この音とまれ! (Kono Oto Tomare!)
Story and art by: Amyuu
Published by: Shueisha
Serialized in (magazine): Jump SQ (Ao no Exorcist, Owari no Seraph, Shin Tennis no Oujisama)
Genres: music, drama, school life, comedy, romance
Summary: Since the graduation of the senior members of the club, Takezou ends up being the sole member of the “Koto” (traditional Japanese string instrument) club. Now that the new school year has begun, Takezou will have to seek out new members for the club, or the club will be terminated. Out of nowhere, a new member barges into the near-abandoned club room, demanding to join the club. How will Takezou be able to keep his club alive and deal with this rascal of a new member?
Reading that summary, we could immediately recall a lot of series which start out with the same danger of a club disbanding. Yeah, there’s a “rascal of a new member”. Most likely this Takezou will be able to tame him or something and they will be able to keep the club alive. That’s what I thought when I read that summary. Thanks to the cover shown (I was reading on Batoto), I still ended up checking it out because, well, I love beautiful drawings and the art just happened to appeal to me. I thought there’s no harm in trying, so I still decided to read it and now, I’m not regretting anything.
Reading the synopsis, you’ll know that the story will be something familiar. Club in need of members? There’s a lot of series like that. Just look at a lot of sports anime one. Delinquent lead? Yeah, there are a lot of them. Just look at Gokusen or Great Teacher Onizuka. Except that that guy is actually just a misunderstood one, but even a character like that exists in a lot of series, like Honey‘s Onise and Kimi ni Todoke‘s Sawako, for example. The other characters fall under some kind of trope, too. The genius character with family issues, the character who tried to break the group apart, the character who wants to take revenge, and so on and so forth.
So, why did I even bother sharing, talking about this series if it sounds like what it has is something we’ve already seen before?
Well, a lot of stories are familiar stories, anyway. What differs is the way these stories are executed in order for them to not bore us to death. I believe that Kono Oto Tomare! is one those which manages to turn a rather familiar story into an engaging one. I’m listing the things I loved about this series.
First, the story is about students in a koto club. Not basketball or baseball which are common clubs on the shounen series. It’s koto, the national instrument of Japan. (I don’t have anything against those, though.) As foreigners, we know that there’s something new to learn because of this. There’s no information overload as the basics about koto and how it’s played is only mentioned in one chapter and even then it was not overwhelming.
It focuses more on the characters, their personal struggles (which results to a lot of memorable quotes from the characters!), and their difficulties in their journey to achieve their goal, which is — surprise, surprise — the Nationals! The pacing of the story is done in a way that it doesn’t feel that it’s dragging nor that it’s in a hurry. There is a good balance of comedy and drama, too.
In addition, there are some romantic implications between specific characters which a lot of shoujo fans can enjoy. But yep. It’s really not the main focus of the series.
Second, the characters are loveable. Though they fall in certain tropes in one way or another, they are the group of friends you’ll enjoy watching, especially Chika and company. (Most especially Chika! That guy is so precious!) Each of them are memorable and it’s great to see them improve their skills and characters as they face different difficulties along the way to their goal. We can easily become concerned of the feelings of the characters. Moreover, the growth of their friendship is gradual, making it all feel natural.
Third, the music is beautiful. Ahh, the music is beautiful. The panels are drawn beautifully to convey the gentleness and the intensity of the music performed. But, of course, I am not only basing the music on the art. There is a released CD of the pieces featured in this manga. Jump SQ on Youtube also uploaded some videos of performers playing the pieces the characters performed. Here is the link for the video of the first piece the club played — 龍星群 (Ryuuseigun). Here is the link for the video of their following performance piece they did — 久遠 (Kuon).
When I first heard of those, I had the same reaction as some of the characters in the manga — awe at the sound of koto. Back then, I didn’t know anything about koto except that I see those on some shows and thus, I’m aware of how it’s played and how it has many strings (but I didn’t know how many they are). However, let me say that I love this certain organization in our university which comprises of student-artists who are playing string instruments, composing their own as well as arranging others’ music. I always look forward to the concerts they hold every semester. So yep. It’s easy to say that I got easily drawn to the sound of koto.
Anyway, listening to those pieces while re-reading that chapters they are performed feels so satisfying. The emotions conveyed become more vivid. This is also why I think a good anime adaptation will be something to look forward to if ever there will be one. (And I hope that it gets an anime adaptation, handled by a good animation studio.) Also, I’m thinking of buying the CD because of that.
Anyhow, lastly, the art is beautiful. I already said earlier that it’s because of the art that I checked it out, that ended in my binge-reading the series up till the latest chapter. I love Sakura Amyuu‘s art style here because it’s clean and the designs are pretty. I love how they don’t have eyes half the size of their heads and how adorable the characters are when in chibi form. (She’s improved so much as compared to her previous works!) She is able to make good dramatic panels, too.
Honestly, I also loved Amyuu‘s one-shots. By Hero, Celeste Blue, and Dear Green are three of her one-shots that I enjoyed reading before. Even now, By Hero is one of my favorites (not that I read a lot of one-shots, though) because it’s adorable. It’s told in a bird’s POV!
Now, I just want more people to try reading it because I see a few discussions about it. At least I’m speaking of the international fans. It involving a koto, a Japanese instrument, isn’t an issue because there are series like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Chihayafuru which proved that even if we’re not initially familiar with a kind of performance and game since it’s Japanese, we can still enjoy them. It being about music isn’t so much as a problem, too, because there are Nodame Cantabile and La Corda d’Oro though I admit that the pieces on those series are well-known classics as compared to Kono Oto Tomare!‘s which are Japanese compositions (some are originals), so there will be a need to search for them if we’d like to listen to them. Oh, but Youtube has some people who uploaded videos of the music performances played in the series, albeit not really from Jump SQ‘s channel.
With this, I hope I’ve managed to convince even one soul to read the series. And I hope I’ll get to talk to someone about it in the future!
Turn the Page is a new segment here in this blog. It is going to be about the manga series I’m reading or have read. It will be kind of like a recommendation so I hope by writing these, I’ll get more people to read the series I’m highlighting.