Disclaimer: Spoilers for season 1 and season 2 of Kono Oto Tomare! are in this post. Only read ahead if you’ve finished the anime or don’t watch anime.
I know the title sounds lame considering how many people like to boast about how much they have learnt from anime but I kid you not when I say that this anime reminds us of some of the most basic life lessons that we often overlook. Since the anime has 2 seasons and a whopping 26 episodes of an emotional roller coaster, I’m writing this post bit by bit as I progress through the anime.
Anyways, here I go…
1. Don’t judge someone based on their appearances
One of the main characters, Kudo Chika was often mistrusted at the start due to his aggressive appearance and short-temper. However, as the anime progressed and we learnt more about him, we came to sympathise for him and grew to love him as a character. Honestly right now, he is my favourite character in this show.
I know this is something you hear all the time in the form of the quote “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, however, we often find ourselves quick to judge others based on appearance because it is the most accessible form of information we can obtain. There is no communication or effort required on our part. Just one look and we can already form an opinion of someone (even if unreliable).
In many cases, we judge people unconsciously based on how they look. Personally, I like to take pride in the fact that I don’t treat people any different based on how they look but I still have to admit that some unconscious bias is always present in my mind. In my head, I’ll have a preconceived notion of how the person I’m talking to is like. I think that is probably normal, but I’m not a psychologist so I wouldn’t know for sure.
I feel that even if we unconsciously form opinions of others, it is important not to judge them and stick a label to them. People are ever-changing and I think that we should always have an open-heart and open-mind when interacting with others. We need to accept the fact that people don’t open up so easily and what we see might not be who they really are.
Despite all that I’ve said, it is a pity how much a person’s image can affect their standing in our society. One must always be properly groomed and look smart in order to impress others and give off the aura of a “good worker/person”.
Anyhow, that should not stop us from reducing the importance of physical appearance when forming interpersonal relationships and focusing more on their character. Just because someone looks to be cold person, does not necessarily mean they are incapable of warmth! (source: every tsundere ever)
2. Don’t believe something unless you witness it yourself or hear it from the source
Hiro Kurusu is introduced in episode 6 and joins the club with unpleasant intentions. She spreads lies about what others have said or done and stirs unrest among the members. Later, we learn that she’d broken up many relationships between others before attempting to do the same to the Koto club. All because the same thing happened to her in the past.
While I definitely do not condone or approve of her past actions, it also brings to question how close those who were broken up by her were. Personally, I can’t really understand the logic of listening to what someone else says that my friend said. In the first place, I wouldn’t even interact with someone who isn’t already my friend unless I really had to because I’m just not that social. Even when my friends tell me something bad about my other friend, I don’t really care because I trust my own opinion of them more. Personally, as long as there is no change to how my friends treat me, whatever others may think or say about them, I really couldn’t care less. If it is something important though, then I would try to talk to them.
I mean if you’re friends, surely you should be able to at least talk it out before simply accepting whatever some random person comes up to you and tells you about them.
3. Don’t be pre-occupied with yourself all the time
Takezou Kurata, the Koto club president, often dwells on his worries and problems alone. However, without realising it himself, it becomes apparent to those around him resulting in a gloomy atmosphere.
Often times, many of us have problems that we don’t feel comfortable sharing and end up dwelling on them ourselves. Of course, having problems is normal and it’s perfectly natural to want to solve them on our own. However, we need to take into consideration our friends’ feelings when they see us obviously troubled. Being unable to tell what is wrong and much less help, our friends would also start to worry.
Sometimes, friends want to be relied on.
While it may take some time, we should learn to open up more to our closer friends who we feel we can trust.
Aside from that, we shouldn’t let our personal troubles make us narrow-minded. Especially for those of us who are in leadership positions. We need to look around us and be fully aware of the fact that everyone else is struggling with their own problems as well. Just because we are suffering doesn’t make it okay to be insensitive to others who are suffering just as much.
If you can learn to look out for others as much as you look out for yourself, I’m sure that good people who will, in turn, look out for you will naturally be attracted to you.
4. Don’t undervalue yourself and have more self-confidence
Well, what can I say? I’m a master of the art of self-deprecation so it probably sounds weird coming from me but it is important to value yourself and not underplay what you have done. Just because what you did is something you consider to be part of your “duty” doesn’t mean that it is something to make light of. Sure, it may not seem like anything special compared to many other more competent people out there but we should learn to take pride in everything we do. Sure, my blog posts may be seen as trash by those who frequent big bloggers due to the lack of content per blog post, the subjectivity of it all or perhaps my writing is just plain horrible. However, I’ve come to even take pride in the fact that I even went ahead to make the effort to even create a blog and keep it running. It may not be much, but it is something. I’m not trying to praise my blog or anything because I know just how bad it is in comparison to others. However, for someone like me to have maintained this blog for over a year despite having a huge lull period of 6 months is an achievement to me.
