Panning the Stream: Sound! Euphonium, My Love Story!!, RIN-NE

How to improve your spring anime? Just add cherry blossoms!

Two full meet ‘n’ greets in this one, huzzah! One was exactly what I expected, while the other was something of a pleasant surprise (although we’ll see if it can hold up over multiple episodes). Also, apparently if you throw an exclamation point (or two) into your title, good things happen. Take note, aspiring writers. Then hit the jump for some sweet music, some sweet cakes, and a little bit o’ bland.

Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)

Studio: Kyoto Animation (“KyoAni”)
Based On:
The novel by Takeda Ayano
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia)

In a Sentence: This slice-of-life follows euphonium player Oomae Kumiko and her new classmates as they join their high school’s (not very good) concert band club.

How was it? Slow-paced but charming, with high production values and a real sense of love for the subject matter.

Overall

“Daily life of high school club” is a pretty standard premise, I know, but if you’re a music fan at all I suspect you’ll enjoy the orchestra focus and atmosphere, and if you were ever a band geek there’s a good chance you’ll out-and-out love it. The pilot is sprinkled with little bits of music trivia, and you get the sense that the team working on this both knows their stuff and enjoys portraying it for their audience. The whole project has a lens-filtered nostalgia look to it, but it’s KyoAni, so that basically means it looks beautiful, and the few bits of “instrument playing” animation we do get give me hope that we’ll be seeing some dynamic concert animation along the way, too.

And, yes, the main characters are a quartet of cute girls who are pretty good at being cute, but there are hints here that we might get something at least a little different from the usual types and tropes. I particularly enjoyed main character Kumiko, who’s a bit ruder and more cynical than your average female protagonist, but in a way that’s relatable, feeling more like genuine high school ennui rather than an over-the-top “angry girl” cliche. (The others are still basically archetypes at this point, but it’s early, so we’ll see if that improves. Plus, one of them does Magic! And what’s not to love about that?)

I also confess to having a weak spot for this sort of even-handed storytelling approach, as if someone’s leading me by the hand towards a specific goal but letting me enjoy the scenery as we go. This kind of pacing may bore some viewers away, particularly if you’re not interested in the subject matter, but it works for me for now, largely because it doesn’t rely on overblown melodrama but rather quieter, more realistic conflicts to carry the story. What can I say? This premiere just hit all the right notes for me. I’ll be back to see if it can keep me invested in the coming weeks.

My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)

Studio: Madhouse
Based On: The manga by Kawahara Kazune (High School Debut)
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (here’s the link to the full list of regions)

In a Sentence: Hulking but kindhearted Gouda Takeo falls head-over-heels for Yamato Rinko, but, convinced she only has eyes for his handsome best friend, vows to help her find happiness with the guy she “really” likes.

How was it? Hilarious. Charming. Sparkly. And cute. So very, very cute.

Overall

I’m doing episode-by-episode posts on this one, which is usually a good indication that I liked it, and that’s very true here. Director Morio Asaka (Cardcaptor Sakura, NANA, Chihayafuru) is an old hat when it comes to great shoujo adaptations, and he’s got himself another piece of solid source material to work with. The characters are all likable (and awkward in their own uniquely teenage ways) and well-written, full of contradictions and hints of depth; the series is adept at humor, earning not just giggles but outright laughter; and its surprisingly skilled with its more serious moments as well, handling a “groper on the train” subplot not only tastefully but aggressively, coming down in no uncertain terms against victim-blaming (which should be a given but sadly isn’t, and is always great to see in media aimed at teens). Also, did I mention that it was cute? Because it is. So very, very cute.

OreMono looks to be a series about the difference between the external and the internal; a “never judge a book by its cover” kind of story. I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to play with the disparity between its protagonist (about as far from a traditional “shoujo romantic hero” as you can get) and its genre, and how that fits into its broader messages as well. Mostly, though, I’m just looking forward to giggling and cheering this oh-so-insecure young couple towards a happy ending.

Dropped

RIN-NE (Kyoukai no Rinne)

Sigh. Every time I try out a new Takahashi Rumiko (Inuyasha, Ranma ½) series, I think that maybe this will be the one I enjoy, but it never happens. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. As with most of Takahashi’s work, there’s nothing particularly wrong with RIN-NE. It has a decent sense of humor, although the comic timing could stand to be sharper, the characters are pleasant enough, and usually I’m into supernatural tales about death gods and spirits and the afterlife. But for whatever reason it never grabbed me—the premise didn’t quite hook me and the characters didn’t quite connect. I encourage you to give this one a try if you’ve enjoyed Takahashi’s previous works or are into lighthearted ghost stories. But, once again, it’s just not for me.

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