Over the few years or so, it’s been increasingly apparent that watching anything associated with moe is to be treated with the same sort of caution as doing yoga, or making origami. Generally you’d do all three in the privacy of your own room, preferably with the lights dimed down and curtains tightly shut. (I am speaking of course, mainly for guys).
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.
For any individual, there always are surprises to be found in the long walk of life. Things that initially appear flavorless and dull, but reveal themselves to be something much more colorful. These are the kinds of experiences that impact a person and make them feel something of significance. They may make them laugh or cry, but in the end these are the kinds of stories that hold a special place in one's heart. The second season of K-ON is, for me (and for many), this very experience.
K-ON has always been a very polarizing series, one which has
a dedicated fanbase and a vocal group of people staunchly asserting their hatred of the anime. Regardless of any personal feelings one might hold towards the massive franchise, it's impossible to deny the influence that it's enjoyed these past few years. But unlike so many titles that are successful simply by chance or for manipulating its viewers, KyoAni has painstakingly focused on quality to ensure that K-ON deserves every bit of its fame.
Clearly, this is not a complex story.
This will not challenge your beliefs or ideals, nor give you something to analyze and mull over. It's first and foremost a character-based slice of life revolving around five young girls and their daily lives within their highschool music club. Though reluctant fans and critics of the genre may find themselves irritated by the idealized and cute nature of the series, there is much more value to be found than a cursory glance at the artwork or synopsis might suggest. K-ON is an anime which all groups of people can enjoy- provided that the notion of 'cute girls drinking tea' doesn't make you want to go outside and blow stuff up.
While comedy plays the most extensive role in the entertainment of this series, a good portion of the fun comes from the characters and their basic interaction with each other. There's a very interesting dynamic between the main cast and they contrast and play off each other in both comedic and dramatic scenes. The most noteworthy example of this is the relationship between Yui and Azusa: a lazy, ditzy girl alongside her extremely hardworking and strict junior. While there isn't anything especially unique or complex to be found at first, it's a relationship that eventually develops into one that feels genuinely endearing. There are no melodramatic arguments between the two, nor is there only a single moment where their feelings come to light.
Surprisingly, the resulting character development does not subvert this dynamic but instead expands upon it. Azusa still finds herself feeling out-of-place and anxious in regards to the silly behavior of her seniors, while Yui also struggles to take her musicianship more seriously and come across as a figure that Azusa can rely on. A heavy contrast between the two exists as a result, which allows them to gain insight and grow from each other in a way that feels meaningful, while still retaining the inherent nature of their personalities. It's a dynamic that the series focuses on and highlights, and thankfully this aspect is treated with the care that it truly deserves.
Of course, K-ON focuses heavily on the other members of the club as well – five girls of very different lifestyles and backgrounds coming together and becoming close and inseparable friends. Unlike many slice of life series, this isn't an immediate growth between the cast (sans the long friendship between Ritsu and Mio), but rather a gradual one that builds from each episode. Rather than focus on one specific character each episode, the series is often focused more on their time together as a group. The girls all feel like human beings with personality and purpose, rather than the faceless archetypes that have become a staple of many anime titles. As a result, it becomes very easy to grow attached to the characters and feel like you're along with them for the ride, rather than simply being a mere spectator.
For an anime to immerse its viewers to such a level – to allow them to feel like they are there with the cast, is a very special thing. It serves not only to make each moment more meaningful, but to make the experience feel very personal as well. When the tale of the five girls is over, you may find yourself feeling like something important inside of you is now missing. If all the tea and cake leaves you in doubt, this will be the sign of something more.
The most prevalent theme within the series is that of growing up. They change, they adapt, and they learn to accept their new situation. As graduation draws closer for four of the five girls they deal with the complications of college entrance exams, career choices, and leaving their highschool life behind. Surprisingly, this has the biggest impact not on these characters themselves, but on their junior, Azusa, who feels discontent and uneasy about her friends moving on before her. She struggles with the prospect of managing the club by herself and recruiting new members for after the other girls graduate, an issue that is touched upon many times and eventually resolved towards the end of the series.
It's this theme which leads to a wide variety of emotional and heartwarming moments in the story. Two preeminent examples include the girls performing in front of the school for a final time and having a tearful realization after, and a final scene where the four girls graduate and play a bittersweet farewell song in the club room for a crying Azusa. I am not ashamed to admit that these two scenes made me tear up.
Which brings up an interesting point, because if the series were so focused on the girls eating cake and doing nothing each episode, would these kinds of scenes exist in the first place? No. It almost feels like a direct contradiction to the claims of the anime being focused on nothing more than the cuteness of the characters, and while it's impossible to deny its presence in the story, it's quite clear that this is not what the anime is defined by. This is what sets K-ON apart from many of its competitors: being an anime that is not only cute and entertaining, but one that carries emotional impact as well.
It should also be noted that while the manga is not by any means bad, KyoAni took Kakifly’s very simplistic 4-koma and added an enormous amount of detail to it, taking important plot elements that only existed in a passing line or panel from the manga. The vast majority of the character development and emotional scenes are the work of KyoAni and the talented staff behind the anime, and for taking liberties and improving upon the manga in so many ways they deserve to be applauded and commended. There's an adage about how adaptations are always inferior to the source material, but this is one example that proves it's not always so.
But then, where would the series be without the stunning production values that KyoAni is so well known for?
This is luckily an aspect that is not glanced over or given second thought, and the visuals in K-ON are something that stand out as being absolutely stellar as a result. Almost everything about the characters is fluid and detailed, with movements looking and feeling very much lifelike. Not only do the mouth and limbs move like in most anime, but the hair will move along with the body, the clothes will furrow and crease realistically to the character’s movements, and their eyebrows and facial shape will accentuate their expression. While the girls seldom practice or play music, the scenes where they do play are beautifully animated and show detail that musicians and general viewers will appreciate. It’s a gorgeous anime to look at and it really reflects the effort that KyoAni put into the series.
Music itself is much more varied than in the first season, with several times more unique songs that the girls perform together as a band and during the opening and ending sequences. These songs are all performed by the actors behind each character, and, while they certainly aren't amazing pieces of music, they fit perfectly with the tone of the anime and with the musical talent of the girls. They are not professional musicians but rather highschool girls that play and practice for fun, which makes the silly songs that they perform seem all the more realistic and fitting. Of further note is the background music, which is simplistic and sets the atmosphere for each scene very well.
The second season is a bit of a departure from its predecessor, though, in the sense that the music is not highlighted or given nearly as much focus as it had before. This isn't an anime about music but an anime about a group of friends that happen to play music. They practice and play, discuss musical terminology, and shop for new gear, but this serves more as an aspect of their daily lives rather than something they are invariably focusing on and thinking about. There's definitely enough here to satisfy accomplished and aspiring musicians alike, but it is not the focal point. However, when the series does focus on its musical performances it does a fantastic job, hitting on both the entertainment and emotional level. "U & I" is a great example of this, a song written by Yui to show thanks for her sister in a way that she could never express without music.
In the end, K-ON is not some form of "masterpiece" or its synonyms. It would be very difficult to find any anime that can genuinely meet that criteria. Rather, K-ON is an exemplary title that showcases what the best of anime really has to offer, both within its genre and universally. It's a title which shows us that a complex plot and deep themes are not required for an anime to truly resonate.
K-ON may not be everybody's cup of tea, but for the girls of Sakuragaoka High School, it is their tea party.
What do you get when you add four cute girlfriends with the desire to form a music band, situational comedy, and every style of moe an otaku can think of? You get K-On! (or kei-on-bu). Just of a group of girls trying to follow their dreams... sounds very cliche' doesn't it? Well it is and this show oozes cliche'. The setting to the sitcom all the way down to the catch phrase onomatopoeia's like kyuun and hyaan. It's very obvious from the start of episode 1, that the story isn't trying to mess with the success of current trends and tries its very best to
run with whats popular with the anime crowd.
Don't get me wrong, the set of stories set through each episode are not terrible by any stretch. Its just very "same old same old." If you watch this you'll quickly recognize if you love it hate it after about two episodes. As for me, I love it but can't really feel attached to the storyline considering the amount of parts that are skipped. It almost feels like the show has a bad case of A.D.D. when it skips the important stuff. Trust me, they do it ALOT.
It skips the important stuff but as they say, the Devil is in the Details. Small things like putting a tongue sideways on a mascot pig azu-nyan, or little piggy sounds from yui, and even the graceful and light footed walking posture of Mugi in that cat costume as she walks in the club room. The icing on the cake is how Azu's buddy gives her a sip of her juice box without even thinking twice. That's what makes this show K-On.
The art direction has its high points and its low points, but overall the art can't go a little higher than mediocre. Just observe the op/ed theme songs for the show. Typically, the theme songs have higher production values than the actual show itself. They are indeed better artistically, but it still looks very low quality. Another areas that i could not help but notice in the artwork would be the disproportionate loli scenes and the spaces between their hands. Just look at their feed and you'll see what I'm talking about.
I can't turn down the entire art direction down though, as the style does reflect the manga quite accurately most of the time. But I believe most of the time and effort (and probably money) went in to replicating the girls instruments with their real life counterparts. Mio's vintage lefty Fender-Japan JB62/3TS, Ritsu's Yamaha Hipgig JK6F46MK, Tsumugi's Korg TR76 (which is ~$1300), and Yui's VINTAGE Gibson Les Paul Standard Guitar, are all represented with great painstaking detail. The honey burst colors of the bass and standard guitars, the indentations on the Zildjan cymbals, even the correct amount of knobs and switches on the various Marshall amps (usually the JCM900 is shown the most). They even go far as to showcase even more instrument types throughout various locations like the Sonor Delite Stage 1 drum set in one of the girls summer home. Sadly, the instruments are just mere props that aren't shown in action very often as one would hope in a music-themed anime. But when they are in display, everything else, including the girls, pale in comparison to their details.