Aside from writing, I’ve actually gotten pretty confident in my captioning skills so if there’s anything video you’d like me to caption (english only), feel free to contact me on Twitter and send me the video. If you like what you get please support me on Ko-fi.
If you like Japanese Artists on YouTube such as Minami, Eve, Suda Keina, Mafumafu and ツユ among others, feel free to visit my Google Drive.
Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Let’s get back on track shall we?
5. If you’re being forced to immerse yourself in something, don’t. Only do it if you want to.
Due to his overwhelming talent for composing music, those around him constantly urged him on to create more and more pieces while completely ignoring his feelings. While it used to be fun when he did it as and when he felt like it, he started to get bogged down by expectations of those around him and the frequency of requests was seemingly endless. The expectations were like chains holding him to only dedicate himself to composing music and nothing else. As a young child at that time, it was only natural that he would want to escape from a life like that.
I can’t say for sure because I’m not exactly someone brimming with talents (heck I can’t even think of one), however, even if someone was really good at something, I don’t think that others should force him or her to pursue that path. As someone without any particular talent, I can definitely see why people might view those with talents in specific areas as stupid for going after something different from their strengths. I mean, as just another overly ordinary individual, it’s something like a dream to have a strength that is related to a field of study I could take to pave the way for a career in the future.
Despite that, if someone is forced to follow a path just because it fits their strengths perfectly, I don’t think that they could last. More so than talent, people need the desire to follow through and be interested/passionate in what they are doing. I mean, maybe it’s just me but I hate it when others try to force their opinion of me on me. It makes me feel as though I’m acting how others want and I feel manipulated… even if I’m actually just acting the way I want to. Perhaps it’s the tone that they say it in but I really can’t stand people who tell me what I’m like with such certainty and confidence.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about friends who joke about how much of a degenerate I am. I personally find that pretty fun. It’s people who tell me, “oh yeah, I think you are more ____ so you should try to ____”. It’s when they slap a characteristic onto me and assume that I would behave in a certain manner. It’s especially disgusting when it’s people I barely interact with.
However, if you really want to do something, “Do it efficiently, frantically, devotedly… so that you can think with confidence that no one practised more than you did.” as Takinami Suzuka said.
6. Life isn’t fair, some people just have to work harder than others
Hi, Captain Obvious here. Even though this is probably one of the most obvious things I’ve stated in this post so far, I have to admit that I always get hit real hard by anime characters who try their best and end up failing. It’s kind of like a sore spot for me. In Kono Oto Tomare, there a various talented individuals and not so talented individuals in the koto club. However, they all get along fine because they are close friends and the ones with talent are always patient with the less talented individuals. At the same time, while the less talented individuals inevitably feel down and inferior at times, they always get back up and work hard to keep up with the others.
Honestly, this really made the friendships in this anime feel so precious (I know I know, practically all friendships in anime are precious). Even when they feel like they are being a burden to the others or inferior, instead of getting all depressed and thinking “nothing I can do about it”, “maybe I’m just incompetent” like a certain idiot over here (yea yea I’m talking about myself), they always get back up and think “I need to work harder than the rest”. Honestly, this sentiment is held by many characters across a wide variety of anime but there’s no harm in including it in this post is there?
7. Some things you can only attain through hard work & Trust only the words of someone who understands your craft
Okay, so this part will be very specific towards the anime because I can’t really think of any real life examples but I think it is worth noting either way.
Even though the general crowd only had feelings of pity towards the “best performance” award winner Doujima Akira for being out-shined by Hozuki who played an outstanding piece but got disqualified, she definitely had qualities that only someone who worked hard for 2 full years on a single piece could have. However, only those who really know about koto could understand the amount of skill and technique Akira needed to possess to perform the way she did.
For those with talent, doing something well is easy for them but there are some things that you can only acquire through hard work and repetition. In Akira’s case, it was the ability to put care into every note that she played rather than focusing on the piece as a whole. If you make sure to do each and every note well such that they can easily link to each other, you will naturally obtain a wonderful result.
While the general populace might not be able to understand the complexity of result of your hard work, you can rest be assured that those who are serious about the same work that you do would be able to see it clearly.
Well, for this most of it is just my speculation but I’d like to believe that I’m not wrong.
8. There is no “right way” to live life… Probably
Mio Kanzaki is a genius who can see the “right way” to play a certain sheet of music. However, the “right way” bores him and he hates the way he plays the koto. Maybe it’s a stretch to compare it this way but, if all you want is something absolutely accurate and right, you could get a machine to do it instead. It’s natural for humans to make mistakes and interpret things in different ways after all. One music score can’t possibly sound exactly the same across different players.
Now straying further from the topic of music and koto, is there a right way to live life? Some people seem to naturally lean towards studying and learning more about the world. As a result, they become successful due to their deep understanding of how the world works and have passionately worked hard to acquire the skills required to live in this world. In a sense, they are the geniuses who easily know the “right way” to live.
The world we were born into has existed for far longer than any of us have. I mean, that’s only obvious. However, unlike bringing up a civilisation from scratch like they had to in Dr. Stone, we live in a society with pre-determined paths. We live life “correctly”. Study hard, get good grades and get a respectable career to put food on the table. (the way I phrased it reminds me of Psycho Pass XD)
It is no doubt the correct answer (the only answer I can probably ever go through with). However, is there something more than that? Should we be content with just correct?
This is probably the reason why there are philosophers who desperately search for the meaning of life. Due to the mere fact of our lives being finite, we feel the need to accomplish something in our lives. If not it would be nothing more than just a fleeting existence who might have not existed at all. However, not all of us are talented, diligent or tenacious people who can live in the fast-paced ever-evolving world.
All we can do is struggle and find out own “right way” to live life. Although, even as I’m writing this, I have no clue what that is.
9. If there is a winner, there will be losers
I’m really on the roll stating the obvious in this post aren’t I? It’s just that seeing how the other schools who did such amazing performances couldn’t go to the Nationals made me feel a little sad. Every school had their own determination and reasons to aim for the nationals. Yet, being a competition, there could only be one winner.
As sad as that is, it’s only natural. I used to have a tuition teacher who said, “second place is just the first loser”. It sounds harsh, but it’s not technically wrong. Perhaps many people would find it too negative a statement considering it still is second. It’s a good result, just not the best. However, don’t some of you feel that it’s sadder and more frustrating to be close but not quite there? If you were further from the top, you could think to yourself, “I could never reach there anyway” and brush it off. If you were second on the other hand, it would be more frustrating to have lost by just a little bit. (Just like when you miss a grade up by 1 mark and frantically search for a mistake in the marking in hopes of getting one more point before despairing over the fact that there was no mistake with the marking)
From the time we enter school all the way till we enter the working world, it’s all the same. We need to do better than those around us to get a better percentile ranking and career opportunities respectively. If we take a job position, it means one less for another person. That’s just the way it works.
Hmm… At this point perhaps I’m just stating facts of life rather than life lessons. Okay, the next one will be last one! I think it’s more of a lesson than a fact?
10. Don’t rush to conclusions
Okay, if there’s one thing about this anime that made me feel it was a little off at times was how quick some of the characters got all emotionally unstable after one incident. I can’t quite remember which parts cause it took me quite some time to write to this point and it’s been about 3 days since I finished the show (I’m sorry my memory is just horrible, that’s why I always have to re-watch the entire previous season whenever a new season of anime comes out). Anyways, it did make me question myself though. Do I often rush to conclusions when people treat me a certain way? Being someone who doesn’t pay much attention to things that have passed, it was quite troublesome to properly think about this but I think that I probably have done so in the past.
When we interact with others, especially in groups, it’s not uncommon to be talked over and ignored. That’s just the way groups are. Unlike in messaging applications where you can reply one after the other if you type fast enough, talking over others in real life can make it seem as though the other person never made a sound. Anyhow, I think that we shouldn’t take others reactions to what we say or do too seriously. Just because they ignore you once or twice doesn’t mean they don’t care (I hope). Perhaps they just didn’t hear you or couldn’t think of a proper response and felt that not responding was a better option. Either way, whatever the reason is, we should never let that get us so down that we just lay in bed and wish we never came into existence (that’s rich coming from me lmao).
If you really feel that someone is treating you in a way that you don’t like, just bring it up to them directly. It doesn’t have to be face to face. If you can’t bring yourself to say it face-to-face you can always message the person like a day before a period of days that you won’t have to see them. If even that is too difficult well… maybe you can gather courage over the course of time.
I think that’s it
Okay, this ended up being a really long post and I might have rambled a bit too much or strayed off-topic too often but I’ll just end it here. Not sure if I even talked about everything I wanted to but I really did enjoy this anime and I hope you did too! What did you guys think of Kono Oto Tomare! ?
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