Kono Oto Tomare Review Episode 5

A Triumphant Performance

Episode 5

Time for the performance episode. While the Vice Principal’s challenge continues to sit as the explanation for the extra tension on this first performance, other than two minor scenes where he is on screen, the episode prefers to frame the emotional growth of the group and particularly focuses on Kudo. Having Houzuki realise her mistaken impression of him and the two reconciling early in the episode and then having his back story interspersed throughout the performance as he realises the connections he’s made and who he wants to reach with his music makes this a pretty perfect episode.

There is of course the early final push for the club as Kono Oto Tomare drives toward the one month deadline with relenting force. They meet before school, practice at lunches, and continue to go to the music shop in the evening. It all looks nice and dedicated, though one has to wonder what is happening to the rest of their lives in the process given the sudden surge in hours given to the Koto. Such questions kind of kill the romance of the narrative so let’s just go with it.

Likewise the old woman’s advice that they need to put their feelings into the music now. It is the kind of advice that comes out in almost every music or artistically themed anime and while there’s an element of truth in it, it is hardly the main bit of advice someone who has been playing a month needs when they are about to perform a piece in public. As enchanting as it might be to think that feelings are carried by music, at that stage of learning technical proficiency is kind of needed far more. That isn’t a slight against this story, but I find this same old trope fairly dull at this point and while the performance is lovingly connected to Kudo’s emotional state making it actually relevant to the plot, the old woman’s speech was probably the low point of the episode for me outside of the vice principal’s relentless and incredibly pointless attack on the club.

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But such minor nitpicks and personal preferences mean nothing when an episode comes together as well as this one did and reaches a climactic moment for the club. Their first performance, while not flawless by any means, is truly a work to be reckoned with given the inexperience of many of the members. Their effort pays off as they perform, feel they are losing their way midway along, and then find a way to bring it back together. There’s no cause for complaint and even if the final flourish has their music symbolised as metaphoric dragons reaching out to the audience in what might be the most literal symbolism given what they decided the song was about, it feels like a perfect cap to the performance even if it is ultimately quite a cheesy idea.

I also came to the conclusion that the OP to this anime is one of my favourites of the season. Not sure yet if it is my favourite as I’ve been really pushing myself to try to catch up with the anime I missed while travelling so I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to the OP’s and ED’s yet but as I’ve now settled into my viewing pattern for the season I’m starting to take more note and Kono Oto Tomare has a very nice opening

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Kono Oto Tomare! Review Episodes 1 + 2

From little things, big things grow, maybe.

Kono Oto Tomare Episode 1

Episode 1

Here we are with the standard club anime where all the previous members graduated but one and now we’re recruiting new members. We’re just combining this with the standard delinquent/misunderstood trope character who needs to find some way to absolve his guilt after his actions led to the destruction of his grandfather’s work prior to his death. That said, just because we’ve seen these stories before doesn’t make this a bad start. Not at all.

Kudo - Kono Oto Tomare Episode 1

With its soft colour palette and slow pacing, this episode is fairly calm and mellow even with the violent encounters and flash backs. While the outcome of the episode is more or less guaranteed, the journey is worth taking and while neither of the main characters is getting points for originality any time soon, both Kudo and Takezou are interesting enough in their own ways.

One thing that is a little amiss might be that this is a koto club and other than one flash back sequence to the seniors playing, where we didn’t really hear it, there’s no koto playing in this first episode. Maybe that’s fine given this is the set-up for recruiting members and we’ll get there, but it just seemed like you would put the instrument on more display early in a season.

There’s a lot of anime this one will inevitably get compared to, but taken on its own, while it is an ordinary kind of story it is one that so far has been nicely put together and was fun to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other members get recruited and to seeing them actually doing proper club activities.

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Episode 2

Well I said I was curious as to recruitment of other members and to hear them play the koto and episode 2 hit both those points. Admittedly Kono Oto Tomare doesn’t appear to be in any rush introducing just one new club member this week. Turns out the whole message about not judging a book by its cover isn’t just going to be applied to Kudo as Houzuki, the new member is also a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to her appearance and personality.

Houzuki - Kono Oto Tomare Episode 2

With another fiery personality in the mix, things are more lively than last week. We see Takezou perform to try to recruit new members though with fairly indifferent results before we meet Houzuki and it is revealed that she’s apparently a genius player. They hold off on proving that for a fair while until Houzuki is in the club room alone and Kudo hears her playing from outside the door. It was pretty impressive all things considered with pretty visuals thrown into the mix.

