Sound! Euphonium Original Soundtrack Review

Album Title: Sound! Euphonium Original Soundtrack Omoide Music
Anime Title: Sound! Euphonium / Hibike! Euphonium
Artist: Akito Matsuda
Catalog Number: LACA-9410
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: July 8, 2015
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia, Amazon

Review: The extent to which Hibike! Euphonium could properly be titled K-ON!: The Redemption goes beyond the content of the anime and into the show’s musical offerings. At first glance, Hibike! Euphonium‘s soundtrack compiles many one-dimensional tracks that each encompass simple emotions as love, pain, and melancholia, standard fare in the realm of slice-of-life drama soundtracks. But Euphonium‘s soundtrack’s surprise lies in Akito Matsuda’s ability to channel those emotions effectively. In doing so, he brings forth a very personal soundtrack, one that strikes at the core of Kumiko’s, Euphonium‘s protagonist’s, high school experiences.

There’s a freshness to the start of every high school slice of life soundtrack and Hibike! Euphonium‘s is no exception. Kumiko’s high school life begins through “Hajimari no Senritsu’s” stirring air. It’s tranquil piano melody gradually builds, sweeping you away with a swelling flourish that evokes an inspiring beginning. Its air of optimism flies front and center, and through the delivery, gushes with hope and possibility.

With that illustrious opening, much of what comes after can be described as nondescript mood music. For example, “Oboroge na Genzai” presents a quiet, meandering journey occasionally interrupted by an introspective air carried using the soundtrack’s leitmotif. Other tracks like “Shintenchi” are more whimsical as the melodies hop and skip about without a care in the world while other tracks amble on. “Chiisana Fuan” is heavier, bringing forth tension and a menacing aura and “Seishun no Itami” follows with a downright melancholic air with weighty chords that rrek of despair. Minimalist atmospheric tracks like “Kiretsu” also make their appearance to drape a blanket of tension over the proceedings, but thankfully don’t overstay their welcome.

Listing all of those tracks isn’t meant to detract; those pieces serve their roles well and their melodies are far better than your run-of-the-mill slice of life soundtrack. Through it all, you get an all-encompassing view of Kumiko’s high school life, from the dramatic moments to the emotional realization of where her heart truly lies.

Amidst the moody melodies, there are tracks so superb they demand your attention. In “Hazumu Omoi”, a stirring melody tugs you along towards brighter horizons. Between the gentle guitars and the heartfelt strings, its optimism leaves you in wonder at its positivity. The stirring, soulful “Ishiki no Houga” later on also lifts you from the shadows of despair, but nothing speaks of hope quite like the last few pieces. “Kasuka na Hikari” twinkles with happiness, using the strings to hearken towards great happiness through the leitmotif. That said, it’s in “Ichizu na Hitomi” where a great show of energy materializes. Through the cathartic melody, you can hear the inspirational theme from Chariots of Fire rear its head, instilling the idea that Kumiko and the rest of the band can surpass their potential, as they aim for the top.

As the first disc closes out, the second disc comes in, chock full of band pieces performed by the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Freshman Wind Ensemble. What the second disc lacks in originality it makes up for by the familiarity of its melodies; the selections include two tracks by Offenbach, most notably the “Can-can” from Orpheus in the Underworld and the “Bold Gendarmes” duet adapted by the US Marines in the “The Halls of Montezuma”. Luigi Denza’s “Funiculi Funicula” makes an appearance and is a lot of fun as is Sousa’s “The Fairest of the Fair March”. The only unimpressive track is the lovely, yet tragic music in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” which feels less emotionally impactful than most other renditions.

Moving on further, the pleasant surprises on Disc 2 are the wind ensemble arrangements of the opening and ending themes: “Dream Solister” and “Tutti!”, respectively. Of the two, “Dream Solister” changes the least going into its wind ensemble format but it still retains the initial pomposity that segues into the upbeat atmosphere. “Tutti!’s” transformation is more noticeable, turning from a groovy piece with ska-ish vibes to a grander piece that’s bombastic but also more introspective, making it a great piece to ruminate over compared to the original. Together, these two pieces are emblematic of the very enjoyable second disc where old pieces largely succeed in shining within a new context.

Hibike! Euphonium the anime and Euphonium the soundtrack have both defied expectations, with the former dealing out profound character development across a heartwarming and relatable story and while the latter injects one-dimensional tracks with much heart and emotion. As a result, both Kumiko’s and the high school band’s struggles and growth are captured on both the visual and auditory fronts. What unfolds feels much more personal and intimate. So much so that Hibike! Euphonium‘s quiet execution will have grown on you by the end, and as the last scenes and notes subside, you’re left surprised, but ultimately fulfilled by the emotional experience.

Rating: Very Good


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

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