I’m not going to bother writing a summary, since so many others have already done a mighty fine job of doing so (subculture, randomc, fukazenna!, Tenka Seiha et al.), so I’m just focusing on my general thoughts.
But in case you’re really lazy, here’s what happened. Girl enters high school. Girl needs to join a club. Club needs a girl or it gets shut down. Girl and club meet. Voila! Now they have a band.
K-ON! was one of the few spring shows I was really looking forward to. And then when I read Fukazenna’s post (formerly Euphoric Field) with mathematical equation to boot, incorporating Hyakko, a show that I thought was surprisingly good, Lucky Star, which has just continued to grow on me a good year or so after I watched it, and Manabi Straight, which may be my favorite slice of life of all time, my anticipation hit fever pitch.
The fansub torrents hit the wire last night. Three groups in fact! Unfortunately, the first one was a bust. Then the second one was a bust. And actually, all of them were trollsub busts. ARGH. But by the time I woke up in the morning, real subs were available. Hurray!
But I digress, back to the show. What can I say, I loved it. The characters were all lovable. The story was amusing. It just felt right. Like the writers, the animators and the seiyuus were all in sync. It was everything I expected, and actually even more moe than I expected.
Character designs were very cute and interesting. Animation was really solid. It had a very Kannagi-esque look, what with the wavy motions and the sporadically jagged artwork. You’ll probably either love or hate its style. Because it can look really impressive, but at the same time, because the lines don’t necessarily stay consistent, it can appear sloppy as well. I thought it was quite pleasing to look at though. Certainly another level above Minami-ke. I do hope they release this in widescreen though. 4:3 is so antiquated, I don’t know why studios bother releasing shows like that. It just makes it seem lower in quality.
Story-wise, well there’s nothing particularly unique about it. It’s basically your coming-of-age, slice of life. So it’ll probably feel closer to Manabi Straight than say Lucky Star. I don’t know why I find slice of lifes to be so interesting. I mean for the most part, you have a similar set of characters, a similar set of situations and they’re all interchangeable to some degree. But I think there’s a simple kind of magic in creating really likeable characters, tossing them in a box, and seeing what happens. And almost all of K-ON’s main characters immediately stand out (even if they’re very similar to some other KyoAni characters as Kurogane points out):
- Yui is the cute, unsure of herself, dojikko.
- Ritsu is the boisterous, hyperactive, short attention-spanned leader
- Tsumugi is the quiet girl without much of a personality (at least based on the first episode)
- Mio, will probably become the fan-favorite, since she appears to be the level-headed tsundere of the group
If I were to compare them to non-Lucky Star characters, I’d go:
- Yui – Mika from Manabi or Tsugumi from Kannagi
- Ritsu – Manami from Manabi, Nagi from Kannagi, Torako from Hyakko or Kana from Minami-ke (these characters seem to be real popular. I guess without them nothing would ever happen)
- Tsumugi – Momoha from Manabi? Haruka from Minami-ke? (Hard to get a read on her so far)
- Mio – Mei from Manabi
The voice acting was very good, especially considering that the show features mostly rookie seiyuus. I especially enjoyed Aki Toyosaki as Yui and Satomi Satou as Ritsu. The OP and ED, obviously important considering the musical theme, were great, very catchy. I loved the visual style of the ED. The only thing that bothered me though was the words didn’t seem to sync properly with the lip movement.
The musical instruments
I’m a sucker for gear. Always have been. I’ve always wanted reserve a room and create my own personal studio, with a wall of guitars and various other instruments.
- I saw Ritsu pounding on Yamaha drums with Zildjian symbols.
- I didn’t see clear a Fender logo, but Mio’s jamming the classic Jazzmaster, playing through what looks like a small Fender Bassmaster amp in the show, and I’m guessing an Ampeg head/cab setup in the ED, although I’m not completely sure.
- I saw “Valve-Force” and “ITO” on the keys, so I gather it’s some kind of a KORG TRITON model coming through a Roland amp.
- And obviously you’ve got Yui rocking out on the classic cherry sunburst Les Paul through a Marshall Stack. I don’t know if they’re in an all-girls school, but if I ever saw a girl rocking a cherry sunburst Les Paul, I’m pretty sure it’d be love at first sight. I was wondering if maybe they went with the Tokai over Gibson – side note: the Tokai were Japanese knock-offs that had a really good rep, and maybe better quality than Gibson in the 70s/80s, I tried and failed to get my hands on one a couple years ago, alas – but I caught a screenshot where it looks like it says Gibson on the headstock.
Overall, I was quite impressed to see KyoAni pay attention to such minor detail. There’s probably only a few geeks who’ll notice it and appreciate it, but if it reflects their level of commitment to making sure the little things look good, I think the show will be fantastic.