25 of 25 episodes seen
Proverbial justice looks down on the pretentiously knowledgeable, or so it would seem. My transition from skepticism to fanboyism was swift. Within episodes I was converted, all preconceived doubts I harboured for the series unfounded or long forgotten. I almost felt ashamed, my predictions of meaningless plot and mindless ecchi not only completely wrong, but also reflected the conceited critic that I had become. The Idolm@ster humbled me, never again shall I judge an anime at face value.
The Idolm@ster follows story of 765 productions, a small time idol agency and their road to stardom and success. The narrative of each episode are alike but flexible, each one generally focuses on the backstory of one character, but also contains plenty of interwoven exposition of various other characters so that no episode can really be considered standalone. The general theme of each episode often revolves around a character issue or weakness, some form drama arises from this issue, which is then eventually resolved with the character experiencing some kind of revelation or growth. In many episodes the show cleverly relates the story to a broader context; for example the episode "Everything Starts with One Courageous Step" refers both to Yukiho's small step in facing her phobia, and the day's events as 765 production's first step towards their future.
There are times where the structure of each episode feels a little formulaic, however this is largely offset by the large variety of different stories the show offers. The tone of the stories are what I like to call very PG-13 esque, many of the problems and struggles are grounded in realism, but airbrushed with a heavy hint of optimism. Whilst the drama does get quite heavy towards the later stages of the anime, you can always rest assured that there will be a happy conclusion. In fact, the entire overarching theme of the anime seem to revolve the simple ideas of happiness and optimism which it conveys well, sometimes to a fault.
The characters of course are, quite literally, the stars of the show. It quickly becomes apparent how unexpectedly deep the characterization for these girls go. Each character is unique and Idolm@ster goes out of it's way to make sure these girls all interesting and memorable, which it does a surprisingly good job of. Idolm@ster features an amazing ensemble of voice actors that do a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life, both on stage singing as idols or off stage exchanging playful banter with each other.
Ironically, the true unsung hero is actually the main protagonist. Given a largely clean slate, the nameless "producer" remains very undeveloped and uncharacterized, acting as a role of sorts for the viewer to jump into, (if one was interested in that sort of stuff). What it also meant was that the spotlight always on the girls, never stolen away to implicate or relate the girls with a largely support figure character, romantically or otherwise. Funny how irrelevant the titular character ended up being.
There are many standout qualities The Idolm@ster offers, but the gem of the glitter has to go to the cinematography. In many ways the cinematic progression of the show reflects the characters themselves. While 'offstage' the production value is reasonable at best, easy to look at but not spectacular. The anime goes about it's daily business, not hinting at the show that's about to come.
Then, as stage is set and the music cues, here's when you finally realize that all bets are off. Explosions of lights and sound ensue, magnificently choreographed sequences aided by thrilling transitions, zooms, pans and cinematic techniques I didn't even think Japan knew existed, all cumulating in an electrify experience that's really putting my vocabulary limit to the test. The contrast of onstage and off really allows you to appreciate the level of workmanship devoted into these few minutes of animation. And then there's the ED sequences, which being unique to each episode itself is already unprecedented, also offers some great imagineative style backed with wonderfully fitting music. I have nothing more to say about The Idolm@ster's production value, other than two giant thumbs up of approval.
The Idolm@ster is in many ways a neat little snippet into a prominent Japanese idol subculture. Though perhaps not entirely accurate and/or realistic, The Idolm@ster takes a risk with it's presentation, using what could easy come off as a simplistic and childish tone, and instead delivering on a show that has both enthusiasm, energy and character.
Watch Idolm@ster with an open heart, and you'll quickly discover the sparkle that is perhaps one of the most underrated anime this season. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
As the modern entertainment sector continues to emphasize excess and surplus, Nichijou is a much welcome, and frankly much needed throwback to a more old-school approach to entertainment. Nichijou’s frugal yet distinct style reminds us that something is perfect, not because there’s nothing more to add to it, but because there is nothing more to take away.
