Captivatied by K-ON, again

by eternal on February 12, 2010

It’s been almost a year since K-ON first aired, but I feel as if I never got to say what I wanted. Sure, I have an opinion on the show, but it’s lost in cyberspace, drifting around in comments here and tweets there. I want to put things down on paper, figuratively speaking. I want to put things down in a place that I’ll remember.

The funny thing about K-ON is that I can’t rationally explain my enjoyment of it. Objectively, I think it’s a spectacular moe show, and I realize that I probably just like it because of Mio; but at the same time, that isn’t enough to make it stand out from the crowd. I don’t think it’s a particularly good anime, but it has some sort of mysterious hold over me, something that forces out a smile every time. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the only shows that I’m genuinely looking forward to.

I think I’ve had this post drifting around in my head for a while, but I never had the will to push it out. The OVA certainly helped: it’s not worth writing about, but it’s filled with the same kind of lighthearted, moe-filled character interaction that defines the show. That said, I don’t think the point really hit home until I saw the chart for the upcoming season. The news started to feel real. Just like last year, I’ll be spending my spring grinning like an idiot in front of my TV. Just like last year, I’ll be putting off classic anime and intriguing novels in the name of Akiyama Mio’s finger calluses. The magic is back. The magic that earned 5000 danbooru images in a year is back.

Let’s cut to the chase: K-ON is a moe show. It always was and always will be. Sure, you can watch it for the comedy or the music, but that’s like watching Evangelion for the cool robots – it’s acceptable, but it’s not the main point. I don’t think that it’s particularly significant or symbolic in the genre, but something about its treatment of moe strikes a chord with me. In a sense, it’s the antithesis of the harem/galge genre: instead of making a guy date cute girls, why not just focus on the cute girls? The show severs the relationship between emotional escapism and moe. It puts the gal in galge, and it takes out the ge. The moe of K-ON is artificial, refined, purified. It’s calculated to the point that it creates a pleasantly convincing illusion, and it soothes the soul without relying on awkward self-inserts.

Or at least that’s my rational explanation of it. It’s probably above average as a moe show, but who am I to talk when react like a shy, blushy shoujo protagonist whenever Mio gets embarrassed? All I know is that there’s enough anime that I haven’t seen to keep me from looking forward to something that isn’t here yet, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

And on that note, let me kick reason to the curb and say this: here’s to another season of after school tea time, of Mugi’s lesbian daydreams and Yui’s airheaded mistakes. Here’s to thirteen more episodes of girly rock and meta fanservice.

Here’s to the greatest moe anime I’ve ever seen.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan A February 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Oh true. I need to finish this one. lol


Aorii February 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Moe-overdose, but I think K-ON still goes farther than just the moe.

As much as the moe-haters can bash K-ON because of its influence on the industry, I have to admit it projected a wonderful mood. Relaxation needs no explanation, and never pretending to be serious goes a long way. I complain about other moe doses injected to where they shouldn’t be, but for this one I’m going to sip tea and enjoy the music. Unlike Aria, there’s also enough energy to keep me from falling asleep.


mefloraine February 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I agree with that whole post.
Here’s to a great next season of moe!


Scamp February 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I do not belong in this post. What am I doing commenting here?

*goes back to grinning over the fact that the next season has remarkably few moe shows*


Justin February 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Cannot wait for the next season. I usually am not one to enjoy such a moe-filled anime, but the first season made me over-dose into a state of enjoyment.

The one thing I hope for besides more Mio, is new songs. They can’t play the same damn somgs everytime… can they?


Sorrow-kun February 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm

It’s calculated

Here’s where I agreed with you.

to the point that it creates a pleasantly convincing illusion

Here’s where I stopped agreeing with you.

People are always criticizing Key works for being manipulative, but K-On! takes manipulating moe to such an extreme that it feels incredibly cynical. I think it’s interesting that Seitokai no Ichizon came out a few short months later and at the outset, I thought it was going to be similarly cynical to K-On!. But it still made the time to include moments that were genuinely sentimental and tried to put meaning to the characters and various relationships. The rare times K-On! did this, it just didn’t feel genuine (excluding the extra and the OVA, which did have a few sweet moments).

