May 08, 2011

K-ON! DVD Volume 1

I had planned to watch Angelic Layer this evening, but this afternoon I happened into DVD#1 of K-ON!, bought it, went to a friends house and we watched it.

This is the show that dominated its time-slot in Japan and was such a phenomenon that the 13 episode series was brought back as a 26 episode show and a series of OVAs. This show is legendary. It is considered one of the crowning moments of awesome in anime...

All that plugging however,  means that this quiet little show is so oversold that it cannot help but disappoint if one has been following the buzz.

After all the hype, I was expecting, I dunno, Lucky Star + The Simpsons + Bacon.

4 episodes in there there is no bacon.
There is however, cake in abundance.

Once you get past the hype, K-ON! is a cute, rather dry, sitcom that revolves around three of the 4 members of a music club at a girls preparatory school who try to save their club and their dreams from the clubs weakest link. The characters thus far are mostly pretty engaging....mostly.

 Ritsu Tainaka is driven, ambitious, undisciplined and a little mad. She wants badly be a drummer and ends up president of the Light Music Club by default (when she joins, she is its only member).

Mio Akiyama has been best friends with Ritsu for many years. Despite this she seems more or less sane and well adjusted.  A competent bass guitarist, she nevertheless joins the club under protest. However, she quickly becomes quite determined to make the club a success.

Tsumugi Kotobuki is rich beyond the dreams of avarice and has had a quite sheltered life thus far. This prep school is in many ways her first real interaction with normal people. Having mastered the keyboard as a child she was initially intending to join the glee club. She changed her mind when she saw Mio and Ritsu arguing. She decided that these are the sorts of dysfunctional people that get into wacky situations like on TV. She is a superb cook, has impeccable manners and a kind personality, but it is unclear if she thinks of her friends as people...or pets.

Yui Hirasawa seems to be the result of a science experiment that successfully combined the traits of fingernails, a chalkboard and ADD. An utterly unfocused spaz, she joins the club despite the fact that she can only play the castanets. She is a valued asset to the club because a minimum of 4 members are required to maintain the club charter. To that end the other members provide her with much cake. They also persuade her to try and learn the guitar.

 I'd seen episode 1 in Japanese some years ago, and had thought it had potential. My biggest problem thus far is Yui who is initially such a cringeworthy exercise in fail that I find her painful to watch at times. Note that it is obvious by episode 3 that she has a genuine problem and is trying to deal with it.

However, 4 episodes in, I'm already seeing that there is actual character development going on, particularly in Mio and Yui (who seems to be becoming a slightly less central character).

It is a cute show and I did laugh. The interplay between the characters various flavors of awkwardness is developing a comedic synergy as it progresses.

All in all, I liked it. I'm going to pick up at least the second disc. After all, it's hard to go wrong with cute girls and cake.

I should also point out that the dub on the US DVD is quite good. Stephanie Sheh in particular does a fine job with Yui, which must have been a fiendishly hard character to pull off.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 04:24 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 This is one of those shows that gets better and better the more you get to know the cast. Even ignoring that, the second season is a major improvement over the first IMHO.

Also, there's no OVA series (unless you're referring to the one DVD-exclusive episode per season), but there is a movie in the works.

Posted by: Andrew F. at Sun May 8 06:41:08 2011 (lJgso)

2 Yui's superhuman abilities were somewhat controversial, too, especially among bloggers who knew guitar.

My Love Is a Stapler.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun May 8 11:05:37 2011 (9KseV)

3 I loved K-On! from the first moment.  Yui is an iconic lovable ditz.  But the show succeeds because it doesn't rest on that; the characters are more than just sketches, and they grow over the course of the series.

Also, cake.

Also, turtles.

Also, Azu-nyan.

Also, the supporting cast.

Also, Azu...  More cake!

If you want to take a look at the current season, A Channel is just about K-On! without the band...  And paradoxically, with more music.

(Aha!  We're getting a release of K-On! here starting July.  Blu-Ray too.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue May 10 10:32:56 2011 (PiXy!)

4 Turtles?

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed May 11 09:26:16 2011 (EJaOX)

5 Turtles!!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Fri May 13 05:07:21 2011 (PiXy!)

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