The Good and Bad of K-ON!! S2

Long time readers of my blog know that I am a bit of a K-ON tard. That being said, I was delighted late last year when a second season was announced for the Spring 2010 season. Soon after the first episode aired, it was revealed that the second season would be 26, making me even more excited. However, my common sense and a bit of simple math kicked these positive emotions away as I realized that there wouldn’t be enough material in the manga for 26 episodes without making stuff up. I then remembered that the first season did this very well, and fleshed out the simple original gag strips without feeling forced or dragged out. Now that we are well over half way through the second season, I have mixed feelings about the show. The tl;dr version is that it’s not as good as the first season. For a more complete view, read on.

The Good: It looks really good.

Due to the enormous commercial success of the first season, the budget is much higher this time around, so the animation is much more fluid and detailed.

The Bad: It looks too good.

I felt that the low budget given to the first season gave it a bit of an indy charm. I’m sure KyoAni had no idea it would be this big of a hit, and it shows in the animation quality. While they never tried anything really artistic like SHAFT, the simplicity of the animation worked with the simple characters, story, and music. Compare the OPs of the 2 seasons, which looks more like something a group of high school students would make?

The Good: Pure Pure Heart is an excellent insert song

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a huge fan of Mio. Naturally, I loved episode 7 which was all about her, especially the insert song, “Pure Pure Heart.” The instrumental is just as simple as their previous songs, but considering the characters are just high school students, I wasn’t expecting Freebird. However, it matched very well with Mio’s character image and Hisaka Yoko’s excellent singing voice, making it my favorite K-ON song.

The Bad: It’s the only insert song

I don’t count the Death Devil insert from episode 10 since that wasn’t sung by the main characters. I have a problem with the lack of music, since K-ON! is supposed to be a show about music. I could call the first season a music anime with a straight face since thematically every episode came back to music. The second season has degraded into typical moe bullshit, since that’s what the majority of viewers want to see. I find this a shame since all the seiyuus have pretty decent singing voices, as demonstrated at the recent “Let’s Go!” live concert.

The Good: Some character development

One aspect I really enjoyed about the first season is the character development Yui went through, and how she found her voice through the guitar. As much as I hate her as a character, it was something unexpected and well executed. Many slice of life shows prefer to maintain the status quo throughout the series, while a lot of music shows have their characters become the next Jimi Hendrix. However, K-ON finds a believable balance between half-wit and Hendrix to give the first season a rewarding ending. The second season continues with some development, as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Most of her development is shown through unsubtle references to the tortoise and the hare, but at least it’s something.

The Bad: Yui is the only one with any development

I understand that Yui is clearly the author’s favorite character, but some other development would be nice. Yes, all the characters had an episode devoted to them, but I wish things were more balanced. I suppose its a necessary evil as in shows with too many characters, the development does tend to be spread thin. Really, the main reason I am bitter is that as a diehard Mio fan, I am disappointed that she didn’t get more screen time.

On the whole, I am somewhat disappointed with the second season of K-ON. While it is going to be a huge commercial success, I feel that a lot of what I really enjoyed about the first season has been lost. It’s by no means a bad show, just a different show. This comment may sound bizarre in a business as commercialized as the anime industry, but it feels like K-ON has sold out.

It certainly has been a long time since my last post. To those few regular readers, I apologize as graduation and work have kept me busy these past couple months. I hope to get a few other posts out, but frankly I tend to use Twitter more to post my views on anime. I’ll be sure to at least post my thoughts on this season. Until next time.

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