This post will be opening on a much more personal note than usual. Sound! Euphonium is a band anime about mainly brass players and as a brass player who has been a band twinkie their entire life, this franchise is just connected to me in such unexplainable ways. This movie does, yet doesn’t because it’s anime and focuses more on female characters more then not, feel connected to my own band journey in a way. Oath’s Finale takes place during Kumiko’s second year. The year after the Kitauji High Band made it to finales and then, shockingly, failing to make it the next year. As a person from western Washington, there is a marching and field show competition that takes place during a very important weekend in the fall at the end of November. This is a traditional competition day for my band and all other bands across Washington. At least it was then. I don’t think it has that reputation anymore.
Anyway, the first year I was in band, we won third place in the field show competition. That was feat that our band has never done in its entire history. (We won first place in the parade marching because we always do that). We had a unique field show with the drum majors wearing special costumes to fit the theme of our show and even had a climatic fight at the end. The next year, we did the same thing with a different them and we didn’t even place. I think it was because we decided to do that because we thought we found a formula that works for us and it was pretty clear that wasn’t the case. I also think the talent of the seniors from the first to second year had a massive disparity too which led to this result. As a result, I feel like this was why Kumiko’s second year was a movie. It would be disappointing to do the same thing only slightly different with different character interactions only to lead to something negative. That’s only my interpretation though. Anyway, onto some more film talk.
As I mentioned before, Sound! Euphonium: Oath’s Finale takes place during Kumiko and her friend’s second year. Kumiko is still playing the euphonium, Reina is continuing to be a boss at trumpeting, and everyone who chose a spot to play in the band is playing in that spot with more experience. There are also plenty of differences. With Asuka gone, Kumiko is a section leader now as well as being assigned to look after first years. It also means first year students with personalities that are difficult to deal with. Motomu Tsukinaga is a bass player who hates his last name, Mirei Suzuki is a talented tuba player that finds it hard to socialize with people, and Kanade Hisaishi is a euphonium player with her own eccentricities and personality issues that are hard to navigate.
The film itself, story wise, is a repeat of last season except with the goal of winning nationals instead of just making it there. I can see why Kyoto Animation would want to do something different and innovative by having this movie and the much more artsy Liz and the Blue Bird take place during the same time space. Besides the random jazz jam session with amazing bari sax playing, the story repeated the same things anyway. I honestly feel like it works all together even if it’s a bit too fast. That is the weak point of the film. At the same time, it allows a lot of Kumiko’s interactions with the first years, Reina, and Shuichi to take precedence a bit more because this is a film about Kumiko’s growth. She was full of her own eccentricities and it’s nice to see Kumiko take challenges and grow a bit.
The most interesting interactions in this film were between Kumiko and Kanade because of how similar Kanade is to how Kumiko used to be. More specifically, the way Kumiko was when starting last year that in the show’s time. It shows how much Kumiko has grown since Asuka left because of how Kumiko fends for herself and must rely on her own instincts to make decsions. I do think that Kanade had a little bit of chaos in her, but she never meant to hurt anyone and only worked through things and small social schemes in her own ways. Other then that, the small but quick interactions with Shuichi, Reina still being one of the best friends ever to Kumiko, the other interactions were rather simple. Mirei’s issue at least found a starting point to connect with her tuba family half way in the film and Motomu’s own issue was tiny as well. That is the best that a film can do, I suppose.
In the end, I think that Oath’s Finale is a good film, not a great or fantastic one. I think the weakness behind writing about this is there isn’t that much to discuss or talk about. This film is by Kyoto Animation and it looks on par with Kyoto Animation’s production standards which are always high. The character interactions were mainly simple but effective in their execution, the run time only allowed some characters to shine compared to others, and there isn’t as much kinetic energy behind this production either. The first couple seasons of Sound! Euphonium had a certain spark or tenacity behind them that Oath’s Finale doesn’t have and I think is the weakest part of this film. Still, it was a good time Highly recommended for other Sound! Euphonium fans.