Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: K-ON! Seasons 1 & 2

Title: K-ON! Seasons 1 & 2
Language: Japanese
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Music, School, Slice of Life
Episodes: 39

Along with all the sports anime I've been exposing myself too, I've been delving into the music or idol genre. From the underappreciated Shounen Hollywood to Sanrio's Show by Rock!!, I've enjoyed what I've seen of the music/idol genre. Currently, I'm watching the Uta no Prince-sama series along with the two newest idol series of the summer season, Tsukiuta The Animation and B-Project Kodou Ambitious. Obviously, there's a lot of testosterone and pretty boys and I wanted to mix things up with this series.

Hirasawa Yui, a young, carefree girl entering high school, has her imagination instantly captured when she sees a poster advertising the "Light Music Club." Being the carefree girl that she is, she quickly signs up; however, Yui has a problem, she is unable to play an instrument.

When Yui goes to the clubroom to explain, she's greeted by the other members: Ritsu, Mio, and Tsumugi. Although disheartened at Yui's lack of musical know-how, they still try to convince her to stay to prevent the club's disbandment. After playing Yui a short piece which re-ignites her imagination, they succeed in keeping their new member and guitarist.

Along with the tasks of school and homework, Yui begins to learn the guitar with the help of the other band members, experiencing many mishaps along the way. However, with the school festival drawing near and Yui getting stuck with her practice, will the Light Music Club be ready in time for their debut?
[Source: MyAnimeList]

I'm sure I've expressed somewhere that I do enjoy slice of life anime. This series was one I've seen pop up from time to time, so I knew it was a fairly popular title. Getting into the first season, I was a tad bit skeptical on whether I would enjoy it or not. When it comes to Asian pop music, specifically idol groups from Japan and South Korea, I tend to lean more towards male groups than female ones. They usually are too cutesy or their voices are too high, so that thought kinda sat in the back of my mind when I began the first season. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed these characters and found myself identifying to an extent the lead girl Yui, while also seeing traits in my own friends...if we were to start a band. Yes, there are tons of cute moments, but it was infectious and fun. Honestly, I enjoyed watching these characters develop their musical skills, teamwork, and friendship over time. Something about their diverse personalities and friendship made me excited to watch the next episode while at the same time putting a smile on my face.

Since Yui is the character I identify with the most, but not completely, I'll start talking about her character first. Yui is kinda ditsy and tends to have a one track mind...or at least, she can only focus on one task at a time. She lacks instrumental skills, but is determined to reach the same level as her bandmates and make their band successful. Despite her being an airhead and kinda lazy sometimes, Yui is a very loyal friend and very dedicated to the group. I love watching her interact with her younger sister Ui, who mostly plays more of a motherly role to Yui. That's part of the cuteness of the show I enjoy. Easily scared Mio takes over the leader position of the group. When the group gets sidetracked with sweets, tea, and other club shenanigans, Mio takes charge and brings the group back on track...unless she gets reeled into it as well. She's very modest about her musical skill set, but she has a great voice, a creative and innocent mind for lyrics, and her own fanclub. Of course, you can't have Mio without her long time best friend Ritsu. Ritsu is a loud and energetic tomboy that encourages Yui's lazy habits as she'd rather goof around and enjoy tea time than study for finals. Like her bandmates, she's very fierce on the drums and is not afraid to make bold choices with the band's image or sound. She also likes to tease Mio whenever she can with creepy and spooky things. Moe keyboardist and hostess of tea and pastries Tsumugi is the grey area of focused leader Mio and sweet consumers Ritsu and Yui. She's a rich girl with the sweetest and purest personality. She loves to give to her friends and helps Yui out in her beginnings of purchasing an instrument and equipment. I also feel like she helps encourage each of her bandmates to improve and boosts their self confidence. Yui's childhood friend and student council member Nodoka takes a backseat to the Light Club's crazy antics. She's rather normal compared to Yui and is very well mannered and responsible. She can be seen being part of Yui's support system, keeping Mio company in homeroom, and getting annoyed at Ritsu when she forgets to turn in club forms on time. Lastly, we have their club adviser and undercover metalhead Sawako. Sawako is loved by everyone and honestly, I think some of the students have a bit of a crush on her too. She is an amazing mentor to our group and mostly knows when to get serious and when to have fun. Although, she does occasionally indulge in their tea time and always tries to get them to wear cute costumes for a promotion or live performance. Sawako has the perfect personality to bring out the best in the group and hone their developing skills. In the second season, the band gains a new member Azusa who's very skilled with guitar and a close friend of Ui's. She is the future of the club once Yui, Mio, Ritsu, and Tsumugi graduate. Her personality tends to be serious and she becomes embarrassed easily if she participates or is pointed out as being cute, but she blends in quite well with her seniors.

Since this series is part slice of life and part music, then you know that there isn't a strict storyline. The story goes back and forth on the daily lives of our characters either dealing with typical high school academia such as midterms and college entrance exams and their lives as musicians of After School Tea Time such as creating a music video, practicing for lives for orientation or school festivals, and writing lyrics together. Between these two lives we follow with our group of girls, this slice of life never ceases to be entertaining. There's plenty of comedy from episode to episode and even some emotional moments, especially in the second season. The pacing is quite smooth and realistic, so you never lose track of time as the seasons change. There's plenty of opportunities to watch the group's bonds grow over time during holidays, exam time, and club activities. The story does a great job including you into the group and it's easy to feel every emotion they feel. I must admit that I got a little misty eyed in that second season. The story really made you feel like you grew up with these characters and you're their biggest fan in some ways. I also was very impressed that the seiyuu's (Japanese voice actors) did their own singing vocals. I can't really comment on the dub to this series as the site I was viewing it on did not have a dub option, but I know it exists.

K-ON! was an unexpected series that I easily fell in love with. The story was simple, fun, and very entertaining! The characters are easily lovable and give you plenty of chances to connect with them throughout their daily activities. I really enjoyed how inclusive the story became for me and it always felt like an adventure with each episode I watched. The music was surprisingly not too poppy or cutesy. It had a good balance of fun rock and sweetness. I'm looking forward to checking out the movie at some point and enjoying more adventures with After School Tea Time!

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

No comments: