The koto club gets freaked out by hearing other koto clubs.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Our fearless koto club members are enduring some of their hardest trials yet: being forced to listen to other schools compete against them. Meiryo stuns everyone with their debut piece, and it’s hard to recover from the shock of seeing how good they are. Takezo’s Aunt Isaki is in attendance as well, and recalls some memories of Mr. Takinami, their club advisor, when he was younger. It appears like he may be more connected to music than we thought!
It’s the penultimate episode of the first season of Kono Oto Tomare!, and things are sounding pretty grim. Well, actually everyone else sounds awesome, but that’s what makes the koto club grim. How can they hope to compete when all the other groups sound so polished and practiced?
These kinds of questions are some of what made the first half of this week’s episode falter for me. I wrote last week that seeing the club members get spooked by how good every other club was had gotten old, and it’s even more true this time around. A lot of the stuff going on is just members of the club reacting to what they’re hearing with amazement, shock, or horror at how much better it is than the sounds they can produce. I don’t know about you, but I’m no pro koto player. All of the groups sounded great to me, so all of the super exaggerated reactions started to strike me as being silly.
They do set up the major cliffhanger for the ending, though. Kurusu hasn’t gotten a lot of development since her initial come around, but we do get reminded that she’s never performed before, and thus is feeling extremely nervous about going up in front of an audience, especially trying to follow performances like their peers have given. All this pressure makes her crack, and she lets her koto fall in her absent state of mind. Satowa dives to protect Chika’s grandfather’s koto, which she’s carrying for him, and Chika dives to protect her. Everything ends up alright, except for one thing: Chika’s hand is injured. Maybe not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but to a koto player about to go on stage? This could be really bad for the entire group.
Later in the episode, we get to learn what Takezo’s aunt knows about their club advisor. Apparently, Mr. Takinami was the offspring of two musical geniuses. All of this pressure made him have strong feelings about music. This is a really interesting angle, focusing on Mr. Takinami instead of one of the club members. We’ll have to see how it ends up turning out, but at this moment, I kind of wish he had a bit less focus so that Kurusu could get some more screen time. Like, has her being the club vice president ever been addressed again after that one time?
Rivals, the twelfth episode of Kono Oto Tomare!, lags in the first half. Watching the characters react to what they’re hearing isn’t only tired. It would be just plain old boring even if we hadn’t seen the same thing happen before. Luckily, the episode picks up later on, and we get to see some cool tidbits of Mr. Takinami’s history, as well as a potential new rival for Chika and a nerve-wracking slipup by Kurusu. I’m just as nervous to find out how this will impact Chika as they go into their big performance in next week’s finale.