The koto club goes camping. Training camp, that is.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
After seeing the kind of competition that they’re going to be going up against last week, the koto club decides to hold a training camp to make sure all of them are on the same page. But when Kota goes missing, the club members forego their sleep schedules to locate him. Turns out, he was off practicing by himself, frustrated that he was falling so far behind Chika and the others. With a helpful demonstration from their club advisor, Kota is back on track.
This week’s episode of Kono Oto Tomare! finds the group bonding in one of the most cliche anime outings possible: the remote training camp. Far away from the activities of their ordinary lives, training camps offer club members the opportunity to goof off under the guise of practicing their skills. Or at least, that’s what a lot of training camp episodes turn into. But the koto club? Not so much. This sturdy bunch isn’t going to slack off just because they’re staying the night at an old inn in the forest!
Overall, I enjoyed Near Yet Far for the focus it puts on one of the lesser developed members of the cast. Kota isn’t one of the very memorable guys in the group. He isn’t especially interesting, buff, or angry. But that’s kind of why I liked his struggles here. There’s always going to be people off to the sides, who get neglected as the ‘main characters’ in stories/lives push their way to the forefront. Seeing how one of the background cast club members handles this is cool. It also illuminates a friendship I hadn’t noticed before: Chika and Kota. Chika has always been a sort of aspirational role model to Kota, apparently, and Chika is one of the people worried about finding him the most.
One of the more minor plotlines was the continued evolution of Takezo as a true leader. Coming off of last week, it was nice to see him still working on this whole ‘self-confidence’ thing. His words to their club advisor make the entire training camp possible. There’s no way he would’ve said those things just a few episodes ago, so this progression is rewarding for viewers to notice.
The dub this week highlighted how well the background characters have been cast on this show. While Funimation needs to do better at updating their cast lists, it doesn’t change the fact that whoever is playing Kota did a nice job this time around taking over the spotlight from the more main players. “Let’s leave the rivalries for the sports clubs!” Takezo has a sense of humor! Who knew? “His brutal honesty can be a bit too much to handle at times.” Ugh, that advisor. I’m still nervous about him. “You’ve got this, buddy.” Chika’s inner encouragement to Kota is as sweet as Kota’s thoughts are sad: “There’s no one beside me anymore.” I’m glad this episode left us with a positive note: “I’ll catch up to everyone else, and once I’m there, I’ll work even harder!”
The tenth episode of Kono Oto Tomare! is a nice episode in the long-running genre of training camp episodes. I wish it focused a little more broadly on the group as a whole, but I still liked seeing Kota and his frustrations with his own slow progression. Plus, the bigger part their club advisor has started playing is cool to watch. I’m still not totally convinced he’s a trustworthy guy, though. Remember to keep practicing your koto until we meet again next week!