Haruka Fujita(Kyoto Animation) Shows an Exceptional Talent in “Sound! Euphonium.”

Haruka Fujita is an animator of Kyoto Animation. Her work in episode 8 of Sound! Euphonium is extraordinary. I think episode 8, “Festival Triangle,” will be one of the historical episodes of Fujita’s works.
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A role model of animation, beautiful series of cuts, and sophisticated lines, everything in this 30 minutes is just perfect. I drew some pictures to describe the scenes. (Didn’t I get better toward the end?)

Script: Jukki Hanada

Storyboard, Technical director: Haruka Fujita

Animation director: Seiichi Akitake

Animation director for musical instrument: Hiroyuki Takahashi

Part A

In the classroom.

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One of Fujita’s techniques is quick switching of the cuts. In this scene, quick switching effectively shows Hazuki’s impatience.

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Hazuki mistakes Shuichi to be looking at her.

This is a quite short one cut, so I’m not sure this means something. In this episode, the cuts are quickly switched to express characters’ feelings of anxiety and anticipation.

In the bass players’ room.

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The bass players are having a practice. The characters are talking romantic lines, but there is no background music. The sky is still gray since the previous episode. Even in the long shot, characters are animated in detail.

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Using only sound effects without background music, the entire episode seems like a live action film.

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I think this tuba girl is cute by the way.

The performance scene.

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Again, the cuts are quickly switched. In this kind of the scene where many characters present in the same place, where they look at tells us a lot. These eye-contacts remind me of good and bad memories of my school life.

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Kumiko looks straight ahead, and Shuichi is looking at her. Then he notices Reina looking at him. Does Reina know Shuichi’s feeling? What is she thinking of?

After the performance scene.

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The cuts are quickly switched in a unique way. It rarely has seen in a Kyoto animation works.

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Kumiko glances at Shuichi but ignores him. This type of small actions builds up Kumiko’s characteristics.

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On the bench.

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This bench appears quite often. This is one of the key places in this anime. After the festival, they will sit on the same bench in the same composition, but their situation will be different. Nice comparison.

Shuichi suggests Kumiko to practice together, but she passes off his offer. The camera zooms in and out like in the previous scene.

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Shuichi finally asks Kumiko for a date. The screen switches to Kumiko’s point of view and gets close to Shuichi. Kumiko’s view swings just like when she looks at Hazuki at the beginning of this episode. In this scene, her view doesn’t focus on Shuichi well. It depicts Kumiko’s confusion. This scene beautifully shows the surprise by something totally unexpected.

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On the next day.

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The summer uniform is cute. It is raining, which symbolize their situation.

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In the classroom, Kumiko is thinking of their situation. Let’s not think about why she can draw lines that straight.

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The three girls are super deformed, which is a little rare in this anime. It brings funny atmosphere to this scene. The comic-like line effect is used for the appearance of Shuichi. This scene is like a little break of this episode.

43In the music room.

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All concert band members are in the music room. As I mentioned above, when there are many characters in the same space, the directions of their eyes mean a lot. Since it is a conversation without a word, there is often someone who misinterprets it. In this case, Shuichi is the one.

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Shuichi mistakes Kumiko giving a signal to him and stops talking with Akamatsu. The shot is switched to Hazuki, and we hear Shuichi leaving his conversation outside the screen. Hazuki interprets the situation not by the direction of eyes but by the voice from the outside the screen.

In front of the music room.

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Some unique shots are shown here. First, the camera zooms up to Kumiko’s instrument and Shuichi appears. The camera now shoots Kumiko from below and then shoots both of them from the ceiling. This view from above makes us feel like peeping.

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Hazuki comes out from the music room with a determination. She looks at Kumiko. Here is another eye-conversation. It’s a non-verbal communication which reminds me of sweet and sour memories of my school life.

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Kumiko ends up going to the festival with Reina.

School entrance

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Kumiko drops her shoes. The way she drops the shoes is so “teenager.” I like this kind of small but well-considered actions in this anime. The sky finally clears up! The background gets brighter, and we can sense that the characters’ expectations for the festival are growing.

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Part B

Right before the festival.