Nichijou brings to us a fusion of gag, moe, slice-of-life and slapstick comedy. It’s humor is very reminiscent of Azumanga Diaoh while it’s art style borrows heavily from the distinctly colorful palette of Lucky Star. Nichijou adopts a very light-hearted approach with it’s tone; it’s jokes are played fast and loose, and while there is a constant shift of pacing throughout each episode, Nichijou never seems to take itself very seriously.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Nichijou is it’s production value. Frankly speaking, Nichijou is GORGEOUS to look at; it’s animation so incredibly fluid and it’s art so crisp and vivid that it actually puts other supposedly competent studios to shame. The artwork selects it’s palette very sparingly, with a result that is both vibrant yet easy on the eyes. This gentle tone is then frequently punctuated by segments of metaphorical (and in some cases literal) animation explosions, showcasing KyoAni’s talent with a huge variety of styles from gritty realism to crayon slapstick.
One can’t help but wonder if KyoAni isn’t deliberately showing off their workmanship with this anime. Many originally very short panels from the manga are translated into incredibly imaginative and stunning sequences of animation that simply scream “because we can.” Show off or not, Nichijou’s cinematography is nothing short of outstanding; it’s liberal interpretation of the original source material has really allowed the creativity of director Ishihara Tatsuya and the KyoAni animators to shine through like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
Special mention to Nichijou’s OP and ED songs, which are creative shorts (incredibly well sync’d I might mention) in their own right. As a fun fact, both of Nichijou’s OPs are sung by Hyadain, who is ONE guy. No female backing vocals at all, he does it all himself. Seriously I’m not joking, go look it up.
The aforementioned dynamic pacing forms the basis of Nichijou’s entertainment value. Each episode tackles it’s structure with a large degree of unpredictability. You never know what’s going to happen next, be it a humorous dialogue scene, a fast paced action sequence, an amusing random still image or a hilarious but completely unrelated skit. Despite this seemingly chaotic approach, Nichijou still manages to find a good balance between all it’s various styles so that no episode feels too weighted. While such a haphazard approach may seem counter-intuitive for a slice-of-life anime, this style ends up working greatly in Nichijou’s favor, adding another layer to it’s texture of absurdity.
The humor itself is very simplistic, almost to a fault, and one would normally attribute this as one of Nichijou’s flaws. That is of course until you remember that “Nichijou” translates to “My Ordinary Life” and as such, the simplicity of the jokes are a fitting homage to the show’s title and premise. Many of the jokes are simply exaggerated normal events like missing the train or a waiter forgetting your order, relying on witty dialogue delivery and clever timings to get the humor across. Some may consider this a hit-or-miss sort of comedy, which is only a fair judgement. All the same, you don’t necessarily have to laugh at jokes like these to appreciate them, which is one of the main reasons why slice-of-life can have such a widespread appeal (remember K-On?)
The characters are very likable, despite the obvious utilization of moe in many of their design. If you can shed that manly exterior and look past the few excessively “cute” scenes, there’s actually an abundance of things to enjoy about Nichijou’s characters. Conventional archetypes are few and far between in this anime, and all the characters harbor their own quirky habits and flaws that you’ll quickly grow fond of.
The best thing about Nichijou’s characters however, isn’t their individuality, but how they interact with each other. The personalities of various character groups clash, contrast and complement each other in extremely interesting ways; the conversations and activities of the two golden trios of Nichijou: Yuuko/Mio/Mai and Hakase/Nano/Sakamoto make up the abundance of material in each episode and just their hilarious adventures by themselves could probably carry an entire show. This is furthered by the great voice acting that the Nichijou provides; Nichijou is one of the rare shows where the seiyuus genuinely sound like they’re enjoying themselves. Dialogues are delivered with copious amounts of enthusiasm which really helps sell the spirited relationships that the various characters enjoy with each other.
With all that has been said though, I would like to come back to that idea I mentioned when we began, that idiom of “less is more.” The thing I love most about Nichijou, isn’t the amazing artwork, the clever cinematography, the light-hearted humor or even the imaginative characters. What I love most about Nichijou is the fact that, behind all the technicalities and production values, lies a very simple ideal. Everything about Nichijou revolves around this central principle of being enjoyable. All that it does, every scene, every character, every line of dialogue alludes back to this principle. Because at the end of the day, all Nichijou wants you to do is one thing; it wants you to enjoy yourself. With Nichijou, there is no story, no subplots, no recurring themes, no character development, no product placement, no lessons to be learnt, no obscure references to pander to a niche audience, no obvious fan-service pandering or ploys to sell related merchandise.
Fun is the only thing that matters, and it's this frugality, this ingenious simplicity, that allows everything to just click together like magic.
