Sound! Euphonium: Ready, Set, Monaka - Reviews

Alt title: Hibike! Euphonium: Kakedasu Monaka

krofire's avatar
Oct 19, 2021

This standalone OVA was originally a DVD special however it is now widely available on the web and currently (2021) can be seen on Crunchyroll. Events in the story take place simultaneously with those in the final episode of season one when the orchestra enters the regional competition. It focusses on what the backup team of ten girls did at this time. The girls are all the rejects who failed the auditions to get into the competition ensemble. However, they are still part of the orchestra club and, after a rousing pep talk from their teacher, they set about doing whatever they can to help the main team bring home gold. As the story moves focus onto a group that would otherwise become just bit-part this approach is quite refreshing. The girls never feel or act like failures. Their compatriots treat them as part of the team even if they have to take a train to the competition rather than take the coach with the main band. It is easy to be critical of season one of “Sound! Euphonium” due to its extremely thin plot but this “special” has a unique charm all of its own. It sets out with nothing to prove hence achieves more with its limited remit than the rest of the series manages to do over 13 episodes. Quite enjoyable if undemanding.

3/10 story
5/10 animation
5/10 sound
7/10 characters
5/10 overall
DGFischer's avatar
Jun 23, 2022

In Sound! Euphonium, the 65-member Kitauji High School Wind Ensemble needed to cut down to 55 to compete for the nationals.  Episodes were committed to the auditions, and the ten who failed to make that cut became Team Monaka.

This was the brainstorm of the band's conductor Taki-sensei.  Though out of the main practice sessions and given no chance to replace any of the members who passed the auditions, these ten girls need to find their purpose, including Kimiko's friend Hazuki and Natsuki, a second-year euphonium player who admitted that Kimiko was the better, more experienced musician.  Named for three second-year band members, Team Monaka serves basic support for the Kyoto competition bound fifty-five.  They create good luck charms, lug the instruments, and load the bus and then joins the Kitauji band to do small tasks at the competition site.  The OVA ends at the moment Kitauji enters the stage to perform. Hey, we know how it ended, so no need to comment.  As plots go, Ready, Set, Monaka is just filler.

The OVA continues to use the subdued earth tones schema Sound! Euphonium employed in their series.  But there are two neat animation techniques that make this 24-minute 'quasi-fourteenth' episode stand out.  There is a 360-degree spin of the band in concert.  And for a dull coloration scheme, the brandished glare of the trombones swung up into performance mode stabs into the usual brown.

Music is not as interwoven into this project to the extent it was done for the first season of S!E.  And one might wonder if this episode would make some point.  I could only find one.  Hazuki personalizes the good luck charm for trombonist Shuichi Tsakamoto.  Is she doing this knowing that Tsukamoto has shown some interest in Kimiko?  Is a love triangle on the horizon in the future for this anime?

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
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