The Koto Club is revitalized in a remarkably well-done episode of Kono Oto Tomare!
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Takezo’s got a problem on his hands. Even though the club has found two new members, they still need at least one more in order to meet the minimum requirements for clubs at the school. Luckily, Chika has some block-headedly loyal compatriots who can’t resist Satowa’s good girl charms.
Even with a plethora of additional members, though, the vice principal is still set on ending the Koto club once and for all. He gives them an ultimatum: perform a stellar group arrangement in one month for the entire school, or face disbandment. It’s going to take everything the Koto club has to come together and make this music!
After a solid couple of opening episodes, Kono Oto Tomare! really came out and knocked me out of the park with this third episode. From an incredibly funny and surprisingly nuanced main cast to goofy side characters and an intriguing plot, this show is delivering in a big way.
It all starts with the way everyone’s character meshes together while also getting further developed in The Koto Club Reborn. Takezo is the perfect straight man to lead the club – an always passionate and occasionally effective club president who doesn’t steal any of the spotlights from the real stars of the show this episode: Chika and Satowa. These two are so remarkably outspoken, brash characters on their own, putting them together in a single room nearly always creates interesting situations. As the loudest jerk in the room, Chika naturally takes a lot of (mostly verbal) beating from Satowa. Meanwhile, her straightlaced Spartan style of Koto instruction rubs him the wrong way. But as the episode comes to a close, they’ve both learned more about what makes the other tick, and why they act how they do. The scene where they sit back to back against the same wall is a really gorgeous moment.
The other characters in the episode are fine. The three new guys have some really funny moments, and I enjoy the way they are all basically lumped together, as one character split into three separate designs. But some of their adoration for Satowa feels a bit over-the-top. The vice principal is clearly shaping up to be the villain of the season, but we still don’t really know why he’s so dead set on disbanding the club. Surely, it can’t be for the sole reason that he doesn’t like Chika?
We get a lot more teasing into the issues that caused Satowa to join the club this time around. While it was easy to guess they involved her family’s legacy based on the music school from last week, Chika surmises that perhaps she was taught to play in a precise, joyless way. This, in turn, impacts how she teaches others. A flashback from Satowa herself seems to confirm that she never wanted to have fun with her playing, as childhood acquaintances make their exits from her life because she doesn’t know how to let loose and have a little fun.
The dub had some stellar lines this week. I loved the old music shop lady’s sass about Chika and his new friends: “Oh great, the noisy one multiplied.” Speaking of Chika, he’s the only character whose voice isn’t quite working for me at this point. While Amber Lee Connors always kills it as Satowa and Alejandro Saab delivers some awesome performances in this episode, Daman Mills just sounds too ‘on’ all the time. I get that he’s supposed to be the loudest, most brash guy, but he always sounds like he’s shouting over the other characters and it gets annoying in places as if his voice was spliced in from a totally different, more over-the-top series.
Episode three was amazing! It pleasantly surprised me with its nuanced treatment of its cast, and their blossoming relationships. There’s still some odd pacing here and there, like how the moment where Chika runs into Satowa carrying her instrument just feels really short and disconnected from the sandwiching scenes. Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Koto Club Reborn. If Kono Oto Tomare! can keep up this streak of solid episodes, it may go down as being just as beautiful as the Koto music itself.