Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 1 of 3
Length: 93 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Welcome to the Light Music Club! The Japanese anime phenomenon! When Yui Hirasawa enters high school, she wants to join a club but can't decide which one is right for her. Fortunately, the Light Music Club is desperate to find another member or they'll be disbanded! So, with the enticement of delicious snacks and assurance that no musical experience is necessary, Yui joins the Light Music Club. She becomes the guitarist in this all-girl high school rock band with Mio Akiyama on bass, Tsumugi Kotobuki on keyboard and Ritsu Tainaka on drums. Together, they're going to rock the school and someday make it to the Budokan!
Moe is something which has perpetually confused myself since I stumbled into the anime fandom a few years back, what this zeitgeist which has swept over the anime world in recent times is exactly, for moe seems to be many things to many people; a genre, a character trope or even a feeling towards a character. I fear I really do not have the qualifications necessary in order to define moe adequately. So why then am I taking on the poster child for the moe monster?
I want to look at what K-ON!, the hardcore otaku favorite, offers beyond the "Kawaii! Pretty girls desu" scope. What does it offer to someone who is more likely to lay down his cash on say a Naruto headband (that's what the kids are buying these days right?) to a figurine of their favourite female character?
Well for one, the standard of animation is rather great, a pleasant side effect of being a Kyoto Animation project, the studio which produced the anime for Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and other such sensations. The character designs are simplified yet very fluidly animated and there is an attention to detail especially in regards to the various instruments featured in the show, brand names and all which are likely to have caused licensing issues in bringing the show over to the UK.
At its core, K-ON! is about cute girls doing cute things such as eating cake, but it is also about cute girls occasionally doing something comedic, the show being based originally on a 4koma gag manga (a 4 panel comic strip for those not in the know). In keeping with the idea of the "Light Music Club" the humour is of a light nature indeed, personally it was something which very rarely brought out an audible laugh from myself but somewhat frequently elicited a smirk or a chuckle.
Other than comedy and the cute girls, K-ON! is about very little else, at least in the first 4 episodes, there's very little in the way of plot or even characterisation. Characters are thus far little more than well known archetypes, Tsumugi is the rich girl princess, Yui is the space cadet clutz, Mio is the scaredy cat and Ritsu is the crazy tomboy. Now poor characterisation is damaging to any anime, but it is doubly so for any show in the slice of life genre to which K-ON! due to the lack of any real narrative to grab the collective viewers' attentions. As a result the most important question when it comes to slice of life is whether the people whose lives you are getting a slice of are actually interesting or not, and personally the answer in the case of K-ON! is a definite no.
In terms of what is on the DVD itself, pickings are sparse, the only thing other than the first 4 episodes and the two language tracks is an interview with prolific voice actor Stephanie Sheh who provided the English language voice for Yui. Speaking of the dub, surely something of import for the many individuals who have "somehow" managed to watch the show in the past with only subtitles, well I can reassure you that the dub is perfectly fine and does a good job of capturing the spirit and energy of the original Japanese.
In reality K-ON! doesn't seem to offer much to your average Joe shmoe anime viewer. K-ON! isn't a philosophical masterwork which challenges you to think as you watch it, it isn't an action packed extravaganza which keeps you on the edge of your seat, what K-ON is can simply be described as fluff, albeit very well made fluff as is to be expected from the veritable hit factory which Kyoto Animation has become.
This is a show which feels like it was designed by committee, which it most likely was, where every creative decision was made with the idea of how to sell more copies to fans. The real litmus test for K-ON! is whether you are asking yourself; "why the devil would I want to watch two hours of cute girls doing cute things?" or not, if you are, I feel that I can almost conclusively say this is not the show you are looking for, move along. However if you, mon amie, aren't thinking so and are in fact thinking; "yeah, I like the cute school girls!" e-mail myself your name and address so I can add you to the "people to monitor list", but truthfully it's easy to understand though why K-ON! became the fan favorite that it did, because as I said, it may be fluff in my eyes but it really is objectively well made fluff at that.