Houzuki - Kono Oto Tomare Episode 2

Kudo continues looking for absolution for past misdeeds, this week helping the club get their instruments fixed before volunteering to help repair them. The delinquent with the heart of gold act is one we should all be familiar with but that doesn’t make it any less endearing and it is certainly enough to finally thaw Houzuki’s chilly personality.

While I’m still a bit behind on this one I think I’m going to enjoy it so for now this one is firmly staying in my line up.

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Voice of Fox Series Review

Voice of Fox Episode 1

Singing, Lies, Rumours, and Social Media – You’re Always On Stage

Voice of Fox is one of those short anime that comes out that very few people seemed to pay attention to. And it kind of makes sense. The Autumn anime season was full of some amazing titles and you can’t watch everything. A short anime that adapts a Chinese Manhwa about a kid wearing a fox mask and wanting to make it as a singer probably isn’t high on people’s watching priority list. Still, there was something about the first episode that drew me in and I’m really glad I strapped in for the ride. While Voice of Fox isn’t a ground breaking masterpiece that must be watched, it is a solid effort at telling a reasonably interesting story in a fairly short run time given episodes are only around ten minutes long.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

Where Voice of Fox works is the tight focus on a very small pool of characters who interact within a larger social setting. With idols and stars making up a large part of the cast, social media and the internet play a huge part in this story as public perception sways and changes with events, rumours, apologies, and performances. While at times the public opinion seems to veer far too strongly too quickly, it is a good look at the pressure of anyone living in the public view and who relies upon fans and an audience for their livelihood. Hu Li also explored the idea of being independent or being part of an agency and the difficulties in getting yourself out there alone vs what a large company can achieve.

Where it falls down is that too many of these characters are either good people with poor luck getting trod on by an uncaring system or they are ruthlessly ambitious with very little in the way of actual human emotions. The characters who are set up as the antagonists don’t get to be anything other than star hungry and while the anime does attempt to give Kong Que (the guy who Hu Li is the ghost singer for) some sort of angsty back-story, it is one of the moments that is a bit rushed and the emotional impact is minimal. It also is quickly forgotten when you realise that despite what has happened to Kong Que he is still pretty ready to throw Hu Li or anyone else under a bus for just a scrap of fame so he’s not exactly a nuanced character.

The story largely focuses on the events around a reality idol show searching for the Rising Star of China, at least for the first half. The filming is rocked by scandals as singers get sick, power outages occur mid-performance and Kong Que is revealed as a fake and Hu Li as the real voice. This section of the story is really quite focused and driven and while there are some comedy moments that don’t quite stick their landing, by and large it is highly entertaining.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

The second half, where we explore the characters and their motivations a bit more and wait for their final decisions, is a little less well handled. It does come back to the competition and we do get a satisfying ending, but there’s a little loss of momentum in the second half.

There’s also a lot of singing in this. I really enjoyed the music including the OP and ED but I also really just liked the performances. If the music doesn’t work for you, that is possibly going to be a deal breaker because all of these characters are on stage at some point and singing.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

I’d recommend giving this one a go. It was one of those pleasant surprises of the Autumn season and I really wish more people had watched it because it would have been fun to discuss it more each week. Not a perfect show by any means, but one that I could definitely get lost in and just go along for the ride.

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The Final Face-off For The Fox

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 12 Review

Voice of Fox has simply come to an end (or rather it concluded the current crisis and then gave a potential tease at the end for more of Hu Li’s journey but honestly I’m happy enough with this as an ending). Hu Li and Ji Hetian finally face off in the Rising Star of China competition. Everyone watches with some of the more villainous characters of the season smirking to themselves about how they are going to be the next big thing anyway, and everyone else being reduced to tears by a song. It’s a little bit overly simplistic but it fits the story up to this point and to be honest it was kind of nice seeing Hu Li have his moment.

Voice of Fox Episode 12 Ji Hetian

Less nice was realising Hu Li hadn’t figured out who Sky was. Really? I kind of thought that had already been resolved and now I’m convinced Hu Li is actually an idiot. Great singer, nice guy, but complete idiot. And actually that makes a lot of his choices earlier in the season make more sense. He definitely needs a manager to help him make better choices.

Voice of Fox Episode 12 Hu Li and his brother

The singing was nice, the story is drawn to a close, but really I can’t help but feel that this episode didn’t quite bring the emotions and drama of earlier ones. It really did feel like it was going through the motions and while all the elements were there for a solid emotional conclusion I just didn’t really feel it. Which is a shame given this anime has been one that I’ve consistently enjoyed because of the emotional drama it has carried through.

Voice of Fox Episode 12 Hu Li sings

Anyway, for a short anime, it has done what it needed to do and I really had fun with it. I’ll get to a series review of it and hopefully a few more people will give this one a go. While it isn’t perfect it is certainly a fun watch.

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Can Hu Li Actually Conquer Sky’s Terribly Twisted Challenge?

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 5 Reivew

I’m a little torn here because I do genuinely feel for Hu Li. He needs money for his mother’s hospital bills and he is clearly working hard having signed a contract that gives him almost no advantage other than the money to pay those bills. However, at the same time, I kind of feel a lot of his current troubles have been brought on by his own actions. He did in fact violate the terms of the contract (terrible terms though they may be) and now he’s on the edge of being revealed because of his individual work that he’s been posting and while Sky is definitely a factor, Hu Li could have been a lot more careful.

Voice of Fox Episode 5 - Hu Li

Still, he’s young, he’s passionate, and he was also clearly desperate. And this is where the torn factor comes in. Voice of Fox does an excellent job of making you want Hu Li to succeed while at the same time gives you plenty of reason to doubt his character has the strength to succeed. That makes it even more of a tense watch because while the villains of the piece seem obvious, the question becomes whether Hu Li would actually succeed even without the restrictions he’s been dealt.

Voice of Fox Episode 5 - Sky

I’m wondering if the identity of Sky is supposed to be obvious, or if we’re being given a red-herring. It seems like it is clear who it must be at this point and yet that feels like it would be too cheap and trite in the end. That, and it wouldn’t be much of a reveal at this point. I’m kind of hoping something happens next episode to make it clear that we’ve been being mislead and make us reconsider the options, but part of me doesn’t feel like this show is really going for that.

All things considered, Voice of Fox remains a very solid character driven drama. And while the drama might be melodrama at times and there has been a lot of contrivance to get us to this point, there’s sufficient deft handling of the emotions of Hu Li and he comes across as a reasonably believable teen well in over his head that it remains pretty compelling viewing.

Here’s hoping it does something cool next week and in the meantime I’d love to know your thoughts on this one if you’ve been following it.<a title="HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNIA: BLACK HEART DRESS VER." href=" <a href=" data-mce-href="

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Voice of Fox Episode 4: Is Hu Li Losing His Resolve?

Voice of Fox Episode 4

This week we see that Sky’s provocations have gotten under Hu Li’s skin far more than it might have seemed at first. Whether he is in the classroom or performing, he can’t get the his conjured image and voice of Sky out of his head and it is having an impact on his performance.

Fox4a

While they may have scraped the victory through this round, it wasn’t by Hu Li’s voice. This time the credit is entirely on the fact that the opponent suddenly lost their voice mid-performance and while it was pretty obvious why even before they revealed it, it is a pretty scummy move. The only question is how many people are in on the current conspiracy and how high does it go.

Fox4d

As for Hu Li, he has bigger problems because his confidence is a little shaken and he’s becoming increasingly paranoid. Not to mention, his friend from school who also happens to be an idol, has kind of outed his mysterious online persona so it all seems like things are going to get messy.

Fox4c

I’m still having immense fun with this one. It isn’t perfect but for a weekly short it works well enough and I’m genuinely intrigued. It would be nice if they sang a different song given round after round singing the same thing has to get boring even for the audience, but apparently we’re just sticking with what we know.

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Voice of Fox Episode 3: Relying on Coincidence, Mishap and Luck

I’m just going to admit I really had fun with this episode even though realistically for a thirteen minute episode quite a bit of this was wasted time. We catch up with Hu Li trying to sneak into the venue for the whole competition thing and the whole time he was doing this, I just had to wonder why the company didn’t take pains to get him an actual pass as one of the crew or something else. It seems ridiculous to expect him to find his own way in and avoid security. And it lends itself to a lot of silly moments that just kind of eat up screen time and rely very much on coincidence and the absurd for things to work out.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

Kong Que on the other hand is a character I’m getting to dislike more and more. While I can kind of accept the whole ghost voice thing for an idol, the fact that he can’t even manage an amusing or entertaining stall is just kind of sad. He cracks so quickly under the pressure of Hu Li not being there and has no back up plan and insufficient charisma to really do anything.

Voice of Fox Episode 3
This guy is the judge and he’s asking a lot.

Naturally though, Hu Li does eventually get to the stage at least and due to a nicely timed black out (not sure whether that was the mysterious SKY or someone else who arranged it but again, good work with the coincidence) Hu Li manages to stand behind Kong Que to perform. Without the microphone or back-up music. And I must say it was a very nice performance before he quickly ran away and the lights came back on.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

So while I still am having a great time with this, the story plausibility keeps going down and while that isn’t really a problem, it also means that you just kind of end up hand waving a lot of points and so the actual ability for this story to leave a lasting impression is diminishing. Still, fun enough for thirteen minutes a week.

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