The other problem I had with K-On! is that it felt phoned-in. We know what KyoAni is capable of, so it was a little unsettling to get something that was executed so lackadaisically. Yes, they’re not going to make gems every time, but this was so far off their usual form. It almost felt like they were saying “second rate is good enough, provided there’s enough moe”. It’s not quite the same extreme as Brains Base making Akikan, but I don’t think it’s that far off.


ETERNAL February 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm

It creates a “pleasantly convincing illusion” if you’re the type of person who would enjoy the show in the first place. I don’t think KyoAni was trying to turn it into anything more than a fluffy moe show. It’s like how Key requires you to be a fan of visual novels in general: if you’re not attached to the characters, you won’t feel sad. I think a lot of people want K-On to be another Aria or HidaSketch, which it isn’t, and was never supposed to be.


Yi February 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I love K-On! too and like you, I couldn’t pinpoint why I liked it so much.
Then when I watched it with my sister, who was not an anime fan or even a regular watcher, she said she enjoyed it simply because it was light and relaxing. It was something that you could just enjoy without having to think about anything… A mindless retreat. And I agreed.
“It’s calculated to the point that it creates a pleasantly convincing illusion, and it soothes the soul without relying on awkward self-inserts.” Agreed. It’s a moe show that does not overemphasize anything.
I really look forward to it as well.


TheBigN February 14, 2010 at 12:39 am

When I read comments like that from Sorrow-kun, I have to wonder if he’s read the source material as well, since the majority of jokes and such come directly from there. Maybe because KyoAni “highlights” these more?

On a side note, I feel like I’ll never be able to refer to a show as a “moe show” for various reasons. :P


zzeroparticle February 14, 2010 at 3:22 am

Well, the show should be able to stand on its own though, so to use the “it’s how the original work was” defense doesn’t really do it for me.

I mean, I’m sure that if I read the work that K-ON is based on, I wouldn’t have watched it since it’s not my kind of thing and go back to reading ARIA, HidaSketch, and YKK (and watched the corresponding series) which definitely are.


Sorrow-kun February 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I’ve read a couple of random chapters from the manga. It’s not the sort of thing I’ll ever commit to following, but, strangely enough, I found the small amount of exposure I’ve had to the K-On! manga much more enjoyable than the overall anime. It’s hard to explain why, and very possibly I just managed to pick the “right” chapters. I guess the difference was that, in the short chapters I happened to read, it never really felt like I was having moe shoved down my throat, but in the anime, that was almost an inescapable feeling.


jpmeyer February 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

Ichigo Mashimaro.

That is all.


Author February 16, 2010 at 2:00 am

Hated that shit. They are just not near in quality. Objectively, IM was seriously overdone and stitled. And personally, I hated Anna’s mendacity so bad. By comparison, K-ON’s only offense is the gentle application of retard moe.


Titolion February 22, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I agree with Sorrow. K-ON! is KyoAni moe-manipulation to the extreme (and a great way to continue the war with A-1 pictures), you can smell the laziness put in the show. Its: “here, take the extreme moe and shut up cause you wont want anymore”.

A comparison with Key is really a huge stretch. And I didnt feel relaxed, I felt exasperation. Kyo-Ani exasperation. I have read the 4komas, and its better by far because is “trying to be funny” not “trying to smash you with huge loads of cheesy-retarded-fluffy-moe fanservice”. Sometimes direct fanservice-ecchi shows are more pleasant than all these illusionary moe simply because they deliver without trying to be pretentious with the characterization.

I think the characters in the premise were good, and I admit I like Mio but thats not a merit of the anime, which just pimped her to please the masses. And we always have the K-ON! doujinshis to please us in other terms.


mr_cirno February 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

watching K-On is like playing Serious Sam – you do not know why, but you still enjoy the mindless experience of girls being retarded moe (or blowin’ up hordes of moe stupid aliens in case of SS)


Mccurry March 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Having read the main post, I found myself agreeing completely with what it is saying, despite not entirely understanding the term “moe” (sorry, I’m a newbie to the internet anime community), at least in this context. It’s exactly as others have descibed it, K-On is meant to be a simple and happy escape, using the interaction of the characters to achieve this, not some deep look into social psyche or a long plot-based story. The anime itself never tries to deny this, think “light and fluffy time”. Yes, the characters may be “moe”, but would it work with them being different (like would TTGL be anywhere near as memorable without the manliness of Kamina). As such, I will be looking forward to the next installment as well. (Also, I agree completely with Justin, some more songs are a must)


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