Hirasawa Yui, a young, carefree girl entering high school, has her imagination instantly captured when she sees a poster advertising the "Light Music Club." Being the carefree girl that she is, she quickly signs up; however, Yui has a problem, she is unable to play an instrument.
When Yui goes to the clubroom to explain, she's greeted by the other members: Ritsu, Mio, and Tsumugi. Although disheartened at Yui's lack of musical know-how, they still try to convince her to stay to prevent the club's disbandment. After playing Yui a short piece which re-ignites her imagination, they succeed in keeping their new member and guitarist.
Along with the tasks of school and homework, Yui begins to learn the guitar with the help of the other band members, experiencing many mishaps along the way. However, with the school festival drawing near and Yui getting stuck with her practice, will the Light Music Club be ready in time for their debut?
I'm just going to say this straight away: These kind of animes bring out the silly little girl in me. And as I'm a 19-year old guy, it's kind of an unexpected thing, even for me. And I mean this in the most positive way possible.
"K-On!" follows the story of Hirasawa Yui, a girl who lives a life similar to your average person on the net, except for the internet part. It's difficult to explain without using the words "carefree" and "lazy". In a way, she probably reflects a majority of people I know, including myself, except for the fact she
doesn't really have any real life issues other than school. This changes however when she decides to join the Light Music Club, where she now has to learn and play guitar. We also got 3 other characters that will be focused on: Ritsu (drummer), Mio (bass), Tsumugi (keyboard), followed by another one half-way through the first season, namely Azusa (guitar). Inbetween their "goal" to reach fame, they have a few concerts and a lot of fun. Quite lovely.
The story itself is memorable, but unoriginal and consisting mostly of filler to build character. However, I myself don't consider this to be a bad thing at all. With animes like this one, filler is what pretty much drives it, and I love every single minute of it. Each episode being just as silly, and if not even sillier than the other. Although it doesn't beat Lucky Star, but if you've seen that, you know that's a difficult thing to do.
The music itself is great and quite catchy, but I'm not a big fan of Yui's singing. I know this might piss some people off, but hey, it's my opinion, and I prefer Mio on the mic anytime. The first ED is in this case also my favorite song in the anime, "Don't Say Lazy". The instrumentals are great, although not that original, but still enjoyable.
The art is cute and silly, and like I said before, combined with cute voices I often find myself randomly squeeing simply because of how cute it is. If it didn't have that factor, I would be far less interested in this anime. There are animes for all kinds of people, be it sci-fi, action, romance, drama, adventure, etc. But for me, comedies are my thing because they distract me from how stupid life can be from time to time.
The characters in this anime are a lot of fun, and very different in personality. We got Yui who, as we know, is carefree and quite lazy, and tends to be awkward on the weirdest of times, but in a cute way. Then, we have Mio, who's pretty much the opposite of Yui, shy and easily scared. Ritsu is energetic and a bit of a devil when it comes to pranks, especially aimed at Mio as they are childhood friends. Tsumugi, who's not as energetic as Ritsu, but still enjoys the little things in life, and she's also the "rich kid" as you may call her, but thankfully you won't notice that in this anime. And later on we get Azusa, a very serious junior girl, but also easily distracted and really silly at times.
All the characters share one thing: They're happy high school students who like to play music. The bond they have is emphasized in the anime, as each episode tries not to leave anyone out. And once again, that's one of the things I love about it.
"K-ON!" is not for everyone, but if you like cute and silly characters with a cute and silly story, then I definitely recommend giving it a shot. Just don't expect any real seriousness, except for when they prepare for concerts. For me, it's a proper balance of a funny story, with funny characters and fun music. It's definitely not original, but as long as it's executed properly, it doesn't have to be, as long as it's fun. And yeah, like I said pretty much a million times... This anime sure is!