As usual, sound is the toughest to score, since its either really good or really bad. But typically its really good, so my standards are set much higher than what most would probably do. The voice acting is above average considering today's standards. Any female seiyuu these days can pull off moe moe voices very easily. As like all the other music anime before it, its main selling point is the music and how its integrated into the series. Now if you cant stand J-Pop/Rock then I'm sure you will probably drop this series. Unless you're a moe otaku and in that case, you'll watch this show religiously. But for a 13 episode series, they play just the right amount of songs, and they manage not to keep playing the same song over and over to the point of insanity like Kirarin Revolution did with Bararaika, although they ALMOST do.
The characters are, of course, cute and lovable. Their actions and reactions are all spot on scenes of cute humor. And all the jokes about each other are always sure to bring out a chuckle or two. The chemistry is also a very good mix which proves that the standard 4 B's of personalities (brash, bashful, boorish, and benevolent) can never falter for great story telling.
Everything they see, say, and do is just insanely cute. It might not be of that loli persuasion but its all moe that gradually increases its moe powers even more with every episode. Be that as it may, they are great characters, but they are by no means very original in the character designs. Sadly, I too (as millions of other people have fallen under Mio Akiyama's spell and forced me to give it an 8 out of 10...
Sure the characters are cookie cutter moe blobs but beauty is definitely in the details. People who hate this show usually dont sweat the small stuff like that. They just see a group of girls chatting about BS and having fun. Thats fine, that is what a slice of life comedy is all about, having fun. Azunyan pretty much sums up the epic power of the moeblob in episode one when she poses in front of that "rising sun".
I enjoyed the time I spent watching this show. I never felt like this was a waste of time or anything of the sort. Maybe its because I love school comedies or Mio's ability to bring the whole country of Japan (and the world) to its knees. Regardless, its still fun to watch these girls try to get by and reach their goals together. Its obvious as to why such a simple show is appealing to the masses. It has all the right components and the constant bombardment of moe scenes will defintiely make any moe fan's heart flutter. It defintely has its flaws (in some important places) but since it is so short, you get just enough story progression to enjoy it
I decided to watch this because I had seen the first season and thought I'd watch something I could bash on when it ended, because it's ended now, yes sure, there are two more episodes, but these are just extra helpings of moe for all you fanboys out there.
At first it was everything I'd expected, it was moe, it was silly, nothing substantial about the anime whatsoever, neither storyboard nor any real screenplay, but then something happened, something that started to happen during the first season yet didn't fully evolve into this feeling I felt after having watched the second season; it grew on
me. At this point in time good slice of life anime are a dying breed, atleast for people who aren't fanboys. Everything's been done, producers search desperately for new original ideas, but they're just not there and to tell you the truth K-on!! is not original in any sense, form or colour. K-on!! shouldn't be good slice of life anime and for me it wasn't exactly good, but it was better than I had expected, it had an atmosphere of coziness, sure sometimes I wanted to smash something when it got excessively moe, but it was cozy, it was homely, the show offers something soothing and if that's what the producers wanted to give their viewers then they've done a pretty good job.
I dislike KyoAni, but they can draw and animate, there is no doubt about it. As for the music, well props to the voice actors and producers for creating an OST it gives a sense of quality and whatever shortcomings K-on!! had, the feeling of quality is tangible. Much like a very, very neatly wrapped present with fancy paper and ribbons and hearts and bunnies and everything else cute you can imagine, yet the content of the present is rather empty. K-on!! will not blow your mind with an innovative storyboard and intriguing screenplay, but it will soothe you, depending on what kind of person you are and for what purpose you watch this show, in one way or another.
To answer any and all questions or comments that come up after reading this review the correct answer would be; no.
Well, what else can I really say about this anime, other than calling it a seed of potential that blossomed into a beautiful anime that made me emotionally attached to the story itself as well as connect to my life? Such gems are rare, and im glad i gave this anime a chance to make me laugh, smile and cry without overdoing the "moe moe kyun" factor.
So where do i start? K-On, initially a, as many people call it, "fluffy slice of life" depiction turned from that into what I would personally call a coming of age story, one in which each character is thoroughly
explored and developed well, and one in which you see them mature since the end of Season 1. But the key here is that kyo-ani didn't overdo it either. So here is my breakdown:
Story (8/10): To be fair, people will dispute me, but in K-On!!, the story is something we all live through in our own realities. When watching this Anime, it reminded me of my days in High School, a place where you not only experienced new opportunities, but grew in maturity, and most importantly, developed memories and friendships that would transcend the years themselves. At first, the tone was lulled, but Im not afraid to say that by the end, the way the story developed made me reminisce my final days, and I too got caught in the emotional moments before the end of the Season. I didn't want it to end, but sometimes, thats what makes the best endings, because you know it ended so wonderfully, and that emotionally you were satisfied. Clannad (After-Story), Kanon, Air, Angel Beats! and now K-On!...Kyo-Ani, you have successfully reeled me in again.
Art (10/10): Has K-On!! improved since the first season? All you need to do is look at the opening theme songs and compare the artwork. Brighter, crisper, smoother, and especially with the live-action scenes, more atmospheric, my eyes were bedazzled by what Kyo-Ani had done, and one can tell they knew how to get their moneys worth from the animation software. Especially with a certain scene in Episode 10 (I think), It was beautiful.
Sound (10/10): Absolutely astounding, thats all I can say. Every time a new song played, whether it was the first few minutes of Episode 1, the new Op of GO! GO! Maniac or Utauyo! Miracle or even something as beautiful as U&I or Tenshi ni Fureta yo, nothing disappointed me, I even laughed a little at the lyrics. I remember disliking Yuis voice initially as well, but oh damn, has it grown on me as time gone on, and even Death Devils songs have revived my love for Japanese speed metal. Either way, the songs make up just another reason why I didn't want this season to end, it reminded me of my days on a Fender Bass or my Grand Piano, the two instruments I consider my life and soul.
Character Development (9.5/10): The fact that I almost cried at the end of the final few episodes are enough to justify my personal score, because it felt like losing something special to me when i realised the anime was ending so soon, and the manga as well (New manga apparently announced...
Disclaimer: this is a review of the entire K-On franchise, minor spoilers ahead.
Almost everybody, including myself at one time, is so narrow-minded when it comes to cute girls doing cute things in cute ways anime, whether we enjoy them or not, that we don't expect anything else than moe, comedy and fan service. In a result, we don't really pay attention to the real quality of this kind of show.
At first, I saw Keion as an extremely entertaining moeblob series, without being able to explain why. In retrospect, I thought that it started out being a decent one, that
became fairly good and even somewhat believable in the late second season. After quite a lot of research and thinking, in addition to a rewatch, I realized that Keion actually has a solid narrative, that characterization and character development are more than satisfying, and that the amount of effort put into details is insane. Don't get me wrong, this isn't Disappearance, it's still a fun series with a high iyashikei potential.
Dropping this anime after a couple of episodes, simply because you can't see past the moe and think it's going to be another generic school life for male otakus, is a shame. That was to be expected, though, since KyoAni is well-known for animating stuff like Lucky☆Star and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Additionally, the original manga was aimed at the type of person mocked by Welcome to the NHK. Moreover and more importantly, the narrative and character development are pretty subtle: you will miss it if you're not attentive, along with tons of cool details, and think that nothing happened.
As Digibro said, "this is a story of how each of these girls finds their place in the Light Music Club". This is the story of their relationship, and ultimately an innocent, adorable and universal story of friendship. Bonus: the second season takes it to a whole new level, but more about that later, I didn't even introduce the characters yet.
The first episode opens with Yui, a lazy, carefree, and airheaded girl entering high school. Yui, who literally did nothing in her life, struggles to search for a club to join. This brings us to the energetic and careless drummer of the series: Ritsu, who desires to form a band with her childhood friend Mio, a beautiful, shy, reserved and mature bassist. Tsumugi, a gentle and sweet pianist who comes from a rich background and has always dreamed of experiencing a normal rose-colored school life, quickly decides to join their band: the Light Music Club. Later on in the series, the serious guitarist Asuza is struck by the performance of these girls at freshman welcoming ceremony, but doesn't understand their appeal, and ultimately joins it as well.
I'll say it again, dropping this anime after a couple of episodes is a shame. At the end of the first one, it's perfectly understandable if you're skeptical about this show and don't know why you should stick with K-On!, neither Yui knows what to do. She doesn't know what the Light Music Club, "K-On" in Japanese, really is about, nor whether she should join it either. While not being astonishing, the beginning makes sense in term of narrative, and Yui could be considered at some level as a metaphor of the viewer, which is pretty nice.
There is no such thing as cheap and easy way to portray inner thoughts, dilemmas, and emotions in this series. For instance, Yui won't say out of nowhere "Damn, I just realized that I was being egoist and didn't take guitar seriously, I feel bad for other members." with a melodramatic song. It was never stated by any characters: it's up to the audience to understand it. To be honest with you, getting a glimpse of her feelings through her reactions, tones, body language, etc. isn't hard... as long as you're paying attention. I love how this anime is full of this kind of details and subtleties that nobody in the show points out.
If you have already watched the first season and think badly of it, you might be wondering "what are you talking about, characters are generic and not developed at all, plus Yui is autistic". Then as you have already guessed, I'll tell you that you missed lots of meaningful details and subtleties... even though that you aren't completely wrong. This season mostly sets up the characters, their club, and the world they live in. In short, you get the basis of what Keion is. And sadly enough, it's rushed as hell.
