So K-ON! came in like a lion, with the buzz, hype and moe moe that only KyoAni can provide. Then it seemed to hit a bump in the road (or many bumps in the road) as the blogger fandom turned on it for not aspiring to be anything more than a moeblob. But then it seemed to end on a high note as the reception to its "finale" seemed pretty solid (let’s forget that 13th episode ever happened).
For a while, it seemed like K-ON was becoming a victim of its own hype. Obviously, it wasn’t a Key collaboration that blot out the sun with a thousand tears from a thousand otakus. It wasn’t a self-deprecating parody like Fumoffu. It didn’t espouse wierdosity or the supernatural like Haruhi. And it lacked the otaku meta humor that carried Lucky Star. It was just… a lighthearted, entertaining character-driven slice of life. The story (Behind the Music! Getting to the Budokan!) was peripheral to the characters, their relationships and their antics. It was probably the most straightforward, by the book show that KyoAni’s done in recent memory.
- To make a SOL worthwhile, you gotta do the characters right. And KyoAni did the characters right. Yeah they all fit one stereotype or another, and they probably could’ve used certain characters better (e.g., Sawako) but each one of them had enough quirkiness to stand out. I mean, while Mio may be the defacto favorite of many, I’ve noticed that there’s a sizeable contingent of fans for Yui, Azu-nyan, Ritsu and even Mugi, who I was afraid was going to become the Miyuki of the show (you know, the boring one who no one cares about). But that wasn’t the case and each girl got a solid personality, a pretty good amount of love, and even the side characters (Sawako, Ui) got to strut their stuff.
- Moe muscle memory. You’ve gotta hand it to KyoAni, they do moe right. If there’s one reason why Yui, Azu-nyan, Mio and the gang will continue to stay in my memory, it’s because KyoAni stirred up the perfect mix of moe charm and natural SOL lovability. When everyone is glompable, you know you’ve done well.
- Azu-nyan copy and pasted in the OP. You could also consider this as a bad point (sloppy animation), but I thought it was hilarious how they just blatantly copy and pasted her into the existing OP. Bad KyoAni! Very lazy! Don’t do that again! But still hilarious.
- The music. Yes, they’re all standard syrupy j-pop/rock fare. And with titles like Fuwa Fuwa Time and My Love is a Stapler, I wanted to write them off as forgettable anisongs. But the more I listened to them, the more catchy they became. Even the first two character albums so far have been surprisingly good, considering how awful character albums usually are. I’ve also come to appreciate the actual skill behind the music. Admittedly, I’m pretty rusty, but I was playing through Cagayake Girls, and it’s definitely more complex and challenging than you might expect from a silly slice of life. There’s some serious chops displayed.
- Yui! I know I already talked about the characters, but I just had to callout Yui. IMO, she stole every scene that she was in, and I loved Aki Toyosaki’s performance.
- Actually kudos to all the rookie seiyuus. Voice work was definitely very good, and I look forward to hearing everyone become big stars.
- K-ON seemed like the most crudely animated KyoAni show that I can remember. Not that it was bad – it wasn’t – but I felt like they took more shortcuts and glossed over more details than I can ever remember them doing. The most obvious example of this would be Azu-nyan OP cut-and-paste, but also the plethora of cut-away shots when the girls were practicing, and even little details like the animation of their hands looked wonky from scene to scene.
- I mentioned in a comment before that I couldn’t remember a SOL that had mixed in drama convincingly, but then I realized there was Manabi Straight, which I think mixed melodrama with SOL comedy perfectly. K-ON, on the other hand, had two moments of melodrama (Azu-nyan’s crying scene, and Ritsu’s sickness/jealousy scene), and both felt like they were shoehorned in.
- Needed MOAR performances! This was my persistent bitch throughout. I referenced God Knows quite often, and even though I knew that was a tough standard to live up to, all I wanted to see them practice and play. Often. Like whenever there was music, I wanted to see them playing it. And while the finale performance was ok, it still didn’t make up for all the lost opportunities.
K-ON doesn’t seem like the type of show that KyoAni would do a sequel for. Although most of the girls have another year and a half of school left, I don’t know if there’s enough source material to sustain another season. It’s probably for the better though, because besides achieving their goal of Budokan, I don’t think there’s enough new tricks in the bag for another season. I mean, we already received 2 festival performances and 2 beach episodes in a 13 episode season.
But put aside all the nitpicking and whatnot, K-ON was one of the rare shows where I enjoyed just about every minute and every moment of each episode. Whether it was because of the jokes, the characters, or just the moe, I ate up every scene, and each episode seemed to fly by. And that’s about all I can ask for from my SOLs.
Final Relationship Chart (I think)