This article contains major plot spoilers from the light novels that have not been revealed in the anime. Proceed at your own risk.
|Height||171 cm (5' 7½")|
|Birthday||December 23 (Capricorn)|
|Likes||Cats, coffee, bitter chocolate, pulling pranks, performing small magic tricks|
|Dislikes||Cocoa, milk chocolate|
|Role||Vice President, Bass Leader|
|Relative(s)||Shindo Masakazu (Father)|
Asumi Tanaka (Mother)
Unnamed older brother
|Occupation||High School Student (Third Year)|
|School||Kitauji High School|
|Light Novel||Volume 1|
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 young 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 is Kumiko's section leader and senpai, and is the one who discovers that Kumiko is a proficient euphonium player and ropes her into joining the bass section. In the first light novel, Asuka is very aware of her senpai status to Kumiko and thus always employs great discretion about her personal feelings when speaking to Kumiko. As the story progresses over the light novels, Asuka grows to care for Kumiko, and eventually invites Kumiko to her house and shares the story of her father with her. On the day of Asuka's graduation, she gives a book of euphonium pieces composed by her father to Kumiko, saying that Kumiko have better use for it now than she will post-graduation.
Natsuki always addresses Asuka in an overly respectful way that at first appears to be sarcastic, but is later shown to be sincere and heartfelt beneath the humor. Natsuki and Asuka's dynamic is greatly similar to the relationship between Kumiko Oumae and Reina Kousaka, in that Asuka's passion and drive inspires Natsuki to work harder than she thought she ever could.
When Asuka is forced to quit the band before the final level of competition, she appoints Natsuki as her successor, telling her that it is her turn to lead. Natsuki, however, firmly declines and informs Asuka resolutely that she and the section will wait faithfully for Asuka's return.
Asuka and Haruka share a good relationship as respectively the vice president and president of the band. Asuka is often able to help Haruka when the latter's low self-esteem becomes a problem.
Despite this, Haruka always struggles with the feeling that she was only elected as the band president because Asuka turned it down, and she always feels second to Asuka. In addition, she also feels slightly resentful that Asuka pushed the burden of being the president of a mediocre ensemble on her. However, Haruka's good nature allows her to maintain a friendship with Asuka above the politics of the band.
Taki respects Asuka as a musician and senior student, and Asuka is onboard with his driven methods, especially after she switches her mindset in the second light novel from personal improvement to focusing on nationals.
In the third light novel, Asuka's mother forces Asuka to meet with her and Taki in Taki's office. Asuka's mother demands that Taki allow Asuka to quit the band, but Taki sees the downcast expression Asuka wears and tells Asuka's mother that he will not do anything that is against his students' wills. Furious, Asuka's mother drags Asuka out into the hallway and tries to force her to ask Taki on her own to quit. Realizing that Taki will not let her be removed from the band as long as she does not ask personally, Asuka refuses. Her mother slaps her so hard that she falls to the floor.
When the vice principal decides to accept Asuka's resignation letter on Taki's behalf, Taki does not find out until Yuuko informs him. He leaves rehearsal quickly and attempts to stop the letter from being processed, but he is too late.
Though she does miss a few days of school, Asuka eventually returns to the band for the competition.
Asuka's father, Shindo Masakazu, is one of the best euphonium players in the world, and is also a respected figure in the concert band world. The silver euphonium that Asuka plays belonged to him. That instrument, along with a book of euphonium music composed by her father, are the only two reminders of her father that Asuka possesses, because her mother completely cut off all contact with Masakazu since they divorced when Asuka was very young.
Asuka has always felt her father's musical talent within her, and naturally took to playing the euphonium. Her mother opposed Asuka's love for music her whole life, but tolerated it as long as Asuka kept up her perfect grades, and as long as Asuka never played in a band that would attend the national band competition, which Asuka later finds out that Masakazu is known to judge at.
When Asuka and the Kitauji Concert Band do make it to the nationals, Masakazu gives the band the lowest rating possible, but adds a personal note on the scoring sheet that the principal euphonium player is very talented. Noboru Taki relays the message to Asuka, unaware that Masakazu is Asuka's father, and Asuka smiles when she hears this. It is described in the light novels that this is the first genuine smile she has worn in a long time.