Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life
Episode 4

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life (TV 1) ?

Finally, some serious koto playing! This episode on Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life, the club really came together to show off what they could do. There's real potential in this motley group, but they'll need to overcome obstacles of the internal and external sort before they can attain it. Each passing week, this show hits more of the expected beats for a high school club anime, and this one was no exception. But despite its predictable trajectory, its steady dedication to character development ensures that it still has much to offer.

The school uniforms in Kono Oto Tomare! have distinctive dragon logos, so I was wondering how that was going to play into the story. This week, Chika informs us that the design of the koto is meant to resemble a dragon. Hozuki explains further that dragons “join together two unconnected things,” for example, the hearts of the koto players and their audience. This is one combination, but I'd argue that it's no coincidence that Chika's surprising talent for the koto is revealed in the same episode—that's definitely an example of the instrument uniting two unexpected things. While I hate the trope of the girl who's been spending her entire life mastering a skill only to be immediately upstaged by the male main character, there have been hints that koto runs in Chika's blood just as much as it does for Kurata or Hozuki. This episode gives us a title drop, as both Kurata and Hozuki run to listen to the mystery koto player, only to discover that the person producing that gorgeous sound is none other than Chika. Chika's crude delinquent reputation and his unexpectedly warm koto sound seem to echo the dragon metaphor more than anything else.

Meanwhile, as the club trains to shape up for their first public performance, the one member not struggling with skill is dealing with a different sort of trauma. Kurata can tell right away that Hozuki isn't cut out to be a teacher, but Hozuki refuses to admit it. Soon we learn that it's not that she's stubborn, but that she's been punished since childhood any time she admitted she couldn't perform a task. The monjayaki scene is the perfect way to help her overcome this trauma—by presenting the same traumatic trigger as she remembers but with a completely different, and far kinder result. “No one's gonna get mad,” Chika says, though of course, her club's anger was exactly what Hozuki was expecting! Chika and Kurata's thoughtful replies to Hozuki are simple but clearly mean the world to her—especially Chika's. Like Hozuki, he has difficulty expressing his feelings, and its the rough edges to their interactions that make their blossoming love story all the more engaging.

Most of the story is about the main three protagonists, but I'm happy to see the three delinquents each becoming more of their own person. I don't remember all their names yet, but I can still tell you that the long-haired guy plays guitar in a band, Mitsu's legs get tired when he kneels to play koto for too long, and the blond one feels guilty that he's not picking up skills more quickly. Their feelings about playing koto are genuine and inspired by Chika's dedication, but the club's unusual makeup has rumors spreading that Kurata is being bullied. The episode ends on a slight cliffhanger, though it's pretty obvious that Kurata is going to receive bad news about the club in the staff room and Hozuki is going to have a misunderstanding with Chika based on the crime he's accused of, just as they've started to understand each other. Once again, it's a pretty predictable story, but these quickly developing characters and their clear commitment to the koto keep me invested.

Rating:

Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life is currently streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.


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