It’s K-On, the hip (?) new anime everybody is talking about. By god I just had to check it out and give my first impression, I just had too. Since this is a slice of life comedy that is totally character (?) driven I’m going to be returning briefly to the style I used back when I blogged Lucky Star. You know….the one done with time blocks and by the moment impressions of the episodes? Here goes:
0:00-0:40: 40 seconds in and they managed to illicit a chuckle from me. This by comparsion to your average anime is an absolutely godly good start. Yui’s little fiddling around with the clock and gasping at the time just somehow manges to come across as amusing to me. Perhaps it’s because it’s actually something I can relate too, which seems to not usually be the case in the slice of life genre most of the time. I find myself saying here, “Gee, that’s a situation that could actually happen in real life and to anyone”. Incidentally though, this screenshot has all the material anyone could ever need to take one of those blowup shots of Yui’s face, post it on a forum and call it an example of QUALITY.
0:50-1:21: Toast in the mouth while going out the door…why do they always seem to do that in these shows. Who does that? Realism destroyed, this show SUCKS! Okay just kidding, I have no expectations to see this show as anything approaching realistic for the majority of it, because I scoff at the notion of realistic situations being portrayed in anime. It’s an impossibly to attain pure realistic standards for 100% of any shows run so I don’t get the standard at all. Also Yui fell on her arse, how quirky…..why does these girls always do these things…..hehehe….
1:24-1:54: I am confused by this particular shot. What an utterly bizzare and distorted angle. Is it supposed to be artistic, or is it just skewed and stretched to create an impression of low angle camera shot without it really being one? Avoidance of a panty shot is also noted, my guess is the assets are being saved for some form of beach/hot springs episode to take place around the count of episode 4/6/8. Also Yui has the Ranka Lee hair effect.
K-On Opening: “Cagayake! GIRLS”
For an opening tune that has such a good thing going with it’s first 9 second guitar riff it seems a shame that it disintegrates into what I would classify as medicore J-Pop. Though perhaps it’s just because I am not feeling the vocals of the cast at all. The tune isn’t particularly inspired either though so perhaps this is just a case of you work with what you are given. Not feeling this one all, but at least the visuals are okay if perhaps somewhat invocative of an eroge opening at times.
My interest starts to flag a little and I start to make note of the animation. I’ve heard it described as realistic and expressive, but I would describe it as simply excessive. The movements come across as exagerrated and jerky and I wouldn’t exactly call them realistic so much as jarring. There’s a definite effort to wow with animation quality here, but it suffers from a similar problem to MS Igloo in that it’s just pure overkill. That being said I think it all evens out to create an acceptable style for the time being.
I am starting to get a feel for the characters. As many have said before they are pure moe moe for the most part with Mio exuding tsundere traits, Ritsu being hyperactive, Yui being clumsy and Tsumugi being quiet and reserved….and yet I find none of them particularly endearing or engrossing in anyway beyond these initial traits. Not really going to fault the show for that as it is the first episode, but there are some other issues at stake here. One is that the newbie nature of the cast really starts to stand out here. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like they could use some improvement, Yui somewhat excepted. If I am too be perfectly blunt however, Ritsu’s voice annoys the heck out of me and I’ve never much cared for her character archetype either. And so the new light music club is formed in this portion…..well almost, they need a fourth member.
Flashback joke is actually mildly amusing, though I think the fake out on the overwrought drama sells it. Will this show be switching to overwrought drama later on in the second half like a lot of shows that start of light do, or will it keep things light and add a human touch? I guess only time will tell.
Are those fries or yellow beans? You be the judge. Also I’m guessing I can now add airhead to Tsumugi’s list of character traits. Does that make her deep now, or does she just portray more then one archetypal character trait at this point? Again you be the judge. The search continues for the illusive fourth member, though unless you as much of an airhead as Tsumugi appears to be I’m sure you’ve already figured out who it’s going to be.
Yumi is a girl that seems to love her walking cycles. In fact I think that we’ve seen this exact same walking cycle about 3 times now only with different backgrounds. Gotta save budget somehow I suppose, though hopefully this doesn’t become a continuing issue like it did for Gundam Seed Destiny. Unlikely, but just something I am forced to ponder. So Yumi makes her inevitable decision to sign up for the K-On club. Called it. Anyway I have to say I kind of like the way they set up the whole first half/second half dynamic to be set up by a Side A/Side B of a cassette tape. Only thing I would have done differently was showing it getting turned over during the eyecatch instead of just showing the Side B. More stylish that way. Oh well…..
11:50-13:07: Heil the K-On club an enthusiatic Yui implies. Also colourful background and cutesy dances because dangit that’s just moe. Application submitted, apparently Yui is an amazing person, but I don’t see it. Maybe the other girls are just being nice.
13-10-13:55: I doubt it was intentional and that this was probably supposed to be expressive but uhh….what’s with Yui’s drunk walk? Unintentional comedy, but I’ll certainly take it as it’s quite amusing if a little odd.