When you finally get home after a long tiring day, the only thing Nichijou wants to do is to give you an excuse to prop your feet up after and wash that blue feeling away as it slowly puts that grin back onto your face. read more
Jun 25, 2011Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shi... (Anime) add
11 of 11 episodes seen
The keyword is ‘tries’, and for the most part, AnoHana succeeds. It is one of those anime that illustrates perfectly the idea that the relative distance to perfection is inversely proportional to the obviousness of huge, glaring flaws. For everything that AnoHana does just beautifully right, there is usually something little it gets horribly wrong.
Before we go on, I would like to state for the record that I absolutely endorse this anime to anyone who asks, reasons which are perfectly illustrated in Archaeon’s neatly succinct review, of which I direct you to. There really is no reason to write another straightforward review reiterating everything he's said when you can just go and see his. Instead, for those who have already finished the anime and are looking for a more critical approach to viewing AnoHana, it may interest you to read further here.
There’s no denying AnoHana is fine piece of work. Everything from animation to sound, characterization to story are all quality material and together form both a visually and emotionally satisfying experience. The anime is far past the point of debate about whether watching it would be enjoyable and worth one’s while, because it most certainly is. The proceeding point of scrutiny would be to examine the anime at it’s core fundamental level. This is the point where the ‘really good’ pieces of work are separated from the true masterpieces. This is also the point where AnoHana unfortunately falls flat. Specifically speaking, AnoHana’s screenplay just isn’t very good.
In fact, considering how well rounded the anime feels as a whole, the screenplay is actually deceptively and surprisingly bad.
Okada Mari, one whom I respect greatly for her work on Tordora and Kuroshitsuji is back again; this time she is chief script writer for AnoHana. Unfortunately Mari’s apparent inexperience in writing shines through clearly in the screenplay. There is no doubt she has talent and a knack for good ideas, which makes it disappointing to see she still stumbles on some basic areas of writing. The narrative for example, is sorely lacking in woven exposition, with the many aspects of the story left feeling one dimensional and underdeveloped (more on that in a moment).
The dialogue is also inconsistent; the majority of the time it is written and delivered beautifully, but there are frequent punctuations of awkward, out of place lines that leaves something to be desired. Most of these instances are offset by the talent of the seiyuu who try their best to bring emotion to these parts, but the moments are still unavoidably noticeable. For instance, count how many times this scene happens: Jin-tan glances to his side at Meiko and mutters ‘Menma...’ another character looks at him, confused, and questions ‘Yadomi?’
There are very clear distinctions between the lines that have significance to the plot or the character, and lines which are simply conversational pieces, with almost no blending of the two types. At times it feels like the latter lines have no contextual meaning at all and are simply there to fill in time because the script writer couldn’t think of anything else to write. For an anime like AnoHana where the entirety of the narrative is delivered via dialogue and character interaction, this is a very dangerous habit to fall into.
There are many good things that Okada Mari brought from her experience working on the series compositions of titles like Toradora, Fractale and Gosick. Unfortunately one of them also happened to be the abysmal pacing that they all suffered from at one point or another. Naturally, the structure Exposition-Rising Action-Climax-Falling Action-Resolution can’t possibly be adhered to as strictly for anime as it does for say, novels or films, simply due to the episodic nature of anime; there is an underlying need for each episode to be standalone in it’s own right, even if it is meant to contribute to the overall story. However that isn’t to say we shouldn’t at least make an effort.
The problem with AnoHana is that it simply tried too hard to be episodic. Each episode’s substory warranted so much attention that there was very little room left to develop the main plot. Although each individual 24-minute segment was neatly tied into a little package with it’s own structure, which seemed fine at the time of watching, suddenly we reach the end of episode 9 and we realize with 2 episodes to go we’re still on the exposition part of the main story. This is again, partly due to the fault of the narrative not having any woven exposition in itself, relying instead on almost purely dialogue and flashbacks to establish the backstory, an alternative which is both more time consuming and less efficient. (To throw an example out there, think how easy it would have been to tell stories of Popo’s adventures around the world by simply including a few souvenirs from his travels in his little hut. A few frames to easily explore an episode’s worth of exposition, which can then be used to add elements to Popo’s character without the need for spoken exposition.)
I am strongly hesitant in calling AnoHana a melodrama. The constant hint of realism in both the visuals and characters suggest otherwise, as does the very real themes that it tries to convey. The anime obviously works very hard to provoke an emotional response and I wonder at times if it is trying a little too hard. Not a scene goes by without Yadomi frowning at something, and the prevalence (or rather excess), of falling tears in every episode almost screams at me: “Here is an emotional scene, indicated by the tears. Feel sadness you sheep!” The need for AnoHana to constantly use the act of crying to convey sorrow seems almost shortsighted, and while they are a good tool for reinforcing the emotional instability of the characters, they seem to serve little other purpose.
