An interesting revelation had been brought to the table this episode, one that I must admit even I hadn’t thought too deeply about. Sound! Euphonium has a great all-around cast, two of which are some of the best supporting roles I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming across. These two are so great in fact, that it may have caused me to neglect something brilliant hiding right beneath my nose. Oumae, Kumiko is a far more fascinating character than meets the eye.
Reina of course is the one who takes notice of this, pointing out in a private conversation with Kumiko that she is far more perceptive than she or anyone else gives her credit. Now, we audience members were already able to see this first hand as Kumiko has been the point of view of which we experience the entire story. That being said, it’s been kind of easy to overlook her thoughts on the matter when new information about other characters was presented. Everything we’ve learned from the things that happened around Oumae could really be taken as shown, without further interpretation. There really didn’t seem to be a significance to how Kumiko saw the world, so much as an importance that she picked up on it at all.
While Kumiko does have a very eloquent internal monologue, her thoughts aren’t as nearly profound as I think the show would want us to believe. I do enjoy her metaphorical descriptions of what she witnesses from time to time (like the time she described the look on Taki’s face), but sometimes I feel like the show is trying too hard to be poetic. But back to what Reina was saying, she also points out that Kumiko acts normal and has a great grasp on what it is she should say in any situation. Oumae is definitely a person who thinks far more heavily than she lets herself outwardly appear, and we now can basically tell by Reina’s acknowledgement that this personality trait is important, both for the task at hand and probably further down the road.
Now onto the “task at hand”, Kumiko finally heads over to Asuka’s house to study. Before that happens however, Kaori shows up out of the blue and gives them a snack for their study date, then follows that up by bending over and tying Asuka’s loose shoelace for her. It’s here that we get a brief glimpse at just exactly how Asuka feels about being helped or coddled. Just for a moment we get an ominous shot of her lower face, the darkening of what can be seen of the upper portion added with the expression of her mouth shows that she’s definitely not too keen on having her shoes tied for her. More importantly, she seems to have a complex of being supported by others, most likely developed from her history with her mom.
Asuka doesn’t get along with her mother, but out of a sense of obligation (something very culturally significant/normalized in Japan) for her and all the support she’s given her, Asuka can’t help but obey. This is most likely the crux of her support complex, as her childhood shows that taking support from anyone will only come back to bite you in the ass. In this instance, Asuka feels indebted to her mother and feels it’s only right to allow mom to direct her path in life.
And so Asuka claims she doesn’t hate her mother, but Kumiko can tell that’s completely untrue. Then we got to learn the real reason for why Asuka wanted to win so badly and make it to Nationals. It’s a pretty damn good reason too, I must say, even though I would’ve been perfectly fine with simple explanation of “she likes to play”. Finally, Kumiko tells Asuka she wants to hear her play again. A few dissolves later and we’re at the river, where Asuka plays us off and the episode ends. This episode her issues have been heard, so I guess it’ll take another episode or two before they’re actually dealt with. Personally, I’d like to see the problem be solved not by reconciling with her mother but by actually cutting her out of Asuka’s life completely.
Oh, and I can’t forget about the fantastic Reina scene waking up Taki-sensei. Her reaction when he touches her hand grab the key she was returning was too damn cute.