lovers', 'friends' etc. Admittedly, there is one word that I think will fit by the end of this, though it's one that most people probably think of in relation to a romantic relationship. But let me leave that for when the story is over. For now, here are just a few things that I want to note down so that I remember to come back to them when I have more time...

  • it's weird that everyone is speaking in standard Japanese: Uji City is a smallish city on the outskirts of Kyoto, and almost everyone in the novel speaks in the local dialect (a Kansai variant). Kumiko is meant to be unusual in speaking standard Japanese because she basically grew up in Tokyo. This is probably one of the reasons she's stunned when Hazuki just decides to call her "Kumiko" the very day they meet. In big cities like Tokyo, people tend to use surnames when addressing the people around them, even students in the same school year. In more rural areas, people are a bit more relaxed, though you'd generally still use surnames for students in different years (with "senpai" attached for upperclassmen) and classmates that you're not so familiar with.

  • the consensus culture, tatemae vs. honne (public face vs. private feelings) etc are some of the things that Reina, Kumiko and Aoi are uncomfortable with. Kumiko, in particular, has always had difficulty with it because she tends to speak her mind (even though she tries to check herself); this goes against tatemae, and it seems like Kumiko wants to fix this tendency of hers...at least, she did at the start of the series.

  • Kumiko wanted 'a fresh start'. What does she mean by that? I'm also getting the sense that she wants to be more 'mature'.

p.s. Apparently (i.e. according to the novel), the incident where Shuuichi told Kumiko "Don't talk to me, you minger!" happened a year before. So it's a pretty long-term grudge - his mother was even lamenting how "Kumiko-chan doesn't come around anymore. Do note that "Ugly" is an extremely rude insult to a girl in Japan, even if we think it's comparatively mild in English. Equivalents would be things like "you pig," "you cow," especially if Kumiko was a little chubby then...
Tags: anime: brief thoughts

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