- Titles: Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life, Stop at this Sound!
- Genre: Music, school, comedy, drama
- Episodes: 13 + 13
- Studio: Platinum Vision
I’ve personally never been in a competitive school club that would go to nationals or anything like that. I’ve never had the experience of having all the seniors leave and being all alone in a club with the responsibility of not letting it die. It sounds so stressful and yet somehow purposeful. Takezou Kuratais in such a situation. He’s the only remaining member of the Koto club and it’s not exactly as if high school kids are clamouring to join a classic music club with an expensive traditional instrument, they will likely never be able to own for themselves. But he made a promise he would keep the cub alive and by golly, he’ll give it his all. But does that really mean he has to let one of the school’s most notorious delinquents join? And his little friends too? At least Satowa Houzuki is a bit better, she’s pretty much an established koto prodigy but she’s also kind of scary. Actually, she might be scarier than the delinquents. What is the koto club turning into?
So, I actually started the manga for Kono Oto Tomare! on a whim. I liked the cover, and I liked the idea of a Koto club. Also, the manga is really liked by fans. And I was about to go to chapter 2 when I just Googled it because I was having fun with the title and found out there was an anime. Not only that, but it was also already out and on Crunchyroll. I started the first episode that evening!
I think a lot of your experience with the production of Kono Oto Tomare! is going to come down to whether you enjoy the art style and character designs. The animation is ok, they use still shots quite a bit and really there’s nothing much to impress you on that front. And the sound design is great but exactly what you would expect. So really the only chance Platinum Vision’s production has to shine is with the pretty pretty cast.
I may have given myself away a bit here… I liked the art a lot and the character designs. I thought both the boys and girls were all very nice-looking. What’s more, they were all quite different looking. It was nice to see some diversity in silhouettes like that. For the most part, the art stays quite consistent throughout the series as well, although I did notice that the last few episodes had some hiccups. Nothing major!
Story & Characters
Kono Oto Tomare! is what I personally call a sports anime without a sport. Although from the look of it, playing koto seems to be a physically taxing endeavour. Strictly speaking though, it’s a music anime.
I watched and reviewed Those Snow White Notes not too long ago, and in that post, I wrote that I don’t have an ear for samisen which stopped me from engaging on a certain level with the show. Somehow, that’s not the case with koto. It seems that throughout my life I have heard quite a bit of koto music and the sounds were familiar and quite beautiful to my ear. I could easily pick out melodies I preferred, and I instinctively understood when we were supposed to be impressed by a performance or disappointed… for the most part. A lot of times characters make a huge deal about a single note being played and I’m not quite at that level yet.
As a nice little bit of personal satisfaction, the very last piece they play in the show, the one they were saving for the BIG competition, is by far my favourite piece of the entire series. It just made the conclusion that much more satisfying for me.
That’s all well and good but what if you don’t know anything about koto music and deep down aren’t all that interested in it either. When I say it’s a sports anime without a sport, I mean that the tropes and structure of the story will feel familiar to fans of the sports genre.
Depending on where you look Kono Oto Tomare! is either two seasons of 13 episodes each or one two-cour season of 26 episodes. I will be talking about it as a single season so keep that in mind. When I refer to the first half, it’s essentially season 1.
In the first half of the show, the story is mostly concerned with creating a cohesive ensemble cast. Chika Kudou is the main character though. He gets the most screen time, the most detailed backstory and the most development at this point. But the others still get their own chance to shine and by the middle of the show, after countless hours of practicing, they are a pretty tight-knit group and actually consider each other friends.
The second half consists of yet more practicing and some really lofty goals as well as developing all the other characters, especially Hozoki.
Even though Kono Oto Tomare! is about koto and I learn a lot of fascinating things about koto music. (It has its own notation and it looks cool). What Kono Oto Tomare! is really about is its characters. And your enjoyment of the show will likely thrive or whither in direct proportion to how much you can engage with the cast and care about their personal struggles.
And I definitely could. There are some rather dramatic turns, especially for the lead characters but I think they were handled well. For the most part, though, you are dealing with a surprisingly complex group of flawed but generally kind kids and their contrasting personalities made them very interesting to get to know as an ensemble.
There are too many storylines and themes to go into it in much detail here. The show makes good use of the 26 episodes and manages to give most characters something pertinent to do. If anything, I was a bit disappointed that Adachi, Kouta and Sakai didn’t get a bit more space in the story. They do have their own backgrounds and motivations. It’s not like they are totally underdeveloped, but I liked those dorks and I wanted to get to know them better. (I will be going back to the manga so maybe I’ll see them there!)
I also found that the show’s exploration of how talent, especially when it’s large, can alienate a person from their peers and even mentors. It’s a repeated theme that is most obvious in Hozoki but is actually played out in a lot of characters both in the main cast and from other schools. They also explore the questions from both sides of the issue. I enjoyed how open-ended the treatment was, avoiding portraying anyone’s feelings or reaction as right or wrong, simply showing the reality of it.
If you like school club drama/comedies, Kono Oto Tomare! is a solid choice. It’s well-paced, nicely executed and has a charming cast.
You might like this anime if:
You like music centric anime. You want to watch a Sports! anime but without sports.
My favourite character:
Takaoka. This guy is keeping a secret, mark my words
- Every time Kudou is pissed – take a small sip
- Every time Tkaoka apologizes for Kudou – take a sip
- Every time we see the koto club sign – take a sip
- Every time Houzuki is in sweet mode – you’ll know it when you see it
- Every time the guys are idiots – raise your glass
- Every time Chika and Houzuki bicker – take a sip
- Every time we see Chika’s grandpa – pour some out
- Every time anyone calls Kurata by his actual name – take a sip
- Every time Kudou cooks – get a snack
- Every time Kota wears an animal hoodie – awwwww
- Every time we see the club advisor and he advises – spit take
- Every time we see koto musical notation – cool, right?
- Every time Houzuki blushes – cute
- Every time Kurata has a flashback – take a sip
- Every time Takaoka has his glasses on – take a screencap
- Every time anyone is moved to tears – get a tissue
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.