After watching Piano no Mori, I’ve started to open up to more music anime, so when I saw that the anime for Kono Oto Tomare (Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life) was airing during the Spring 2019 season, I was chomping at the bit to dive into another musical adventure. This time around, I’m trading in the piano for a traditional Japanese instrument, the koto!
Third year Takezō Kurata is the last remaining member of the Tokise High koto Club, and desperate for new recruits, Takezō does his best to appeal to his classmates. What he doesn’t expect is for the school’s resident delinquent, Chika Kudō to submit an application to join the club. Soon after, koto prodigy, Satow Hōzuki, throws her hat into the ring and joins this ragtag group in reviving the koto Club. Soon more members join and the group turn their sights towards winning the National koto Competition.
Opening/Ending Theme: The opening theme for the series, ‘Tone’, is performed by Mio Kanzaki’s VA Shouta Aoi. The ending theme, ‘Speechless’, is sung by Yuma Uchida, the VA of Chika Kudō.
Flashback: The episode starts with two flashbacks: one of Chika’s incident with the police after his grandfather’s shop was ransacked and the other being Kurata’s final farewell to the graduating members of the koto club. Both were defining moments for Chika and Kurata and set the tone for their motivations throughout the episode.
Everyone Has a Past: Most of what we learn about Chika is told to us via flashbacks. From his father’s abandonment and his life with his grandfather to the development of his love of koto. Doing it this way gives Chika an almost folk hero-like quality, that goes well with his delinquent persona. People judge him before they get to know him, but in reality he’s an all right guy, albeit a little rough around the edges.
Full Circle: The episode spends a lot of time showing that Chika isn’t the delinquent people make him out to be. Not only does he defend Kurata from three bullies but he also takes the time to clean up the clubroom and the koto club sign after they are ruined by other students. But, perhaps his most crowning moment of glory is when he explains why he wants to join the koto club; because it was the club his grandfather started.
Themes and Trivia
koto: The koto is a Japanese stringed instrument and the national instrument of Japan. It is made from kiri wood and has 13 strings, each strung over 13 moveable bridges. To change the pitch the player must move the bridges before playing. To play the koto, the player uses three finger picks worn over the thumb, index, and middle finger to pluck the strings.
Dandelions: Kudo leaves some dandelions at the plot where his Grandfather’s koto Shop used to be. While the dandelion is typically seen as a garden pest, the flower surprisingly has many different meanings, the most prominent being ‘healing/health’, ‘perseverance’, and ‘happiness’.
Nadeshiko: The three bullies call Kurata ‘Nadeshiko’ which is a reference to the phrase ‘Yamato Nadeshiko’ which is used to describe the ideal Japanese woman ie. pure, shy, and obedient. Here it is meant as an insult, they’re pretty much calling him girly. It could also be a reference to the fact that the koto Club was practically an all-girls club until Kurata joined.
I’m covering three music anime right now, Piano no Mori, Carole and Tuesday, and Kono Oto Tomare, and of the three this one has the more slice-of-life feel to it. With its high school setting and character-driven narrative, Kono Oto Tomare! definitely has the potential to be one of the more feel inducing titles in the Spring 2019 lineup.
The first episode spends most of its time setting up Chika and Kurata as the protagonists of the series, with the bulk of the episode’s run time devoted to various flashbacks. This isn’t a bad thing since the characters and not so much the music seem to be the biggest draw of the series so far. That isn’t to say the first episode is devoid of music. There is some great background given about the koto and what the instrument means to both Chika and Kurata… However, we don’t actually see anyone playing the koto. Maybe they’re building up to that part, but I was disappointed that we don’t see the koto being played despite it featuring prominently in quite a few scenes.
Early on, it’s established that this is very much Chika’s story, since we spend so much time delving into his troubled past. Kurata pretty much serves as the POV character for the audience to get to know Chika, though he did get a few moments of glory (albeit very brief).
Honestly, I don’t have all that much to say about this episode. It’s a cute high school slice of life anime. The characters are interesting, but not anything we haven’t seen before: a delinquent with a secret soft side and a nerdy kid that gets picked on. The most memorable parts of the episode were the flashbacks themselves, since they go a long way in setting the foundation for both Chika and Kurata so that we can have an emotional response to Kurata’s change of heart towards Chika at the end of the episode.
A Cute Slice of Life Story
The first episode of Kono Oto Tomare! was pretty standard fare, delivering just enough of an emotional story to keep you invested in the characters, but not enough to make it stand out from the dozen or so slice-of-life series out there. I didn’t hate it, but it also wasn’t the best first episode I’ve seen so far. I really want to see more of the koto in next week’s episode and maybe more characters? All in all, a pretty slow start.
I’ll be back next week with another Kono Oto Tomare! review, but in the meantime, be sure to check out MANGA.TOKYO’s other amazing Spring 2019 reviews!!
NEXT TIME: Having What It Takes
Kono Oto Tomare!
Spring 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast