Episodes – 41 + Movie
Aired – April 2009- September 2010
Director – Naoko Yamada
Studio – Kyoto Animation
Genre – Comedy, Slice of Life, Music
Streaming – http://www.hulu.com/k-on
It’s Yui Hirasawa’s first year in high school, and she’s eagerly searching for a club to join. At the same time, Ritsu Tainaka, a drummer, and her friend Mio Akiyama, a bassist, are desperately trying to save the school’s light music club, which is about to be disbanded due to lack of members. They manage to recruit Tsumugi Kotobuki to play the keyboard, meaning they only need one more member to get the club running again. Yui joins, thinking it will be an easy experience for her to play the castanets, the only instrument she knows. However, the other members think their new addition is actually a guitar prodigy…
Cute girls doing cute things cutely is the name of the game, and K-ON! plays it well. Right from the get go, we get to see great comedy and character interaction as the girls are introduced. Being a slice of life anime, there is no real overarching objective. Instead we get to see how the girls grow together in their relationships with one another and how they grow musically despite the ups and downs of high school life. There is really very little drama to be seen in this show but when the moment does come for the show to take a more serious tone, it is handled beautifully.
Having 41 episodes and a movie to play with certainly allows you to flesh out the characters and the world with which they interact. All of the characters develop significantly over the course of the show, with Yui showing the most growth. The writing is fantastic in that regard. The way they inject humor throughout the show amidst the doldrums of everyday high school life is impressive.
When all is said and done, though, the true beauty of this show resides in its conclusion. Spending all of those episodes watching the girls grow gives the emotional nature of some of the scenes that much more impact. Without spoiling anything, there were two instances that brought me to tears: The moment after their last performance in the show and their gift to Azusa. Both moments represent the heart of the show, which is the bond between friends.
The characters are what make this show special. Yui is clumsy and forgetful, but despite her faults she is the heart of the group. Out of all of the characters, she easily had the most growth. When first stepping into that club room, she had no idea how to play an instrument and was completely unreliable. Yet, at the end of the show, we get to see her growth as the leader of the band and as a person. Though despite all of that growth, she’s still a clumsy airhead!
Mio is mature and cool-headed, often being the voice of reason. That’s not to say that she’s without her quirks though! She can often be very childish, especially when she’s afraid. Ritsu is tomboyish and mischievous, often trying to come up with ways to get out of doing things and loves scaring Mio. She provides a lot of energy and spunk to the group. Mugi is an adorable character! She’s a rich girl and provides tea and snacks for the club, and is enamored by things that common folk would find uninteresting (like being asked if she would like fries with her meal or purchasing a spoon polisher). I loved a lot of the humor that she brought to the show!
My favorite character, though, is with out a doubt Azusa. She is absolutely adorable! She strives to make the club a success and is the main reason for a lot of the emotion that the show brings. Without her, the group would have no purpose or motivation to actually try. If Yui is the heart of the group, then Azusa is the soul.
Kyoto Animation is phenomenal at what they do. This being one of their older shows at this point, there are certainly areas where that age shows, but the character designs are great, the art is fantastic, and the animation is fluid. The love and detail that KyoAni put into this show is most apparent during the performances during the show. There is something about how the characters look during those moments that is enthralling to me.
I absolutely love the music in this show! All of the openings and endings are fantastic, with “Don’t Be Lazy” being my favorite of the bunch. The songs performed in the show are super catchy and fun, and even though the lyrics can be unbelievably cheesy, you can’t help but hum them later as they get stuck in your head. The background music is calm and happy, helping to portray the relaxed nature of the club and the activities that the girls do. When it needs to go with a more serious tone, the music changes to match the moment perfectly, helping to amplify those emotions.
I have watched this show both subbed and dubbed, and both are fantastic. For the dub they did a wonderful job of choosing voice actors that tonally sound fairly similar to their Japanese counterparts, making the parts where they sing not jarring at all. The dub is absolutely worth checking out.
Final Verdict –
I can’t say enough good things about this show. The girls are fun, the music is great, the comedy enjoyable, and the ending is fantastic and emotional. I think it’s easy to write this off as just another sugary, moe-trash show, but that would be narrow-sighted and wrong. For a slice of life comedy, there are few that have such a fantastic balance between the comedy and drama. The writing, animation, and voice acting are all great as well. The only knock I can really give the show is that at times the pacing felt a little slow. Some moments seemed to drag on longer than necessary, but overall those moments did not affect my enjoyment. If you are a fan of slice of life or comedy or just want a fun and easy show to watch, absolutely check out K-On!
Here are some screen shots:
In honor of this review of K-ON!, as well as the launch of the new site, we are doing a giveaway!! All you have to do is comment below with your thoughts on this review or of K-ON! itself, or if you haven’t watched it, let us know what about the anime sounds appealing to you!
The winner will be randomly drawn from those that comment and the prize is this Tsumugi prize figure!:
The giveaway will go through Wednesday, January 27th at 3PM Pacific Time.
The giveaway is limited to US residents only. Darn you international shipping costs!! *shakes fist*
Good luck and thanks for participating!