The new season of anime has officially begun! I’ve been trying to be on top of watching the first episode of every new show this season, and man are there some promising ones! But to be honest, the one that has left the greatest impact on me (well, besides the Fruits Basket reboot) was something totally unexpected, and one that, admittedly, I hadn’t planned on watching. That show was Stop This Sound! or in it’s much better Japanese title—Kono Oto Tomare.
From afar, Kono Oto Tomare looked like any run of the mill show. The poster honestly didn’t stand out, and neither did the description of the show. It was about a guy who was the last member of the koto club. That is…unremarkable. Honestly, from the get-go, it sounded like it could be a tournament anime, a gaming anime, a drama, or even just a generic high school comedy. It was, once again, unremarkable. But I watched it anyway, and now I’m kind of hooked on this.
Kono Oto Tomare is surprisingly profound despite its seemingly normal appearance. While it’s art is average, its characters almost cliche, and format reminiscent of a million different things, the one thing it really seems to get right is its characters. Now, I know only two episodes of this anime have come out, but already I see something of great promise. Why? Because while at first, this story appears plot driven, it often feels way more like it’s a character-driven story. Let’s take the cliche first episode.
A rowdy boy wants to join the koto club after saving the president from a group of bullies, but the meek president who cherishes the club doesn’t believe such a thug. Again, not exactly groundbreaking. But as the episode goes through its runtime, we don’t just see these two characters dancing around each other as Kudo tries to win Kurata over. No, instead we get hints that Kudo is trying to right his wrongs, but most importantly we see why. And his reasoning is really good, really deep, and really sad actually. And the more I watch of Kono Oto Tomare, the more I see this hidden deepness within. All the characters that get introduced are more complex than I would have thought. Hell, even the friends who seemed like complete side characters had moments where they had a scene that gave you a better perspective into them and their values. Kudo’s friends, for instance, had a wonderful moment where we got to see why they would go to such lengths for him, and it painted their bond in a brilliant light. More than anything, I see such vulnerability and honesty in Kono Oto Tomare’s characters, and that just makes it feel real. That bit of reality makes this whole story go from generic into something you can truly make a connection with. It’s only episode three and I already feel like I know these characters.
The three main characters, also have a great dynamic that I think complements each other and the story. We have the cold professional player, the brash but earnest newbie, and the mediocre one who wants to do their best and do it for fun. In many ways, they are foils for each other, as each has something one of the other two lack. Together, I can see them growing a lot and learning from one another, and I look forward to that.
Overall, I see the koto being a perfect instrument for this anime. After all, much like the koto, many will look at Kono Oto Tomare and think that it’s not that great. They’ll think it’s not that flashy. They’ll think it’s simple. They’ll underestimate it. But Kono Oto Tomare is actually extremely beautiful and there’s much more to it than meets the eye.
If you haven’t already started watching it, please do. As someone who hadn’t planned to see it at all, I can tell you it will be worth it. If you have seen a few eps, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!
Til next time
First Impression Rating – 7/10 members of the Koto club