What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a (proper) novel series about the low-key mysteries faced by a high-school brass band club. Kind of a cross between Hyouka & Sound! Euphonium, basically.
Chika, our protagonist, used to be quite the tomboy volleyball star, but she kinda burned out ; she felt that she was wasting her youth training all the time, and go for a less time-consuming afterschool club activity that leave her time for, you know, meeting boys and stuff. Like, maybe the brass band ; that flutist looked cute and feminine on TV. If her high-school debut is the occasion to reinvent herself into a much more demure girl, then perfect. Unfortunately for her, she’s terrible at keeping that front, especially after she’s reunited with…
Haruta, with whom she used to be friends when they were young kids. Well, he remembers it more as her bullying him all the time, but same difference ; I think he’s enjoying a bit turning the tables by making her true tomboy nature whenever she interacts with him. Anyway, he’s already a member of the brass band. As a mystery buff, he’s on the forefront of investigating the weird case of the weird graffiti painted in red on the blackboard, eventually laying out the cipher for everyone else’s benefit.
Mr Kusakabe, the supervising music teacher, is a bit of an enigma himself ; he recently abandoned a promising conducting career to teach in this random school. And he’s plainly the target for the mysterious message. Haruta’s interest is tickled, obviously. And Chika has a bit of a crush on him…
Contrary to Chika’s expectations, there’s now barely five members in the brass band. Aside from the club president, there’s just a pair of twins that everyone keeps mixing up whenever they’re not playing their (different) instruments. (And props on the casting department for finding someone who sounds very much like but slightly different than Chiaki Omigawa for the other one.)
There’s a flashforward showing the band performing with several times more members (including one who’s obviously going to be the focus of the next episode), so presumably some heavy recruiting is in the offing.
I’m really not fond of the character designs, but studio PA Works do show off their usual skill at animating body language ; Chika’s shifting personas wouldn’t work as well without their care for her facial expressions. And they can draw actual play of instruments, which is very welcome.
You had me at “low-key mysteries” (and this first one has a nice twist), but Chika turns out to be a fascinating and endearing lead, with Haruta as a fun foil. It’s a nice and well-executed setup that leaves ample room for future stories.
It’s also refreshing to watch an anime series with a gay person in the main cast who’s not a caricature, but a fully-fleshed out character who’s not defined by their sexuality or pandering to the audience. How rare is that ?
This is a must-watch for me now.