Hibike! Euphonium – Shipping Kumiko x Reina
Note: There are spoilers in this post.
Hibike! Euphonium is a great anime. It sparks nostalgia for a lot of anime viewers, and also detailed realistic concert band issues. Some members felt ostracized, some members became unmotivated; eventually setting ambitious goals to participate in the following competitions to come-this led to even more internal strife-from Taki leading everyone like a strict merciless military commander, to certain band members who felt they had their spotlight taken away by having their solo part played by others. I personally had never joined a concert band before, but I feel these are all very realistic issues which could very well happen, as with most large-group management circumstances.
By the end however, it felt gratifying, especially how their performance was just so perfect. They practiced hard and even some of the more inexperienced band members had to stepped down just so they could have the optimum performance, something which they ultimately came to terms with in the end, and even provided outside support. With the band coming together; right after the last performance, I felt a sense of conclusion, an end of an exhilarating journey, a journey where the characters grew not just as musicians but as people-to truly try to accomplish something; but also a start of another journey, as Kumiko always says, “The next piece begins.”
And of course, there’s the yuri.
The anime is great, but it also provides a bonus, which in itself, is also a very hefty bonus at that. This bonus involves yuri subtext-mostly between Kumiko and Reina.
When episode 10 aired, I noticed the yuri fandom lost it with Reina’s “confession”. Personally, I was disappointed as well, although I don’t see myself screaming in CAP LOCKS in twitter (I think part of the reason was because I was already spoiled by these “yelling-in-cap-locks-tweets”, but I digress). I can really see where they are coming from. While I don’t mind a good pairing, whether or not they are a straight or yuri, Taki x Reina is far from a good pair. We had never seen any hints any one of the pair are romantically-attracted, aside from just one little scene where Reina was trying to convince Kumiko and Shuuichi that Taki is a great teacher, praising him wholeheartedly-and even that scene felt more like an expression of mutual respect and admiration, not out of love. Furthermore, that confession scene in episode 10 also emerged in a rather poor timing, what with this wondrous scene just two episodes prior:
Kumiko x Reina however, it’s magic. Despite just being yuri subtext, this is perhaps one of the very rare occasions, maybe even the first time where I see a yuri couple matched together so naturally, despite a great deal of other yuri pairings from other yuri/slice of life shows. It’s soft marshmallow like usual, but extremely heavy teasing, and stopped just a few small several notches of contending with the likes of Sakura Trick’s yuri atmospheres. From episode 1, the pair was also developed nicely, from Kumiko trying to apologize to Reina for her careless remarks during middle school, to the point where Kumiko was captivated with Reina’s earnest desire to be “special”, to where Kumiko finally understood the pain and frustration of her own careless remarks. It was slight, since there was an overarching storyline to focus on-but there had been development on this romance subplot all along-which makes Kumiko x Reina such a good couple, out of any other ships from the anime.
Furthermore, the two characters had a good, stoic chemistry with each other. This is a testament to their organic developments, but also in how they carry themselves, how their characterizations progressed along with the development, and also the voice acting too. Interestingly, in episode 8, Kumiko was enchanted by her and in episode 11, it was Reina who needed mental support from Kumiko. They gave off the vibe that they could understand each other more better than any friends or lovers-there’s just something special about this ship, which could very well transcend over the boundary of the friends/lovers spectrum.
So yeah, I ship Kumiko x Reina. Like the master manipulator KyoAni is, I had my worries at certain points of the anime. While I did mentioned I wasn’t really as butthurt during that “confession” scene by Reina-now that when I worded everything out and organized my thoughts, that route wouldn’t had gone down that well, especially because Taki x Reina doesn’t give off a vibe of being a couple at all-their characters just don’t mesh together that way, and there is a severe lack of development which makes this couple even unconvincing.
As OG would had put it, the state of Kumiko x Reina ended in a “business as usual” manner, but that’s probably the best they could do especially with the overarching storyline closing to an end, and it’s great. It’s nice if they become a legit couple (which I’m sure it won’t happen), but I’m totally fine with the way the anime ended too. Their relationship remained ambiguous in the end (though I’m sure the yuri fandom would suggests otherwise), but doesn’t that apply to most yuri ships as well? In fact, Kumiko x Reina is such a dynamic pair; they are love, they are “special”, and no matter what the anime tells me, I will weather the storm and sail this special yuri ship to the death.