A decent seasonal which never meets its full potential.
Kono Oto Tomare could've been a heavyweight of last season (at least in retrospect) if it had a solid production backing and if it trimmed itself out so we didn't have to tread over the same territory over and over. The lackluster visuals are particularly hard to stomach in a music show of this kind...the musicians are not animated while playing their instruments, a thing which happens often in every episode. This is brutal, to say the least. It's not that this show glosses over the music, either. This isn't White Album 2 where music is primarily a backdrop for heavier drama. While this show certainly has other drama going on, the music in the front of the show's priorities. So much time is spent at performances, practices, planning what pieces to play, etc. It's an essential part of its soul, but it lets us down. Instead of fully animated playing, we get still frames with the camera shaking around. Instead of communicating the quality and emotional content of a performance through the music itself, we get constant sports anime style interruptions explaining why a character's tone is so good or saying "wow, they play so fast!" It's grating as hell and will take you out of it every time.
Most of the potential conflict and drama is sorted out pretty early and that's fine in principle but this show doesn't seem to realize that's what happens. It doesn't settle into a calmer slice of life groove, doesn't introduce new conflict, nor does it meaningfully raise the stakes to test the extents of their growth. It makes no attempt to move into anything new after wrapping up its initial ambitions. Instead, the characters face trials that are...not all that different from their original ones. At the least, you would never have a sliver of doubt over how the characters will respond. All characters are strong personalities who are all fully set in stone within an episode or so of their introduction.
My complaints are pretty severe, but I was telling people not to sleep on Kono Oto Tomare, and I still somewhat stand by that despite my overall impressions not being more than somewhat positive. When it comes down to it I always appreciate a show that's about good people who genuinely like each other. Not that friendship is foreign ground for anime to cover, far from, but friendship in Kono Oto Tomare is a sweet and gentle thing. All characters treasure it, nurture it, and put in the work to keep it alive. It's coming from a purely positive place, and I appreciate that. As time goes on I am more and more turned off by the cynicism and toxic irony which overflows from a lot of art, and anime is no exception. Kono Oto Tomare goes strongly against that and is almost overbearingly sincere and earnest. This show didn't live up to my expectations, but it's still something to appreciate. I'm happy I watched it.
I'm also not sure what's in store for the continuation this Fall season. I don't see there being much more to work with, but I may well be proven wrong. I'm in for more anyway, they've earned that much.
Strong 5/10. Let me do my own scoring system for reviews, cowards.