14:01-15:29: And so we hit the infamous Krauser reference complete with the usual odd form of pseudo-censoring that this company always likes to add to the scenes for some reason. I got screamed at by a screamy blogger for not finding the fact of the reference funny, but the way in which Yumi is scared out of her wits by Ritsu I actually do find somewhat amusing. The sake of the reference for a reference has no comedic value to me, but it’s execution does….though really Yumi’s fright could have been done in just about any old way so the referential comedy is still a matter of who cares for me other then Krauser is cool. What does that have to do with K-On though? Anyway, hopefully that finally clarifies where I stand on this matter and I don’t get bloody freaked out on again for my specific tastes in and methods of reacting to comedic attempts.
So everybody thinks Yui is the grrl, but she’s most certainly not the grrl. I think everybody can see where this is headed. Also I got a kick out of Mio’s whole Guitarist rundown bit not because of the Jimmy Hendrix reference because as I mentioned I don’t find reference for the sake of reference funny, but because of how Mio only seems to be able to rattle off guitarists with first names that start with the ジ katakana. I have to wonder at why that seems to be the case now. Is it a preference for the voice actor’s name pronounciation, did the series researcher just happen to look up a reference for famous guitarists by first name and started picking off the ones surrounding the legendary Hendrix? Does Mio just really like The Yardbirds? If so will this come up? See what slow shows do to me?!
Lots of talking head and bubbly cutesy vapid talk. My interest starts to wane a bit. Oh dear, it seems that Yui is about to quit, goes into moe moe tears mode and then the rest of the band offers her a chance to LISTEN TO THEIR SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
19:00-20:20: And so they perform, and it’s definitely light music. Very basic, appropriate for amateurs.
20:20-21:20: And here we get what I felt was actually the cleverest bit of a fairly run of the mill opening episode. I can’t even say I was actually expecting Yui to say the club is not so good, but maybe that’s because they don’t actually sound all that bad at all for an amateur high school music group. A sharp “HA!” was had this minute.
Hmmmm….the dot eyes again….they’re big on that aren’t they. And so it ends, Yui is joining the music club, but now she has to get a guitar. Oh what fun they’ll have…..on the show THIS IS IT?!
K-On Ending: Don’t Say Lazy
I didn’t think this was possible, but I think I actually like this song less everytime I hear it. The composition and the mixing their of just seems to noisy and distorted as do the vocals which come across as more mumbly then anything. The video shows charm though and points for hotness go to Mio’s little forward step at 0:32-0:34. Shame the song does absolutely nothing good for me at all though.
Hmmmm….well obviously this show was going to be the centre of attention when it first came out because of the studio that was doing it. Kyoani….Kyoani….I never got your extreme popularity and I still don’t get it now, not that that matters much to me personally anymore as I’ve come to accept it as one of those facts of life. My base first impressions on this show are simple and can even be reduced to bullet point fashion:
+ The characters all take on popular moe traits of the now
– None of them exhibit any real character depth or history beyond these traits, but I’m fairly certain that will change. Heck it better change.
+ Yui is a likeable enough lead and does little to offend, also Mio is tolerable as well
– Ritsu is annoying as all hell and Tsugumi seems is almost a non-entity. People have compared her to Miyuki from Lucky Star and I’ll say that if any character seems likely to get the Miyuki style shaft later on in the series it will be her. Though god help me if it’s for the sake of Ritsu.
+ The animation is deliberately fluid throughout much of the episode
– The animation can be fairly districting as a result of it’s fluidity and much like other shows such as Macross Frontier I find it sacrifices animation detail for constant movement.
– The voice actors for the most part are fairly new to the business and it’s really obvious at times.
That’s really all I can think of to say at this moment actually. K-On is a show that does little to offend, but also little to really attract anyone beyond the usual fans of Kyoani “cute girls doing cute things” fare. Obviously if you are a die hard fan of Kyoani shows then this is going to hit all the right points and illicit the whole “Kyoani has done it again” response along with the ever popular “As expected from Kyoani” that usual follows such an event…..which is really unsurprising to me since they’ve delivered a similar brand of anime for the past 4 years now. No guff it’s as expected of Kyoani and they have done it again, I mean….pfffttt. Find the pattern and you will see the mysteries of the universe unfold before your eyes.
Well anyway, not being a die hard fan of Kyoani shows nor of the belief that they are creators of masterpieces (this partially has to do with the fact that they generally don’t really create any of the shows/characters/or stories they do from scratch like the true master’s of the arts so they could never really qualify to begin with) though I find myself evaluating K-On solely on it’s own merits and shortcomings (a stunning notion to be sure) and……..I find it has promise should the character development hit sooner rather than later, but nothing to make me presume that it will be some sort of masterpiece or best anime of 2009 given it’s totally humble and laid back first episode. This is of course because it is way too early in the series run to make predictions on it’s future for better or worse.
That won’t stop anyone from trying though so I’m not going to ask anyone to take my word for it. Just enjoy or dismiss the series on your own terms and don’t mind me, though if it is requested of me I honestly wouldn’t mind extending my blogging stint on K-On a little longer.
Rating: Six Out Of Ten
Kaioshin’s Note: So help me if I see anybody try to use the word epic to describe any aspect of a show as laid back as this I will break into your house and tear your wife in half. This is Kaioshin Sama helping to portray totally polar tones within the same sentence since 2007. :P