Everything is in blue. After sunset, a romantic hour of the early summer starts.

The river, buildings, and people are in a little bluish light. The entire screen is depicted colorful, beautiful and mysterious. It leads us feel like in fantasy.
The excitement of the festival brings the students a short dreaming time while they are in deadly real school life. I don’t feel that excitement after I became an adult. Do you?

The Agata Festival

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The bass couple is dating. The other members are also at the Agata Festival. Kyoto Animation has a lot of female animators, so the girls’ costumes are cutely designed in detail.

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It is lovely that Natsuki and Yuko are playing together. They seem to be good friends.

At the station.

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In many scenes of Kyoto Animation works, the camera effectively zooms up just where we want to look at.
Hazuki’s tension is depicted by her view of looking up and the close cut of her anxious face. As the camera gets close to the characters, the audience is also lured into their feelings.

At the shrine.

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Kumiko and Reina hike up Mt. Daikichi. In this scene, there are many long shots. Kumiko appears from the stairs. The entire view is dark and blue, and their mysterious date starts from here.

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Reina is so cute in her white dress. Again, nice job of Kyoto Animation in designing girls outfits. Kumiko looks at her shoes. Maybe Kumiko and Shuichi are the only characters who don’t dress up in this episode.

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The camera follows Reina and the screen is panned to the left. Reina is indeed depicted beautifully, and the panning is also beautiful. Kumiko thinks Reina’s dress is white as snow, but the dress gleams palely in this scene.

Hiking up Mt. Daikichi.

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Reina starts telling her real feelings. This is the scene of a juvenile. A piece of youthful memories. Reina moves from right to left of the screen. It is a symbolism of going into the future. The camera keeps following Reina as it’s trying to not miss her beautiful moment. Her sexy black hair is flowing. “I sometimes feel like doing something like this. I put on the uniform, go to school, have a band practice, and come home. Sometimes, I want to throw everything away, and go on a long journey by a train,” says Reina.

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They are walking up the stairs, but the stairs are not on the screen. This is a unique composition.

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76Kumiko says, “Your journey got pretty short.” Reina answers, “I didn’t have a choice. We have school tomorrow.” Kumiko looks away. The movement of characters’ eyes is one of the unique features of Sound! Euphonium.

77Reina ties up her hair. I don’t have a fetish for armpits, but it looks sexy, isn’t it? “Making you in your white dress to carry my euphonium seems so wrong,” Kumiko says. She seems to have some sort of fetish. As Reina tells her real feelings, Kumiko reveals her feelings, too.

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Reina gets blisters on her feet. Kyoto Animation has women’s perspective, so they can depict what happens to women.

Kumiko asks, “Don’t your feet hurt?” Reina answers, “They do, but I don’t hate hurt.” Reina’s hair is a little bit untidy and seems sexy along with her words. The depictions of these cuts are just perfect. I think we can hardly see this much of quality even in theatrical animations.

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What? It sounds sexy.” Kumiko’s word is our word.

The other band members.

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In this scene, Asuka’s characteristics are nicely depicted by what she wears and what she says. A lot of action cuts are used to express this episode dynamic and energetic.

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I feel persistence and enthusiasm of Kyoto Animation in how minor characters are animated without 3DCG. (Finally, 3DCG has become so popular for animation productions in Japan these days.)

Hazuki and Shuichi.

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This scene almost matches the previous scene of Kumiko and Shuichi. The composition and how the cuts flow are quite similar.

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Hazuki confesses her feeling to Shuichi. In this scene, the background music works well to make the scene emotional for the audience. By the visual techniques of Kyoto Animation, characters’ feelings can be depicted more than enough. Those techniques are amazing, but with music, the animation becomes even more remarkable.

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What a beautiful cut.

The beautiful view spreads out in front of Hazuki, but something different spreads in her mind. Her eyelashes move, and we can see her blinking even from the back. Here is another depiction of the character’s feeling by the movement of eyes.

89Hazuki hides her sadness and pretends to be tough. Her wistful smile breaks our heart. After this, Hazuki’s true feeling is shown during the ending. This is indeed one of the best episodes in history.

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Hiking.

In the hiking scenes, the camera is panned sideways to follow the characters.