In point of fact, K-On! focuses way more on establishing the setting and on the comedy, than on this franchise's biggest asset: the characters. Their characterization is pretty weak and they hardly ever feel human. At the end of the 13rd episode, while they definitely have changed a little, you won't notice huge differences in their simplistic and moe personality. It's easy yet important to understand how much they love each other and feel comfortable in the Light Music Club, though. The humor is another problem, by frequently feeling cheap and forced ("Moe Moe Kyun~"). As for Yui being an airhead autistic savant, it's notably used to show us how incredibly she can get serious for her friends, and of course as a joke.
The second season improves upon like, everything. From characterization to lighting to animation to direction to comedy to activities. The animation is more lifelike and detailed than ever, colors feel more natural and refined, backgrounds are more realistic, and on and on. While the first season covered two years in only 13 episodes, the second, completed by an OVA plus a movie, benefits from 26 episodes to follow the senior year of Yui, Ritsu, Mio, and Tsumugi. This slow, realistic pace allows to characters way more time to interact naturally with each other, and grow up as people. That's considerable, since while the setting set by the first season was perfectly believable, thanks to the amazing work of Kyoto Animation, characters weren't yet.
Visuals put aside, what really struck me in at the beginning of K-On!! were the changes in nature of humor. This season isn't entertaining solely because of the moe anymore (even though its predecessor had its moments as well), it's amusing because the comedy which involves and relies on cute girls, with their colorful and distinct personality, is genuinely funny. Moe definitely has become an integral part of their characterization, but at the same time, jokes are more mature and sophisticated. For instance, Yui wouldn't have commented on Sawa-chan's love life with a mean undertone in K-On!. It might sound silly, but I think that lots of comedy scenes could only work in this series with these particular characters.
If I had to describe K-On!! in one word, other than "fun", it would be "healing" (then "immersive", and last but not least "creative"). The comedy in Keion has never intended to be over-the-top, nor it should have. Indeed, quite a lot of moments don't aim at making you laugh, KyoAni doesn't force the girls to go out of their personality to make hilarious things happen. While being both, seeing these friends interact with each others and react with various believable situations is often more heartwarming than amusing. You're more likely to find you smiling during the span of an episode and have a good laugh now and then, than dying laughing every minute. Some could argue that Non Non Biyori is better as a relaxing anime, but that would be overlooking the fact that iyashikei is just a part of what makes K-On!! stand out from other moeblob anime.
While Asuza could almost be merely defined by "moe" at the end of the first season, which left little to no room for character development, she becomes much more human and is given more depth in the second one, at the same time as Yui and the others. The episode where she wonders to what extent her friends influence her, and whether she's still herself, is especially interesting, her relationship with Yui being the key of her development. Being the only underclassman of the Light Music Club, Asuza is going to be left alone by the time the seniors graduate. For the viewers, this season may be all about the dynamic between the characters, but for our lovely girls, this is all about accepting reality and growing up.
During the first half of K-On!!, they're too busy to enjoy themselves and making the most of their youth to be concerned about this fact, though. As mentioned before, this season focuses heavily on these five girls interacting with each others. Everyone has experienced a couple of things of what the characters live in the show, from sleeping with friends to studying to graduation. By portraying it in such a realistic yet slightly romanticized and funny way, Keion speaks directly to the heart of viewers. All of these natural interactions and subtle reactions create a deep sense of immersion and ultimately lead to their development.
In real life, people rarely do a 180° in personality from one day to another. They gradually change, grow, evolve. Do not expect a character development like Simon's from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but rather few subtle, believable and logical changes in their personality all along the show. Being the pivot in the dramatic progression, Azusa's development is quite special, her attachment to the club and especially toward its members continually growing as graduation is approaching.
Speaking of, even though the story ends up mainly resolving around Azusa, the other keion girls have lots of opportunities to grow out of their moe archetypes as well. In a result of being a part of the Light Music Club, even the character with the weakest and most overlooked development, Tsumugi, gradually becomes much more proactive and involved in the life of the club than before. Azusa's personality, development, and conflicted feelings are explored through her interactions with her friends, as well as the other girls, together with few sweet scenes of introspection. All of that naturally leads us to the episode twenty, both climax and payoff of season 2. This episode shows us their last school festival performance, then finally the girls intimately realizing how much they loved their time together, and about graduation.
The more you connect and become attached to the characters, the more the episode twenty will resonate with you and might become one of your favorite episode of all time (alongside the last battle of Gurren Lagann and the end of The Tatamy Galaxy for my part). Even if you don't care much about these characters, you can still enjoy this episode from a narrative standpoint and for its masterful execution. Along with a stunning animation and great accurate playing, you get a near-to-perfect artistic direction, an amazing sound design, and awesome insert songs. The best part is how Kyoto Animation utilized all of these elements in harmony to create some of the most powerful, emotional, heartbreaking and beautiful scenes I have ever seen, across all mediums. Though a little personal bias might have affected my judgment. I'll say no more but one word about this episode: "lycopene~".
Episode 24, the last one chronologically, and the second climax of the series, made me tear up as well. But again, it is not forced and tearjerking like Jun Maeda's shows (e.g. "please cry now it's supposed to be a sad scene" with overblown sad piano and sad violin). These two episodes couldn't have had such an impact on me if this franchise wasn't as I described above. The final arc, with its melancholic atmosphere and tone, is the most logical way to conclude the story given what came before, and thus is the ultimate proof that Keion's narrative makes sense and follows a logical progression.
It's really important to understand that these episodes don't come out of nowhere. They're so great because of the solid and believable foregoing. To speak only of the graduation, lots of shows make clear of their characters' emotions prematurely ("oh my god it's our last year together I'll miss you so much... is that sad piano am I hearing? Let's cry!"). In real life, just like in Keion, people tend to put off this kind of problem and emotions until they no longer can. Not to mention they don't randomly force themselves to talk about it for the pure sake of drama.
Something Keion does better than most of the shows I've seen, is creating a believable world, a world that feels alive, a world that works on its own. I won't put it on the same level as Cowboy Bebop's world building, but it's still nice to Yui's classmates acting like real people for example. It might feel a little contrived how much everyone cheer for the Light Music Club, though. It's worth mentioning that some recurring side characters, like Yui's sister, Azusa's friend Jun, or Sawa-chan-sensei, are given quite a lot of screentime and a proper treatment. KyoAni's attention to such details helps to build the consistent world I love.
Additionally, in a result of depicting the daily life of the keion girls with Naoko Yamada's style, this anime is extremely immersive and atmospheric. The complete lack of fanservice contributes significantly to maintaining the suspension of disbelief. While both seasons indeed have scenes with the girls in cute bikini and having reflexions about Mio's or Azusa's chest, they don't exist solely to please the male audience, they're genuinely immersive. You could totally imagine real teenagers wearing this kind of swimsuit and making such friendly mean comments (the few ones in the second season aren't even necessarily explicit, you know, just like in real life). Characters are not sexualized in the least, and the only things that could be considered as cheap fanservice, in its wider meaning, are silly "moe moe kyun" jokes from the first season, and Sawa-chan's passion for cute outfits. It's actually quite funny to see the girls' skirts to systematically fall between their legs when they sit down. This is moe at its purest form. That's just how much KyoAni's staff love their work and respect its characters.
One doesn't have to be an anime veteran to understand the complaints about the lack of creativity of studios when it comes to moe. While Keion doesn't stand out that much in this area, we still should give KyoAni some credit, which definitely get out of their comfort zone in the second season, by not always following the same recipe and trying to keep renewing themselves. Regarding openings, even though I tend to prefer Go! Go! Maniac! to Utauyo!! MIRACLE musically speaking, the last one is really emblematic of what the show has to offer in term of fun and creativity. The latter adjective applies to the legitimately awesome endings as well: Don't say "lazy" (the most memorable), Listen! (my favorite), No, Thank You! (the best).
Don't forget Keion is, for the most part, a show about cute girls doing dumb stuff. I am obviously not saying crap like "at the end it's still just a moeblob anime, it cannot possibly be good". My aim here is simply to bring to light what this series intended to do and how great the execution is. Being bored by all of these silly characters and lazy afternoons is perfectly understandable, and not the end of the world. Keion may simply not be for you, but hey, there are tons of great shows out of here, just try to keep an open mind.
Just a few words about both OVAs and movie, even though the latter definitely deserves a review on its own. The first OVA takes place after the events of the first season, on the New Year's Eve, and could belong to the second one, with the girls stepping outside of their club and the fun mainly coming from their natural interactions. The second mostly prepares the ground for the movie. Despite being a great condensed version of the second season with truly excelling production values, K-On! Movie is still slightly inferior to the series, in my opinion, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Things are sometimes more than they seem, but at the end, fun things are fun.
The second season is here! I’m surprised how successful this anime is to produce a second season. 0:00 – 2:05 of the first episode blew me away, after watching that part I was thinking: “Alright this is going to be goooooooooood”. Than the opening theme kicks in, and I’m thinking: “Oh, man too much is going on here”. Oh, and the rest of the episode is just as wonderful.
I can’t tell if there’s improvement on the animation from the first season, but that’s not a bad thing because the animation is just simply gorgeous. The animators really take a lot of pride
in their work and put a lot of effort and detail in each scene. In terms of watching an anime for its animation, this is probably the best animation ever created and it really can’t be missed. Your eyes will be blessed with bright brilliant beautiful colours and you’ll be grateful such animators exist.
