I'm not any particular kind of fan of the Touhou Project universe. Don't have anything against it, it's just not my kind of game. And even if it was, at this point the incredible amount of story and character development that has occurred in this long-running series frankly scares the heck out of me.
However, one little corner of the fandom has me hooked. And it's Brickmuppet's fault.
Back in August posted the two videos linked above. The second video is an MMD-based video set in the Touhou Project universe, using Touhou characters. The protagonist is the maid Sakuya Izayoi. Both of them; read the wiki entry to understand why. By all accounts, Sakuya is really a minor character in the game world but seems to occupy an outsized position of glory with the fandom.
She is the star of an apparently connected series of MMD videos:
There are a few others I've found that look like riffs on the same type of humor and structure as these videos, but mostly they don't capture the spot-on timing found here. But here's another video by, I think, the same person:
And just for fun, here's Sakuya dancing to Taylor Swift:
KyoAni announced today they will produce a second season of Hibike! Euphonium.
That's tremendous news.
The reason the title for this post wasn't nonsensical gibberish or "Squeeeeee!" is because, like everything else these days, the name of the second season isn't "Hibike! Euphonium Series 2" or "Hibike! Euphonium 2" or "Hibike! Euphonium: More of the Same!"
It's "Hibike!! Euphonium"
I am getting sick and tired of denoting second series with punctuation.
Thirteen episodes from when we started, we reach the end of the series. Not the end of the story, of course; I think that's been discussed...but we don't know yet if KyoAni is going to do a second series. There will be an OAV released with the final BD (or packaged with the BD, I'm not sure which) that will probably finish out the original Hibike! Euphonium novel. Again, this is all as far as I understand it. KyoAni hasn't departed significantly from the novel, but they have done some things differently.
Not very much happens in the final episode. Most of it is KyoAni showing off their art, their animation, the attention to detail, and the effort put into making the sound as real as possible. There are also a few hooks that lead to second-series information, or rather information that doesn't get covered until later books. This final episode is very much about experiencing what happens. It's a series of images and sounds, with very little narrative.
This is actually a little sad. KyoAni did some of their finest work with Hibike! Euphonium, and I'm going to miss it.
This was the most important moment in episode thirteen, and we don't get to find out why. We can speculate, and there is at least one possible explanation hinted at in the show, but we know so little about Asuka, despite all of the little hints dropped.
I expect Wonderduck might have quite a bit to say about episode 13 when he gets a chance to watch it, because very little moves along, plot-wise. We finish the story, and there aren't any surprises.
UPDATE: Considering I'm not going to get the finale writeup done in a timely manner, please check out Wonderduck's Your Weekly Asuka.
On the one hand, very little happens in this episode...like the past few having to do with the audition/re-audition story arc, the episode is focused on one key event and how the different characters deal with the event emotionally. That isn't unusual for this series, although entries prior to the audition storyline usually hit a few plot points, instead of just one. On the other hand, the emotional journey Kumiko takes through this episode is practically a story in and of itself. Is it the best storytelling done by Hibike! Euphonium? Arguably no, not really. Like the audition episodes, does ep 12 take one event and magnify it to the point that significant characters become one-dimensional? Yes, it does. Is the Kumiko story absolutely necessary to the plot? Ummmm...I don't know. It's interesting, but I'm not sure it tells us anything about Kumiko that we didn't already know, or at least use as an operating hypothesis. Still, parts of this episode are indeed well told, and it features some of the most astounding animation done in the series so far.
I'll warn you now: I'm going to abuse screenshots for two scenes.
It's summer break, and the first competition is only days away. In the middle of reheasal, Taki-sensei asks the two euphoniums to play the contrabass part for a few measures to add to the bass line. Sapphire runs her music over to Kumiko:
It's a difficult part. The runs are fast and reach right to the top of a standard euphonium's tonal range. To be sure, professional and very-well-practiced amateurs can play comfortably throughout the euphonium's range, but it's not terribly common with first-year high school students.
It's the penultimate episode (I'm pretty sure), and almost everything comes full circle. Ok, not everything. But all of the major themes of the audition arc are finally completed, as Kumiko has to face the same issues as everyone else. There are callbacks to earlier story arcs, and even a return to the first episode. This is definitely the "Kumiko" episode, but it's looking more and more like we're never going to get a Sapphire episode or, more damning, an Asuka episode. Although, if you need something to look forward to, we finally see Asuka not get something she wants.
For those interested in the meta, there's also a scene that, in visual novel parlance, would have been an opportunity to set a flag (that would have returned the story to novel territory, reportedly); but KyoAni skillfully dodged that trap.
No rundown for this episode. It's the main character's motivation episode, so it has all the feels; and that's really all you need to know...Kumiko does this a lot: