Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~‎ US Premiere at Anime Expo 2019

The Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~‎ premiere at Anime Expo 2019 was a wonderful treat for fans of the musical high school drama series. Kumiko embarks on her second year at Kitauji High with new goals, new blood, and new challenges. With new freshmen joining, the current members of Kitauji’s band have to cope with welcoming and leading the four new members. There is euphoniumist Kanade Hisaishi, whose thoughts are difficult to decipher; double bassist Motomu Tsukinaga, who barely talks about himself; and tuba players Mireri Suzuki and Satsuki Suzuki, who are at odds with each other in their new environment. Together with the senior members of the club, Kumiko strives to resolve conflicts within the club and herself in order to win gold in the final competition. 

At the premiere, Director Tatsuya Ishihara was invited to the stage to answer a few questions and make some comments about the new movie. Ishihara mentioned that while he has had experience directing the second season of Sound! Euphonium and the recap film for the series; producing an anime TV series is very different from producing a movie. The pacing in a movie is faster due to the time constraints which also leads to differences in editing choices. Sound! Euphonium has a large cast of characters, and the series so far has focused on each character’s musical journey with the band and their individual development over time. With all this in mind, Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~ is a feat that only Director Ishihara and Kyoto Animation could pull off in order to faithfully adapt Kumiko’s second year at Kitauji High.

The movie picks up right after the events of the second season, and wastes no time in introducing the new freshman characters. It’s slightly difficult to grasp each and every character’s personality in the movie, especially for the new underclassmen because of the pacing. There seem to be many loose threads in terms of character development. In the places where one expects to see more of a character, the scene cuts to something else because the story has to move along. Despite the cuts and propulsive pacing, however, the flow never seems to stagnate or feel awkward in any way. In fact, the movie remembers to build relationships, small and large, through the duos that form between the underclassmen and upperclassmen. 

Kanade Hisaishi is a freshman that decides to play the euphonium and pairs up with Kumiko quite often. She’s an enigmatic character because she tends to hide her true feelings from others and has many sides to her. While she shares many traits with Kumiko, she merely observes and makes pointed comments toward the other band members whenever she can. It’s hard to tell if she’s genuine or not, and Kumiko finds it hard to deal with. Kumiko is actually overwhelmed by all the newbies, and most of these experiences bring flashbacks into her mind, thinking of how she felt before she joined Kitauji. With her empathetic nature, Kumiko finally experiences both sides of the coin — realizing how tiring it is to deal with the new folks, thus respecting the seniors that graduated much more. Instead of just passively observing situations, she takes on the challenge of stepping in to resolve problems using the experiences that led her to who she is today. Kumiko knows she might not be perfect, but after reflecting on those who have influenced her and are inspirations for her, perhaps she can guide Kanade and the other freshmen in the right direction. 

Similar to Liz and the Blue Bird, Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~‎  explores the unknown future and how it impacts the characters’ decisions regarding music, their position in the band, and education. While Reina is adamant on achieving her dream of becoming a professional trumpet player, Natsuki makes a tough decision to shift her focus away from actively playing in the band. So, where does that lead Kumiko? Although she has developed a ton since the first season, she still has many decisions to make and things to learn in her second year. Will Kumiko continue playing the euphonium after high school, or will she take a career path that her parents will be proud of? What about her relationship with Shuichi? Many of these questions go unanswered, but we see how Kumiko struggles to find the answers herself and decide whether she should put herself first or prioritize other people’s problems. 

In addition to the character parallels between the juniors and seniors, the movie shows many similarities to Liz and the Blue Bird. The side story about Nozomi and Mizore in Liz and the Blue Bird adds some color to Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~‎  by connecting major themes regarding the struggles of following or finding one’s own passion. There’s also the recurring theme of whether talent should prevail versus seniority, and even if everyone believes that talent is the right way to go, what happens when you fail? The fear of failing when given such a huge responsibility is what Kumiko and Reina went through during their first year. While they were able to pull it off, the new euphoniumist Kanade Hisaishi reminds Kumiko that things don’t always end up that way, and that the emotions and regret that build up within oneself becomes unbearable to the point where one might just end up avoiding it altogether. However, with Kumiko’s ability to observe situations and admit to what’s right and what’s wrong, she can’t deny that even if you fail, you still have to get up and try again. 

Kumiko’s character development and experience is something Director Ishihara would like for fans of the franchise to take note of especially with the final comment he made about the movie—  

“I’d love you all to see Kumiko’s growth and think about your life and club experiences. And for those who are a bit older, you can go back to remember all those memories you had in high school.”

There’s a bit of nostalgia in this movie. Whether the film relates back to your high school years, or the last time you put your all into school or a club, you can’t deny the fact that like an unending cycle, new things will continue to appear. All in all, Our Promise: A Brand New Day is a worthwhile watch because of its liveliness, the magic behind the series, and its likely role as an important lead-in for the third anime seasonal adaptation of Sound! Euphonium.

Eleven Arts and Fathom Events are bringing Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~ to the US, available this Thursday, July 11th (subbed) and Monday, July 15th (dubbed) at participating theaters.

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