If K-ON! is the future of slice-of-life moe anime, then the genre is dying. Now, I myself am personally a great fan of the niche genre and have delighted in viewing many anime falling under it, no matter how silly or inane. That's because I don't mind having to turn off my brain to enjoy anime, but I expect to be compensated for doing so, be it by making me laugh, warming my heart, or leaving me with something to remember. K-ON! splendidly failed in all three ways multiple times throughout, and came off as a shoddy effort all around.
Because a slice-of-life moe series is
often devoid of any ongoing plot of significant importance, it must rely on the day-to-day circumstances of the characters, presenting them in new and inventive, yet somewhat familiar ways in order to keep attention. Surprisingly enough, K-ON! follows a linear, though loosely connected story, but does nothing of interest with the day-to-day circumstances. It's as if the staff decided that it was okay for the girls to be lazy and uneventful because it's slice-of-life, to which I must say "NO NO NO"... had to get that out of the way. I'll be serious now.
Likewise, the characters need to be interesting enough to actively engage in following their exploits. Harsh as it may be to say, it was a waste of time to follow around a main character like Yui. I could rant for hours on end about Yui, but to sum her up, she's a mentally challenged nutcase. Now, I can excuse character stupidity as long as the main character has qualities that redeem said stupidity, be it fierce independence, reliability, or if it's made clear she's meant to be the butt of everyone's joke. Yui has none of these qualities. She is an idiot, and no one ever discourages her from being an idiot. Minor spoiler alert, but it must be said... I am absolutely furious at the gall the staff had to have Yui comment in Ep. 12 about how much she has changed. In the entire series, she does not grow even a little. What a crock.
Enough about Yui though, there are other characters to focus on; all of who range from average to above-average. They're all likeable too, but far too simplistic. With no real inventiveness to the situations they end up in as previously stated, I had expected their personalities to be clever enough to make up for that lack. In this, the staff succeeds to a degree, but nothing comes from it. Everyone is essentially the same at the beginning as they are at the end and there is very little proof that any of them have grown as friends, regardless of what the series wants us to believe.
In the matter of technical aspects, K-ON!'s fluidity is remarkable but the style is such that it comes off incredibly choppy, and at some points downright ugly. It felt as though Kyoto Animation spent a ton on making it fluid and in doing so, took from the budget that allowed for the actual artwork itself, excusing the instruments which often look better than the girls themselves. While this tradeoff doesn't work entirely, it could be far worse. In addition, because this tradeoff comes from animation maestro Kyoto Animation, it is doubly worse.
Though this is a show about a music club, the BGM is boring. Thankfully, a killer OP/ED combo and some fantastic inserts make up for that. On the acting front,the amateur seiyuu all sound like younger versions of already successful seiyuu, like how Mio's seiyuu Yoko Hirasa sounds not-too-surprisingly like a younger Aya Hirano. This isn't to criticize their talents, though. The fact that these newcomers are so lively and fits their character perfectly from the start is a compliment, one of the few I have given the series.
From all of the above, K-ON! to me came off as a cheap way for Kyoto Animation and Pony Canyon to make money. There is little effort, the characters are rather flat and unchanging, and everything in the news about it from merchandise tie-ins to Oricon charts leads me to believe it's one giant marketing ploy rather than an honest effort of a series. For this, I cannot say I enjoyed all of it, though it was good sporadically. However, as I said in the beginning, if these shoddy attempts at slice-of-life moe are what we as anime viewers choose to support and demand more of, we are killing the genre as we speak.
This review is going to be broken down into the 5 parts that MAL focuses on with each section getting critiqued.
As you know by the description on the anime's page, K-on is suppose to be about Yui Hirasawa and joining of saving of her high school's light music club, with the problem being that Yui has never read music or knows how to play a guitar. Slowly a few of these problems get cleared up but the main bulk of the plot goes no where whatsoever. You can come in at any episode and still get what's going. The anime is heavy on the theme
"light and fluffy." to which when watching it you don't have to know anything nor necessarily be there the entire episode to know what is going to happen and that's the main problem, like every other "moe" anime it's generic and predictable in the events category.
