K-ON! End: Hot N Cold
So the last episode of the season’s hottest show K-ON! just aired and while it was a considerable change of pace from the rest of the series, it was strangely satisfying and appropriate. Technically this episode was an extra episode, and last week’s episode was the final one. The “final” episode heats things up with an entertaining concert scene, while the extra episode cools things off with the girls’ day on a cold winter day.
In the “final” episode, as is typical with all music shows/movies, the girls play their second live concert for their second school festival with Yui reminiscing on her past and her complete lack of focus or direction before joining the band. This brings up one of the reasons I find K-ON! to be one of the best 4 koma manga adaptations out there. Most shows just string together the jokes presented in the manga and focus entirely on humor. What makes K-ON! different is that it only uses the manga as a rough outline and mixes in some extra scenes and character drama. I initially had problems with this in the second episode where they added the scene of the girls doing part time work. However, in retrospect, this made her getting her Gibson (or Fender in the original broadcast) Les Paul for cheap feel more justifiable as she tried to raise the money herself, and refused to take her friends’ hard earned money. Sure, the drama occasionally felt forced, but I applaud KyoAni for at least trying to make this series more than generic moe bullshit. It’s now just generic moe bullshit with a light sprinkling of generic drama.
The extra episode was a nice change of pace as it begins to take the characters out of their element. At first it felt odd because everything was so slow and there weren’t too many jokes. However, it brought forth natural themes that were never covered over the course of the anime such as responsibility, with Azusa taking care of a cat and Mugi getting a job, and love with Ritsu and the “love letters.” I found Ritsu’s story to be interesting as love is almost never mentioned in 4 koma manga. This is probably to keep the characters “pure” for all the fans out there who fantasize about them. It ended up being a misunderstanding, so the purity is maintained, but it’s nice to at least touch on that realistic subject. However, in the end, I guess that the point of this episode was to show that the girls are still young and inexperienced, and are slowly growing up and learning about the world. Everyone except Yui that is. She’s still as retarded as when she started. To be fair, episode 12 was all about her growth.
What separates a good 4 koma anime from a mediocre one is the quality of the characters. First there is the Yui/Ui combo. I personally hated Yui, and Ui even more for supporting her. Whiel Yui does grow in confidence, she is still aggravating in how useless she can be at times. I can see why see her sharing the same fan base as Fuuko from Clannad since they are both unbelievably stupid. I also believe there is a special circle of hell for these fans for their lack of sense.
Ritsu was a pretty standard character similar to Tomo in Azumanga Daioh. She just served to deliver the punchline to many of the jokes, usually the ones involving Mio. I liked how the anime developed her into being semi tsundere for Mio, but besides that she wasn’t a particularly interesting character.
I liked Mugi for her yuri goggles and clueless rich girl moments. The anime really played up her eye for potential lesbianism. Thankfully it was nowhere near as extreme as Saki whose yuri undertones rapidly developed into overtones. Mugi probably got the least screen time, but I enjoyed every moment with her.
The newcomer Azusa had her moments, but came in too late to really get time to shine. Her initial introduction, and her slowly growing interest in the club was very well done, but her inner conflict about staying at first was handled rather ham handedly. Then again this was a comedy, so I shouldn’t expect too much out of the drama.
Finally, there was my favorite character of the series, Mio. I loved her character design, as I have a soft spot for girls with long straight black hair. She also plays a Fender bass, and I also have a soft spot for that California based guitar company. She is also a bit shy and lacking in confidence despite her intelligence and musical ability, another soft spot for me. Finally her seiyuu has a great voice for rock, hitting a fourth soft spot of mine. Basically everything about this character hit me (and a lot of anime fans) so hard that we instantly fell in love with her “moe, moe, kyun.” My only complaint was how she would scared by every little thing. However the rest of her positive points were able to dampen the effect of this fault, which would annoy the crap out of me on any other character.
Overall K-ON! was a lot of fun. It was light hearted and relaxing to watch after a long day. The characters and scenarios were enjoyable. The music was great, and I eagerly await the release of the singles for the most recent songs. It was consistently funny, with few dull moments, much less a dull episode. In the end, it was a solid show.
Will there be a second season? With its popularity, I don’t doubt it. I’m pretty sure that Kyoto Animation didn’t expect a series made by a new director with almost all new seiyuus to be as popular as it was. Hopefully it isn’t endlessly delayed like Haruhi season 2 was, as I want to see more K-ON!
That’s it for K-ON! A summer season preview should be up some time over the weekend, and perhaps a review of the recent Hayate no Gotoku CDs that were released. I’ve recently been rewatching Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de (They Are My Noble Masters), and it’s a lot of fun to watch a second time. People with a good knowledge of recent anime will probably enjoy it as half its jokes are references. Take it easy readers.