K-On! (series)

All posts tagged K-On! (series)

The main protagonist and the best character of the series by a million miles: Hirasawa "Tree G" Yui.

If you have visited this blog’s Facebook page in the past week or so, you may have read that the second season of the K-On! series will be the next anime reviewed in this blog. This review is late because I waited for the anamorphic 1080p release by Chihiro instead of the usual 720p releases by other groups. This anime is the sequel of the first season reviewed here before, and it also become only the second challenger to the current ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ incumbent, Working!!

One sample of the various crazy things she does throughout the series.

Continuing from the not-so-stellar ending of the first season, the main protagonist and her goons in the Light Music club now enters the third year of their high school life (well, one of them is in second year though). Giving up their original mission of trying to play in Budoukan, they settled instead on slurping more high-grade teas and mooching their ways upon mountains of pastries, sandwiching the rare occasional events where they actually have to do their club activities properly.

The second season, I have to admit, is a vast improvement when compared to the dismal first season. One thing the second season has done to differentiate itself from its predecessor is to ditch the pretense of a storyline and went into a well-paced slice-of-life genre full-time. That may explain the general lack of music playing when compared proportionately with the first season, and the huge increase of fluffy events that is thisclose of making this anime episodic. Just to be clear, this fact doesn’t make the second season bad; after all there are quite a lot of good anime titles out there that have also done the very same thing. But while the genre switch has given the second season a great start and a solid foundation, whoever wrote the story doesn’t fully capitalize upon the switch’s new advantages.

This can be seen from the second season’s continuing overdependence on the main protagonist, a legacy of the first season. With the genre switch mentioned above, this anime cannot depend anymore on a distinct storyline, thus increasing the burdens of main protagonist as she single-handedly carries the series on her back, just like she did in the first season. Vast majorities of the good things that you can see in this anime originates from her, or has her on the center stage. She was also helped by the fact that the second season doesn’t repeat another mistake that the first season has done, which is maligning her role in the second half of that season. Apart from some Yui-less episodes such as episode 5, 7 and 14 amongst others, the main protagonist is highly prominent throughout the second season. And that fact is actually the biggest reason why the second season is vastly better than the first one.

The second season could have become better if the rest of the Light Music club members actually chipped in and helps the main protagonist carry the series forward. Within the rest of the club members, only the drummer a.k.a. club president actually bothered trying to help the main protagonist (the best character in this anime), with varying degrees of success. Mio is still one-dimensional, as always. Meanwhile Azunyan is veering dangerously towards the emo territory, but her ‘mental breakdown’ in the last episode is definitely one of the highlights of the excellent ending (far far better than the one in the first season). But the worse culprit of them all is definitely Mugi-chan. The writer has dumbed her character down for the sake of the ‘curiosity’ plot device, causing her to actually become borderline retarded, doing things that she doesn’t do in the first season. The second season version of Mugi-chan has been made dumb, in a bad way, unlike the main protagonist who is pretty much stupid and clueless too, but in a good and cutesy way.

Never a truer word has been spoken before.

The Romeo and Juliet school play is a very good example of the main protagonist prowess, where she is able to excel even when casted as a peripheral character. Her mannerisms and ability to deliver great one-liners (that the rest of the characters cast seems unable to do in consistent basis) are what makes her the strongest and most interesting character in this series. While she is not as good as her contemporaries like Darling (but arguably better than her opposite number in  Working!!), her relative strength when compared to her below-average club mates and most of the rest of the supporting characters made her stands out from the rest.

As mentioned above, the ending is very well written, a far cry than the crap ending of the first season. It was written in a way that there are no sequels though, but a movie follow-up is in the cards (Hell will freeze if Japan doesn’t milk this franchise as long as possible). I hope whoever wrote the screenplay for the movie will not take one random (untold?) scene from the main protagonist high school years and make it the source material. As a homage to the unexpectedly good second season, I will definitely try and watch the movie in the future.

She can be deliciously offensive and inconsiderate too.

Character Design:-
My comment in the same section in the review for first season still applies.

Voice Acting:-
My comment in the same section in the review for first season still applies.

A 'How to Derail a Concert' guide from yours truly.

