K-On!

In May of 2007, the music-based comic strip, K-On!, began publishing through Manga Time Kirara, a magazine that mainly serializes four-panel comic strips. Ever since, K-On! has become increasingly popular and a favorite among many readers. This popularity lead to an anime adaptation through Kyoto Animation in 2009, directed by Naoko Yamada. Subsequent to its airing, K-On! has received the Best TV Animation award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2010, as well as becoming the second best-selling Blu-Ray Disc in Japan, second only to Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (no surprise there). After hearing many good and bad things about this show, I decided to finally check it out myself, and walked away fairly satisfied.

Yui Hirasawa is entering her first day as a high schooler at an all girls school; determined to do something with her life (which, up until then, had mostly consisted of bumming around) she tries to find a club that would most suit her. However, after being bombarded with offers from several dozen clubs, she finds that there’s nothing she’s really interested in. Meanwhile, Ritsu Tainaka is determined to join the Light Music Club with her friend, Mio Akiyama, but they soon find that they are the only two members and they need at least four members to keep the club from being dissolved. So they begin recruiting as best as they can, dragging Tsumugi Kotobuki into their club, instead of the Choir Club that she first wanted to join. When Yui first hears about the Light Music Club, she mistakes it for being something extremely easy (like clapping a castanet), so she decides to check it out. Even though she finds out that the club is not what she thought it was, after hearing the three current members play together, Yui is moved by how much fun they were having, and is compelled to join. Ritsu, Mio, and Tsumagi (on drums, bass guitar, and keyboards, respectively) gladly accept Yui on guitar as their newest member and together the Light Music Club is formed. The only problem is that she doesn’t know how to play the guitar. From then on, we see the dedication of a band driven to play at big concerts, and the adventures they go through to get there someday. Will the four new best friends do something with their band, or will they stray along the way? Find out as you watch!

Each episode of the show contains a different adventure that the Light Music Club goes through, whether it be buying Yui a guitar, or playing a show. It’s unknown how much time goes on between most of the episodes, but the entirety of the first seasons spans almost a year and a half, nearly two years if you include the extra thirteenth episode, so plenty of time goes by for Yui to get good at the guitar, which she does. Each episode also reveals more and more about the characters, who seem to break away from their archetypes and become something that’s completely their own; I found this to be a major plus. Since this is a moe show, you can certainly expect your cutesy moe fanservice that everybody seems to enjoy, but at the same time you get to enjoy your characters for who they are, as well as their cat ears and maid outfits.

The music is easily the one of the best parts of the show (as expected from a show about a pop rock band), and the contribution from many artists for the original tracks make it unique in its own. The animation seen is also a sight to behold. The artwork is fresh and new, keeping the show nice and colorful, and cartoony yet realistic at the same time (we don’t get any children looking like adults (Yoko Ritona), or adults looking like children (Lymle Lemuri Phi)). Together they make K-On! a visual and musical experience, and you might actually learn something from it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the first season of K-On! It was a nice to watch a happy show for once, and, being a musician myself, I could appreciate the experiences the Light Music Club went through during the span of the show, as well as relating to some of the characters. For those of you that enjoy music in your anime, as well as moe fanservice, K-On! is certainly the show for you, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it greatly. All in all, I’m going to give this show a solid 7.5/10 for its characters, music and animation. Now that the second season has stared airing, I will probably be watching that soon, and you can all expect a review of that as well. Until then, this has been another review by Sachi!

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