All this cumulatively leads to the biggest flaw of AnoHana: as an anime observing death and how people cope with it, there is shockingly little character development observed. What AnoHana tries to offer instead are single characters at two points in time. On one hand we have the happy-go-lucky childhood of the super-peace-busters, on the other we have the sullen, withdrawn adolescent individuals of those friends, drifting apart and trying to move on with their lives. At first sight it is amazingly easy to mistake this contrast of past and present for ‘character development,’ however true character development demands something a little more in-depth than, ‘friend dies, people become sad.’ Yukiatsu is arguably the only character who experiences true change, *spoiler alert* in his brief contact with Menma *spoiler alert* he experiences denial, confusion, jealousy and anger, and in doing so, realizing his self-loathing attitude and changing himself. Yadomi’s development is also arguable, though I remain skeptic as to whether what seems to me as merely an overdue self realization can be categorized as development if it were there subconsciously all along. In comparison, the other characters, experienced only minimal changes, exchanging confessions and realization which, while heart-moving, can hardly be justified as ‘development,’ begging the question of whether there was any point to the whole thing other than being an emotional roller-coaster of adolescent diversions.
If you’ve managed to read this far and haven’t yet ‘unhelpful’d’ this review or thrown your mouse across the room in anger, then props to you, and perhaps you’d like stay a bit longer and allow me to explain where all this nonsense is coming from.
The mindset of a critic is slightly different from that of an average viewer. We’ve seen, considered and analyzed far more than what would be considered healthy for a normal human being and as a result, we view things a bit differently. Cliches and archetypes you’ve seen maybe half a dozen times, we’ve seen hundreds of times. We get bored quickly, we’re more easily dismissive, we hone in on small mistakes like vultures, we’re very excited by originality and we’re far more disappointed when a promising series falls short just inches from the finish line.
Nine out of ten times, the things we watch are mediocre at best. Stuff that’s so average that it takes all of our willpower just to struggle through a normal review; talk about some story, mutter about some character, drag on about some animation and call it a day. But then something like AnoHana comes along, something new, something exciting, something to sink our teeth into. We may end up enjoying it, we may not, but the fact that it had piqued our interest meant it had already established itself as something special, something good enough to be able to be improved upon in the future, something we WANT to spend time thinking about, something actually WORTH criticizing.
Think of this review not as a “everything that was wrong with AnoHana” review, but as a “AnoHana was this close to being a true masterpiece, I found myself taking time out of my busy schedule to watch it twice and write up this critique, if only it had improved on these points, I might have given out my first ever 10/10" review. In fact, consider this review a praise by exception, in that everything I DON'T mention is absolutely friggin' brilliant. That's a LOT of stuff. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
He said to me: "I dunno lol, who cares? It's fucking hilarious!"
Everything in Kore wa Zombie Desu ka, from story to character to humor, is based on complete outrageousness. I hesitate to call Kore wa Zombie~ an original anime, because it's seems that Kore wa Zombie~'s idea of originality is to take as many ideas as possible, exaggerate them to the absolute maximum limit of the imagination, and then cram them together into a single, epic anime.
So exactly is it that I mean when I say outrageousness? Let's pretend that there are 2 'idea guys' who started working on the story for this, whom I will dub them Jim and Bob. (Warning, minor spoilers)
"Here's an idea!" says Jim. "Let's make the main protagonist a zombie."
"Great idea!" replies Bob. "We'll have an utterly immortal zombie who constantly gets humorously dismembered, baked like a potato chip when he stands in the sun, and receives magical powers that turns him into a pink cross-dressing/chainsaw wielding mas(h)ou shoujo(nen)."
"Awesome," nods Jim with approval, "and since this is a harem, we need at least one tsundere character."
"Of course," replies Bob again, "we'll have a pseudo-sadistic tsun~ ninja girl with a ridiculously named fighting technique that uses cellulose (leaves), cooks up acid pots, and plays the violin in a maid orchestra."
"Let's make her a vampire as well." adds Jim.
"Why the heck not," laughs Bob, giving Jim a high-five.
... and you get the idea.
