Reviews of K-On (2009) and related work

K-On (2009Moving picture, 5.0 hours)

Yamada Naoko (director).

Three high-school freshmen resurrect a disbanding school club for “light” music (keion). A potential fourth member has no skills and seems to have spent her whole life bumming around. She was hoping “light music” meant she could play castanets, which she remembers doing vigorously in kindergarten. To save the club, the other members promise her daily tea and cookies in the music room. As friends, they form a rock band, followed for about a year and a half.

Comedy of moe. The all-girl camaraderie of Azumanga Daioh (2002) at the same pace, with better graphics and a stronger theme and dramaturgy, but less original characters, tamer gags, worse music and greater creeping sexualization.

The beginning is excellent but it’s down hill from there. The dress-up indicates it isn’t meant for a female audience. Ultimately, even this first season goes further than Azumanga Daioh into the idolization of unrealistic, feminized weakness. The character of Yui, like Ōsaka, is clearly harebrained in a way that’s stigmatized and awkward, which gets some nuanced and sympathetic treatment.

All the main characters are named after members of Hirasawa Susumu’s synth-rock/techno-pop band P-Model, which is about as light as early Glass.

References here: En betraktelse av A Silent Voice, Gestaltning i A Silent Voice, A Place Further Than the Universe (2018), Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (2020), Bocchi the Rock (2022).

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series

Yui no Ki ni Naru Shiriizu (2009Moving picture)

I much prefer the SD school of bonus material to this naïvist school.

moving picture bonus material animation Japanese production fiction

K-On (2010Moving picture, 10 hours)

Yamada Naoko (director).

The last half of high school.

The original’s title was stylized as “K-On!” with one exclamation point, and this has two. More importantly, there is a significantly heavier “moe Monkees” vibe: artificial Terada Mitsuo-style girl artists in increasingly artificial situations. This is the wrong direction. No added substance, and merely passable fun.

moving picture sequel animation Japanese production fiction series

K-On: The Movie (2011Moving picture, 110 minutes)

Yamada Naoko (director).

Seen in 2015.

Feature film. A lot of the background and incidental environment work—like the birds in the park—is very nice, and I like the occasional long takes and realistic in jokes—especially the corrupted speech—but the story is weak. The conveyor-belt sushi restaurant gig is particularly anemic. The scenes following the journey to London are stronger, but remain hampered by the silly idea that the seniors are all going immediately to the same college. Forgettable.

References here: En betraktelse av A Silent Voice.

moving picture sequel animation Japanese production fiction