This is probably the biggest problem with the show in my opinion, the art. Seriously I can guarantee you that the studio used a step by step handbook and stencil set to create yui, mio, ristu and mugi, it's what is seriously killing the industry today in my opinion...generic characters. There is nothing that makes any one character in K-on stand out. The backgrounds themselves are nothing to praise about either as they are the standard school, bustling street/shop and from time to time inside one of the girls home scenes. To sum it up the art lacks originality and there is no direction for it.
This is probably the only place that K-on climbs up outta the rubbish category. The times that you hear music made by the club it's actually not that bad and can be catchy at times, and with it's suppose plot revolving around music you'd think to hear it a lot but it's quite the opposite, the girls spend more time sitting around being airheads then trying to do anything music related.
What can I say,all of the characters of K-on have traits that superficial. They all are generic and no one has anything that makes them unique or stand out.
After watching 13 episodes, I can say overall the enjoyment was just another thing including original art and characters that the show was missing...I mean it was boring and painful as well as predictable to watch.
K-on is a light and fluffy fan service anime to which it hosts no original art and set of characters. If your looking for something to which you don't need to think or understand maybe you'd enjoy k-on but even then your going to have to endure lackluster scenes of boring pointless conversations to which watching windows screen saver can provide more enjoyment.
K-ON! is inconsequential fluff. One might compare it to popcorn or cotton candy: a tasty treat, but if you're looking for a meal, it will leave you looking for something more substantial after it's done.
K-ON! follows the tried and true formula of cute girls doing cute things. Based on a 4-koma comic, the series is about several high school girls who form (technically join, but all the previous members graduated) a light music club and follows their activities. The music itself often takes a back seat to the antics of the girls, and audiophiles may find themselves somewhat disappointed if they go in expecting detailed
attention to techniques or references to real life bands (there are a couple, but few and far between). There are two concerts in the thirteen episode series, but neither is as impressive as the one from the Live A Live episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (one of Kyoto Animation's earlier shows), but still very enjoyable. The most common scene in the series features the main girls sitting in the club room snacking on tea and cakes while discussing various mundane events, particularly with the more dedicated girls trying to get the rest to practice.
The girls all have their own distinct personality. Yui, the main character, is the some clumsy and adorable airhead. She joined the club hoping to play an easy instrument like the castanets but ends up playing guitar because the club needed a guitarist. Ritsu is the energetic idiot of the show, drummer, and club president because she was the one who dragged everyone else into the club. Mio is Ritsu's long time friend, and the sensible, serious one of the group. She writes the groups songs, and plays the bass. She is also the most moe character, being the prettiest, easily embarrassed, and terrified of ghosts and yucky things. Mugi is the pianist. She comes from a wealthy family, and thus is a source of amusement by displaying the difference in wealth between rich people and normal people. She is also the provider of the tea and sweets that are regularly consumed at the club meetings.
There are a few regular minor characters, too. Ui is Yui's younger, but more mature and reliable sister. Yui has a friend named Nodoka who joins the student council, which means her role is essentially to let everyone know that Ritsu has forgotten something regarding paperwork for the club. Sawako is a music teacher who is recruited as the club adviser in one of the more memorable scenes of the series. Also, a late addition to the cast is Azusa, an underclassman who is much like a miniature version of Mio.
Character designs are generally cute, with the kind of big round faces typical of most Kyoto Animation works. Background art is consistently good, as is the animation, which should come as no surprise. When characters are shown playing their instruments, there is generally more attention to detail than seen in anime to the point where the sound properly matches the characters actions. The singing at the concert features the same style animation as Live A Live, where you can just about lip read the lyrics (if you know Japanese, of course).
The music used in the series can generally be described as light and fluffy, both the background music and the couple of songs the girls play at their concerts, with the exception of the closer, which rocks a little bit harder than rest. The voice acting fits well all around, with Yui being notable for regularly coming off as someone who isn't all there, fitting her character well.
I don't want to close saying this show is like Azumanga Daioh with a music club, but that's about the easiest comparison I can make, and not too far off a description.