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October is here, bringing with it a new season of anime. As with the summer, I have been tasked with picking a series I have the highest expectations for. From the extensive lineup I have seen, my selection for this season is Sound! Euphonium 2.

Generally, I try to avoid sequels for these picks—like with my last pick of Cheer Boys!!—but the original run of Sound! Euphonium had an impressive impact on me when it aired last year.

Taking place in a normal high school, Sound! Euphonium is the story of a group of girls in their school concert band. The series is done by Kyoto Animation and features four main girls playing music. Most people hearing that setup will assume Sound! Euphonium is just K-On! with the serial numbers filed off, but the two are entirely different beasts.

While K-On! emphasized the bubbly, fun-loving atmosphere of young girls in a band, Sound! Euphonium is a story about maturity. The anime takes an overall more subdued, somber tone in its narrative, showing young boys and girls who have lived mostly carefree up to that point—something that resulted in the figurative implosion of the concert band before the series begins—having to learn what it means to take responsibility for their decisions.

The original Sound! Euphonium was a brilliant and quite realistic slice-of-life story. While it was somewhat idealized at points—anyone who has lived through high school knows that, in reality, popularity overrules actual talent 99% of the time—the series overall was an excellent coming-of-age story that I found myself reflecting over long after the series was over.

The first anime series ended with the high school concert band having come together from what was essentially a joke of a band into a unified group that manages to win the Kyoto regionals. The characters have all come into their own and managed to mature as individuals and as a part of a greater whole. They’ve evolved, but as we all know, in real life, you don’t stop evolving as a person. There’s always the next step—which, according to the trailers, looks to be dealing with fallout in the form of the students who previously quit the band en masse before the original series began attempting to return to the fold.

Sound! Euphonium managed to make the nightmare that is high school drama both realistic and entertaining. That is something I’m looking forward to in Sound! Euphonium 2, making it my pick for the upcoming fall season.

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