Number: Volume 1 / 3
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: Manga Series under the same name by Kakifly
Genre: Comedy, Music, School-Life
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition
Runtime: 100 minutes
Cost: $24.95 (DVD), $29.95 (Blu-ray), $29.95 (DVD Collectors Box), $34.95 (Blu-ray Collectors Box)
Classification: This title is rated PG for Mild Themes
Blurb: One of the most popular Japanese anime series in recent years has finally hit English-speaking shores, and recently released was the first in three sets, each with four episodes in them. Following a group of four vastly different High School girls, they decide to revive the schools light music and from there try to train to become a successful band…. but their short attention spans and ditzy guitarist means their future is not guaranteed. Overall, a simplistic story so far that does offer a relaxing watch experience. The design is okay however for an anime series on music, I was expecting more good quality then what was delivered.
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.
For those who have been following anime blogs and the like since 2010, you will no doubt be familiar with this series – due to the considerable sized fanbase, and I am sure many fans from English speaking countries are now very pleased that this title is becoming available over the coming months. I personally have abstained myself from following any of the series as I thought I would save it for the English release – and now that it is here, I can now get the chance to review it! Curious as to what I thought? Read on to find out!
When Yui Hirasawa enters high school, she wants to join a club but can’t decide which one is right for her. Fortunately, the Light Music Club is desperate to find another member or they’ll be disbanded! So, with the enticement of delicious snacks and assurance that no musical experience is necessary, Yui joins the Light Music Club. She becomes the guitarist in this all-girl high school rock band with Mio Akiyama on bass, Ritsu Tainaka on drums and Ysumugi Kotobuki on keyboard. Together, they’re going to rock the school and someday make it to the Budokan! Now, if only they can put down the snacks just long enough to practice.
Generally you will find most 12-episode series only having one volume – however for K-ON they have decided to only include four episodes in this set, which acts as both a benefit and a hinderence when it comes to considering the overall storyline. On this plus side, you get to enjoy the series spread over a number of months but on the opposide side of the scale – you will not necessarily be able to get into the storyline with only four episodes. Either way, this will hopefully be a progressive review that I will be able to build upon as the volumes are released.
As the blurb above stated, the storyline follows four girls who decide to revive the Light Music club with overall aspirations of outdoing their predecessors and playing at major events prior to their graduation. Despite this being a series on a music club, don’t go expecting the series to get into the serious music from the get go – instead, at the start you should expect nothing else besides episodic progression of the story through the eyes of the ditsiest club member – Yui. Having never even held one before, she is convinced into joining the club as their guitarist. The series is supposed to be a comedic school-life show with a music focus – however by the end I don’t think there was anything special in the comedy department however was without a doubt a light hearted and enjoyable watch.
Each of the four episodes offered something different to the mix from Yui wanting and working for an extremely overpriced guitar to the obligatory beach fanservice episode – which whilst holding some aspect of music, were focused on the characters personalities and putting across a storyline rather then the music focus. On the topic of character development, the storyline is primarily focused on Yui so you do get several looks at her past – however the other three main characters only have short bits and pieces revealed of their past. Despite that, I would say their personalities are the your generic ones for the genre – The Ditzy girl, the Rich girl, the “cool but shy” girl and the hyperactive leader, however I do think they are enjoyable to watch.
Overall however, I think with only four episodes, that there is not enough for me to go by to effectively judge the series – however after a stressful day, you may be after a series to sit down and enjoy with a lighthearted storyline and humor… and K-ON! would be one of my top choices in this regard.
The character design quality is slightly conflicting for me. Whilst it is good in the sense that nothing is bad, the character designs could have really used a tad more refinement. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the body designs, as they often switch through outfits (Including an early-off swimsuit episode) and the like which overall look colourful and cute, but the facial expressions and other bits and pieces of their overall anatomy seemed off at times…. ignoring the fact they had a 10-20 second finger squeezing segment. Switching over to the environment designs, nothing but praise from me. Almost every corner of the environments are vibrant and full of colour/life. Another aspect of this which proved strong was the instrument designs (Which I believe are modeled off real life instrument models) and the other bits and pieces such as food which are all appropriately designed.
Cagayake! GIRLS by Aki Toyosaki with Yoko Hikasa, Satomi Satou and Minako Kotobuki
This song is a light-hearted rock song that overall suited the series perfectly and proved overall to be enjoyable – and considering that the series is about a girls Light Music Club, the girly lyrics do suit it well. The actual animation seemed like a mix between a music video (In terms of the characters playing their instruments in different environments) and a normal opening sequence (Showing characters names and portraits etc). The mix was effective.
Don’t say ”lazy” by Yoko Hikasa with Aki Toyosaki, Satomi Satou and Minako Kotobuki
As with the opening sequence, this is sung by the four members of the Light Music Club and is a heavier rock song then the opening one. However, the heavier rock song also proved more successful in my opinion and coupled with the music video style animation – makes this a better watch then the opening (A first time for everything I suppose…..)
I felt overall underwhelmed with the music included in the first four episodes. With the easily winning opening and ending themes you would expect there to be song similar to that in the series right? Well, instead the viewer is rewarded with some lighter toned music that whilst suiting the school setting, could have done with more to it. The “band” essentially only got to play one song over the course of the episodes which was present in episode one, and that was a nice teaser of what is to come however. For voice acting, Stephanie Sheh was responsible for pulling off Yui and whilst I would not call myself a fan of the voice she provided, it was suitable for the role. Christina Vee takes the role of Mio, Cassandra Lee as Ritsu and Shelby Lindley as Tsumugi and whilst I have not had as much exposure to them as anime voice actresses as others, I was finding myself enjoying their dubbing as much as it seems they were themselves when providing it – with a lot of gung-ho enthusiasm in their work.
The one issue I have with Blu-ray discs is perhaps an acceptable risk for the much improved quality of the actual anime visuals…. but in terms of packaging you are not able to enjoy the inside cover art (Or in this series case…. inside poster cover) as the inside of the cover is blue – causing a less desirable viewing experience. But that is only a minor thing in comparison to the rest of the packaging. The cover art as pictured at the start of this review features all four girls and while simple – is visually appealing. The single Blu-ray disc is also interesting with an image of Yui eating a giant doughnut…. which was a great way of merging the design with the shape of the disc. For those after bonus content on the discs – all that is included is a 10 minute 21 second interview with Stephanie Sheh which is an enjoyable watch and trailers for Summer Wars, Evangelion 2.22 and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Personally, whilst I don’t think it stood out in any particular area – it proved to be a relaxing watch and a nice change to most of the more serious anime series I have been watching of late. I am interested to see what they do with this series in the next few volumes and look foward to reviewing them as they become available.
Storyline/Character Development: B-
OP/ED Sequences: A
Music/Voice Acting: B-
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B-