Mon 23 Jul 2012
I have a couple of issues when it comes to movies based on TV series. One of them is the standalone format, where the movie wastes time on some unrelated subplot that has a faux connection to the main story. The other is when they do a high budget recap of the same story found in the TV series with only minor changes, or even use the same TV segments with additional footage to fill in supposed blanks. The latter scenario is still better than creating ridiculous plots to show off pretty visuals without much substance, but it doesn’t solve the issue of ending up with a dull and less than optimum experience. Here, I’m going to address how the K-ON! Movie found its way to fix these issues, and therefore became a valuable product and a rich addition to the K-ON! series.
The movie kicked off right where the anime ended, so it’s a direct continuation to the series rather than a made-up prequel or a forced side story. By doing this, it was able to steal my attention and got me totally invested from the earliest moments. I had a number of sweet flashbacks back from the TV series while peeking into the everyday life of the girls from the light music club again. Things felt as if the keion-bu members were frozen in time patiently waiting for us to come back for more. And for whoever did, they returned the favor with a bang!
Fortunately, the K-ON! Movie didn’t feel like an extended episode from the TV series. First, there is the pump-in budget that shows in almost every scene, I must applaud for Kyoto Animation for their playful attention to details and their courage to actually waste their money on that. Stuff like simulating clumsy video recordings and showing all kinds of people with distinct character models in background might not be much appreciated when viewed independently, but it makes a noticeable difference to the whole experience. As for the script, I was pleasantly surprised when we were treated with the minimum number of recycled jokes from the show. It felt refreshing as every situation offered something new or added a new twist. I’m a sucker for absurd Engrish gags (man do they ever get old?) so I’m giving another thumbs up their use here. Some good share of inside jokes were present as well, so someone needs to be quite familiar with the K-ON! series to fully grasp them — a kind of delightful fanservice I must say. The whole movie experience was like watching an uninterrupted string of comedic situations, one that extends back to the original TV series. I’m not a fan of comedy in general, but K-ON! offers something I appreciate. I’d argue that in a few aspects, K-ON! is similar to Seinfeld, which easily won me over to become my sole favorite sitcom of all times ever since I watched it.
Now can we all agree that K-ON! indeed has one of the better characterizations out there? I believe this plays a big role of what made K-ON! the well-received and popular series it is, even outside its committed otaku circle. I always thought of K-ON! as a family series that anyone, regardless of their age, can grab and enjoy. It’s more than just a collection of random moe elements shoved down our throats: the keion-bu girls have this pure friendship and carefree lifestyle that almost anyone who experienced a blessed childhood can relate to. Coming to the movie, the familiarity we had watching kawaii friends doing kawaii things together for two seasons added much worth to the experience, and didn’t seem to subtract from it.
I believe the secret ingredient behind K-ON!‘s huge success is its inexplicable sense of attachment. And I do not mean just the mind-blowing sisterhood shared between the girls from the light music club. This attachment extends as far to affect our state of mind, engrossing us enough to turn us into helpless slaves of moe. Having said that, I come to point out what could be taken as an obvious criticism against the movie. Whether you loved it or not, I think it’s clear that K-ON! Movie heavily depends on you having already watched the TV series, so I wouldn’t recommend it to newcomers. Do I personally take this as a negative criticism? Of course not, but I still wouldn’t argue with anyone who thinks so. Not because I have no valid reasons, but I’ll be hesitant that we might then come back to the starting point of discussion to rant about the role of standalone movies as commercial products that hardly please the hardcore fans, whom are supposed to be the target of such products in my little perfect world. :p
The K-ON! Movie is something that fans didn’t necessarily need, but still the movie that they deserved. /|\( ;,;)/|\