The OST has improved when compared to what you can hear in the first season, but none of the four OP/ED themes are worth listening. The only insert song that is worth listening to is the one that the club performed in the final episode (that excellent insert song is actually one of the reasons why the ending arc is good).

My comment in the same section in the review for first season still applies. Anamorphic 1080p FTW though, more fansub groups should try and follow Chihiro’s footsteps in this regard.

Anamorphic 1080p FTW (stretched to FullHD by madVR). One of the most beautiful titles of 2010. Full image can be seen here.

9 out of 10.
Same score as Working!! is, but K-On!! will become the new winner of ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ title by virtue of winning 3 of the tie-breakers (except music). Without a perfect score, I don’t see K-On!! reign to last as long as the current holders of the 2007 and 2008 titles though.

Want to know what anime title I will review next? Visit this blog’s Facebook page here and see the sidebar for the answer.

If not for her contribution, this anime would have fared worse in the ratings.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-iG

The saving grace of this anime, the procrastinating main protagonist.

Just like I have mentioned in the last blog entry, the second 2009 anime that will be reviewed as the part of the audition to choose the inaugural holder of ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ title is the much hyped K-On! How much over-hyped? You can see that anime’s character’s pictures being used as avatars or signatures in forums, plenty of 4chan /a/ and /w/ threads, and when I played Left 4 Dead in Japan’s dedicated servers, many players has the main characters’ pictures being used as spray logos. Let’s see if this anime has what it takes to be listed at this blog’s right side-bar alongside (as of now) Chocotto Sister, Nodame Cantabile and Wolf and Spice.

I tell you Mio-chan, ‘negligence’ is the least of your concerns when it comes to the main protagonist.

Fresh into high school, our main protagonist Hirasawa Yui was lured into joining the school’s Light Music Club with cookies and teas. After nailing herself a Gibson Les Paul guitar, the rest of the club members works hard at integrating the procrastinating protagonist into the club in time for their school festival performance.

The main reason why this anime will not be listed at the sidebar as the ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ is the story, which is too ordinary and poor in substance. Despite those reasons, this anime actually starts quite well up until the club’s first school festival performance, but after that, the quality drops immensely until the end of the series. Watching the latter half of the anime is like watching a car plunging down off a steep ravine in slow motion. The slow descent to destruction was then stopped by the merciless ending, that is full of clichés, predictable and mediocre. Still, while watching the anime deteriorates, I have to admire at how well the anime self-destructs; with decent story developments (or de-developments I must say), plot transitions and great pacing.

Nevertheless, there is one positive point that this anime has, and that would be the main protagonist herself. She is definitely the most important and interesting character here, and her character strength helps makes this anime watchable. If not for her, it is not inconceivable for me to drop this anime altogether. I basically continued watching this anime just to see what hilarious things she will be doing next (most of the humors that are actually good will involve her). The part where she has to retake the math test is hilarious, it reminds me of that excellent Spongebob Squarepants episode. The anime’s bad second half takes some of the gloss off her though. Oh BTW, none of the other club members has even half the personality of the main protagonist's, which will explain the generally weak character developments that this anime has.

And of course, she has that expensive Gibson Les Paul guitar, which I also have (takes me a couple of years of saving to afford one). She has great taste!

One of the things she does with her Gibson Les Paul…

Character Design:-
This anime has decent character designs in it. The way some of the body parts are drawn, especially the legs and to the lesser extent, the faces, are quite weird though. There are decent numbers of black-haired people here, although those who are brunettes is still the majority.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is average, with the main protagonist and the club’s president (that plays drums) being the best of the bunch.

For an anime that is supposed to have music as its main theme, this anime doesn’t do too well here. It has a good OP theme, and the same also applies to the insert song the club performed in their first school festival. For the OST, the ED theme and also the other insert songs, not so much.

…and one of the things she does to her Gibson Les Paul!

The animation in this anime is very well done, even in fast-paced scenes (very little of them here). Choreography is basically non-existent here. The directing is good enough to get by I suppose.

6 out of  10.
The hype is not even remotely justified. Basically, Wolf and Spice 2 now virtually has both hands upon the Anime of the Year 2009 title. The next 2009 in the audition, Saki has to pull a Capeta to prevent that from happening, and that will be hard because Saki will be saddled with the sport-genre handicap.

She is the character with the most substance here in this anime.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-bv