Second seasons are few and fair between for anime. Most titles end up having their set number of episodes, normally around 26, and then the story wraps up and the animation team moves onto something else.
However, there are a number of titles that get a second order. These titles generally are some of the more popular titles of the genre with fans in not only Japan but in the other anime markets.
K-On!! is one of those titles and it’s lucky for all of us that we got another serving of tea and cake.
K-On!! is the second season of a series based upon a manga created by Kakifly and originally published by Houbunsha.
The series picks up a few months after the events of the first season and continues the adventures of the members of the Light Music Club; guitarist and vocalist Yui (Stephanie Sheh), bassets and vocaliest Mio (Cristina Vee), keyboardist Mugi (Shelby Lindley), drummer and club president Ritsu (Cassandra Lee) and the younger guitarist Azusa (Christine Marie Cabanos).
However, the band isn’t the only focus this time as many of the supporting characters get their chance to shine due to the larger episode order.
Several episodes focus of the likes of Yui’s sister and Azusa’s friend Ui (Xanthe Huynh), their fellow classmate and member of the jazz club Jun (Michelle Ann Dunphy), student council member Nodoka (Laura Bailey) and the light music club’s advisor Sawako (Karen Strassman).
The episodes that focus more on these characters end up being some of the better ones of the series including the later half of the connected episodes Field Trip and Staying Behind where we see what the supporting characters doing while the main characters are away on a school trip.
Over the course of the season the club and their friends end up going through a number of adventures during the school year.
From selling an old guitar that was found in their clubroom, to studying for their finals and applying for colleges the issues are dealt with the same gravity as the past 13 episodes (meaning hijinks ensues).
The show ends up using much of the same humour as before i.e. sight gags and over the top narration. These moments, much like the pervious season make the show hard to dislike as many of the jokes end up hitting the mark.
While the show is funny a major issue is the general lack of character growth throughout the series as many of the same ideas and characteristics are still in place for the characters by the end of the series. For example while Yui ends up passing her tests it’s brushed off more as a fluke than growth as a student.
Development issues aside, the show is still funny and this issue can easily be forgotten.
In spite of that, while the show is a comedy, in the end the main theme for this season is closure.
While this is final year of high school for four of the band members the theme of moving on and growing up is felt most harshly by Azusa who is a year younger than the rest of her bandmates. As you might expect her arc revolves around being left behind.
K-On!!’s final episodes deal largely with the group’s plans and how they wish to stick together despite their looming graduation.
For a show that mostly features characters sitting around drinking tea and playing music, these themes are a lot heavier.
The added story elements allows the creators to tell a story with a bit more heart, something that is felt in the final episodes and ends up acting as a good close for the series, even though it wasn’t.
On the technical side, while the show’s episode order was longer the animation and character design in the same.
The animation is pretty straightforward until the show starts using sight gags. Once again the show doesn’t rely on these too often so when they happen it adds a bit more of a comedic punch.
One of the things that was disappointing about the first season was its lack of music, or rather the characters performance. While the show’s main focus is on the day-to-day life of the characters there are more of the band moments in this show.
In a number of episodes the band end up writing new songs and in some cases even recording them for record of their friendship.
Much like the last season the band performs the opening and closing songs of the show. This time K-On!! features two sets of strong sequences that’ll have you tapping your toe and grinning from ear to ear. The song that stands out the most has to be the first closing theme featuring heavy use of an organ.
Despite that the song that really stands out is featured in the season’s “True” final episode, where the four graduating students play a goodbye song for Azusa. The song, Tenshi ni Fureta yo!, ends up calling back to the first moments when the club tried to recruit her and features a great deal of dramatic weight.
This moment would have been a great send off for the series, if it there weren’t already two extra episodes, one OVA episode and a feature film following the end of show.
While the other episodes add to the overall story, their inclusion wasn’t all that needed. The OVA on the other hand serves as a prelude to the feature film and follows the group planning a trip out of the country.
In the end, K-On!! ends up being a stronger season than the first. With more episodes the show allows the secondary characters to shine more and add to the comedy. The show’s still funny and even features some more musical moments.
K-On!! is a solid watch for fans of the original season or for someone looking for a good comedy series.
K-On!! was written by Reiko Yoshida and directed by Naoko Yamada. The series was produced by Kyoto Animation and licensed by Sentai Filmworks.