Kono Oto Tomare! Series Review

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.

Affiliate Link – Soundtrack
KONO OTO TOMARE - TOKISE KOKO SOKYOKU-BU

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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Karandi James



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18 thoughts on “Kono Oto Tomare! Series Review

  1. Huh, I never knew it was listed as shounen, but now that you mention it, that does explain some of the overly intense characters in the series. Still, I like the series a lot, but maybe that’s because of my bias as a musician. Some of those practice scenes really resonated with me, as did the club fighting and friendship. But that teacher though, oh man, what a totally unrealistic asshole.

    1. And that’s the problem. The club and their practices, while a little idealised, are the strongest parts of this anime and when it focuses on them it is great. It is everything else that muddies the waters and leaves the overall impression that this one isn’t all that together.

    1. They definitely were trying to keep us hooked for another season, but I just don’t feel all that curious about it. I might change my mind in a couple of months.

  2. I know it ls cliche ridden but I really enjoyed this one. It reminded me a bit of Chihayafuru in that it brought something of traditional Japan I had hitherto not known about to the foreground which made it fresh and interesting.

    The cliffhanger of the last episode was brutal and I’m one of the few who is very keen for the next season to start.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. While it didn’t work for me it isn’t as though there aren’t some parts that are very enjoyable in the anime. Hopefully when it returns you continue to enjoy it.

  3. I got pretty bored with this one early on. It just isn’t one that ever clicked with me. Sorry to see that it ended up as fairly mediocre with some stand out moments. I was hoping to possibly try it again later, but at this point, I’ll probably just move on.

    1. I still haven’t decided whether I’ll continue this one if it comes back or not, but my feeling at the moment is that I’d only pick it up if it was a slow season.

  4. I thought an anime series based on a koto club would be really cool and unique, but it’s a shame that it’s such a mixed bag. The fact the principal is 100% designated villain really hampers it. I feel like a “save our club” storyline always has a character like that. Say what you will about From Up on Poppy Hill, but at least there was a legit reason why the club was under pressure to be shut down and the head person in charge was actually understanding.

    1. I really do not understand the whole ‘save our club’ storyline. Even if the club shuts down at school surely there are other places they could pursue the hobby if they were serious. And in some cases, given the few members in the club, it makes perfect sense to shut it down.
      Then again, this wasn’t the school making some logical numbers based decision, this was the vice principal seemingly carrying out some personal vendetta for no apparent reason and it just made him look ridiculous.

      1. Don’t worry. I’m not a fan of those kind of storylines most of the time either. That’s a good point. The members could go somewhere else like a music store or community center to keep going if they’re allowed, or they can just practice by meeting up at one of their houses as a possible place.

        It really bugs me not just when you have designated villain syndrome (saying nothing how that trope is tied to “save our club” storylines), but doing this for no reasons is lazy writing. If you’re going to make an antagonist, then at least give them a legit reason to do something whether it’s reasonable or not. If it’s for no reason, then why bother making a character like that?

  5. I don’t know why, but the animation style kind of reminds me of Your Lie in April. It looks very beautiful. Having read your review these seems to be kind of a mixed bag. Very good moments, are then exchanged for moments that are erm…not so good. I’m not a huge fan of these types of animes anyway, so I’m going to give this one a pass I think. 😊

    1. It was beautiful if that aesthetic works for you. And there were good moments. Some very powerful character moments and some great interactions between the members of the club. If they’d focused in on that it could have been amazing. What we got wasn’t bad, it just kept distracting me from those good moments though by giving us stuff that just wasn’t particularly great and fell fairly flat compared to the better moments.

      1. Sometimes that happens, and it can really be such a disappointment. I have had certain shows (not only anime) that could have been so much better if they kept some moments out of it😔 With my current backlog being as big as it is though, I’m not going to make this a very high priority 😅😊

    1. I definitely find it a shame because there were some really good things going for this series. However, it was like they didn’t realise their own strengths and kept trying to throw other stuff into it.

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