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Here are the best lines.

Reina: To be honest, I wanted to hang out with you. You know you have a nasty personality?
Kumiko: Is that supposed to be an insult?
Reina: It’s a compliment. When we had the competition, you asked me if I really thought I could make the national championship.

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Reina: This is a confession of love. I’ve been always curious about that side of you. It’s not a love but something else. You put on a good-girl face, but you are actually distant. It makes me want to take that good-girl face off of you.

Kumiko: What’s that supposed to mean?
Reina: Don’t you get my love?
Kumiko: You are twisted, Kosaka.

On the top of Mt. Daikichi.

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The lights from the city illuminate Reina. This shot and Hazuki’s back shot are the most beautiful shots of this episode. Our eyes are directed by something moving or twinkling. In both of Hazuki and Reina’s cuts, lights are twinkling from the river and the city and those lights attract our eyes.

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Reina is a girl who wants to become something special. I’ve thought the depiction of the twinkling lights is a little too much, but this is the ANIME. This kind of dramatization is the beauty of animation.

Kumiko: Is that the light from the festival?
Reina: Are you worried about Tsukamoto?
Kumiko: Of course not! It isn’t like that, anyway.
Reina: It isn’t, huh?

Reina smiles, but Kumiko can’t see her smile. What’s that supposed to mean? Kumiko maybe thinks Reina is just joking around, but we can see Reina smiling. It makes us feel like sharing a secret. After this scene, the audience feels an affinity for Reina. Sharing a secret is a powerful tool to attract the audience to the character.

“No one else wouldn’t be crazy enough to hike up a mountain on the festival day, right?” says Reina. She wants Kumiko to agree with her desire to be special. This is a quite unique feeling. Reina doesn’t care about everyone else but Kumiko. “I thought you would understand,” Reina wants Kumiko to be her soulmate who share the real feelings.

Climax

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“Being relieved to know you are the same as someone else is stupid. I want to resist going along with those people. Maybe not everything, but…”
Reina turns around, and the camera switches to Kumiko’s point of view. These cuts are so dramatic. The girl in her white dress is standing in the light of the city. She wants to be special, but she already looks special for Kumiko.

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“You get it, right? That kind of crazy feeling,” says Reina. The camera switches to Kumiko’s shot and swings, maybe expressing Kumiko’s feeling. This view is not Reina’s, so does this swing express our feeling?

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Reina steps close to Kumiko, puts her finger on Kumiko’s forehead, and tells Kumiko to call her Reina. In this scene, Reina is drawn so beautifully more than ever. “I want to be special…”

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Reina’s finger moves from Kumiko’s forehead to her nose, and then her lip. How beautiful and sexy is this scene? I can’t imagine how much work done by animators for creating this height of the episode.

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Kumiko asks, “Can you become special if you play the trumpet?” Reina’s dress flaps floaty like Ghibli animation, and she says with her full smile, “You definitely have a nasty personality, Kumiko.” Now, everyone falls in love.

Ending

109110Kumiko and Reina play a piece from their middle school band repertoire, and then the end-title credit appears. As they play the piece, we see the outcomes of the festival.
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In these shots, the camera focuses on the main characters. Having a focal point in the screen is Fujita’s skill often used in her works. These shots effectively show us the characters situations without lines.

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Coach Taki appears in this scene.

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The animation without lines dramatically depicts Hazuki trying to behave brightly and Sapphire being earnest. Hazuki’s feeling finally overflows. It seems to overflow even from the screen. This animation is what we want to learn from.

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3 comments for “Haruka Fujita(Kyoto Animation) Shows an Exceptional Talent in “Sound! Euphonium.”

  1. 2016-09-10 at 7:25 PM

    Very insightful analysis. I’m learning more about what makes Japanese animation special. Please do more episode analysis like this. Thank you.

  2. Popo
    2015-08-07 at 9:49 AM

    Very good post, I am looking forward to next review. Haruka Fujita has delicate direction like Yamada.
    Does redraw help you to analyze ?

    • yuukisakoda
      2015-08-10 at 1:06 PM

      Thank you for your comment. Redrawing was just for considering copyrights. It was a good drawing training though.

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