What is most surprising about Kore wa Zombie~ despite having so many wild concepts crammed in, it somehow still manages to tie it all into a very neat comical package. Normally you'd expect something so slapstick-heavy to comprise it's plot and characters, but Kore wa Zombie~ manages to seamlessly incorporate all it's content into an (almost) coherent and flowing story.
The characters in Kore wa Zombie~ are all, well, ridiculous. I mean one of them literally has like, 10 different voice actors. And she doesn't talk! (try getting your head around that one). Needless to say, all the characters are very 'interesting' and their backstories relatively well thought out and presented. There is the exception of the protagonist's human friend cuz, he's well... y'know, normal. Kore wa Zombie~ is a harem of course, so there is the usual male lead and his entourage of female companions. What is great though is that unlike many harem (to Love-Ru for instance) that focuses on the protagonist's perverse interactions with the females, Kore wa Zombie~ instead chooses to emphasize building the relationship between the male lead and his companions, which I thought was a nice change of pace.
I wouldn't exactly call Kore wa Zombie's story solid, the plot itself isn't exactly complex; there are various backstories which were left untouched and minor plot hole issues. As far as harem-type story goes however, Kore wa Zombie's plot is definitely up there in with the rest. The interesting aspect of Kore wa Zombie~'s story isn't WHAT is happening, but HOW it's happening, and I found that with Kore wa Zombie~’s almost surrealistic approach, I was caring about the actual plot a lot less that I normally would have, because I was too distracted that ridiculously hilarious thing that just happened.
Another thing is the art. While Kore wa Kore~'s animation quality is nothing too spectacular, the action scenes are unique in that they contain a very interesting combination of a dark tone, spectacle, gore, and an excess of pink. Yeah don't think too hard on that one. The OP is also surprisingly well done, and it almost makes me sad that they couldn't maintain the same level of quality throughout the entire episode.
The only gripe I have with this anime is due to it's comical nature, there are various moments when supposedly serious scenes are ruined because they took the humor a little bit too far. To give one example (spoiler alert), in the final moments of the main antagonist's death, as he lies dying in the arms of his necromancer, he looks into her eyes in a touching scene, and he says:
"If I die, make me a penguin."
Hahaha... No wait. Seriously?
This really isn't a major issue, but I was disappointed in the show slight deficiency in real consequential, solemn scenes which didn't involve some sort of joke tacked on the end. It made the anime feel a little bit one sided and narrow, and prevented me from giving it a higher score. One thing to mention though. They actually bothered air another episode after the 'big climatic battle'. I literally can't count the number of times I've watched anime that seemed to think that a 3 minute epilogue was sufficient in ending the story after the big boss goes down. Kore wa Zombie~ actually took the effort to give some rarely found closure to the story. Thank god.
Kore wa Zombie~ is a rather unique anime, perhaps something you'd expect if you crossed J.C. Staff with SHAFT. It definitely won't win any awards and it's not exactly thought provoking, but it easily makes up for it in sheer ridiculousness and outrage. So why should you watch Kore wa Zombie desu ka?
I dunno lol, who cares? It's fucking hilarious! read more
Feb 23, 2011Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai Specia... (Anime) add
4 of 4 episodes seen
I imagine the producers at Aniplex were quite peeved and banging their heads against the wall about 6 episodes in, when they realized that their anime could be milked for at least another season. But what can they do now? There isn't enough episodes left to change the filler ending. Then one sensible producer, whom I will dub Jim, pointed out that there is this thing called the interwebz, and they could just post new episodes up there, if only for the sake of continuity. And all the studio were happy and had party that night, and Jim got a big promotion.
If you watched the original 12 episodes and liked it, then you'll probably like this, because it's more or less the exact same thing, only a slight different (and longer) ending. This arc DOES feature Kuroneko over Kirino, so if you're a fan of her then go wild. And of course to fans of the novel, this IS a faithful adaptation, so if you didn't like the filler ending then you'd probably like this one. Everything else, art, music, characters, still maintain the high level of quality as the tv series, so it is still the Ore no Imouto that we know and love.
Nothing else to say really, except with this new ending, hopes for a second season are high. *fingers crossed* =3 read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Yes there is much shame to be had in admitting you enjoy watching K-On!!, because who in their right mind would enjoy a plotless moeblob slice-of-life show over say… the testosterone filled battle epic TTGL? Certainly no one would admit to such an atrocious act to their friends face to face, (or anything less than a distance of 100 miles and 2 computer screens for that matter). Hence it becomes extremely hard to be objective when posed with the question, ‘Is K-On!! a good anime?’, because all of our social preservation instincts scream “run away!”, while somewhere deep in the soft side of our hearts, something keeps us rooted to our chair and our eyes on our displays.
(Unless you factor in the anonymity of the internet of course, in which case, proudly declaring that K-On!! is awesome and giving it a 9/10 is A-O-K.)
Jokes aside though, in recent times I feel that too much anime are being categorized based on if they have any moe elements in them. While there’s nothing wrong with giving labeling an anime as containing moe, it unfairly depicts certain anime as catering towards the niche otaku audience and suggests it’s lack of depth and unoriginality, which in many cases simply isn’t true. Take Lucky Star for example. Who’s to say that it was just a mindless moeblob?
Anyway I had a review here somewhere… I would go as far as to say that I love the slice-of-life genre. Honey & Clover (which I maintain is more slice-of-life than romance) and Aria remain firmly at my number 1 and 2 spot. For a great slice-of-life, there are a number of criteria that one needs to fill, but the simplest and most important is that every episode should end with you feeling relaxed and contented with a smile on your face. Does K-On!! achieve this? Yes, absolutely 100% yes.
K-On!! follows a relatively frugal format in terms of storyline. You wouldn’t go into each episode expecting anything dramatic or exhilarating, and for some this may be what they like to call boring. But then again, you wouldn’t open a bag of chips expecting M&Ms and chocolate fudge, so why you go into K-On!! expecting anything even resembling a continuous plot? K-On!!’s style single episodic scenarios work greatly in it’s favor, viewers are never startled with annoying cliffhangers or feel an obligation to keep up with it in fear of missing out on some important plot element. If watching K-On!! becomes a chore (I’m looking at you Bleach manga), then it’s missed the point completely, and in this regard, I give K-On!!’s ‘plot’ two thumbs up.
Despite this though, K-On!! deals with some surprisingly deep themes that would go right over the heads of most casual viewers. One definite improvement from it’s first season is the branching out of the limited focus of club practice (eating cake) to wider array of activities. Granted, most of them are still obvious and predictable, the sort of been-there done-that stories we’ve all seen before, but the shift allowed K-On!! to focus on many different aspects and resort less to what I like to call ‘moe-moments’ in order to fill up the 24 minutes. Lets face it, how many different ways can you eat, drink and procrastinate before it starts getting old? Instead though, from the summer trips to school plays to the air conditioning campaigns, K-On!! moves away from the same-ness of cake/tea/practice/more cake in the first season and closer to true slice-of-life.
K-On!!’s real brilliance shines in the final 6-7 episodes or so, as the girls neared the finale of their school life, the realization that their after school tea times can’t last forever hits them quietly and their are faced with the challenges of change and the future. Though not exactly compelling and dramatic, it nevertheless teaches us that our beloved peaceful times cannot always last forever, which only makes them more precious, not unlike Aria the Origination, but on a smaller scale. K-On!’s main idea was a carefree life of daily cake, tea and music with not a worry in the world, but K-On!!’s step away from that ultimately paid off and turned what would have been just a mediocre moeblob into a great slice-of-life.
I supposed I’d better tackle the moe problem, as it seems to be the main issue dragging K-On!! down. Yes, there is a lot of it. Yes, it gets annoying. Yes, it is overused and detracts from the overall effect. Would K-On!! be better without it? Probably. But then it wouldn’t be K-On!!. Yes you can all come and egg my house afterwards for using such a cliche argument, but there is some wisdom in my words, ladies and gentlemen. As much as we all hate to admit it, moe has become an integral part of the characterization of the K-On!! girls. Yui simply wouldn’t believe the same if she didn’t drool over Azu-nyan or cake, Azu-nyan wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t get embarrassed over every little thing and Mugi simply can’t exist without her air-headed-ness and cheerfulness. Sure, they could do without it, but then they’d be different characters completely. Big Macs would probably taste better with tomato sauce instead of mayo, but then they wouldn’t be Big Macs anymore, if you get what I mean. Even though I make better tasting burgers myself, I wouldn’t want to have Big Macs any other way.
