Takezo leads, Chika practices, and Satowa smiles in an awesome episode.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Takezo walks in on Chika and Satowa in a heated argument. Yup, it’s just the usual early morning Koto club meeting. The band of misfits is coming together well, and they really bond as a team in The First Resounding Note. From learning to resolve conflicts among themselves, to advance in their musical abilities, the fourth episode of Kono Oto Tomare! is a resounding success.
These kids are so great. Character is always key to crafting a good show, but these characters are just so integral to what makes Sounds of Life as successful as it is. Of course, our main three are incredible on their own, but even the newcomers are being developed as individuals in their own right. I love the realism on display here: the guys make a beeline for the door after the club is over to avoid cleaning, but they also spend their free time practicing at home, showing how vital it is to each of them that the upcoming performance goes off without a hitch. They might just be dumb kids, but they’re dumb kids who care about the club, the Koto, and each other.
Takezo’s leadership skills are constantly evolving. While he doesn’t necessarily make any huge steps forward this week, his inner monologues are definitely leading him to a place where he’ll have to step up and accept more responsibility for his junior club members. It’s such an interesting dynamic; Takezo is probably the meekest, most laidback of them all, and yet he’s also the senior club president. Speaking of leadership, Satowa is expected to take over her family’s school as the head teacher when she grows up. Knowing this, we can start to see how this pressure affects her, and how it connects to her own teaching abilities and why she gets so frustrated with her peers.
Apart from all the main characters, there’s just lots of little details to appreciate here. Shizu, the savage grandma who owns a music shop, is incredible and I would die for her. So would Chika, it’s beginning to look like. Can she replace his grandfather? Probably not entirely, but it might be a great relationship to build for him. There was also a lot of actual Koto playing this week, which I enjoyed. Even their practicing is nice to hear, and Satowa’s Koto theology lesson was interesting.
The dub is fantastic, no surprise there. “You think I’m running a daycare for noisy teenage hoodlums?” Shizu is just so, so good. Linda Leonard plays her to perfection. Takezo’s growing leadership abilities are quickly coming to fruition: “If there’s a problem you can’t solve, we’ll work it out together!” The newcomers are so fun: “It’s like a dragon meteor shower that connects hearts!” The average student’s outside perspective on the Koto club is hilarious: “I heard a rumor that the first-year delinquents had taken over your club and are bossing you around.”
The fourth episode of Kono Oto Tomare! is a triumphant embrace of everything that makes the show work: characters treated with depth and nuance, funny quips and gags, and a simple, yet engaging plot replete with plenty of Koto music. I’m looking forward to spending every Saturday with these club members for the foreseeable future… let’s just hope they can make it happen when they perform for the school, lest the oddly-fixated vice principal shut them down!