First off, apologies for the delays in getting these last two posts out. I ended up being busier than expected on Christmas Eve and Christmas (wow, who would expected someone to be busy THOSE days???), so instead of half-assing a couple of posts, I decided to just put them off until I could concentrate a bit more. Y’all forgive me, right?
Today’s moment is from one of my favorite shows of the year, Sound! Euphonium. There are a plethora of moments I could have chosen from this series — there’s one I’m sure plenty of people who enjoyed this anime chose to highlight — but this is one moment of relief I quite liked.
Natsuki is a second-year student who plays the euphonium. She was part of the dreaded class of the year before that basically revolted against the idea of discipline, preferring to spend their time how they pleased. However, she ends up inspired by the effort the band as a whole puts into becoming good enough for nationals and works her ass off to get good enough at her instrument to become part of the playing group at the event.
Part of growing up is running headlong into your limits and deciding what to do from there. Our experiences are limited, so the first time you run into someone who’s flat out better than you at something you’re good at can be disheartening. It’s even tougher in an environment full of the pressure of competition; in a world like that, it’s easy for resentment to fester, and for someone to simply give up.
Natsuki isn’t exactly happy that Kumiko is clearly better than her (though she does say that she never expected to pass the audition, despite how much she practiced), but instead of being upset, Natsuki sees this as an opportunity to reflect on herself and become better at something she loves doing. She failed the test, but she emerged with renewed vigor and excitement.
The world is full of advice about “doing what you love.” The distressing aspect of that is how difficult the world makes putting that advice into practice. Obviously doing something you love for work can be difficult — you need luck, determination, connections, and all that fun stuff to worm your way into dream work. Being good at something just isn’t enough; not when there are guaranteed to be many people who are just as good (if not better) at what you like doing. Even if what you love is just a hobby, you’ve got to stubbornly make time for it amid everything else in a busy adult life: the people, the work, all the little things one needs to do just to live. The time to sit, breathe, and so something fun for once is a rare luxury for plenty of folks.
Still, it’s nice to make time in your life and a place in your heart for something you love simply because you love it and can’t imagine not doing it, even when it’s impossibly frustrating and the worst thing in the world. That’s hard enough, much less trying to become something more than you believe you are. There’s no guarantee that Natsuki has even the slightest chance of supplanting Kumiko or anyone else to get a chance in the spotlight. But I think for her, giving up after feeling that intense inspiration would be even worse.