Graduation time is finally here, but the girls of the Sakuragaoka Girl's High Light Music Club aren't going to let the end of high school be the end of all they've built together. First though, they have to keep a promise to take a trip together, and like everything else they do, they're not doing it halfway. So it's time to hop on the bus - the double-decker bus that is - and go around the world as the band heads for the birthplace of the British Invasion: the United Kingdom! And on the way they're going to have to solve that one last big puzzle that's been vexing them: what to get for their underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa, who will be taking over the club once they don their caps and gowns and leave Sakuragaoka for the last time. Get ready for a Magical Musical Tour as the whole gang takes in the sights and sounds of London and prepares for one last amazing encore.
Source: Sentai Filmworks
Where do you start when speaking about K-ON!, for such a simple idea the series is probably one of the best known and most loved shows in the last three years. So, yes, a movie to go along with the two seasons of the anime was always going to be gratefully received by the fans, but did this move turn out to keep the charms of the show we all know and love? The movie starts off in normal, silly, K-ON! style, with the characters acting out the band breaking up in order to fool Azusa. The movie is set just before the older four members of the group (Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Mugi), graduate from high school and head off to college, leaving poor Azusa behind with her being a year below them. Before graduating the older girls want to think of a way to thank Azusa and show they won’t forget about her; to begin with Yui throws around the idea of the group staying back a year so that, in the end, they’d all graduate at the same time. With that idea quickly shot down by Mio, however, they move onto other ideas. Of course while discussing ideas Ritsu overhears some students discussing taking a trip away just before they graduate, which the Light Music Club then also end up thinking about, meaning their ideas for Azusa are momentarily put aside while they decide on where to take their trip. In the end the group end up heading towards the great city of London (with Azusa too, even if she isn’t graduating they all agree she can’t miss out on the trip when she’s part of the Light Music Club), and the older members decide that, while in London, they’ll work on writing a brand new song just for Azusa. That is pretty much the plot of the whole thing; the girls go to London and Yui tries to figure out a song for Azusa, as expected of K-ON! it rarely goes much deeper than that. That isn’t to say it isn’t an enjoyable movie however, because it is, and anyone fond of the series itself will know that K-ON! was never one to go into too much depth with anything. While the movie is made up of the normal K-ON! silliness, there are certain things which they feature keeps running throughout, like Azusa guessing that the group are up to something and then worrying that Yui does indeed plan on staying back a year, which is something the movie managed to keep running right to the end and it was nice to see it dealt with in that manner, over being a passing worry and forgotten about quite quickly. As far as the plot and characters go overall, fans will struggle to find a difference between the characters and stories over the two seasons of the series, which is always a good thing. With the film being over two hours you wonder if the characters will manage to stay as silly and loveable as they were in the TV episodes, but they keep all that and more, so it works out well. As far as the animation goes I struggled to fault it for what it is, it isn’t outstanding, but it’s still likely the best you’ll see from K-ON! and some of the scenes really can be quite pretty. As far as the soundtrack goes, again, it wasn’t anything outstanding, but fans of K-ON! will be quite happy with it, especially when the band ends up playing a number of fan favourite songs during their adventures. Final word: Fans of K-ON! will struggle to fault it, and even those who aren’t fans could likely enjoy it as long as they aren’t looking for anything too deep (as mentioned before K-ON! rarely goes into anything too deeply), but having said that, the story is still quite sweet and fun in its own right, and you’ll likely always want to see just how it all ends. It isn’t outstanding, but that isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable.
Just what this series needed to end on, a movie that goes back in time, but who's contents then don't fit in with the series, guess it's fitting for a series that ranged from horrifically terrible to very very good. Story - 6/10 Like most of the series there's a ton of let down from what you might expect. For being a movie about their trip to London it seems like they focused about twenty minutes in a nearly two hour movie on the city. A majority was again spent in the classroom, makes you think they just decided to use a couple of episodes to make into a film (which becomes more believable when you notice the lead up to the trip was used as a bonus episode and not a series episode.) The episode's main focus isn't so much about the trip, but about the gift they want to give Azusa before they all leave for college. The girls decide on a song and then spend the rest of the episode, err movie, trying to think up lyrics. This leads to some funny moments and good scenes for the often under used Azusa. Once in London they speed through most of the four days there, opting to spend more time focusing on the girls sitting in their hotel rooms. Besides the girls sight seeing, the only two London scenes revolve around the girls playing shows, which for this series is a major surprise. The first time they play is due to a language barrier that has them mistaken for another band at a new sushi place, this was a little cute addition as it felt like an homage to the original Blues Brothers movie. Their second concert is at a festival set up to introduce Japanese culture to Londoners, much like the first time we get just a snippet of a song, but if nothing else its a funny variation. Upon their return they're greeted with an unusual amount of enthusiasm from their classmates who heard they had a great show. The girls ask them to play one last concert for the school before they graduate, and Afternoon Tea Time agrees. They play a medley of their songs in homeroom right before the last day of school and then go on the graduate. The film ends with the girls finally delivery their present to Azusa, their new song. Since the girls had an actual subject to write about, and not just random things combed together, it's actually their best song lyric wise, the music also fall just behind No, Thank You. Like most of the series the movie is 95% fluff and 5% plot, which isn't terrible for entertainment, but just leaves you wanting much more. I kind of hoped they'd have a season dedicated to the senior year of Azusa and Ui, as maybe we'd finally get some music. I guess I can always just watch the concert for that, but I assume the girls just go on stage and sleep in bean bags or something else totally unrelated to music. Animation - 5/10 For all the steps forward the series took in season 2, they went back to their old ways for the movie. Every other scene seemed to have the girls with a simply drawn goofy face, it was cute the first or second time, but multiple times in every scene just got out of hand. The biggest step backward was with the drawing of Londoners. I guess they wanted them to be distinctive a bit, but they were drawn in a style that didn't match the series even a bit. Most anime series have their characters based off a representation of westerners anyway, with the blonde hair or Californian looks, so why make things this much different when you actually have to draw them? The art was good, but it was just so out of place. The scenery was an upside to the film, but the series always had great background art and they always had great attention to detail when it came to certain things, like instruments or in this case the sights of London. Sound - 8/10 I give them credit for some of the new mood music, even if it really was off a step. Specifically the scene when the girls are first going to travel from the airport, they used a song that was the exact start to Where the Streets Have No Name, by U2, which in title works, but U2 is an Irish band, not Northern Irish which is part of the United Kingdom, and I feel they thought they were going for a song that was from an English band. Most of the songs we hear are the same things they've played throughout the series, we got a little more of each and some improv on them, but nothing special. It is kinda fitting that the series got better as it went on (again as opposed to what we see in most anime where they fade out) and the music did too, with them ending with what is their best all around song, with very good music and sensible lyrics. Characters - 6/10 There really was no big change in any characters from what we saw in the series. A majority of the movie was focused around Azusa, which was a nice change as they do tend to write her as not only the most levelheaded, but also one of the funnier characters who rely on remarks instead of slapstick. The little trick Azusa's mind plays on her are quite comical and tie up a little piece of the series that might have seemed odd for some. Overall - 7/10 By this point, even though I hoped there'd be more performances or ones that incorporated full songs, I pretty much expected it to be a movie almost about nothing. It was a fun followup to the series, but again I suspect it was cobbled together from scrapped episodes. With K-On what you see is basically what you get. It's a goofy cute school show without much thinking involved. I'd be a bit better if the episodes could stand on their own instead of being so serialized, but if you want something to bob your head to you can throw it in the DVD player and listen to the closing song over and over.
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