This article contains major plot spoilers from the light novels that have not been revealed in the anime. Proceed at your own risk.
Asuka Tanaka (田中 あすか Tanaka Asuka ) is a character in the Hibike! Euphonium series. She is a third-year student, the concert band's vice president, and the bass section leader. She plays the euphonium.
Asuka is a teenage girl of above average height, and according to many other characters (including Hazuki Katou), she is regarded as beautiful. She has straight and lush black hair, which reaches to below her shoulders, and she has light blue eyes. She wears thin, red circular glasses, which is seen as her trademark.
Outwardly, Asuka has a highly playful personality, and is also very friendly and caring. Her constant high energy often comes off as extremely childish to the other band members.
However, her humor and lighthearted appearance is merely a cover for a range of deeper emotions that Asuka struggles with and has repressed over many years, some of which stem from her mother's extreme parenting, and from having all contact with her father cut off by her mother. Her bright outer self is also a facade her for true personality, which is much more sly, calculating, and coldly logical. When necessary, Asuka can be extremely manipulative.
Asuka demonstrates the ability to handle a large amount of responsibility, and was actually favored by many band members to be the band's president. She, however, declined. Asuka has shown a marked disinterest in the social dynamics of the band over the years that she has participated in it, and even an indifferent attitude to the skill level of the group as a whole. This is because her main goal in participation is to create time to advance herself as a musician, and most importantly, as a euphonium player. She considers handling ensemble drama issues to be a waste of her time because it deviates from her main objective of personal musical improvement.
Asides from practicing technical skills, Asuka also spends large amounts of her free time researching music theory, the history of her own instrument, and the background of the pieces that the band is playing. She demonstrates awareness of composer intentions through her passionate monologues and expressive playing. On top of all this, she manages to maintain excellent grades in school.
Asuka does not care about the competitive glory of the band, nor whether or not the band around her sounds good or bad. As long as she continues to have a space in which she can practice, and have an allotted amount of time each day to play her euphonium, she will be content with where she is.
Prior to the beginning of the series, Asuka, as a young child, was mailed a silver euphonium and several music books from her father, whom her mother divorced. With the help of her older brother, who learned euphonium from their father first-hand, Asuka quickly became a very talented euphonist, being the daughter of a euphonium prodigy.
Asuka first appears when Hazuki, Kumiko and Sapphire enter the band room for the first time, where they see many students and Asuka herself playing music. After chatting a little, Asuka approaches them and surprises Hazuki with a kissing face, making Hazuki trip and fall in shock. Then, Asuka opens the door and asks if they are coming to visit. After Asuka introduces herself properly, Hazuki decides that Asuka is very beautiful.
During the first level of competition, Asuka appears downcast onstage and post-performance due to her knowing that her mother will not allow her to compete in the nationals, unknown to her peers.
In the second light novel, Asuka learns that her father, whom she has not seen since she was very young, will be judging the final round of competition. Now that she has a cause that is as strongly personal as Noboru Taki's to help the band reach the national level of performance, Asuka begins to behave in extreme ways. The most notable instance of this is when she tries strongly to forbid Nozomi Kasaki from rejoining the band, fearing that the sour relationship between Nozomi and Mizore Yoroizuka, a key player in the band's musical success, will affect Mizore's performance ability.
In the third light novel, Asuka is forced by her mother to quit the band, but eventually manages to return in time for the final competition, at which she receives the first contact from her father in many years.
- Asuka was born on Christmas Day, December 25th.