Any movement happening in this anime they’ve got it down. The sound really brings the animation to life along with the characters. From the sound of their footsteps to the sound of the instruments playing is just a privilege for my ears. Recycling the soundtracks from the first season bring you back to the world of K-On!! This is only the first episode, so I’m sure will hear some new tracks. You can’t argue with the voice acting because it’s in Japanese, if it was in English it hurt my ears and turn me off to watching this anime.
I cannot watch an anime if the characters aren’t likeable, and these characters are extremely likable. All the key characters return from the first season of course, the voice acting on each character brings them to life, giving them their own personality. I like all the characters, just picking out my favorites ones are hard. I would have to say my favorite is Mio and Nodoka although she’s a side character and you rarely see her. It’s probably her glasses that stick out.
Without a doubt this is an anime for 2010 that cannot be missed, if you haven’t watched the first season, I’d recommend it before watching the new season, because that’s what you do when you watch anime or anything else in general. I guess it would depend on the show or type of movie and this is one of them.
This is only the first episode of the second season, and I’ve got quite a lot to say. So, I guess that means it must be that good, huh? I can’t really tell because this was just an improve review for the first episode. I can’t imagine the full review. It would probably be ridiculous, but in a good way. Enjoy!
Ladies and gentlemen, a review of K-On!! Ahead of you. Hope y'all enjoy.
I'll be reviewing just the one season, not the whole series (although I watched 'em all).
Minor spoilers ahead, I don't think they could offend anyone or anything though.
So... This anime isn't too great for many people, as they rate is as "Another kawaii girls series". Is their opinion right? Of course, it is. I guess everybody is allowed to think positively or negatively about every single series. But yet, it's not another anime about kawaii girls doing kawaii stuff. It has some deeper meanings in its easy plot. I'll be
trying to answer some harder questions later, so let's begin with the actual review!
Story - 9 (Great)
As K-On!! is just about cute girls doing cute things, such as drinking tea or playing music, the story part isn't going to get 10. But, as I've mentioned above, it has some hidden pearls. The friendship is really deep, they're doing almost everything with each other, their lives are based on their friendship really much. Many people would sacrifice their lives just to have such friends, really. In first K-On! their bondings were already beautiful, so you can just think of what they became in the second season. But, you have to remember that the friendship isn't the only part of the story. They also make concerts, learn to important exams with each other, do sleepovers and really many other stuff, yet it's not worth to spoiler more, because you should watch them by yourself!
Art - 10 (Outstanding)
The art hasn't changed since K-On! ended, so I don't have to tell you anything more. As from what I remember they didn't improve anything, the look of the characters is still beautiful, landscapes are quite nice and it is really satisfying seeing how they animated the guitar moves well. Hats off. Keep in mind that it's still a better offshoot of traditional KyoAni artstyle, also known from e.g. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu 2009.
Sound - 9 (Great)
OPs and EDs are awesome. Soundtrack is great, music from concerts is nice. I can't remind myself of any outstanding tracks out of here, but the soundtrack fits well to the genres of K-On series. Of course you can't compare it to any greater work, e.g. Kanye, yet it's quite nice.
Character - 10 (Outstanding)
Characters are brilliant. I haven't watched an anime in which I identified with every hero or heroine as I did in K-On!!. They way they're behaving is outstanding - for everyone! We have a stubborn, but friendly and caring Ritsu, intelligent, but scared of everything Mio, cute and generous Mugi, self-possessed and also caring Azusa, and lazy, happy, joyful main heroine - Yui. They all are members of a band named "Fuwa Fuwa Time" - as mentioned above, they're doing really many things together. The way they behave hasn't changed since K-On!, yet I feel like they all grew up a bit. Although they act almost the same, something has changed. This part could've also been described as "boring, repeatable bunch of friends" - no, no, no. Not like that. They're more than just a bunch of friends. They are a family. If you've watched Clannad After Story, you'll know what I actually mean.
Enjoyment - 10 (Outstanding)
"geez ive been crying all the night cause it ended" - it perfectly says anything about Enjoyment terms. Since its plot is very easy, the characters are different, but wholesome, you don't have to think too much, the art is beuaitful - you can fully enjoy the anime. Not to say, its simplicity is the actual reason why it's so enjoyable.
Overall - 10 (Outstanding)
Don't take me wrong, it's not a masterpiece. Despite having a nice story, beautiful art, brilliant characters and one of the best enjoyments ever, it has some issues, e.g. its story isn't that superior and the soundtrack is somehow forgettable. Neverthless, it's a really solid title if you are looking for an anime in which there are some girls that just want to have fun. Of course I gave a lower rating to Story and Sound comparing it to other series, but in case of comparision to similar series K-On is horribly outstanding and rating of Story and Sound is easily 10. (9*2+10*3):5=(18+30):5=9,6 | 9,6≈10 | 10=10
It just got what it deserves.
Thanks for reading, hope y'all actually enjoyed this one. Have a nice time watching this!
STORY - 9
ART - 10
SOUND - 10
CHARACTER - 10
ENJOYMENT - 10
Everyday is a blast at the Light Music Club. All the memories of happiness and feelings fill up a treasure box. The lasting days in the lives of the K-On!! girls is a golden collection asking to be embraced. And I will embrace them. Always.
While I absolutely adored the cake eating and lazing around aspect in the first season, this season took a solid shift that presented the series into a great slice-of-life. It wasn't limited to their club room only, and these five cute stars embarked on a branching set of activities from school
trips to concerts where they interacted adorably with precious friendship. No matter where they are, there's never a dull moment with them around. Just look at the cuteception. They're even self-aware of their own cuteness! These characters have a special quality to them other than their entertaining personalities. From the family bond as sisters or the relationship they had with their teacher, an aura is formed where every soul who stumbled upon it will form an attachment. So, as graduation is nearing, the club members have to realize that they must move on with the next stage of their life. And to move along with a strong friendship that will last for eternity. All the fun times and the silly times they had, these are the memories that held the evidence that their bonds are true. That closeness, which was formed in the realm of simple day-to-day interactions, was a purity that described a genuine friendship. Every moments were meaningful. Every moments activated my attachment. Every time, they never failed to place a smile on my face.
Under the windows of their treasured club room, the rays of a warm and setting afternoon light glazes over the best friends. Backed up by a soothing melody, they cherished the time they had spent together after a spectacular run of their last ever high school performance. This was a heartwarming scene and if not for the audiovisual talents from Kyoto Animation, it wouldn't had become such a special scene that permeated with joyous and sad emotions. The amount of efforts put in by them was something that I appreciated. The visual captured all kinds of tone hanging in the air. Those googly eyes that gazed all the way through my kokoro switched on my affectionate side. The energy-driven animation expressed the character's personality without the need for narrative techniques effectively. And then there was the soft lighting that spoke on so many levels, mostly to radiate positivity. All these made the small moments into something more meaningful, because there were some fine feelings hidden beneath the realistic colors. Another aspect behind the visual was in the sound and their relaxing sensation can be felt without disturbing the lighthearted interactions of the characters. Each one of the seiyuus acted out their roles with a cute tone. Performed by them as well, the songs played during the club performance were fun to listen to. Some of the songs also embodied a deeper meaning in the lyrics so hearing these filled me up with even more emotions as they performed together as a close group.
K-On!! is an anime for U&I. Every time I watch an episode, I know that I will no doubt feel happiness. And I'm sure you too can feel that same happiness. We all can become a piece of this memory and preserve it. Wouldn't that be the perfect treasure?
Yamada Naoko is a director that I have been interested for a while. Female directors are kind of a rare breed, and because of that I find her films to be interesting in a way that it gives a different perspective. But that's not all, she herself is a live-action fanatic. Not just animation, but live-action. She's basically the kind of personnel that Hideaki Anno (Director of Evangelion) is hoping to find more of in the animation industry. This is also the reason why Kyoto Animation shows are so interesting.
"It depends on what kind of a film it would be. Unlike live action, with
animation we have to simplify the real world. Women tend to be more realistic and manage day-to-day lives very well. Men on the other hand tend to be more idealistic – and fantasy films need that idealistic approach."
Might explain why most Kyoto Animation shows are SoL.
K-ON is not idealistic. K-ON is realistic. Especially in the highschool girls department. In other words, it doesn't have to have this grandiose plot that most seem to seek of. Its grandiosity is its simplicity. K-ON is a show about friendship. It is a show about how different people can change different people. The characters are multi-faceted. Basically, they are treated in the show as real people not as characters. In a way that they react differently to different things. They don't go out of their way to deliver the jokes or add drama. They all follow in this logical sense of personality.
Is K-ON about "music"?
No, K-ON is not about music, it's about being in a band. A band is a group of people making music, and that's what K-ON is about. A group of people.
K-ON doesn't have a plot....
"Plot refers to the sequence of events inside a story which affect other events through the principle of cause and effect." -Wikipedia
K-ON does indeed have a plot in a way that it has a cause (the formation of the club) and effect (characters evolution and attachment at the end of the series). But I think what matter the most is the execution of the premise. K-ON's premise can be summed up in two words, tea time. But the way it executes on those initial ideas, and expand on them for the rest of the show is fucking excellent. By the end of the series, tea time pretty much means their lives to them. And the fact that it is ending is akin to death. Episode 20 will destroy you without realizing it. I myself never knew that I was so attached to these girls subconsciously, until it was getting near the end. It was emotional, it was gripping, it was the probably the greatest scene I have experienced in all of anime. It was a fuwa fuwa time.
To summarize, what makes K-ON so fucking good, is that it is a coalescence of small details that all pack up into this big package of emotion. The more you watch it, the more you'll love it.
