Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life ?
Two ladies get their tragic backstories this week, making for an episode of Kono Oto Tomare! that aims to deliver twice the emotional impact as usual. Satowa's secret aligns neatly with what the narrative has already telegraphed for weeks, while Hiro's own personal trauma promotes her from “unforgivable psychopath” to “hot mess” in minutes. Some off-model character art took away from the gravity of these revelations, but deepened character development and fresh twists (we get to see Takezo's angry side and Chika's capable caretaking!) saved the episode.
Satowa lives by herself and if Chika knows anything, it's that you're not supposed to leave a sick person alone. It's so endearing to see Satowa, in her weakened state, allow Chika to take care of her and to see Chika, following Satowa's lead, also show a softer side of himself. What makes the romance between these two click is the way they only seem to take down their walls around each other. Now Satowa's awful story about the breakdown in her relationship with her mom gives them another thing in common. They're both stuck in the aftermath of being let down by adult authorities who were supposed to try and protect them from bad situations, not make them worse. With Chika, it was authorities judging him by his appearance and assuming he was to blame for the destruction his enemies wreaked; with Satowa, it was an increasingly stressed-out mom slowly losing sight of Satowa as her daughter in exchange for a critique of Satowa as a koto prodigy. Satowa needs somebody to take care of her, and Chika seems to need somebody to take care of. Their fateful encounter at Satowa's apartment happens at exactly the right time for both of them.
Meanwhile, Hiro-senpai is actually an idiot. Her own experiences have clouded her compassion to the extent that she doesn't realize how absolutely surreal her expectations have become. Just imagine if Satowa finally opened up to the group to reveal her terrible family situation, only for the koto club to dismiss her completely. We didn't have to wonder long what would make Hiro so twisted that she'd think this would happen. Her backstory was startlingly similar to Chika's; everyone believed Hiro's lying friend instead of her, without even attempting to hear her side. This is the weaker of the two backstories, both because of the similarity and Hiro's tunnel-vision. What's more interesting than Hiro's startling lack of emotional maturity is Takezo's reaction, as we get to see him angry for the first time. “I hate people like that who don't make any sense!” he fumes. Until now, Takezo has been level-headed to the point of being boring, but Hiro's true colors bring out a new side of him in this furious reaction.
Many of these emotional revelations occur with closeups on characters' anguished expressions, but the art doesn't look great this week. Each shot of Satowa in particular looks like a different person. In an episode with hardly any koto music, it's more difficult than usual to ignore the off-model character art. At the same time, “Unknown Sounds” had a narrative impact that was more than enough to remain engaging throughout.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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