Let’s refer back to our lesson in #moe404‘s most recent class of fifty shades of a weaboo and take a look at a certain word; moe, which has a means of having strong affection/attraction towards anime, manga or video game characters —most of the time the subjects being female— who are considered cute, as the word moekko translates to “adorable”. Basically, it’s a feeling when an otaku or an anime fans get when they see a show or they just want to give the characters a hug or whatever, just because of how cute they look.
Other than this term being in the name of our blog, it also has a very large presence in the anime community and industry. The concept of moe, with the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ genre of anime that is being one of the most popular, has been notably been around since the 1980s and 90s with shows like Sailor Moon even though it would become a lot more prevalent over time. Lucky Star, Himouto! Umaru-chan, the Love Live series, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? … those are the massive amount of shows which embrace the idea of incorporating characters who can captivate their audience with their adorable looks that is almost overwhelming.
I mean, even when you see seasonal anime today, there is an abundance of moe anime that almost take over each season. The recently finished Winter 2018 anime season is a great example of this as it had about fifteen or more shows that screamed moe such as Yuru Camp, Gakuen Babysitters, and Miira no Kaikata. As you can see, the concept of moe is absolutely a very large market in the anime industry and because of that, more and more studios strive to jump into all the popularity. Maybe because they love doing that kind of work, maybe because it’s an easy cash grab, maybe even both.
Is the concept of moe harming the anime industry? Well, as a person who prefers to watch shows in that genre, I don’t think I have much authority to answer that, but I definitely think there’s an unhealthy dose of it. Although you have to give some credit where it’s due, people managed to make this simple concept of having cute characters in an anime as its own genre.
Today, I’ll be talking about one of the most popular, if not, the most popular moe anime the anime community has seen so far.
synopsis – k-on!
Hirasawa Yui, with her carefree and lazy personality, has no clue what she wants to do during her time in high school as she’s not very knowledgeable at many things like sports or indoor clubs. Being afraid of becoming a NEET in her future, Yui desperately has to find a club to join. She then stumbles upon the school’s light music club known as Houkago Tea Time —consisting of Tainaka Ritsu on drums, Akiyama Mio on bass, and Kotobuki Tsumugi on the keyboard. Coincidentally, the club happens to find themselves in a dire situation of recruiting enough members in order to continue their operation.
Yui ends up being persuaded to join the light music club, which thankfully prevents the disbandment of the club. However, what she didn’t expect to get herself sucked into was actually having to learn how to play the guitar, without any past knowledge of the instrument. Now with this new responsibility added to her studies and personal tasks, she has the help of her fellow band members in order for them to advance as a musical band and fulfil their goals of performing their music. It’s definitely a slow and difficult process for everyone, but the hope is not lost.
As the club improves overtime and later sees an addition of a new guitarist, a freshman named Nakano Azusa, we now get to see the daily lives of these five ladies, and how Houkago Tea Time functions as a band and most importantly, a close group of friends.
Well, there isn’t really a full-fledged story/plot in this show as it is mostly shown as a slice of life anime where the whole premise is to watch these characters simply live their daily lives. But that is one of K-On!’s strongest points and what makes this show really entertaining to watch. I’ve always been a fan of slice of life anime (*hence the name of his personal blog being Slice of Alfredo) and while it’s not a preferred genre of anime to a good amount of people, a narrative about people’s daily lives mixed with the genres of comedy, romance, music or drama is just really amusing to me.
Other than watching these five ladies have fun spending time with each other and live life at its fullest being nice, the slice of life tone is shown really well even when small conflicts arise in their lives. A good example would be when the group strives to purchase the particular guitar Yui adores by getting a part-time job surveying traffic, it’s the things like that that really express how real and relatable this show can be.
There are only a few flaws that K-On! has, but it might change the way someone enjoys this show. This is a show that is revolved around music and the aspect of learning how to play an instrument is shown pretty often. However, if you were expecting the light music club to go pretty in depth with techniques and such on how to play certain things in certain songs, they barely go over that. There are times where actual musical skills were being taught such as when Azusa demonstrated how to stretch your fingers in order to more easily play guitar chords but as I said, those kinds of scenes were pretty rare. It’s a shame because I thought it would’ve been actually interesting or even useful to people and fit the musical tone of this show to learn some small things about instrument techniques.
For the characters, their personalities and how they handle situations they find themselves indefinitely helped with making the story entertaining to watch. Their varying personas while having some similarities to each other as well made it feel like these ladies were a real group of friends that you could be a part of. The silly and irresponsible duo of Yui and Ritsu while Mio, Azusa and Mugi are the complete opposite, this divide gives us a good balance and again with the realism, their individual personalities and traits allow you to see yourself in one or two or even all of them. Like myself, I’d like to say I’m a combination of Mio and Yui as I am a mature and reserved person with the tendency of being really, really lazy.
On the topic of side characters, K-On seems to be special since the popularity of some characters in the supporting cast is surprisingly high. Ui for example; Yui’s little sister who is much more responsible is super lovable and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they would want Ui as a sister because of the way she is in the show. It’s the same with other characters like Jun as Azusa’s friend, Nodoka as Yui’s best friend, and even the advisor of the light music club, Sawako-sensei. I really do love how the supporting cast is equally as enjoyable as the main group.
visuals and arts.
After re-watching an episode or two while writing this review, I noticed that the visuals aren’t the best. There are times where the animation is choppy, things like their head shapes are sometimes just weird to look at, the various outfits featured in the ending themes are questionable but I don’t want to bash on the little things too much. Since we’re on the topic of moe, I can say that K-On! does a great job reflecting the sweet and adorable character designs with the usual cutesy eyes and such. Kyoto Animation pretty much specializes in moe themed anime with shows like Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Hibike! Euphonium and Tamako Market so they’ve had a memorable art style throughout their anime that shows the cutesy style they like to go with.
As for the musical side of things, it’s amazing —I truly believe that Houkago Tea Time’s discography is one of my favourites in all anime and Japanese music in general! The music is catchy and definitely reflects the concept of moe, the vocals whether it be a cute voice like Yui’s or a more cool tone like Mio’s are both pleasant, and the music itself with parts like Ritsu’s drumming or Mugi’s solo piano … the lyrics ranging from silly to heart-warming, everything about HTT and how they do music is outstanding and the great amount of popularity for their music is well deserved. If you ask me, “Fuwa Fuwa Time” and “U&I” are two of my absolute favourite tracks from them.
closing – al’s final verdict.
K-On! was one of the first anime shows I’ve ever experienced and it definitely set the bar for what kind of anime I enjoy. It’s influence on myself, other people in the anime community, as well as the genres of comedy, music, and especially the slice of life, are greatly appreciated and to think that one single show like this one has that much impact on people, it’s astonishing.
If you enjoy the slice-of-life genre and the aspect of moe, I would say this show would be perfect for you. Likeable characters, entertaining life shenanigans, really catchy music and a sweet friendship bond that puts a smile on your face, what else would you want?
The moe genre of anime has been looked down upon by a lot of anime fans, mainly because of their depiction of most shows being unoriginal and having visuals that may be a little too cutesy. In K-On!’s case, if you look beyond how cute the character designs and songs can be, you can find that it’s a fun and enjoyable experience throughout the series.
additional pieces of information.
K-ON! Season 1
- first time aired in the spring, 03.04.2009 till 19.06.2009
- al’s review of a tv series, 12 episodes
- from the studio of Kyoto Animation
- tagged under the genre of #slice_of_life, #comedy, #music, and #school
- tagged under the subgenre of #iyashikei, #moe, #school_life, #4-koma, #high_school, #manga, #musical_band, #performance, #school_clubs, and #seinen
- the age-rated as PG-13
Oh man, this was definitely a fun write-up to do since I don’t think I have ever written a real review on this show, even though I have absolutely loved it for a very long time. Moe is a genre that I have been exposed to a lot, but I think K-On! is the best one out of the bunch.
Thanks for reading by the way! There’s an idea floating around in my mind on what anime I should review next and there’s a good chance it’ll be romance related (*lol). Until then, see you next week!
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