Before reading this, understand that this will be amateur at best, and also that this is stream of consciousness writing and will be exactly what my first thoughts are on K-on! Because I believe this to be the most accurate way that I can review this show. Also, this will be a review dedicated to both k-on! season 1 & 2, and is written from the perspective of someone who has seen both seasons 3 times... so far.
Summary for those who want to save time:
Okay. Where to begin...
It’s anime like these that are peculiar.
It’s the kind of anime that leaves
you speechless but wanting to express your love for it.
It robs you of any possibilty to forget and watch again for the first time, and for that I truly hate these types of anime.
Sorry for getting corny with the intro but I can’t express my love for K-on! In a nonchalant and straightforward way... like I said before, it’s peculiar... a mystery so to speak.
Part 1: Kyoto Animation
Kyoto animation tends to be revered as the animation studio that consistently puts out good shows, and I guess is also known for it’s Moe content which some can (and some can’t) tolerate and/or enjoy. I’ll be the first person to tell you that k-on will fall into the moe category, and if you are reading this in hope of learning otherwise you are sadly in the wrong place. As an overlying statement I add that I will tell someone if a show is stupid, or even that a badly done, boring slice of life scene ruined a character or even an entire show for me. But in k-on all these tropes and traits that would normally turn so many people off of the slice of life’s genre, coexist ubiquitously with the characters and serve as a masterclass lesson in story telling. Kyoto animation does nothing as spectacular as to redefine slice of life tropes and moe cliches, but instead uses them to create an atmosphere that draws the audience in, and allows the story to flow naturally rather than aggressively attempting to stir animosity in the audience and “do something new”. As someone who hates vague statements let me clarify, K-on in no way will ever do something you won’t expect, but when something... -anything happens it disturbs the deepest parts of your being, to the point that it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the “same old moe thing” before because you are as much there with the characters as you are watching them. In my opinion slice of life, and k-on are perfect examples of why people’s lives - however ficticous or straightforward - can be loved by such a huge audience, because life doesn’t have to be spectacular or redefining to draw in others, it just has to be sought out and run through like everyone else, so when you can look at from an outsiders perspective you can relate, compare, and derive enjoyment from average things. These thought provoking concepts are constantly manipulated and reconstructed and I believe that in this case, Kyoto animation were in the right mind at the perfect time, and created a story so masterful yet so unremarkable that it comes and goes like a heartbeat, with no time to breathe as a viewer.
Part 2: The specifics
The story of K-on! is to me as indescribable as attempting to explain creation to a child. It’s fascinating, but at the same time hard to explain. As a blanket statement, K-On!(!) follows the lives of 5 girls - Mio, Mugi, Azusa, Yui, and Ritsu, with Yui taking the spotlight as a quasi main character, however, other characters are introduced such as Sawako that serve as outlines of life that the main girls use as frames of reference for their own lives throughout the series. K-On!! (Season 2) shines in the light of growing the bonds between the girls, and also the audience to the characters. To delve deeper, the story is one of friendship, but it also is a woeful tale of coming of age, in which the girls experience the shortcomings of time’s restraints on youth.
I’ve always disliked the idea of reviewing the artwork of anime, considering art is entirely subjective, but for the sake of voicing my opinion on the internet, I’ll say that K-On!(!)’s visuals are fantastic. I love Kyoto animation’s style, and loved every frame, in the most biased and opinionated way possible.
Now, part of the reason I decided to direct my review more so towards season 2 of K-On is because of the score. The amount of love and effort the voice talent put into the songs written for k-on, is absolutely bewildering, in fact I would say this is the most spectacular part about K-On. The subtle details that kyo ani worked into the performances such as small reverberations, replicating that of a gym or small venue make all the difference in the world, even if you don’t notice them specifically. The Opening and Ending songs are that of my favourite of all time, with "Utauyo!! MIRACLE" reigning at the top of that list. The most straightforward and unbiased way I could describe the audio for this show is by saying “amazingly talented voice actresses create music worth listening to”.
Finally, as the best for last, the characters... these characters are undoubtedly the greatest written, voiced, and lovable cast ever created in tv anime. If I ever come across a more likeable cast than that of K-on I’ll probably die of shock. The synergy and companionship evident between all of the girls that is nurtured and grown throughout the story is addicting and becomes a catalyst for one of the happiest moments where I sobbed like a little girl.
Part 3: The end
I’ve held off on writing a review for any shows I’ve seen, reserving the right to use my time to write one for only my favourite show of all time, and I’m glad I did so. K-On!(!) is, and forever will be my favourite show of all time. I’ve seen it multiple times, and it never has once felt stale or old. I will cherish the time that I spent watching k-on as much as each character cherished one another, and forever appreciate the fact that this show allowed itself into my life, and wasn’t as spectacular as to change it, but resonated more deeply than any other piece of art I’ve ever had the joy of observing. Thank you to anyone over the years who reads this, and if anyone sees this while in question of watching k-on! I highly recommend that you do, as it has the potential to be loved by someone else as much as I loved it.
If I were to come up to you and ask if you would watch a show about 5 high school girls drinking tea and having fun, chances are you'd back away slowly and begin to either call the police or whip out the pepper spray or taser. Where's the action, the romance, the suspense? Is there even a storyline? A plot? A movie critic would probably burst into tears at the anti-Hollywood-like characteristics of this horrendous "TV show?"
Well I have braved the troubled waters of slice-of-life to come before this golden nugget among others: K-On! To dispense some of the hate and malice, let
me assure you, I had almost no hopes for this show at all. When introduced to season 1, I was skeptical and a little paranoid. My thought process was: this is going to be one big suck. Of terribleness. Of all time. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than watch 4 or 5 high school girls sip tea and experience the trivialities of life. Especially when I'm inundated with school work and up to my chest in thing-to-do. (Can you taste the sarcasm?). But this show blew me far away into the zone of no return.
I loved this show. Regardless of its pointless plot, useless storyline, girly characters and circular reasonings, I managed to come out laughing and even sharing this little anime. Though the title implies music, maybe 3 or 4 episodes ever had any musical playing in it. That didn't matter! K-On sucked you into the useless plot faster than you could struggle away. It's like quicksand, I tell you!
Though there is lots of skepticism and controversy regarding the show's enjoyment, let me introduce you to one of the biggest critics out there: me. I thought nothing wasted more time than watching garbage like this. I adamantly refused to observe material of this quality; I felt like this was a waste of time. But lo and behold, the characters sort of stick to you, more than the mochi they frequently talked about. No, what kept me rigged with attention were the characters and situations themselves.
The tone remained static almost the entire time; the last episode, however, became oddly serious and really sad. Actually, the last couple of episodes clamped down, as if the director and producer had a meeting and wanted to go out with a bang. And a bang they did. You become so emotionally attached to the each character's traits and personality, the last episode feels like a bittersweet moment: happy for the girls, yet sad to see them move on with their artificial and fantasy life.
The characters themselves remained lovable and enjoyable. They were intimate, yet had almost no arguments. They had an everlasting friendship bond, yet seemed never to be angry; they joked often and never were reprimanded. The most trouble any of the girls got into was when one of them made a bad joke. But of course, each character had their own traits.
Ritsu, the leader and drummer of the group, was brash, bold and brave, often going out of her way to annoy or pester Mio. She is a rough-and-tumble sort of girl, taking life as it comes, often forgetting her responsibilities (such as renting the auditorium for them to perform!) and leading the group from place to place. She plays the drums, wears a headband and is proud of her salient forehead Mio was the quiet, shy girl, with moe characteristics, insecurities, clumsiness, easily terrified sort of way, yet mild-headed to all except Ritsu, her close childhood friend whom Mio often hits in retaliation to Ritsu's teasing. She plays the bass, that she named Elizabeth, has long black hair and is heavily self-conscious about her looks. Mugi is a rich, loyal, fun-loving sort of person, who seems never to enjoy the small things in life, like an arcade. She plays the piano, and makes the tea and brings the food for their daily afternoon tea time. Yui is an airhead, but a lovable one nonetheless. She enjoyed food much more than the others, picks up music really fast, and is easily distracted. She plays the guitar (she named Gitah), has short brown hair, and the story usually revolves around her. Asuza (Azu-Nyan, as they tend to call her) is a small girl, one year younger, with long black hair who plays the guitar. She is quick-witted, often tries to get practice together but fails frequently.
Ui, Yui's sister, is the antithesis of Yui. She is responsible, loving in a parent sort of way, and cares for Yui often throughout the series. Jun is a friend of Ui and Asuza, but she seems more selfish and is jealous of the light music club.
The art work is stunning. The attention to detail is enormous - if you pause at any scene, try to look for hidden detail: the chips and holes in the desk, the way the guitar pegs are drawn, the way light bounces of key parts of their instruments, the way they play their instruments is all drawn to the exact detail. I do play both the guitar and piano, and I could actually follow along with Yui and Mugi's parts when their fingers were shown. I was very impressed by the detail.
The sound is also similarly impressive. The songs were kind and carefree, not too serious, yet had difficult parts for all the instruments. Though they did play relatively few songs, not to mention very few new ones, they had an aura of happiness that makes one want to spring up and dance for no particular reason. The OP and ED are fantastic and well-made - I never skipped them, even though I'm pressed for time sometimes. The OP was always upbeat and led you wanting more - the ED was much more serious and carried more weight, as if to tell you that K-ON was done for the day.
The story. Oh, how the story is the center of all this controversy! Alas, how little it is understood! If you were tasked to make this anime, what would you do different? Would you instead have the girls be in class all day, then perhaps play their instruments and go home? NO!! The viewers would swoon from boredom and tedium. Though many argue that the story is not a story, but pointless little synopsis's of their daily routine, I say, well, of COURSE IT IS. School is boring! What more to make it fun than to add a little twist - a comedic tone underlying small substories! Absolute genius. This was the heart and core of the anime; or as Yui says, the heart of the cake is the strawberry!
