Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Addict Overview: K-On!!
K-On! is a relatively simple tale about a group of female high school students who make up their school's Light Music Club. The main girl of the group, or the one who we follow throughout the series the most, is Yui Hirasawa. Yui is, in simple terms, a ditz. She oversleeps, she procrastinates, she's usually always late, she's easily distracted and she's none too bright. If there's one thing she does do right, though, it's learning. See, Yui has a really weird talent for automatically learning something new in a very short amount of time, such as learning to play the guitar with absolutely no previous experience. This comes into play when she ends up joining Sakura High's Light Music Club, which was on the brink of abolishment due to the lack of a fourth member. The other members, who become Yui's best friends as the series progresses, include Ritsu Tainaka, the group's tomboyish drummer, prankster and self-proclaimed club president, her childhood friend Mio Akiyama, the bassist and a total scaredy cat, and Tsumugi Kotobuki, a kind-hearted and wealthy girl who also serves as their keyboardist. As the series goes on they also gain a first year student, Azusa Nakano, who becomes the club's back-up guitarist. Rounding out the main cast is Sawako Yamanaka, a teacher and the club's advisor, who was also part of Sakura High's music club during her high school years. Difference is her band was much more grounded in metal instead of light rock and pop.
The animation is very smooth and eye-pleasing with all the characters given a very cutesy design. Big eyes, cute faces, slightly smaller bodies, etc. This is the type of design that we anime fans call "Moe". While a lot of fans detest moe as something that oversaturates the anime and manga industry, I actually don't mind it in the slightest as long as it's done right. The colors are very grounded and realistic. You don't see any flashy colors or seizure-inducing scenes here without serving some sort of purpose. Then there's the music.....my god the music. If there's one thing K-On! accels in, it's the music. I'll just put it bluntly: Every single prominant song from the series has sold no less then 50,000 copies in Japan. That says a lot. I'd say a good 85% of the songs are really good and addicting to listen too. While most of the songs are very upbeat and poppy, there are also traditional rock songs and even some metal in the form of Sawako's band, Death Devil. All the voice actresses really give it their all and it really shows. Their voices are loud, clear and sound great, which is hard to pull off when doing a character at the same time.
Overall, K-On! is a simple yet sweet series that teaches us about the bonds we share with friends and what said bonds can lead to. What started out as a manga made out of 4-panel stories evolved into a literal phenomenon that took Japan by storm and for good reason. While the cute-looking characters may be the drawing point, the show has enough heart to keep you coming back until it's over. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in music. I mean if it inspired me to try drumming then it might do the same to any of you!
Note: K-On! will be released state-side in early April on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Bandai Entertainment. Volume 1 of the manga is available in all major bookstores.