Kono Oto Tomare – Series Review

Original Run: April 7, 2019 - June 30, 2019
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Music, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Amyuu Sakura

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Kono Oto Tomare. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Note: A Koto is a traditional Japanese string instrument.

Tokise High School’s long-established Koto club has recently fallen onto hard times. Its only member, Takezo Kurata (voiced by Junya Enoki) worries that his special place may be in danger of shutting down for good. That is when the most unexpected person wishes to join.

Chika Kudo (voiced by Yuma Uchida) is a well-known, infamous delinquent; or, at least, that is what the rumors say. As such, most people are quick to think he is beyond help. The reality, though, most have never really given him a chance. For Chika, the Kudo club is a way of paying homage to the few individuals who were willing to stand up for him.

It would seem as if Tokise’s Kudo club may be able to survive a bit longer. Then, its prospects take a much sharper turn when the famous Kudo prodigy, Satowa Hozuki (voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki) joins. Suddenly, the club not only appears capable of continuing but thriving.

Slowly, more and more members join. Suddenly, what once seemed like an impossible dream, creating beautiful music that would resonate within people’s hearts, looks like it could very well happen.

Series Positives

Kono Oto Tomare was a solid show, and the looks of it, this series will be seeing a continuation during the 2019 fall season. I, for one, think that is fantastic because:

  1. This story just stopped at the end of episode thirteen.
  2. It means we will be getting more Kono Oto Tomare.

I must admit, although I enjoyed this show, I wasn’t wowed by it. Or to be more precise, I’ve seen its formula before. To a significant extent, it reminded me quite a bit of Hibike! Euphonium, and to be perfectly honest, this one was, by far, the least impressive of the two. Be that as it may, there was, undoubtedly, a charm to this series, and that charm went a long way.

For starters, I loved the fact we got to witness the Koto performances.

On top of that, those performances were made even better because we were could witness Kono Oto Tomare’s Koto club grow stronger as the narrative went forward. Each time the club needed to go on stage, there was a lot on the line, and you could appreciate the pressure the characters were under to do well.

Plus, the music produced by a Koto did sound amazing.

I can imagine some of you are thinking that this should seem like a natural element for a show like Kono Oto Tomare to have. Let me assure you, its presence couldn’t have been more critical, for there are a ton of similar series which skip doing this. From what I have experienced, there is often just a focus on either the practicing or the results. But for this sort of story to excel, it needs to have both, and fortunately enough, Kono Oto Tomare did.

Above all else, the best element to this series was the Koto club itself. This was something which was, to my surprise, even better executed than the previously mentioned Hibike! Euphonium. For you see, Hibike! Euphonium was dealing with an entire ensemble; with around twenty members, if not more, to showcase. Kono Oto Tomare, on the other hand, only had seven, and each character felt essential to the larger group.

It’s a little difficult to express but having this core foundation allowed the show to stand out. Since this story made an effort to have everyone be likable, it was much easier to root for them when it came time to do so. That and the consequences of failure became much, much steeper.

To narrow it down, though, it was Chika Kudo who proved to be the breakout character of this series. His straightforward and blunt attitude was often the very thing which was crucial at countering some of the other characters’ harsher intentions. There were a decent number of people in this story who, when introduced, had some rather shady ulterior motives. Chika’s down-to-earth nature caused many to falter on their vindictiveness.

What I am getting at is, Kono Oto Tomare had a solid journey to its name. The sort of journey I can’t wait to continue.

Series Negatives

I’m about to be unfair.

What bothered me the most about Kono Oto Tomare was nothing this show specifically did. No, for me, this series was just far too similar to other anime I have seen in the past; the aforementioned Hibike! Euphonium merely being a single example.

There were multiple occasions where I thought to myself, “I have seen this so many times.”

Most notably, the characters.

Although I liked all the characters in Kono Oto Tomare, I did not, for a single second, care about any of their backstories. Everyone was jaded to some degree, and there was no distinct variety. Let me know if you’ve seen some of these before:

  • Chika was a misunderstood delinquent.
  • Takezo Kurata was a soft-spoken pushover.
  • Satowa Houzuki was a musical prodigy from an impossible-to-please family.

To give the credit which is due, none of those backgrounds were terrible. They each fulfilled their purposes well enough. However, having seen some variation of them throughout – what seems like – dozens of other series, they were too dull for me to care about.

Kono Oto Tomare was much better when it was focusing on the present and weaker when it was concerned with the past. Unfortunately, given the nature of these types of backstories, they have yet to be settled. I guarantee (and this is not a stretch on my part) this series’ upcoming second season will return to these points because they do need their resolutions.

I’m certainly not dreading that eventuality, but I have no confidence this series will do anything special. These backstories have been quite generic thus far, so why should I expect anything different to happen later on?

Again, this is not me saying Kono Oto Tomare fumbled. Instead, it just wasn’t that impressive in this one particular area.

Final Thoughts

There are a few second seasons coming later in 2019 I am not looking forward to watching. This is not one of them. I want to see where this story goes.

The best things this series has are its characters and a story which focuses on the now. How far will this Koto club go, that is a question I want to learn the answer to quite a bit.

Although this show may not have been fantastically original in parts, there were still plenty of other elements which helped it stand firm on its own two feet.

Kono Oto Tomare has earned a recommendation.

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About The Author

LofZOdyssey

LofZOdyssey has been an anime reviewer since 2015, an anime fan for much, much longer. and is currently based in Osaka, Japan. As a rule, there is no anime he is unwilling to review, and any series he starts, he must finish. Leave all the feedback -- positive and negative -- in the comments. Also, be sure to follow LofZOdyssey on Twitter @thelofzodyssey for more anime related content.