Released on Bluray in North America by Bandai Entertainment
Finally, after exploding in popularity in the Internet we have K-on on BluRay/DVD in English. It’s been awhile in coming, and I suspect it took a bit as the slow down in the industry and other popular net shows not selling well with the market shrinking. (I’m looking at you Nanoha). And it’s safe to say it was worth the wait as this is one of Bandai’s better releases.
The plot is pretty simple, if non-existent for the most part. Yui Hirasawa is starting high school and wants to join a club. She picks the light music club as she thinks it’ll be easy and she can play castanets. The light music club needs a 4th member to avoid being disbanded, so of course they accept her. And with that we have the start of their adventures.
And that is it for plot in the series, if you want more in your anime you will need to look elsewhere. But K-on avoids falling into the trap other, similar ‘Moe’ shows fall into by having really interesting characters. Yes Yui, Mio, Ritsu, and Mugi are all simple tropes at the start. Yui is the airhead, Mio is the shy type, Ritsu is the hyper character and Mugi is the rich girl. But as the show goes along they develop and grow making them into fully fleshed characters.
This is best shown in the third episode where Yui has to take a make up test. Yes we have the usual study jokes seen in manga, which still work as everyone has trouble studying at some point. But where as other lesser shows would have had Yui barely pull a pass or fail again, here we have Yui pass with a 100. It’s a small thing, but in any show the small things build up to make a better whole. We see that in episode 4 where Mio finds and old tape of the band performance. It’s played for a joke, but than it becomes motivation for the band. The fact when the metal lyrics start up its used for a joke again just make it even better.
It helps that this is a genre Kyoto animation has become a master of, taking their experience from Haruhi, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, and Lucky Star and using it here. The animation is clean throughout and the pacing is perfect for the series. It’s slowly paced in the right parts, which makes the character moments really work. But they can pull out the frantic Lucky Star style when needed. In fact it’s balance that makes K-on better than Lucky Star for me. Lucky Star was perhaps more laugh out loud funny in places, but the Otaku based humour only really worked once. Here the character growth makes K-on so much better to watch again.
The Bluray is bright and shows the colours really well and makes it worth paying the bit extra to get it in HD. It helps that the series was broadcast in HD so it gets a non up converted release. Sound on the Japanese track is a solid stereo mix that is listenable but won’t tax your sound system. The subtitles are well translated enough and readable in even the brightest scenes. A little more black outline would have been nice but other than that it was readable.
K-on is well worth picking up if you like the slice of life school comedy genre. Even if you’ve grown tired of it, like I have, it still is worth watching. It’s so well done and has really good characters you can’t help but like it.