First Impression: Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life

Takezō is the president and only member club of his school’s Kota Club. Not exactly the most popular extracurricular on campus, its namesake is the 13-stringed wooden national instrument of Japan. Neither does he really seem to know what he’s doing, dedicating himself to club in memory of beloved senpai who poured their heart into it. Although Takezō is eager to keep the club open, he faces his own demons as well as delinquents who use the clubroom for their own misuse, and perhaps an even bigger obstacle—Kudō, a destructive young man with a reputation preceding him based in his own violent past and especially for destroying his grandfather’s house (and perhaps killing him). Even stranger, Kudō inexplicably claims he wants to join the club. But maybe his request isn’t as odd as it first seems.

Symptoms of Chihayafuru withdrawal:

  • Eagerness to watch anime involving club activities for uniquely Japanese arts and contests;
  • Willingness to accept contrived plots;
  • Settling for shows that are far less subtle, complex, or well thought out as Chihayafuru;
  • Tearing up when main character finds a teammate to rely on

Yeah, it’s no Chihayafuru—a similar series that’s one of my favorites—but does it really matter? Besides the focus on kota, there’s nothing new about episode one of Kono Oto Tomare, but it struck all the right notes—lead characters whose backgrounds and earnestness make them easy to root for, conflict leading to team development, injustice thwarted, and tearful backstories given. With the next season of Chihayafuru still months away, I’ll settle for Kono Oto Tomare in the meantime—and I think this substitute will more than adequately fill in.

Kono Oto Tomare can be streamed on Hulu.


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