And to be fair, a lot of the moe-hate stem from people who watch 3-4 episodes, drop it, and then go complain about it on forums. As I followed K-On!! throughout it’s season, I was quietly surprised as the moe-moments gradually thinned out little by little. It was as if as the girls grew older, the show slowly matured along with them. Don’t believe me? Well, don’t my word for it, see for yourself. Right now. Open up say episode 2 or 3, count how many moe-moments there are, and then compare them to a later episode, say, 21 or something. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere so take your time… Ok… done? See? Good. Anyway as I was saying, the gradual fade of moe was was subtle and barely noticeable, but for those paying attention it was a nice touch, and went along well with the tone of bittersweetness of the end of their high school lives.
I guess it’ll be wrong to not comment on the music of K-On!! seeing as how that was kinda the whole theme that they were going for. Honestly speaking, it really isn’t half bad. Toyosaki Aki (Yui)’s cute but horrendous out of tune vocals aside, the OP, ED and insert songs generally maintain the high standard of the first season. They’re catchy, and well… very K-On!!-ish. What caught me out though was the meaning they seem to embody. Rather than the lyrics simply being a spontaneous creation (I mean Curry Nochi Rice, what was that all about) they represented something, like Yui’s realization of all the things she took for granted in portrayed in U&I and the girl’s close friendship exemplified through their song for Azusa. In short, K-On!!’s music is great, and that’s all there really is to say about that. (Unless you hate poppy rock, in which case allow me to direct you to the mute button. Seriously, no one’s making you listen to this, get over yourself.)
Guess I better get on to the boring stuff now.
Animation: Nothing to write home about, but the smoothness and crispness is certainly pleasing and relaxing to look at, a very good style for a slice-of-life. Animation during the live performances have definitely improved since the first season, which is a definite plus.
Sound: Insert songs aside, more often than not there’s always some cutesy background music playing to accompany the scene. While this can easily backfire, KyoAni does a very good job of timing, and fitting the mood with the right music, so this section is also a plus.
Voice Acting: I was surprised in the first season how such a amateurish band of seiyuu could bring the characters to life. Another season’s gone by and I’m pleased that the quality of VA as remained consistent. Toyosaki Aki’s performance as Yui deserves a special mention, with interchanging voices between cutesy and hoarse, and the constant (if a bit too frequent) “ehhh?”s, it was really a joy to listen to. I still maintain that she needs singing lessons though.
So ultimately, is K-On!! a good anime? Well let me be perfectly honest. I actually wrote this review as a bet against a friend who maintained that it was impossible to write a review for, and I quote, “a cliched intangible blob of moe”. Now to be fair, he may have been right. Maybe I would have found it much easier to just simply cast K-On!! aside as a generic moe-cash in by KyoAni with half decent characterization, no good plot and overall mediocre anime. But as I instead set out to do the impossible task, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it was not as impossible as I originally thought. K-On!! is good. Heck, it’s great. It knew exactly what it wanted to be, and set out to achieve it brilliantly (which is more than I can say for Angel Beats). I’d probably go as far as to say it is the best slice-of-life/moe anime of the year. Sure, it probably couldn’t hold a candle to say… Durarara or FMA:Brotherhood, but you wouldn’t compare K-On!! to those anime for the same reason you wouldn’t ride a goat to an equestrian event or wear a miniskirt to a basketball game. Is K-On!! a good slice-of-life/moe? Yes. Then… did I enjoy K-On!!? Yes, immensely. Then… Is K-On!! a good anime? Obvious answer is obvious. So much for generic and mediocrity huh?
I will conclude with this afterthought. I could probably very easily write a long rant about the negatives of vanilla ice cream. I could talk about how bad it is for your health, how expensive and nutrition lacking ice-cream is, or how it is an overrated flavor and too many people eat just because they don’t have the guts to try new and better flavors, or how the ice-cream companies continue to make vanilla ice-cream to cater for those idiotic people, cashing in instead of nobly taking the first step in revolutionizing ice cream flavors. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that I like vanilla ice-cream, and that I enjoy having it every Friday night after dinner as I tune in to watch the weekly action flick on television. If I didn’t enjoy vanilla ice-cream, would that change the fact that it’s a good ice-cream? Of course not. You’d be a magnificent retard for declaring vanilla ice-cream is bad just because you don’t like it, so why do some people do it so much for anime like K-On!!? Vanilla ice-cream exists for people who like vanilla ice-cream, just like K-On!! exists for people who like a good slice-of-life with a bit of (or quite a bit of, whatever floats your boat) moe. If there are people who enjoy it, then that should be all that matters, and I think sometimes we’re too easily forgetful of that fact.
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