Genre: Drama, Romance, School, Music, Season: Fall \/ Spring 2019 Episodes: 26 Score: 8.5\/10 Review Overview: Presumably, Kono Oto Tomare is yet another cliche school-life, romance anime for the Fall\/Spring 2019 anime season. However, unlike other generic school-life, romance anime, Kono Oto Tomare has simply exceeded my expectations. While the show does showcase a variety of excellent Koto music, it also essentially focuses heavily on the journey of self-growth of each member within the Koto club. Such a unique combination is what made Kono Oto Tomare truly shines above the hundred of anime within its niche. Plot Overview: Taken place within Tokise High School Koto Club, Takezou Kurata is in dire of new club members before the inevitable disband of his Koto Club. When he learned that the rumored delinquent, Chika Kudou, wanted to join the club, Kurata initially rejected Chika's application in fear of his past problem-child behavior. However, after seeing the Chika's serious attitude and dedication towards the Koto, Kurata gradually changed his mind as Chika became an official member of the Koto club. Similar to any drama genre, there is a hefty amount of drama between the club members within the show. Though there might be no plot twists worth mentioning, the internal drama is enough to keep viewers entertained. In terms of plot development, Kono Oto Tomare is in its own ways straightforward and linear, allowing you to follow a simple yet immersive story: Ultimately, they are all seriously aiming for first place in the Nationals!! Satowa and Chika: Throughout the anime, viewers gradually learn more about the background and struggles of each character. Through multiple challenges both physically and mentally, the members were able to form deep bonds and expose their vulnerability to one another. Chika Kudou, despite being labeled as the violent kid who had no respect for his grandpa, really turns out to be a kind-hearted person. He is extremely dedicated to the Koto Club and the Koto itself. Evidently, Satowa Houzuki, being the musical genius she is, immediately noticed the undeniably gentle tone created by Chika's Koto. Having been used to loneliness, Satowa remained aloof towards the Koto's club members. However, realizing that people do indeed care about her, Satowa gradually opens up. To Satowa, music was something she dreaded. Having been shunned from the elite Houzuki Family, she has, for a fact, lost her place of belonging. Essentially, the Koto Club is the only place where Houzuki could regain her love for music and properly express her feelings towards her mother: appreciation rather than pain. The Others: In terms of the Koto Club's President, Kurata Takezou, he initially was a weak character; and is always unsure of himself. He ignored and accepted negative comments from those around him as if accepting his inferiority. However, throughout the anime, Takezou's transformation was as if a miracle. From a hesitant club president, he finally was a proud member and leader of the Koto Club. Bonds of friendship is a powerful thing, and Takezou finally found his sense of belonging within the judgmental society. Then comes Hiro Kurusu. Along with her nasty hobby of corrupting relationships, her next target was the seemingly all-happy and fake members within the Koto Club. But ultimately, we knew for a fact that Kurusu's effort would be in total vain, and ultimately... friendship prevails. And what could be better than a new and dedicated member for the Koto Club?? Talking about new members, at a first glance, the dynamic trio of Kouta, Adachi, and Sakai seemed to be mere supporting characters; since their applications to the Koto Club were somewhat abrupt and forced. This left the viewers unsure of the backstory behind these characters. However, contrary to these first impressions, Kouta, Adachi, and Sakai all contributed to the welcoming and hard-working atmosphere of the club. Music: Not knowing what a Koto sounded like before Kono Oto Tomare, the performances truly blew me away. Within their first performance, Chika's solo shined above the rest of the members. His sound was truly gentle and was able to reach directly within the viewers' hearts. Then there comes Tenkyu by Tokise's Koto Club during the National Qualifier. The tension and build-up were executed flawlessly, giving me major goosebumps throughout. It was as if Platinum Vision put their entire soul into this one climax of a performance. Really great job to them; since I suddenly found myself looping the piece countless times. Art: Another flawless aspect of the anime was the artwork, especially the CG fragments during performances. Similar to other school-life\/romance genres, the general art vibe of Kono Oto Tomare was often-times vividly bright and colorful, and this paired perfectly with the overall theme of the anime itself. It was a truly breathtaking scenery Manga Comparison: The adaption of Kono Oto Tomare manga was truly great. However, despite all its praise and glory, comparing to the Manga, there were some missing aspects that undeniably would have perfected the show if only it was included. Of course, having to condense whatever original plot Kono Oto Tomare has into 26 episodes, the general plot pacing was definitely lacking: mainly character development. In the manga, protagonists such as Takezou and Kurusu were provided a more in-depth background and story. In addition, the Dynamic Trio, (Kouta, Sakai, Adachi), also felt as if they were more a part of the Koto Club compared to their anime selves. In addition, though the anime does make up for it through actual performances, the performances within the manga were generally MUCH MORE IMPACTFUL... strangely enough... The tension and sentimental build-up within the manga were truly some of the most flawless. Conclusion: All in all, Kono Oto Tomare was indeed a successful series for the Fall\/Spring 2019 anime season. Through the spectacular performances, vivid artwork, and a dramatic and sentimental plot and character development, Kono Oto Tomare was truly able to capture the hearts of its viewers. In terms of the manga, if you liked the anime, you will LOVE the manga. For all of you folks out there who watched the anime, did anything truly stand out? What were some of the most memorable moments? Feel free to share in the comment section below!!