Blog Archive

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Stories of the Top 80 Anime: K-On!

6. Number six in my ranking system is a unique to Japan genre. The idea of writing a story that has no drama of any sort is incredibly difficult to manage, but incredibly rewarding if done right. K-On! is a 'show about nothing.' Only, unlike Seinfeld, all of the characters are heartwarming, cute, and moral paragons. There's no romance in the story, nor is there any fighting, nor is there any crime detective business, or tragic deaths, or hospital work. What there is, is friendship, music, comedy, and appreciation for the truly good things in life.

It isn't necessary to explain why K-On! is so good. The series is the #1 seller of anime blu-ray disks of all time, by a wide margin. Azusa has been voted the cutest girl ever imagined. K-On! has won practically every reward out there. Nor is it over yet. Soon, this year, the manga will resume, and later this year the K-On! movie will hit theaters. I have to imagine that once more source material has been prepared, a new K-On! anime will follow after. Why would companies leave money on the table, after all, by not animating the most popular anime of all time?

Even so, I'll give a brief explanation for what exactly K-On! is. K-On! starts with a lazy, incompetent girl named Yui in her first year of high school. She decides to 'improve herself' by joining a club, but she wants as easy and undemanding a club as possible, which kind of defies the point of improving herself. Meanwhile, a K-On! club, which means, a rock music club, is looking for a fourth member, which it needs to be officially recognized and supported by the school. They go to any distance to get Yui to join, which she eventually does. Because the story is so focused on music, K-On! as an anime concentrates very hard in making its music the best in the world. This actually reminds me of Macross Frontier, another story that relied on its music as an essential part of the plot, and thus made its music far superior to what you'd expect normally -- the same for Angel Beats, another story with music at its heart. In any event, K-On! can't just be watched, it must also be listened to. This is because its openings and endings are incredibly good -- all three openings and all three endings. Naturally, they were the first anime music singles to ever top the music sales charts in Japan. Not just the openings and endings are good, however, all the music played by the band within the series is also incredibly good. The music is mesmerizing.

The band members slowly get to know one another, as Yui learns how to play and maintain her guitair, and they get ready to perform. At the end of season 1, it shows Yui 'reformed' enough that she is taking her role as a singer seriously and all of her laziness and incompetence is banished by her wish to be their for her band, and perform well in front of the crowd. Doing something she loves with people she loves has transformed her, just like it's transformed everyone in the band, in one way or another. (Mio is less shy and more willing to sing in front of the crowd, Mugi is eating at McDonalds and enjoying other 'prole' things her rich family had never bothered doing with her, etc).

One of K-On's! performances was so good in their second year in high school that it encouraged a freshman to apply to join the band. Azusa was already an expert guitarist, and was in truth more skilled than anyone on the band she was joining. But she wasn't as skilled at getting along, and felt frustrated and angry all the time with the other girls' attitudes. Slowly but surely, the other band members manage to connect to Azusa, and get her to stay with the band, and ultimately start to enjoy it. But then it's their third (and final in Japan) year in high school, while it's Azusa's second, and the new problem isn't getting Azusa to join, it's what Azusa will do all on her own, and how the K-On club will survive once everyone has graduated. They come up with many solutions, like buying her a pet turtle, giving her a souvenir, and singing her a song, but the pain is still lurking in the distance for the entire rest of the series. The problem is only solved in the last episode, when it turns out Azusa's friends of her own year are willing to join the K-On club with her, Jun and Ui (Yui's little sister). Of course, for a club to be legal, they'll need a fourth member -- which is something the manga will hopefully solve in the days to come.

If everyone were as sweet, innocent, fun-loving and friendly as the girls from K-On, there wouldn't be any problems left in the world. Unfortunately, K-On represents ideal girls from a guy's viewpoint, it's doubtful whether they'd inspire girls who watched K-On to take after them. But it certainly is refreshing, as a boy, to watch. Without showing any risque skin shots at all, the girls of K-On can steal any boy's heart, because everything about them is seductive. Like Clannad, K-On realizes a girl's true beauty isn't in her unclothed body but in her freely expressed soul.

No comments: