Tetsuki Takaoka

I just finished watching season two of Kono Oto Tomare. The music the koto club plays, the way their sound conveys their happiness and soul to their audience, was exactly how I felt as the audience watching the anime. The depth of their relationships, the growth of each character, and their authenticity left a lasting impression upon me. And it wasn’t just the students of Tokise; their club advisor, koto teacher, Hozuki’s mother, and others truly learned from each other and overcame challenges so they could better relate to one another. Their self-esteem, relationships, and quality of life improved tremendously. I think a lot of us go about our day to day affairs, feeling like we’re on auto-pilot, without truly realizing the affect we have on each other. Even seemingly minor interactions can carry depth and meaning. Hopefully those interactions are sincere and add value.

Overcoming his reputation was a hurdle, but the main character Chika Kudo, learned from his mistakes and became a person of integrity and character. He defends what is precious, supports his friends, and is diligent and dedicated to playing the koto. Kudo wants to honor his grandfather’s memory, he visits him often to pay his respects, joined the koto club he created many years ago, and commits himself to daily improvement. Kudo’s grandfather must be proud of him. He’s realized what his grandfather meant about playing with friends. The club members mean so much to him, and he is an anchor providing support to everyone. But it never looks like a burden to him. Kudo now realizes the importance of being reliable, and he is happy to provide that support and warmth to others.

As hard as Chika Kudo has worked, it must be said that Tetsuki Takaoka, his best friend from childhood, was a major contributor to his growth. During the height of Kudo’s challenges, when he was getting into fights regularly, not taking care of himself, and causing turmoil for others, Tetsuki never left him or abandoned him. In fact, when Kudo didn’t return home and sat in an alley as the rain poured, it was Tetsuki who came with an umbrella to find him. He has been a grounding factor and a solid support for Kudo for most of life. Tetsuki intervenes when needed, like when he addressed those three bullies early in season one, but he tends to just support and provide advice when Kudo asks, hoping Kudo comes to his own realizations. There are nuances to human interaction that he doesn’t understand and Tetsuki delicately helps him figure those things out for himself. Tetsuki is an excellent role model, not just for Kudo, but their entire friend group. Role models don’t have to be adults, historical figures, athletes, or celebrities. They can be our peers, family members, friends, or the person we sit next to in class or at work. Tetsuki takes his education seriously (teaching his friends when they need help), cooks nutritious home-made meals for friends, is supportive to others, is able to pick up on the intricacies of human interactions, and he is a person that is loyal and respectful. Tetsuki values his friendships. Elements of Tetsuki’s personality, habits, morals, and character have influenced Kudo. If it wasn’t for Tetsuki, Kudo may’ve continued on his wayward path. With Tetsuki’s support, positive influence, and friendship, Kudo has found happiness in the “sounds of life.”

Kudo overhears the koto club’s president, Kurata, as he replies to Tetsuki “that’s my line.” Kurata realizes the importance and value of Tetsuki’s friendship. Tetsuki himself was a refuge for Kudo, providing a place for him to overcome his hardships, long before he joined the club.

If you’re looking for a show that’s warm and uplifting, I recommend Kono Oto Tomare: Sounds of Life. Both seasons are on Hulu.

Current Anime Viewing

One of the funniest animes I’ve ever watched is Hoozuki no Reitetsu / Hozuki’s Coolheadedness. I’m currently watching season two on VRV, but it’s another show that Sentai had on sale for $4.99 on Black Friday. It’s a workplace comedy with a jaunty opening song, but it doesn’t take place in a traditional office setting, it takes place in hell. Hozuki, the Chief of Staff that supports King Enma, is an ogre who is always calm under pressure and is an excellent manager. And all the ladies love him. I’d love to get my hands on one of his goldfish plants! And him. But I don’t want to go to hell so I guess that relationship isn’t going to work out.

I also started watching Welcome to the NHK.

While Hozuki could be described as dark humor, it is hell after all (but it’s primarily a workplace comedy), NHK is not a comedy and has a heavy feel to it. Topics like unhealthy relationships, mental health, caring for one self, responsibilities, and suicide are some of the important topics it addresses. Although I watched a few episodes this weekend, it is not a show I would binge watch. It gives the viewer a lot to think about and reflect upon. I am usually drawn to comedy, romance, and slice-of-life animes but being a psychology major there are elements of NHK I am drawn to. I’m only on episode five, but I hope if anyone feels the way the characters on the show feels, and needs help, that they will speak to a counselor or therapist. Every life has value and there are people who can help if you’re in pain or need someone to talk to. I’m leaving this very important number here, if anyone needs it:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

People enjoy anime for a variety of reasons. My main reason is to laugh and de-stress. Even if that isn’t the main vibe of NHK, it does have some moments of levity. But if you’re looking for a good laugh, and to see how an organized hell would run, check out Hoozuki no Reitetsu!