Genres: Music, Drama, School, Shounen
"One of the most under-appreciated manga ever."
This review only contains a few minor spoilers. Should be okay for those who haven't started yet. I started this manga simply because I wanted an interesting change to all the romcoms I was reading. Heck, I knew romance wasn't the main genre, yet reading the premise and the other reviews, I had to give it a try. Starting Amyuu's Kono Oto Tomare was one of the greatest decisions of my life as a general manga reader. I binged and caught up within 3 days.
I've read a large number of works. The perfectly articulated yet deeply fleshed out plot, as well as the rollercoaster of a journey we get taken with each individual character both in the main and supporting casts; the way Amyuu tied various hints, important lines, character backstories all back to the main plot consistently time and time again just kept pulling me in and had me glued to this manga like a parasite.
Story Rating - 9/10
An interesting premise with our main MCs, coupled with the challenging journey of making it to nationals thus far. We get taken from arc to arc like jumping from one block to a higher one, slowly making our way up as if we're part of the adventure. The story, as simple yet sophisticated as it's told, is one hell of an emotional yet rewarding journey. It not only pairs with the development of our main cast beautifully, but each arc has its own tropes which make it unique. Not a 10 since some arcs were better than others, but no one can deny each one carried the plot well.
Art Rating - 9/10
Very detailed and completely enhances our perception of each character in the cast wonderfully. Amyuu's simple use of full character face panels and clear distinctive effects to showcase a flashback, is really underrated. The times when we need to see the clear emotions within a koto performance, an audience's reaction, or the emotional faces of our main characters going through a hardship is well balanced and drawn. Just look at the blushing Satowa panels near the end of chp 109 - how could you not feel emotionally drawn in?
Characters Rating - 10/10
This is where I feel, while everything else is also superb, the manga really shines. Sophisticated character development is hard to showcase conspicuously, yet because of the gentle pace of the story, we get an inside look at almost everyone within the main cast, their emotions, their backstories, and how that all ties back together to the main plot. Not to mention the amazing personalities of each member of the koto club, the dynamics of these personalities conflicting or supporting each other just like how it works in real life, and well written internal conflicts each character struggles to conquer. It's just simply stunning writing.
Overall Enjoyment Rating - 10/10
I think I've said all I could say from the top of my head within this review. As someone who didn't even know what a koto was and isn't a huge fan of the music genre (though I should really read more), this manga completely changed the game for me, making me realize just how powerful the plot, characters, art and technical yet simple explanations of the koto was for me to get drawn in so easily despite no initial interest in it. Not only did I start looking into more koto performances and listening to its sound, but I can't stop listening to Tenkyuu, either.
I have to hurry up and move forward too.
Amyuu, please keep it up. It's a beautiful tale that's criminally under-appreciated, both manga and anime.