Overall, it was enjoyable to say the least. Though there were no serious performances, and probably none of this would ever happen in real life, I still loved every bit of this sweet and delicious cake, followed by some afternoon tea. Though it may not seem like much, by the end, you will almost miss their daily tea time; it becomes ingrained into your head. Parting with this anime was bittersweet: Houkago Tea Time, rock on! Remember: FUWA FUWA TIME!
Error: moe blob overload, system failure. Abort all stations immediately.
(scroll to bottom for a summary)
That's literally all this show is. Moe thrown in your face. If you want something else don't touch this show. If you've seen the first season, it pretty much doesn't change. There's not a lot I can really say other than this unless something drastically changed in the last 8 episodes.
Could it have had a story? Definitely. Did it? Well, from what I've seen, no. I cannot be bothered to finish it. That's how bored I am. This is about a group of girls trying to get better, enjoying their new-found
hobby and aspiring to get their big break, right? Unless I misinterpreted it? Oh wait, no it's not, because it's a bunch of moe blob. Instead of focusing on anything relevant to the premise we get stuff like... I don't know... moe blobs getting lost in a marathon. Moe blobs failing their tests. Moe blobs passing their tests. Yay we're at training camp, time to go to the beach. Wow I'm... err... so enthralled by this plot development. Honest.
I'm putting about as much effort into this review as they did into its story writing. I don't care how cute the girls are, I just want plot development - and if you tell me "that's not what this show is for" I'm going to hurt you. If you're going to create a show full of moe blobs and little story don't give it a premise that might suggest otherwise. At least then I won't touch it. I'm looking at you, Yuru Yuri. I enjoy looking at cute girls but I enjoy plot development even more.
Maybe it changes in the last eight episodes. I doubt it though. Feel free to shout at me if it does, maybe I'll consider finishing it then. I'm possibly being too harsh but oh well, it's almost 3:15am, I don't care.
tl;dr nothing happens moe moe moe Ritsu sucks. This is for you if you like cute girls, comedy and no story. I really should stop impulsively writing reviews at 3am.
I don't know why I like K-On!!, but I do. It's one of those shows that features nothing you're normally interested in, but you just can't help but enjoy the atmosphere of the group. People watch slice of life shows because they love involving themselves mentally in the story. So, the basic definition of a good slice of life show is one where you'd want to be a part of it. This is what K-On's done so well.
Story: 5 high school girls have formed a band with the resolution to play at "Budokan!" A large music fest. The story in K-On!! moreso just follows the
girls around their high school activities though. Going on field trips, hanging out after school, eating tea and cake =3. It's all very slice of life. I don't really feel the need to bring up the moe aspect of the show. A show is good or bad on it's own merit, not on how it archetypes it's characters. Granted, that obviously has a role to play, but with the "cute girls doing cute things" factor aside, you just enjoy everyone's personalities as they are.
Art: K-On!! is very well animated. The art style is very soft, in that everyone is designed to look younger than your avg. anime character of the same age. But I guess that's moe, I dunno, I don't normally watch moe shows. What I particularly like though, is the detailing in the outlines of characters. The way they've animated things has this eye-catching effect about it. Very good animation.
Sound: K-On's background soundtrack has that sort of fun loose feeling that gets you in the mood to watch a show full of fluff. This is really key, because actual background music and sound effects are often ignored in reviews and sometimes even in actual production, and it's these shows that usually aren't as entertaining. K-On!! has a soothing quality just like the tea they famously drink. No matter what mood you start an episode in, by the end you'll feel relaxed because of how the soundtrack has influenced you. The only funny thing to note is the opening's hyperactive singing really throws you off to the overall mood of the show. The end does a nice job of livening things up. Overall, the animation quality in both makes them very interesting AMV's in their own right, as have all K-On OP's and ED's, and you'll end up loving them with repeated exposure. Just like Justin Bieber... Oh god, I can't even jokingly finish that sentence. JB is the worst thing to happen to the eardrums since Spice Girls.
Character: Ah the K-On Cast. It's very interesting to see how Yui has developed since the beginning of the first season. Everyone is still very much the same, but Yui is definitely more energetic than in the past. Ritsu has grown a little more responsible, Mio, a little less shy, and Mugi... well Mugi gets experience in the outside world. Azusa develops as well, though you wouldn't notice any of this without really reflecting on it. I suppose that's the moe bogging it down. But genuinely, there's actually a lot of character development that goes on in this show, and it happens so seamlessly you wouldn't even notice. That's good writing in my opinion.
Enjoyment: Though this season has far less emphasis on the music, what little you hear of the songs is still just as addicting as anything else. You'll find yourself watching this show, caught up in the slice o' life aspect, and you won't mind one bit. It's the sort of thing you can watch either 1 episode, or several, and the overall impact will still be the same. K-On's highly enjoyable. I would parrot the notion that never was K-On!! in any way made to market to a more adult fan base. It's rather refreshing (especially after just watching HOTD).
Overall, K-On!!'s a great series, and I would say you're probably fine to watch season 2 without having seen season 1, but I wouldn't recommend it, simply because you'll want more K-On fun at the end, and the only bits you'll get to see are events that have already transpired.
That's K-On. It wasn't revolutionary or incredible, but it was surprisingly very good. And this is coming from someone completely outside the moe fan base.
K-on!! Is somewhat hard to review, so this will probably a short one.
Story: The very first thing that you will notice about K-on!! Is its lack of a story. There is plot for every episode, but most of the time it’s just a comedic skit which shows the daily life of the members of the light music club. There really isn’t much to talk about in terms of the story, which is really surprising considering the popularity of the series. I would give it a 6/10 because it just lacks a solid plot.
Art: The art is great, as expected of KyoAni. The animation was
superb, the art was solid and pretty much everything is perfect. One thing I would like to mention is the moe-ness(is this even a word?) of the anime, which is one of the main selling points of the anime. If you’re a fan of moe animes, you will most certainly love this. I gave it a 9/10 for being well-animated, but that is to be expected considering that they also animated clannad, The melancholy of haruhi suzumiya and other great animes.
Sound: Considering that this is an anime that focuses on a music club, it is quite obvious that the sounds are very good. The voice acting was done well, the background music was perfect but the thing i liked the most are the songs, which is another one of its main selling points. They are light and have a certain charm, very different from most of the crap we hear today and for that I would give it a 10/10. FuwaFuwa all the way!
Characters: The characters are all loveable and have certain unique qualities that separate them from other characters. But because K-on!! doesn’t have much of a story, there isn’t much character development either. The only character with much character development is Azunyan, who from a somewhat serious character turns into a more laid back and cheerful girl. But even if there isn’t any character development, it can also be said that there isn’t any need for development, since the characters are already perfect and for that, I would give it an 8/10.
Enjoyment: The thing that makes K-on!! an amazing anime is that even with a lack of a story, it still manages to entertain its viewers, and pretty well on that matter. Its light-hearted theme and original jokes make people come back for more. It’s the kind of anime that relies purely on entertaining its viewers to keep them watching, and they have succeeded on that matter. I really have no idea on how they kept it fresh; it could be the comedy, the cuteness, or the music but either way, they really did a good job on entertaining me and i’m sure that it will entertain you to. For that I give it a 10/10.
Overall I give it an 8/10 because even though it is entertaining, it lacks something that makes animes exciting: a story. Though it kept me watching, it loses some of its charm after a while but it is still one of the best animes out there.
Remember when i said this would be a short review? Well I lied :p If you have read through the entire review then i would like to thank you :)) if there are any mistakes in my grammar then srry because English is not my first language.
This review will review both s1 and s2 of k-on,but mainly s2,minor spoiler of the beginning episodes in S2 ahead!
I remembered that when I was young, I saw K-on was on the TV, the public seemed to be very interested in it. At that moment, I thought it was just another "cute girls doing cute things" shows. It didn't draw any of my attention at all.
After a few years, I was pulled by someone's recommendation.Saying that it's much better than Love Live. I decided to give it a try.
Clearly,I realised that my previous statement was wrong.
K-on is one of those shows that's
trying to turn something ordinary into masterpiece.As from what I have heard, the manga was just mediocre,it just a mixture of generic short stories.While the anime itself doesn't feel that way at all.Although it still stay on slice of life and the theme "light and flurry",the story is very descriptive and interesting as well. Most of the episodes in K-on are very generic, but it still have story and character development as time goes on. Taking S2 as an example,you can see main characters talking about graduation and express their inner feelings about the future of K-on and their precious highschool life is going to pass away. Watching this, it's kinda recall my highschool life.
In addition,friendship is described pretty well,Ritsu always play planks on Moi.Yui is lazy and needs help all the time. While Moi and Azusa are sometime serious, but always being aroused by cakes.Indeed this is one of the most Interesting character combination I have ever seen, yet this not only increase my enjoyment in this show, but also showing that this show has high character individuality.Hence,the theme "light and flurry" is highly promoted.
OK, back to S2.
S2 continued the story of S1.For K-on, it's not that far until members going to be graduated.Of course, like S1,it inserted lots of hilarious slice of life stories.I really like that K-on is trying to become "semi-unrealistic",I mean who's going to have so much chance to going for trips and get free tickets to visit places, but I know this is trying bring me to the happiest moments of highschool life.While bringing you to happiness,thinking about the episodes passed,graduation is coming fast. Clearly, at the end I was busted into tears.
