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Posts Tagged ‘Hibike! Euphonium’

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Hahahahaha, 2016, oh wow. It sure has been a year! While it’s been crappy to exist in, it’s been pretty alright for escapist media! And from my perspective, there’s been a lot of good anime – enough that cutting down to 10 was actually difficult.

As always, I’m counting ‘2016 anime’ as series that ended in a 2016 season and films that I first had the opportunity to watch in 2016. So if it started in the autumn season of 2015 but finished at the end of the winter 2016 season, that would count; if it started in the autumn season of 2016 but won’t finish until the end of the 2017 winter season, it won’t. For split cours, I just go with my gut. In short, unless I’ve been able to put a score on it I won’t be considering it – prematurely enshrining how great something is when it isn’t even half over is a bad idea!

So with that out of the way, onto my top 10 anime of 2016! Ah, but first, a few series that didn’t quite make the cut…

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Hibike! Euphonium 2

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Hibike! Euphonium 2 is more Hibike! Euphonium. And I mean this in the truest sense of the word – it is a direct continuation of the first season, and if you liked that I’m hard pressed to find reasons why you’ll dislike this.

Specifically, it’s more of the incredible second half of the first season – that is, loaded with intimacy, emotion and feeling. Much of the first season was devoted to Kumiko and Reina, with the two only connecting in the second half. This second season has the two as close friends throughout (as if they’re only friends…), so we get so many of those wonderful, quiet, close moments the two shared. And with that relationship thoroughly established, the show takes the opportunity to really dive into the supporting cast – Taki, Asuka and Reina are explored and fleshed out into much more depth, and with Kumiko being involved in everything we get a lot of growth and development out of her too. It’s a take on the Hibike! Euphonium cast only afforded by the familiarity already garnered, and the emotional payout we get from it is tremendous.

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I usually try to end 12 days of anime with a moment of personal importance, with reflection on the self and honesty. Ain’t got something like that this year! Not that there weren’t moments or series like that, but none I could really talk about in depth. So let’s do the next ‘me’ thing after that and gush over KyoAni.

Hibike! Euphonium 2 has been stellar. I keep notes over the year to remember key scenes or events I might want to talk about during these 12 days and I ended up with 4 for Hibike! Euphonium 2 alone. I probably could have justified adding a few more to that as well. And it hasn’t even finished yet – as of writing, there are still 2 episodes to go! The finale is going to pull out something, I know it, but even so there is a huge amount I could talk about.

(Oh yeah, MAJOR spoilers for Hibike! Euphonium 2 ahead)

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Did you have a good year? I hope so. My 2015 was alright. Pretty unremarkable, a couple of new experiences, but mostly just been working. But for anime though, it’s been interesting I guess. I wouldn’t call 2015 a bad year for anime by any stretch, but thinking back on what I watched while writing this top 10 I was struck by how few series really left a major impact in the fandom, and more importantly how few left much of an impression on me. I think I’d overall characterise it as a solid, if unassuming, year for anime. Still, there’ve been at least a few that I’ll be remembering for a while, and enough that I wasn’t struggling for things to include!

Now, the definition I’m working with for ‘2015 anime’ is pretty broad, but a lot of other people are using it too so it’s nothing too radical or unexpected. It’s what I’ve been using for previous years: a series counts if it finished in 2015, and a film counts if it was first available for me to watch this year. I feel this is pretty sensible – you can’t exactly consider a show “best of the year” if it hasn’t even finished yet, shows that started last year wouldn’t get a chance otherwise, and expecting me to consider a film that I could’ve only watched in a cinema in Japan is just silly.

Before we get to the top 10, I want to talk about some anime that didn’t quite make the cut, but definitely deserve a shoutout.

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It’s not 12 Days of Anime without a reference to some KyoAni work, and this year we have Hibike! Euphonium to talk about. It quite quickly drew attention for being a lot more grounded and naturalistic than the usual KyoAni fare, as well as for having some stunning and highly detailed animation and visual direction. The instruments in particular were widely praised, being all hand-animated. Very, very technically impressive.

Unfortunately, Hibike! Euphonium didn’t do much to grab me early on. Sure, it was enjoyable – the characters were fun, and the very low-key, reduced-scope, relatable story was refreshing – but it just lacked a certain something to make it really stand out, to really leave a mark and be remembered for greatness.

It wasn’t until episode 8 before it had a moment that gave it that, but oh man what a moment!

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Spoiler alert: she doesn’t ask Kumiko out :(

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