A First Impression: Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 1

I fell behind a bit, so time to do some catching up on First Impressions

Kurata Takezo is a somewhat shy boy with the unenviable task of keeping afloat the failing Koto club, as all its members besides him have now graduated. This is somewhat difficult as nobody seems to want to join it, and the club room has been taken over by delinquents who use it as they please. Kurata himself is not even particularly interested in koto, but he promised his upper classmen that he’d look after their club.
One day when the delinquents are bullying him, Kurata is rescued by another delinquent – and this one says he wants to join the club. The thing is, he is the infamous Kudo Chika, a guy who is known to be violent and even has a history of getting in trouble with the police. For this reason, Kurata refuses to believe that Kudo is serious about joining, despite Kudo’s repeated angry efforts to clean up the club room.
Kurata eventually learns from a friend of Kudo’s that the incident he was most infamous for was not what it seemed – delinquents he used to associate with destroyed his grandfather’s koto workshop – who passed away shortly after – and framed him as the culprit. Incidentally, the delinquents who were bothering Kurata, now pissed with Kudo for challenging them, decide to ‘recreate’ this incident, frame him and get him expelled from school – by injuring Kurata and having Kudo be discovered at the ‘crime scene’. Luckily, despite the teacher’s distrust of Kudo, Kurata is able to convince them that he’s innocent – and the two begin their friendship over koto.

That koto is…awfully cgi.

As someone who is getting more and more tired of the ‘increasingly obscure school club needs new members’ plot in anime, I do think it’s kind of interesting that this time the leads are people who don’t seem to have that much interest in the actual focus of the club. Kurata allegedly only joined because he felt bad for thinking the original club members koto performance was bad, and is apparently only still here due to promising them he would keep at it. (Perhaps he has a crush). Meanwhile, Kudo sees the Koto club as a duty of his – it was apparently originally started by his late grandfather, a koto craftsman who he feels he owes a debt to. In the opening we see a lot of other characters, and they seem to enjoy playing the koto quite a lot, so I’m sure the plot of the show will involve these two coming to like this interesting instrument a lot more.

Koto are quite an interesting instrument to base a show around – they have a very distinct, traditional sound so I’m actually surprised that I’ve never seen an anime about them before. There’s also a little bit of trivia about them – apparently they are intended to resemble a dragon! And yet, despite this…I don’t think we actually heard anyone play one in the whole episode.

Unfortunately, the lacklustre animation and slow pace really drags this down, and ‘interesting’ may not be enough to carry it. I have a strong suspicion that the original manga is the superior way to experience this story – and I get the distinct impression from the opening theme that the manga has a certain style to it that has just not made the transition to anime very well. Some of the characters look pretty odd to me. The main duo have some pretty good chemistry together, and I do have a soft spot for deliquents with hearts of gold, but to be honest some of the character interaction just feels a bit ridiculous. I know that Kurata didn’t want to trust Kudo because he assumed Kudo was just joking about joining the Koto club but…he could maybe just ask him why he wants to join, once? ‘I want to join the Koto club’ ‘what, YOU like Koto?’ Even that would be enough, not the constant ‘No you don’t! Go away!’ They could have at least made it more obvious that Kurata was scared of him, because instead it just makes Kurata look dense. Anyway, this one may need to do a little more if it wants to grab me.

On the plus side Kudo reminds me a lot of Akito from Kodomo no Omocha, and that’s always a plus.

Out of 5,

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