Another thing that's worth to mention is about the turtle added in s2,this side character added a lot of elements in this show,like the overall story and enjoyment,theres more side stories to talk about and I enjoyed the moment that watching K-on members taking care of it. It feels more like K-on is talking music room as their home and it's much more heart-warming,the feeling is completely in a different level.
Overall, it's a really descriptive and comedy slice of life show.
At last,lets talk about animation and sound.
The character design is simple but decent, fits the theme "light and flurry" well. I'm not expecting masterart in this show, since it's a slice of life show,so nothing much to mention.Im kinda impressed by the sound in this show, the instruments sound are pretty realistic and there's a variety of soundtracks used in this show. Songs are inserted very well with the story, like during the band show and at the end.
If you're interested in slice of life shows,music and moe girls, this show is pretty suitable for you,so give it a try. Even though this show is pretty old, it's still pretty good to watch today.
I had a smile on my face the entire time of watching this.
I know there's people who say that this series has too much "moe" but honestly, I feel that it's the best blend of cute and serious when it needs to be.
The story is about four seniors in high school who are close to graduation. They are in a small club called the Light Music Club, and are joined with another girl named Azuza. The five of them make up the LMC. Over the progression of the show you get to hear the differences in their music performance, and you really get to
see the slice of life in action. While the story is very simple, it holds a lot of emotion and spontaneous action that really makes this show all the more interesting. There's only so much you can put into an anime about five high school girls that are in a music club. And they really do put just enough content to make the story as a whole, great.
I'm a huge fan of the music and art that this anime has. I love all of the OP's and have all of them stuck in my head for days after hearing them. The art style is what you would expect from this studio, excellence. There's not a single time I was let down with what I was seeing.
The characters are the biggest highlight of this show. They all have such a good vibe to them, and make me want to watch the show more, even if I was bored during one scene or the next. The really interesting thing that this anime does is it's spontaneous nature. The characters seem to have a really nice flow with what they say and do. You could see them sitting at their table drinking tea, then all of a sudden you will see something out of the ordinary happen. The characters are very impromptu. I really liked how they showed more of Mugi, since the first season she was kinda in the background for the most part. And I really like how they switched the view more to Azuza toward the end of the season; how she saw everything unfold slowly as the graduation came to a close. All of the characters have very interesting backgrounds and personalities that are like-able. Yui may be a bit over the top sometimes, but the rest are, like I said, a perfect blend of cute and serious when need be.
Overall this anime is a trip. I have a real connection with the characters and I really do relate with this show even on a personal level. I just graduated myself and to see this happen again for characters that I have come to love, it's definitely a new view to how graduation should be. I also would love to say that the music scene in this anime is really alive. I love all of the attention to detail that they put in. Specially using real-life brand names like Yamaha. It's even more fun since I make some music too.
I highly recommend this anime to anyone that wants a show they can sit back and relax to, while having a good smile and some laughs. Ignore the people who say that this show is "moe trash" and just respect it for what it has to offer. It's truly a great show.
What do you get when you mix: Moe, Music, Slice of Life, Comedy and A little Drama. You get K-ON!!, the masterpiece made by the great Kakifly. This review will cover Seasons 1 and 2 and the Music from the series.
Story: 9/10. The story is pretty normal, four girls start a band in their first year of high school and it shows their life as they go through high school playing music or just having fun. The story is very basic which have been used before in other Anime's but “K-ON!!” is one of the ones that actually do it right and pull it off
perfectly. Season 1 focuses more on the music side of the coin while Season 2 focuses more of the Slice of Life genre.
Art: -/- I don’t rate for art because it is not a deciding factor on how I watch Anime.
Sound: 100/10. This is where “K-ON!” excels beyond any other Anime that I have seen. The series start out with Cageyake! GIRLS, it is a very weird opening but grows on you and you end up singing along to it in the end. Then there is Don't Say “Lazy” the first ending theme, which is a techno rock song which is very amazing. I really liked how the made the openings. The first is always sung by Yui and the Ending is always sung by Mio. I know at first its hard to get used to Yui singing but it grows on you.
Next is GO! GO! MANIAC, really fast song, it is my least favorite of the three opening but it still is really good. Listen!! is the second opening, which is really done well and is on par with Don't Say Lazy's greatness. I love the keybored in and the vocals. Mio proves once again, she is the bomb.
Then here come the last two OP/ED's of “K-ON!!”...Utauyo! MIRACLE and No, Thank You. Probably the greatest op/ed combo ever. Utauyo is still my favorite oping in the entire series because its so much fun to sing along too and just epic. This is where Yui shines like Takuto Tsunashi's Galaxy. No, Thank You is the greatest ending theme ever period bar none. It is perfect, I cant find anything bad to say about it.
As for insert songs we have:
Fuwa Fuwa Time (I love playing this song in my car with the windows down on full blast lol its awesome, Mio does the best job on this song.)
My Love is a Stapler (very catchy and fun)
Calligraphy Pen ~Ballpoint Pen~ (Mio does the best on this song so listen to her version. This one is also very catchy and is one that I could see playing at dances)
Pure Pure Heart (Probably the weakest out of all the insert songs, but it still is very good. It is just the one with the least plays on my iPod.)
Gohan wa Okazu (This song is so much fun, it is my favorite out of all the insert song. This song is so like Yui, it defines her to a T. If I was in a band I would play this song because its just so much fun and hilarious.)
U&I (My second favorite insert song, the lyrics are perfect and have great meaning. It was the perfect ending song to their last festival. It gave me chills.)
Tenshi ni Fureta yo! (This song was done so perfectly, and was so sad. 1. Because it was the last song of the series 2. the lyrics were all about Azu-nyan and it was sad seeing Azu-nyan cry while they played it. Beautiful song, perfect ending to the series)
Character: 10/10 Here's another place where “K-ON!!” excels. The main characters are really memorable and have good development throughout the series. Mio is the quiet, extremely shy, yet the most mature out of the group. Yui is the lazy, cute, spaced out and lazy member of the group (She reminds me a bit of Osaka from Azumanga but is more lazy and less spaced out.) Mugi is the rich girl who has no street smarts and it very impressed by everything people do. Ritchan is the crazy wild girl who always stirs up trouble. Azu-nyan is the one that is always pushing the group to practice and is really good at playing the guitar, she ends up even teaching Yui when she joins the group. I might as well mention Sawa-chan, their adviser. She was hilarious when she first showed up and is the metal head/cosplayer of the group. She always tries to dress up everyone in cute, moe outfits.
Enjoyment/Overall 10/10. I love this series, it will always be in my Top 5. The music in it is legend and everything else makes up the series is amazing. If your a fan of Music and Slice of Life, this Anime is for you. If your not into that, then this show is not for you. But, it won't hurt just to try it out, you just might like it.
Under the glaring eyes of the public masses, the K-On series is predominantly a show about five moe girls who do nothing but drink tea and eat cakes. While this is certainly true, there's something profound that lies beyond the reach of naked eye.
Please bear with me here as I explain why people view this show so negatively — I'll make it worth your while.
Most people overlook K-On due to its lack of substance and proper character development. Unfortunately, this is true — the story contains little to no significant conflicts that lead to a noticeable change in most, if not any, of the characters.
The characters also lack major inspiration and represent common archetypes in the slice of life/moe genre.
Another major point that people often bring up is the lack of music. Instead of conducting practices, looking for ways to improve, and holding amazing concerts with memorable music, the five members of the Light Music Club instead sit around drinking tea and eating confectioneries all day long. On the off chance that the club does decide to play music, the songs, while good, are not too different from common J-Pop songs and their chord progressions. No one particular song stands out as "amazing", and the lyrics are regrettably childish.
HOWEVER...what most people fail to realize is that it is because of this particular lack of complexity that K-On really shines.
The plot doesn't try to be a Steins;Gate. The drama doesn't try to be a CLANNAD ~AFTER STORY~. The music doesn't try to be a Beck. The list goes on and on, but the point is, relative to the epic nature that many shows (even slice of life shows such as Toradora!) try to achieve, K-On is quite normal.
The plot merely revolves around a group of five girls living a (relatively) normal and peaceful high school life. The Light Music Club was actually never about playing in Budokan or even playing good music at all. Music was simply a shared interest, a coincidence, even (considering how the characters all came to met in the first season) that brought about a pleasant bundle of memories and experiences that further consolidated their friendships with one another.
(S1 Mini-Spoiler) A scene during the first season that perfectly encapsulates this theme is when Azusa (the youngest of the club) first joins the club. She notes that while the Light Music Club plays lackluster music fraught with countless mistakes, there's something undeniably compelling about the way that they played that she couldn't pull herself away from.
Thus, the very selling point of K-On as an anime is its normality. Through its normality, K-On beautifully portrays the importance of friendship and its value over fame and/or materialistic gain. This theme becomes ever so evident as the idea of graduation draws nearer and nearer with each passing moment. Although this is something I'd like to discuss in greater detail, in fear of stepping on a spoiler landmine, I'll avoid doing so.
Now that that's all done and over with, let's discuss the more simple joys and fun to be had in the show.
As expected of KyoAni, the animation of the show is done very well. The characters achieve exactly what they are meant to achieve as a part of the moe genre — they're cute. Although this may turn some people off, there is no denying the fact that the show does exactly what it is called to do.
However, I found the finer points of the animation to be present in something else. All/most of the instruments shown throughout the series are based off of real life models (albeit not named for obvious reasons), and the animation within the music sequences are executed to a high degree of detail.
Additionally, real life references such as the Natsu-Fes allowed me to pick up more information about Japanese culture, something I take great joy in doing (similar to how Oreimo sheds some light on Comiket and the otaku culture). As a fellow musician, I greatly appreciated this high attention to detail and made the anime just that much more enjoyable to watch.
At this point in time, it may sound like I'm singing this show's praises, since there are quite a few to be had. Nevertheless, K-On is not without its flaws.
The plot, despite containing such a good theme, has slightly twisted pacing due to the existence of the first season. The first season rushes through the first two years of high school in a mere twelve episodes, while the second season expands the final year (Japan only has three) over a course of twenty-four episodes (and a few specials). Although this isn't a major problem, it would have been preferable to see more consistency to the pacing of the plot over the course of both seasons.
The comedic element in the show is also somewhat iffy. While it is good that the comedy is always placed at the appropriate time and with a good frequency (not overwhelming, not lacking), a small number of jokes became a little too repetitive for my own enjoyment.
This review has sort of been all over the place, so I'll neatly bring my review to an end with the next few paragraphs. However, my following scores may surprise you, so I hope you're patient enough to read this until the very end.
STORY (10%) — 4.7/10
At this point, you'll be wondering why I touted the profundity of the themes present in the story and only gave it such a low score. This is because I believe that the discovery of themes is highly subjective and is all a part of your own PERSONAL enjoyment. The story of K-On is, in itself, quite bland. However, as I have said, it doesn't have to be, which is why it is only worth 10% of the overall score.
CHARACTERS (15%) — 4.9/10
The same reasoning for the story above applies here as well. The characters, by themselves, lack development (individually or collectively) and are typical tropes found within the slice of life/moe genre. That having been said, the characters are not the meat of the show and thus also are only worth 10% of the overall score. It receives a higher score than the story because despite being cliché, they are still respectable models of what moe characters should be like, and their interactions with one another are enjoyable to watch and well executed enough to consolidate the idea of friendship.
ANIMATION (20%) — 7.6/10
There's not much to be said here. Kyoto Animation matches and surpasses expectations. They not only succeeded in drawing cute/moe characters that fit their equally cute/moe personalities, but also paid great attention to detail when it came to instruments or music sequences, something that should appeal to other musicians.
SOUND (25%) — 7.7/10
The reasoning for STORY and CHARACTERS applies here for the final time, but not to the same extent. Not much of the BGM from the OST was memorable, and the insert songs performed by the main characters were infrequent and not too uncommon (in relation to J-Pop). The lyrics of such songs are also too outlandish for conventional enjoyment. The openings and endings are well animated sequences with music that very well fit the hyperactive tone of the show.
ENJOYMENT (30%) — 8.3/10
Now, to those who are still confused by rather contradictory grading style, let me explain it in full detail here. I believe that the art of reviewing is an unavoidably subjective attempt to objectify the subjective; in consequence, this means that my review is not the absolute truth out there. It is merely a personal attempt to express my opinions on a particular form of media.
Hence, even if I say that the plot only merits a 4.8/10, people can feel free to disagree with me, click the "Not Helpful" button, and merrily move on with their lives. I'm merely stating that in relation to other anime that I've seen, K-On does not have a compelling plot or enticing characters, but that I placed little emphasis on these two aspects while I was watching the show. If you are a person who is a heavily plot or character driven individual, then I'm merely trying to make clear that this may not be the show for you.
Now...with that out of the way...
Despite the flaws, I still enjoyed the hell out of this show. The themes that I perceived from the series seemed very profound, particularly because my graduation from high school was only two months ago. References to culture and music were admirable, the cute/rapid/erratic nature of the characters were thoroughly enjoyable, and the innocent performances were catchy, to say the very least.
OVERALL (100%) — 7.1/10
K-On is definitely not a show for everyone to enjoy, much like this review. Those who place significant emphasis on heavy plot, complex characters (and specifically their development), and deep music won't get as much out of the show as I did. The show's main appeal is its cute, wacky, sweet nature...and perhaps even its diversity of confectioneries.
So pour yourself a cup of tea and get ready for the relaxed, fluffy splendor that is K-On.
When thinking of K-On! as a series, a few words may come to mind. Whether it be happy, cheery, moe, simple or maybe even mind-numbing, K-On!! will always be one of my favorites.
K-On! itself is a slice of life show, there's no getting around that. The daily lives of the girls part of a music club in their High School. When labelled as a slice of life show, the stigma of a nonexistent or shoddy plot is almost always attributed with those shows. However K-On!'s plot over the course of two seasons may seem excessively simple at first, but as one begins to head
into the later portions of the second season and look back upon the journey, there are definitely lessons to be learned and messages to be discovered.
Story (8/10): The second season of K-On!! covers the final year of high school for the four founders of the Light Music club. If you count the first season, the story progression covers all the high school years of the club, and so coming into the final year, there is added weight to the thought that "this is it". It's the final year. The season takes advantage of that plot device and slowly but surely instills the premise of graduation and moving on. While graduation itself is not a very original concept, there was something very novel about watching the characters' deal with the concept of not having a next year to look forward to. There are a fair share of the moments that were cherished in season one filled with hilarity and light-heartedness, but towards the end there are sentimental and slightly sad feelings (although they're never really melodramatic or pushed upon you). This offered as a good balance to the very polarizingly happy-go-lucky style of show that season one was, and it was a great way to instill some great ideas that I'll go into later on in the review.
Art (8/10): Kyoto Animation is known for being slick in their animation and reliably creative in their character designs. That being said, K-On!! is visually appealing, as it relies on bright and warm colors and the animation never falls behind either. That being said, it's nothing mind blowing and that's perfectly acceptable for slice of life. Your eyes will be treated however, the a plethora of different cakes, teas and snacks. All in all, the art within K-On!! is suitable for the series and the characters, never hindering it but at the same time, not really boosting it to any higher than it needs to be. In other words, it's just right.
Sound (10/10): K-On!! is labelled as a music anime, and it contains the songs that are created and performed by Ritsu, Mugi, Mio, Yui and Azusa. The songs almost never disappoint, filled with guitar and drums and innocent lyrics that are oddly captivating. Although some may be disappointed by the lack of music in every episode, it still offers to be a pleasant treat whenever they do have a performance or whenever the audience is witness to a new song.
Character (9/10): Both seasons of K-On! rely heavily on the interactions and personalities of the characters as most slice of life shows generally do. The characters are generally simple, but they do come with their own unique attributes and enthusiasms as well as their "problems" that they have to deal with (note this is a very relaxed show so it's nothing jaw dropping in terms of problems). They do silly things all the time and if you enjoyed the first season there's no reason that you won't enjoy most of the second season. Later on when the mood shifts a bit, you see sides in the characters that you didn't really see too much previously. It was very interesting to see their development as their high school years came to an end, and some of the concepts they had to come to face with.
Effect *minor spoiler?* (9/10): In this section I will outline what I felt were some of the themes that I picked up on throughout the second season. Towards the end of the second half of the second season, the concept of graduation dawns upon the four girls who started up the club. With this concepts comes a few lessons to be learned. The coming of age idea has been used throughout anime and media for a very long time. Growing up and/or moving on to a different stage of your life is something very compelling and interesting. However many other shows seem to deal with this as a battle of conflicts, whether internal or external that break the characters and reforge them anew into their new developed status. K-On!! has it's share of low key "conflict" but it takes on a very different perspective on that idea of moving on. The show demonstrates what it means to have a fulfilling "childhood",in this case high school career. It shows the importance of making good memories and having a great time while you can so that however many years down the road you can look back and smile, knowing that you didn't regret anything and that you had a blast. It also covers something important as in the theme of passing the torch, and leaving a legacy. The girls who started the club quickly realize that their days are numbered in high school so they try their best to make sure that their work is not only remembered but continued. Moments such as taking the stage for the very last time carry special weight in the second season and you can feel it. Instead of creating turmoil and drama in the group, the writers decided to take the 4koma that K-On!! was and display a story of happiness, even if a big obstacle like moving on presented itself. It warms the heart from the core and shows the girls rejoicing and laughing till the very end knowing that they dreamed big (going for the Budokan) and at the very least if they fell short that they fell short laughing and daring greatly. And that through their actions, they inspired the ones before them as their legacy was cemented. As K-On!! concluded, it was a story of a group of girls who joined an outdated and unpopular club, with no real expectations and big dreams of reaching the Budokan. It was a story about how those girls had fulfilling and joyous moments throughout their journey, and it really didn't matter if they never achieved that dream because the memories they made along the way could never have a price put on them. It was a story of the four girls who walked off after graduating happy and content, being bid adieu by their fans and entrusting their legacy in the hands of those who would replace them. It was the story of the girls that never stopped laughing, eating cake and drinking tea because nothing could take them away from each other and their precious moments. It was the story that grabbed my heart and never let go, securing itself deep inside never to be forgotten.
Enjoyment (9/10): This is one of the shows that I can say I very thoroughly enjoyed. I came for the relaxed and joyous mood that the first season presented but I stayed for the lessons of the second season and the opportunity to look back in awe of their accomplishments. Not much about K-On!! is overly blown up or exaggerated, it's a very humble story of a school club band. But the feelings that it left behind surely were not to be underplayed or unrecognized. K-On!!'s unique and cheery take on moving on will surely never leave me, as I enjoyed it to the very end. It kept me interested, it made me laugh, it made me sad but most of all it made me happy that I stuck with it till the very sweet end. Their journey was worth all that cake, all that tea and all that effort. Hokago Tea Time may have never been the same after Ritsu, Mugi, Mio and Yui graduated, but you can still find them playing and singing joyously until they can't play or sing anymore; in the hearts of those who were touched by their legacy and the hearts of fans of the show across the world.
Overall (9/10): Not the most complicated show, but a heartwarming masterpiece.