26 Jul 2012

K-ON! Movie (Anime) Review

K-ON! The Movie (2011)
Format: Movie, 109 minutes
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Score: 4 stars
Summary: A love letter to the fans of the series. It's hard to imagine a more perfect way to end this franchise.

K-ON!, you either love it or hate it. A lot of people blamed KyoAni and its Haruhi series for starting the moe phenomenon and essentially changing the whole anime industry. I tend to disagree since I see Haruhi as much more than that, being an incredible mystery sci-fi story with a very original take of the genre. But others look at Haruhi from the slice-of-life angle and I guess their accusations are valid there. K-ON!, however, took the moe formula even further. Cute girls doing cute things is a genre in and of itself these days, and a very popular one at that. It used to be limited to kids shows or very niche series (Ichigo Marshmallow) but that doesn't seem to be the case any more...

Despite that, K-ON! remains at the forefront of this genre. No one else really does slice-of-life light-comedy cuteness like KyoAni does, with little to no ecchi. They achieve this by building great characters with distinct personalities. For example, the above scene of just the characters' legs towards the end of the movie is chocked full of tiny details in the animation that reflect their individual personalities perfectly. Yui in her trademark black stockings walking backwards and the occasional knock-knee. Ritsu with her energetic wide steps that always seem to have a slight spring to them. Mio's small shy steps that still exude a certain maturity. Mugi always following behind with cheerful, girly steps. These characters are in the only reason why the movie works at all.

KyoAni does the smart thing and places the plot and setting second to the characters. London is just the "character of the week" or a simple setting for the characters to play off. Ko Ransom's review on Anime News Network says it best:
This approach might be summed up best in one of the final scenes of the London sequence, where during their second concert, Yui is fixated on a baby in a mother's lap. While shots of the concert are contrasted with overlooking images of London with Big Ben in the center of the frame, it is clear that at that moment, Yui is fully concentrated on playing her music for a single child, effectively transforming Big Ben into nothing more than a plain clock in the background, counting down the few hours the girls have left in the country.
And without words, the film is able to communicate these things to the viewers. That's not to say no attention was paid to the setting though. From the London cabs, attractions, and even the location of Hotel Ibis, everything was crafted with an attention to the small details. It captures the bewilderment of a first-time traveller quite well! Mio snapping away with her Lomo LC-A right from the moment the stepped out of the airport. LOL

If I had one complaint, it would be that they did not animate the concert scene well enough. They were definitely of higher quality than the ones in the TV series, but there were a lot of still shots and pans. I think the best animated concert scene still belongs to Angel Beats!, though that was entirely CG and K-ON!'s is mostly traditional animation. However, the pans and stills are meaningful in their own ways, not just to establish the location but also to create the atmosphere through all the tiny details in the backgrounds.

But why should I complain? There's probably about the same amount of music-playing as the 2 TV seasons combined. My favourite characters are back, lovingly animated and voiced, in an awesome adventure that brings everyone closer together. They even bring it back to the graduation of Yui and gang and present it from a slightly different perspective. This all leads to an incredibly satisfying conclusion that the TV series never really seemed to do. What more can fans ask for?

Here's a gallery of the movie's ED, without credits! Click on them for larger image!

1 comment:

j-pombur5 said...