Anime Review K-On Series

Anime Hajime Review: K-On!

Original Run: April 3, 2009 - September 28, 2009
Number of Episodes: 39
Genre: Comedy, Music, Slice of Life
Based on the Series: Kakifly

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for K-On!. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis 

After enrolling in Sakuragoaka Girl’s High School, first years Ritsu Tainaka (voiced by Satomi Sato), Mio Akiyama (voiced by Yoko Hikasa), and Tsumugi “Mugi” Kotobuki (voiced by Minako Kotobuki) have revived the Light Music Club. However, for the program to continue, it must consist of at least four active members.

After all attempts at recruitment failed, the girls fear they might have to abandon their short-lived endeavor. But at the last moment, fellow first-year Yui Hirasawa (voiced by Aki Toyosaki) found her way to the trio’s meeting room. The Light Music Club was saved and the band After School Tea Time was formed.

In the group’s second year, they gain a fifth member, Azusa Nakano (voiced by Ayana Taketatsu).

Yui is After School Tea Time’s lead guitarist and vocalist. Kind and cheerful, Yui can get easily distracted and is extremely forgetful. That said, when focused on a particular goal, she can excel in nearly anything. Although not having a musical background, Yui has perfect pitch and an outstanding singing voice.

Ritsu is the drummer, as well as the president of the Light Music Club. Highly energetic and sarcastic, she is dedicated to the success of both the band and the club. She is childhood friends with fellow bandmate Mio.

Mio is the bassist and primary songwriter for After School Tea Time. She is shy and is easily embarrassed. An excellent student, she is perhaps the most mature member of After School Tea Time. Contrary to her shyness, Mio will take up the role of vocalist whenever Yui is unable to.

Mugi plays the keyboard. She is from a wealthy family and finds enjoyment from even the most mundane activities. Due to her family’s wealth, she serves high-end sweets and tea at club meetings on a daily basis. Although she is arguably the most level-headed, she is also a real wild card within the group.

Azusa is the band’s rhythm guitarist. Having played the guitar for years, Azusa is far better than Yui and is often her senior’s instructor. While she can grow quite frustrated with her bandmates, Azusa is quickly pacified by sweets and/or compliments.

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Series Positives

This show was tons of fun.

The Characters

This series was great at illustrating how the five bandmates interacted with each other. Their personalities ranged from ditsy, wild, and spastic, as represented by Yui and Ritsu, to calm, serious, and mature — Mio and Azusa. These characteristics played off each other well. As a result, there were plenty of funny, charming, as well as heartwarming moments.

Many anime comedies draw their humor from misunderstandings, over the top expressions, love development, or a combination of all the above.

K-On didn’t do any of that.

This show’s humor stemmed from the daily high school life of the girls; such as stressing out over an upcoming test, public speaking, preparing for a school event, etc. Overall, though, this series was fun because the members of After School Tea Time were having fun being with each other.

Never once did it feel like any of the main characters were not welcomed or unneeded. In fact, when one of the girls was not around it was as if something was missing.

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The Music

It was the strong bond After School Tea Time had for one another that fueled this show’s greatest strength: Its music.

I do not claim to be a music expert. For all I know, the songs in this show might have been horrible. I just like what I like, and I liked this.

After School Tea Time’s music was extremely cutesy, but it sounded excellent. Let me rephrase that. The Japanese version sounded terrific. I listened to the English dubbing, and I can’t say the same.

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Series Negatives

This show was not perfect. Some glaring issues brought this series down.

How the Story was Told

This was a very rinse-and-repeat style of storytelling. Everything took place within three years. However, everything was so repetitive, it was difficult to distinguish one year from the next. By the time you get through the first season of this show, there will no longer be any surprises.

It’s a little hard to get invested in something you’ve already seen once or twice before.

The biggest culprits of this were the “concerts” After School Tea Time played. Granted concerts, is misleading. The girls only ever performed at their school’s cultural festival or at the new student orientation. Thanks to this — as well as seeing the same exact thing over and over again — you know the show would turn out fine. Despite that, this series tried to build up each of these performances.

Too bad there wasn’t much payoff.

At the beginning of this show, Ritsu said that After School Tea Time would play at the Japanese Budokan before they graduated. Was I expecting them to end up there? No, and spoilers, they didn’t. Nevertheless, it would have been great to see the girls play at some non-school venue. There didn’t need to be anything significant, but was some variety too much to ask for?

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The Missing Middle

The most frustrating part of K-On was highlighted by one of the show’s greatest aspects: Its music.

All of After School Tea Time’s songs sounded good, the girls clicked as a group, and it was always outstanding to see the final product they produced. Unfortunately, the final product was all there ever was. We never once got a glimpse at the effort the band put in.

It was clear they worked hard; the girls talked about it all the time. Why then did we never see it for ourselves?

To be fair, Mio, Ritsu, Azusa, and Mugi could have gotten away with this because they each had experience with their respective instruments. Yui, on the other hand, was a complete amateur.

Yui had never picked up a guitar before in her life, and yet, by the time After School Tea Time played their first concert, it was as though she had been playing for years. Where did that come from?

It was completely ignored.

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Final Thoughts

This was great. More often than not, I found myself with a big smile on my face. This series was funny, the characters were memorable, and the music was fun.

I might have been hard on this show, but that was only because there were just too many missteps that really should not have been here.

At the end of it all, though, I found myself satisfied, and I would love to see more. Should K-On ever get a third season, I will be right there to enjoy it.

But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise K-On? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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1 comment

  1. Series Positives: “This show was tons of fun.”

    Nailed it.

    Jokes aside, I’m gonna give you some leeway since this is one of your older reviews, but I found myself disagreeing with you a lot in this one. There were whole points you make that didn’t feel substantiated or were just wrong. It’s also unclear through the review if you have watched the second season and film (though I realized you had).

    Is this just meant to be a review of season one? If so, then I think some of your comments make sense. Is this a series retrospective? If not, then there is a lot missing and stuff you say that just doesn’t make sense at all.

    To me, this was a confusing read and could maybe use a revisit in the future. I might just be a bit harsh though because I’m pretty knowledgeable on this one show and /really/ like it. That’s just my quick thoughts.

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