K-on! Season 1 (Complete Collection) Review
You have to have had been living under a rock for the past 2 years to not know what K-on! is. This show became a phenomenon right after it aired, bringing with it a brand new wave of fans and fandoms of which I can proudly say I am part of. This show is a mega hit in Japan so how well does it hold up after it takes the short swim across the pool?
K-on! is about a young high school freshman named Yui Hirasawa, who is as energetic and enthusiastic about learning new things as she is clueless about them. She takes an interest in the newly formed Light Music Club which at that point consisted of only two members, Ritsu (The Drummer) and Mio (The Bassist). Armed with nothing but a desire to learn how to play the guitar and a desire for more culinary treats Yui and her new Club (Keionbu) aim to one day play at the Budokan and have lots of fun while they are at it.
The real charm of K-on! is in its characters and how they interact with each other. Each character has certain defining features and reactions that make them unique and stand out. They also play off of each other very well almost always resulting in silly and comical situations. The characters have very cute and innocent character designs and the lack of any sort of fanservice in the entirety of the show helps a lot.
K-on! is at its core a comedy show, but I will be the first to admit that is not where its main strength lies. K-on! has a mix of some light drama in it as well. There are a few conflicts raised in the club here and there but these are not dwelled on for very long. I found this aspect to be very realistic in the sense that even when I was in high school, I wouldn’t hold grudges against my best friends over an argument we had earlier in the day. K-on! is all about friendship and the best moments you have in your High School life while with friends.
I also really like the animation in the series, for a show that consists mostly of girls hanging out and drinking tea at a table, Kyoto Animation really puts a fair bit of effort into it. Watching the show on Blu Ray really helped exemplify this even more. The scenes in which the characters practice with their instruments or play Live on Stage really come to life, very similar to the episode Live Alive from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
K-on! has some of the most catchy tunes in recent anime, composer Tom H@cks really went all out with the Opening and Ending themes and all of the insert songs that the band plays. The English versions of the songs which were added in the extras along side interviews by the English Voice Actors are equally as good.
Speaking of which the Dub is actually pretty decent. Its not the Best Bang Zoom dub but it does have some stellar stand out performances. Up and Coming Voice Actress Cassandra Lee nails Ritsu right out of the park, Cristina Vee does a very mature sounding Mio which is good and Karen Strassman was the perfect pick for Miss Yamanaka. Stephanie Sheh plays Yui Hirasawa and she does a decent job but ends up sounding Like Mikuru Asahaina on more than one occasion which can be a little bit confusing. Christine Cabanos (Squid Girl, Madoka) plays Azusa Nakano and sounds like a less mature Mio which actually works pretty well.
I did have a few discrepancies with some of the translations of certain key events but to be honest that was the fanboy in me exposing himself. Any one else that is totally new to the series would not be affected by this. I also didnt like how the cover of Tsubasa wa Kudasai was changed in the dub, it must have been licencing issues but then again this is also another case of the fanboy in me reacting.
The show is expensive, in order to own the whole collection on Blu Ray a fan has to pay $120. It is split into four different parts so atleast we are not forced to part with our money at one go but still. The asking price is still a bit much.
Final Verdict: Borrow it!..for Now. I really love this show a lot but in the end the price of admission is what gives it a Rent It! verdict. I believe everyone has to try this show atleast once, it has spawned multitudes of clones trying to emulate its success and charm but nothing has come close to its brilliance yet. This show has incredible Re-Watch value, in just 2 years I have watched and re watched the entire series over 4 times, thats 1 time more than my Favourite anime of all time.
Rent the first volume and if (When) you realise that you enjoy the series buy the rest, if you do have disposable income go ahead buy the show, its totally worth it and so is that pink Box it comes with.
K-on! is now available from Madman in both DVD and Blu Ray and can also be purchased digitally on PSN or iTunes.