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Geek It! Anime Review: Kono Oto Tomare (Season-Cour 1)

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The beauty about anime is that there is literally every type of anime that you can think of. The music genre, for instance, has been a major hit in recent years. With an explosion of series about idol groups, guitars, trumpets and violins (you name it!), you’d think there is nothing left to explore in the genre. But of course, we were proven wrong.

Joining the cool crowd, KONO OTO TOMARE is the latest musical anime that plans to take over the world with its unique musical instrument — the Koto. With the second season-cour around the corner, here are our thoughts on the first season-cour!

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The story of Kono Oto Tomare revolves around high school student Takezo Kurata, the only member left behind in Tokise High School’s Koto club. With all senior members graduated, it is his duty to carry on the torch of the Koto club and recruit new members.

Much to Tazeko’s surprise, the Koto club soon catches the interest of many people, including the well-known delinquent Kudo Chika and Koto prodigy, Satowa Hōzuki. With different personalities joining the club, will they be able to play in harmony?

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Now, it’s hard to imagine a traditional instrument like the Koto to be the star of its own series. Compared to those idol series out there, would you blame viewers if they already pre-judged the anime to be lacklustre?

When you look at the storytelling, Kono Oto Tomare is the perfect underdog story. We love a good anime story in which people come together with a common denominator and overcoming adversity. Although each character has their own agendas and different playing skills, they possess the same goal — to play at the Koto Nationals competition.

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The Koto instrument might be played by one person but the collective group of everyone playing at the same time makes it an alluring experience. But for an anime that focuses on the Koto and its beauty, we believe there should have been more Koto incorporated into the storytelling. For instance, maybe more technique lessons on how to play the instrument? Or perhaps more Koto integrated in the opening and closing theme songs?

However, we’re not really complaining. Essentially, there is a great balance between the storytelling and the musical element. What makes Kono Oto Tomare great is the commitment to the character development for both main and side characters throughout the story.

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Each episode spends quality time in exploring their past, insecurities, and emotional beings. As a result, we see these individuals grow stronger, along with their intertwining bonds as members of the group. 

The power of friendship is a mysterious power. It is a driving force that pulls people together and carves a shared pathway of warmth, hopes, and dreams. We can’t stress how much Kono Oto Tomare delivers this notion so powerfully. Each episode is a magical blessing in disguise, and it will no doubt trigger a bunch of emotions even from the deepest depth of viewers’ hearts. 

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It’s not all tears and intense storytelling though. Surprisingly, Kono Oto Tomare manages to balance the serious content with comedy and chatty banter, especially the interaction between Chika and Hozuki. 

Speaking of Chika and Hozuki, we do love a bit of blossoming romance in the midst of the Koto drama. The story doesn’t explore this romance in detail but their strong chemistry keeps the story flowing and fangirl hearts racing — definitely a good thing!

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Rating: -B

Kono Oto Tomare is a cross between Chihayafuru, Your Lie in April and Kids on Slope. Despite its average animation and limited focus on the music, Kono Oto Tomare should be commended for its heart-warming underdog story and in-depth character explorations. If you’re looking for a unique musical anime to add to your watchlist — Kono Oto Tomare is definitely a must watch.

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