Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc Review

Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc Review

Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc anime movie cover art
Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc

Transitioning From Second to Third Year

Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc (Hibike! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest-hen / 『響け!ユーフォニアム』アンサンブルコンテスト編) is the fourth Sound! Euphonium movie. But, it’s a bit different from the previous three movies. The first three movies are a trilogy, with the first two being recap and the third being a sequel to Season 2.

So, how is the Ensemble Contest Arc different? Well, for starters, it came out four years after the other movies. It’s also not numbered like the first three; this isn’t “Movie 4.” And, it’s shorter than the first three, only being an hour long.

Alright, but, is the Ensemble Contest Arc worth watching? This is the same question I asked in my review of Movie 3. And, my answer is still the same. Yes, you should (probably) watch the Ensemble Contest arc before watching Season 3. Why? For the same reason as why you should watch Movie 3.

Kumiko hugging Reina from the anime movie Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc
Kumiko hugging Reina

The first two seasons of the series covered Kumiko’s first year at Kitauji High School. Movie 3 covers the majority of her second year. And, the Ensemble Contest Arc covers the end of her second year. That’s important because Season 3 takes place during Kumiko’s third year.

Now, before watching this movie, I thought the Ensemble Contest Arc took place during the third year. Kumiko’s the club president, so she must be a third-year student, right? Not quite. Yes, she’s the president, but the grade above her hasn’t graduated yet. This movie takes place in a transitional period.

The Ensemble Contest Arc takes place at the end of the year as the older students are stepping back from the band. The students in Kumiko’s grade are taking on bigger roles within the band. And, we’re getting to know more of the first — soon-to-be second — year students.

The Ensemble Contest

Okay, but what is the Ensemble Contest, anyway? It’s not the same as the other competitions we’ve seen the band compete in. In the Ensemble Contest, the full band doesn’t play. Instead, groups of 2-8 compete, with only one group from each school allowed.

But, how do you decide who gets to play in the contest? You have another, mini-contest. The band members are going to split themselves up into small groups and perform. Then, there’s going to be a public vote involving both current and outgoing students to determine which group gets to compete.

This system is supposed to be a bit more transparent. However, it has its own set of problems. This didn’t end up happening, but the public vote could have turned into a popularity contest. What did end up happening, though, is that some students were left out.

Sari Takahashi and Juri Sawada fighting over a first-year student from the anime movie Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc
Sari Takahashi and Juri Sawada fighting over a first-year student

Since the students weren’t assigned groups, they had to form their own. And, if a student isn’t particularly close to other students in the band, they’re not going to be a first choice. We saw this happen with quite a few students who ended up forming a hodgepodge group.

What I liked about this movie is that it didn’t have the same drama as the previous two seasons and movie. It had its own drama — like seeing Kumiko struggle with how to get every member of the band involved as the club president.

I was actually far more interested in seeing that side of things than seeing the petty drama. Hopefully, Season 3 continues with more of this kind of content. I know the first episode of Season 3 is already out. But, I haven’t watched it yet because I wanted to wait until after this review.

Prequel to Season 3

Let’s make some predictions about Season 3 based on this movie (and Movie 3). Then, after Season 3 finishes, I’ll revisit my predictions in that review and see how well I did. Or, what’s also possible is that I forget I made these predictions and never bring them up again.

It seems very clear that a few of the first-year students were positioned to be important in their second year. In particular, there are Kanade, Mirei, and Satsuki from Movie 3, who were also in this movie. And, there’s Tsubame Kamaya, the featured first-year student of the Ensemble Contest Arc.

These four are going to be taking the place of the upperclassmen who are now gone. Mirei and Satsuki have a similar relationship to Yuuko and Natsuki. Kanade is like Asuka. And, Tsubame reminds me a lot of Mizore. I see these four characters continuing the roles of their predecessors.

Tsubame Kamaya from the anime movie Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc
Tsubame Kamaya

Characters aside, I’m also expecting the Ensemble Contest to be a sort of B-plot in Season 3. We didn’t actually get to see the competition happen in this movie. The Ensemble Contest Arc was all about forming groups and deciding who was going to compete.

Since the competition didn’t happen in the movie, I’m guessing it’ll happen in Season 3. And, that could be a source of drama in the season. Did splitting into these smaller groups fracture the unity of the band? Will the incoming first-years feel left out because they didn’t get a chance at the Ensemble Contest?

I know the key visuals for Season 3 highlight one first-year girl, in particular. So, I’m interested in seeing where she fits in. How is she going to disrupt things? I’m guessing Kanade, the resident pot-stirrer, is going to cause problems for this new girl.

Final Thoughts

I gave Sound! Euphonium: Ensemble Contest Arc a 6/10. As with the previous movie, It’s pretty good. If you like Sound! Euphonium, you’ll like it. But, it is only an hour long, so there’s not that much time to explore the new drama. And, it also features a literal slide show, which was an interesting choice.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out

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