A Mixture of Good, Okay, And Not So Great
As someone who isn’t a huge fan of school based anime and even less a fan of school based anime that focuses on the over-used plot line of the danger of a club being shut down, oh the horror, it seems weird that I got into Kono Oto Tomare. However, from episode one there was something about Chika Kudo as a character that made me want to give this one some more time.
In fairness to Kono Oto Tomare, it is a very nice looking anime, provided soft pastels are your thing. Some of the visuals, particularly when the characters are playing their instruments or when they have one of those big heart opening moments are gorgeous and just sweep you away. The soundtrack is also quite lovely including the music the kids play on their kotos.
While I’m on the positives I may as well point out the strength of this anime; the relationships between the club members. The way these characters interact, bump heads, come together, worry about one another, snap at each other, it all feels very natural and is the best part of the anime. If the anime had allowed itself to focus just on the club members going about their business it probably would have been a joyful slice of life to watch because it would have been built on a great cast with great chemistry.
However, Kono Oto Tomare is not content to be a slice of life anime. MAL has shounen in its list of genres and to be honest, that’s probably where this all goes wrong. It is a terrible shounen. The cast have great chemistry when they are going about the everyday but none of them are strong enough characters to lead that kind of story nor do they have any kind of authentic rival or obstacle though the anime bends over backwards throwing literally every possible potential rival and obstacle in their path seemingly oblivious to the fact that all these did was break the flow and the enjoyment while we watched some weak tea show down that meant nothing.
The vice principal who wants to shut down the club is a prime example of the pathetic nature of the ‘villains’ these teens come across. He has no motive. None. He wants to shut down the club. He believes Chika is a trouble maker. He has no evidence or grounds and the club isn’t actually hurting anyone, but he makes a huge spectacle of the entire thing to the point where it is honestly farcical.
In terms of rival schools, there’s a few possibilities presented in the latter half of the season but none of these have really established themselves yet. More importantly, does it matter if our Koto club can overcome these potential rivals? Sure, if they want to get to the nationals, but despite the characters stating that as a goal it stills seems more like they just want to improve their own sound rather than actually compete.
Then we have the club adviser who was definitely one of my candidates for worst anime teacher of the year (alongside the teacher in Hitoribocchi). He’s really quite a disturbing character with no motivation and actively trying to deter the kids from putting in effort. Again, the final episodes of the anime try to scrape together a back story for him and provide some sort of character turning point but to be perfectly frank it was far too little too late for a character I despised.
Basically, this one ends up being a very mixed viewing experience. When the focus is on the club and the group working on a song or practising together, it is actually great. A very solid effort and despite being the kind of story I’m not into it was one I enjoyed. When they tried to create drama or bring in outside tension it fell flat every single time and to be honest it detracted a lot from my overall enjoyment.
There’s apparently going to be another season of this at some point but I’m probably done. Maybe I’ll change my mind, who knows. The problem is that when this show is good, it is very good, but there’s too many other parts of the anime that just aren’t working for me.
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- Kono Oto Tomare! Series Review
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episodes 1 + 2
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episodes 3 + 4
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 5
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 6
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 7
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 8
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 9
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 10
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episodes 11 + 12
- Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 13
- Images from: Kono Oto Tomare! Dir. M Ryouma. Platinum Vision. 2019.