K-ON! – Anime Review

The Essentials

k-onName: K-ON!
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 13
Aired: April 2, 2009 – June 25, 2009
Based On: K-ON! manga by kakifly
Director: Hisako Yamada
Produced By: Kyoto Animation, TBS
US Distribution By: Not Licensed

Cast

Character Japanese Cast English Cast (N/A)
Yui Hirasawa: Aki Toyosaki
Mio Akiyama: Yoko Hikasa
Ritsu Tainaka: Satomi Satou
Tsumugi Kotobuki: Minako Kotobuki
Azusa Nakano: Ayana Taketatsu
Ui Hirasawa: Madoka Yonezawa
Nodoka Manabe: Chika Fujito
Sawako Yamanaka: Asami Sanada

Review

K-ON! is about a quartet of high school girls – Yui, Mio, Ritsu, and Tsumugi – who have banded together in order to save the school’s light music club.  However, while Mio, Ritsu, and Tsumugi already know how to play instruments (bass, drums, and keyboard respectively), Yui joins the club not knowing any instruments and not even really sure what to expect from the club.

What follows is a relatively humorous comedy.  The four girls (and later five) mix and match stereotypical moe pieces together to create a somewhat new set of characters.  However, K-ON! suffers from something which many series seem to: a show that has a good sounding premise and starts out strong, but then collapses near the end as the creators apparently couldn’t think of how to work the show after they set it up.

Perhaps if this show was a tad more on the serious side and was less focused on moe and outright goofyness, it would have been more successful.  I’m not saying it needed to be a drama in stead of a comedy, but a show about a light music club should probably either be a) about light music or b) use the club as a device to explore, well, something.  The problem is that we got neither of those in this series.  When you start virtually repeating episodes to the extent that K-ON! does (see: “band camp” episodes and concert episodes) in a 12 episode series, then there seems to be a problem.  Repeating episode ideas, i.e. going away for a training camp, isn’t necessarily bad in itself if things get mixed up when you do repeat it.  However, I never really felt that happened here.

That means that this series is driven entirely on humor.  Again, that in of itself isn’t necessarily bad as long as the humor can sustain the series.  However, after we get about halfway through, most of the humor is just a rehash of what we’ve already seen.  Yui somehow manages to play the guitar despite knowing nothing.  Mio is a shy scardeycat.  Ritsu likes harassing Mio.  Tsumugi is rich and likes bringing sweets.  The great bulk of the jokes in the entire show can probably be broken down into one of those 4 categories.

As is usual with Kyoto Animation, the animation is great, and the music, what there is of it, is pretty good too.  This show isn’t necessarily “bad” per se, and it may not be too bad of a watch for a 13 episode series, especially if you’re looking for a mindless comedy, but there are certainly more worthy series out there, especially given what this series could have been.

Scores

Story: 3/5
Animation: 5/5
Music: 4/5
English Dubs: N/A

Overall: 3/5

First Watched: April – June 2009
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes (though barely)

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