Having spent most of my summer engulfed in the world of engineering, I figured a series based on music would be a great distraction. Tack on some hyper-energetic high school girls and a slice-of-life setting, and K-On’s light-hearted charm naturally piqued my interest.
This premise is undoubtedly what makes K-On so captivating. As a whole, the show never attempts to step beyond its means; it sets itself out to be simple fun and undoubtedly succeeds. Despite operating off a number of base gags and jokes that find themselves revisited from episode to episode, the series never seems to drag. Ultimately, the musical aspect of the show, while central, pales in comparison to the harmonious play of the characters, and serves primarily as a catalyst to move the story along – the music does not shape the girls, but rather the girls shape the music. I admit this might disappoint some viewers, but it provides K-On with more universal appeal; though it refrains from excelling in any one genre, it dabbles in several quite well, and manages to juggle humor, drama, and music without any sign of awkwardness.
From air-headed Yui to feisty Ritsu to feminine Mio to whimsical Tsumugi, the cast certainly can’t make any claims to originality. In fact, the series sticks so hard to the tried-and-true formula of slice-of-life comedy that its sole claim to uniqueness stems from its inclusion of music as a focal point. While the characters feel like largely recycled archetypes, great lengths are taken to flesh them out to be as endearing as possible. In this way, the series seems – in a strange manner – both fresh and vivacious, and manages to fill its thirteen episode span without much tedium. Just as the antics begin to slip into monotony, the anime comes to a close, wrapping up its finale with an expected, but very fitting, encore.
K-On certainly branches out from Kyoto Animation’s standard fare, as although the animation works well for a “cutesy” feel, the level of detail is noticeably poorer. A number of menially important scenes feel washed over in quality, and make the visual production seem rushed. Still, as a whole, the animation generally works well in that it aptly captures the girls’ cheery enthusiasm. Motion and framerates are as crisp as ever, so where the show lacks detail, it makes up for it with raw energy.
Japanese bands should really stop writing English lyrics into their songs. Sure “lazy” and “crazy” might rhyme, but rhyming does not a coherent sentence make. Anyway, aside from that little quip, I can’t think of anything much to say about the music other than that it’s catchy. All the band’s insert songs make you bob your head along with the beat, and the opening theme delivers the free-spirited feel that pervades the entire series. With solid voice acting to boot, the audible aspects of the show play out in much the same way as the visuals: they don’t break any new ground, but they do their job well.
As I mentioned in the story section, K-On’s cast is remarkably unremarkable. Though they all do a fantastic job at connecting with the viewer, they fit the archetypal mold too snugly for my liking. While I found their interplay fun and amusing to watch, I could never shake the sensation that I’d seen this material before but with different faces. Unlike the truly successful comedies such as Fumoffu! and Minami-ke their characters flaunt no memorable twists, which leaves them simply as good. Still, the musical premise gives the series enough edge to allow much of this to be overlooked, as the band environment adds sufficient flavor story-wise to draw the viewer into their experience. In the end, the characters are little more than a bunch of ordinary high school girls getting together to do what they enjoy, and perhaps their largely generic feel is what gives them such overarching charm.
Though K-On is certainly not Kyoto Animation’s best work, it passes the acceptability test by a wide margin. While lacking the originality and flair that have defined the studio’s previous works, the series manages to be entertaining regardless and avoids making any glaring faults. At thirteen episodes in length, K-On makes a point not to overstay its welcome; it’s fun, amusing, and enjoyable for its span, and can easily find its way onto the shelves of fans of many different genres.
It's the first day of high school, and plenty of school clubs are doing their best to recruit new members. However, for ditzy Yui, none of them seem to fit the bill. However, when she accidentally signs up to join the light music club, Yui begins a hilarious adventure to become a world class guitarist! There's just one problem: she's never played the guitar before in her life! Joined by bassist Mio, drummer Ritsu and keyboardist Tsugumi, Yui and the gang will juggle their studies with buying instruments, learning how to read music and even performing in the school festival, all in the hopes of someday becoming a successful band!
Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!