Graduating high school is a large part of one’s life.
While some might of hated their time in high school, there’s no doubting that it’s a important part of the your life. During that time we start to define who we are and the types of things and people that we like.
After four (or in Japan 3 years) you have to move onto different things like college, university or the workforce.
Unfortunately we don’t always go in the same direction as our friends but it’s the memories of the time you spend together that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Fiction often pulls from this experience and the K-On! franchise is no different.
K-On! the Movie is a feature length anime film produced by Kyoto Animation based upon the manga series created by Kakifly.
The film story lands somewhere after the events of bonus episode Plan! and before the final episode of the series.
As mentioned in the previous posts the Light Music Club; guitarist and vocalist Yui (Stephanie Sheh), bassist and vocalist Mio (Cristina Vee), keyboardist Mugi (Shelby Lindley), drummer Ritsu (Cassandra Lee) and the younger guitarist Azusa (Christine Marie Cabanos) plan a trip for their graduation.
While Azusa is hesitant to join her bandmates due to her not graduating that year, she joins the four in making the trip by plane to London, England.
As you’d imagine a series of fish out of water moments take place over the course of their trip.
During their five days, After School Teatime ends up being confused about changing time zones, have a hard time understanding the English, get confused in a Blues Brothers-like case of mistaken identity and play in front of a foreign audience.
Much like the past two seasons of the show, these moments are quite humorous. However, there are a number of jokes that don’t make sense due to the English dub, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Unlike the past few seasons, the films animation is stronger.
While little changed animation wise during the two seasons it’s clear that the film was given more of a budget to work with. The added boost of cash gives the animators more to work with as the characters faces and movements are more expressive.
Scenes of the girls running around London are given more depth due to the fact that characters movement is much more realistic, making some of the montage insert shots much funnier. Couple that with a much more cinematic camera style and the movie has more freedom to try different things.
Additionally it’s clear that there was close detail paid to the new setting of London. A number of great exterior shots help set-up the difference in setting. However, while the architecture of London was handled well it’s people are a different story.
The English people, much like background characters in the show, look more or less the same. Most have pale skin, smaller eyes, larger noses and blondish hair. Making matters worse is their voice acting which leaves much to be desired as well.
While it’s hard to expect authentic English, Irish and Scottish voices the few times we hear one of them talk their actors range from bad to laughable.
Adding to the confusing is the use of the English dub.
It’s difficult to switch from one language to another in any film, however when the characters, who are dubbed in English start acting as if their speaking Japanese and have a hard time understanding other people speaking in English, it can leave the viewer a little confused.
This is one of the issues with translating humour from one language to another. This clearly was meant for the original dub and was nearly impossible to convey in English.
Despite the language barrier K-On! has plenty of funny moments that don’t rely of the tongue they’re spoken with.
Seeing how this is a drama based around music you’d hope that the film would have a number of special songs that’ll make the film different from the show. While there isn’t a lot of new music, the little we hear fits in with the rest of the series.
Continuing in the theme of strong opening and closing music the film features two fairly different songs.
The opening song, Ichiban Ippai, is a very light and acoustic song featuring a bouncy string arrangement, group vocals and a regal horn line near the songs end. The track serves as a fun opening song and setups the viewer for the type of adventure this film will be, light and goofy.
However, the final song Singing, is quite different.
The track is more in line with the types of closing songs used in the series. The Rocking bass line and chord structure end up working extremely well with the Mio’s melody and the keyboard parts.
Singing might be one of the series strongest tracks and the music video like visuals back it up nicely, with the girls playing in what looks like a lush Scottish cliff, with the wind flowing past the group as they perform.
During my last review I wrote that episode 24 was a fitting ending to the series, however after watching the film that isn’t altogether true.
The Movie ends up adding to the final episode with the addition of the trip leading to the four graduating girls writing their farewell song for Azusa. The song seemed to not have a lot of backstory before hand so the film adds to the scene nicely.
Despite the story continuing in the manga series, it’s clear that K-On! the Movie was meant to be the finale of the anime series.
While the show wasn’t always the most exciting show, the movie ends up being a fitting end to the anime.
However, if your new to the series, little is explained to new viewers so of course the film should only be watched after you’ve seen the first two seasons.
But if you have, then the movie is a fitting end to a franchise filled with laughs and smiles.
K-On! The Movie was written by Reiko Yoshida, produced by Takahiro Ono and directed by Naoko Yamada. The film, like the series, is licensed by Madman Entertainment (Australia), Sentai Filmworks (North America) and Manga Entertainment (UK).