OP: 「いちばんいっぱい」 (Ichiban Ippai) by 豊崎愛生, 日笠陽子, 佐藤聡美, 寿美菜子, 竹達彩奈 (Toyosaki Aki, Hikasa Youko, Satou Satomi, Kotobuki Minako, Taketatsu Ayana)
「映画 けいおん」 (Eiga Keion)
The sun rises and it’s just another day for the Light Music Club. Or is it? See, I had anticipated that they’d probably start off with a scene involving the gals practicing music… but to start off with them playing a heavy metal song, arguing about the future of the club, and discussing things like musicianship—things you’d never expect them to be doing—that threw me for a loop. I mean, I was having doubts I was watching the fight show for a moment there! But nope, as per typical K-ON! fashion, it’s just a bit of fooling around, where “playing” meant listening to an old Death Devil song (“Hikari”) and acting like they were playing it, and the rest being a ruse to try and trick Azusa, who finally makes her appearance. Yup, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just another day in the lives of Yui, Mio, Mugi, Azusa, and Ritsu. And how I have missed thee!
But first thing’s first, with graduation coming and their high school lives coming to an end, there’s just one more thing that needs to be done before it’s all over: a post-graduation trip. Where shall they go!? Dubai!? Europe!? London!? A hot spring!? How ever will they decide!? In comes Yui to save the day with her ghost leg lottery! Good ol’ reliable Yui. There’s no way she’d rig it… would she? Gosh darn it, I don’t know how I didn’t expect it by now, but she does, leading to quite a few hilarious scenes to say the least. Ultimately though, in what must be a clear reference to the World Cup Octopus from years back, it’s up to Ton-Chan to decide… and it’s off to London they go.
And well, here’s where you realize how just much effort and budget Kyoto Animation must’ve put in for this movie. The level of detail in terms of the airport, the plane itself… the quality and accuracy of the backgrounds in England… it’s just astounding. Granted, they trip up a bit in terms of having the proper accent for the British people the Light Music Club meets on the way (why didn’t they hire Moomba!?), but everything else is just spectacular. I mean, the detail put into the part where they travel via the London Underground, the fact that the Hotel Ibis they stay in is actually a real life establishment in the exact locations they mentioned, as well as the appearance of the London Eye attraction… it’s just awe-inspiring to say the least. They’re things that’ll just have you pausing or rewinding to watch a few times, and it’s just textbook quality animation.
Moving along story-wise though, things don’t quite go according to plan. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because it’s not a slice of life and not K-ON! without some unexpected events to give us some light hearted and comedic moments along the way. And gosh darn do we get a lot of em’. From Yui not realizing London was actually in England, the gals arriving at the wrong Hotel Ibis, to ending up accidentally being mistaken for Maki’s Love Crysis band and being forced to perform when all they wanted was some sushi… there’s just plenty of these moments to go around, and they’re things that just end up putting a smile on your face when it’s all said and done. And this is without mentioning the gags involving Mio and rotating objects (like losing her baggage at the airport carousel) and the various scenes in their hotel suites.
Going back to the performance at the sushi bar for a second, it gets us to our next topic and one of the main reasons I got into K-ON! in the first place: music. And regarding this, if there was one thing that dragged down K-ON!! a little bit for me, it was the lack of actual performances/lives/new songs during that second series. But with the coming of the movie, it’s pretty obvious why that was the case, because Kyoto Animation was saving them… all for this movie. And believe it when I say that they pull out all the stops, giving us not one, not two, but three fully animated performances by Ho-kago Tea Time. Combined with the OP/ED, we get well over half a dozen songs throughout, including the series staples “Fuwafuwa Time”, “Curry Over Rice”, “U&I”, “Rice as a Side Dish”, and “Touched by an Angel”. There’s also a little bit in terms of the other groups like Love Crysis and Death Devil as well. Really, it’s just like that term: “You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.” Except in this case, it’d be “You can take the girls out of Japan, but you can’t take the music out from them”. In the end, they might be in London, but they just can’t escape the music. I gotta say, it was a good thing everyone remembered to bring their instruments along eh? Well, except Mugi… but hey, it’s nothing a quick express delivery and a chunk of money won’t fix!
And now that we’ve covered most of the more tangible aspects of what made the movie such an enjoyable experience, there’s just one more thing left to talk about: the experience of travelling itself. As you may know, I like travelling whenever I get any kind of extended vacation. Mostly it’s just to take pictures and do some typical sightseeing, but hey. Anyway, having recently come back from an extended trip to the West Coast, this movie really brings back some great feelings associated with my various trips through the past few years. Seeing the girls travel out of their country for the first time and being amazed at how everything was compared to Japan… their excitement and enthusiasm, it’s just so accurate and nostalgic in a good way. Mio eagerly taking pictures when she arrived, the gals intentionally going to a sushi bar to try and see how it compares to the sushi made in the country of origin, getting one hell of an experience riding on taxis… to see em’ doing things I’ve done and acting the way I felt during some of my own trips… phew. Granted, I wasn’t THAT giddy on my trips, but still, the fact they’re close enough just adds another layer to how much I appreciated this movie, as it really captures all the feelings associated with travelling around. Sure, there’s the occasional negative like forgetting something at home, maybe some baggage and weather issues, but in the end… travelling’s something that’s worth it, more often than not, and it’s something I hope everyone’s able to do at some point in time. It just broadens your horizons in such a way that so few things can, and you might meet a friend or make lifelong memories you’d never make otherwise.
And speaking of lifelong memories… I feel like that’s kind of what K-ON!’s all about. After following the gals through their high school lives, I can’t help but feel that K-ON!’s not just an animated work with slice of life, comedy, and music elements. Rather, it’s also about treasuring your interactions with your friends and family and about making sure to not spend all your time worrying about the future… to make sure to enjoy what you have in the present. It’s about making sure to create some lifelong memories with the people you’re with now, because while people will leave your life for one reason or another, you’ll always have those memories to fall back on and help you move on. Sure, it’s quite possible I’m going too deep into the matter, but hey, even if it wasn’t intended, I feel that this is something that can be garnered from watching the series either way.
Overall, what can I say? After an eight month wait, the lovable gals of the Light Music Club return for one last hurrah. And it’s a really spectacular one at that. It gives its fans everything they’ve ever wanted from the series, seamless mixing the aspects that made the original series successful: a slice of life filled with cute girls doing cute things, a comedy that had me laughing out loud in real life at a few points, and lighthearted music that’s a nice change from the typical songs I listen to. And most importantly, it gives us something more: a great ending to the K-ON! series. Seeing the extended sequence of how the girls worked together to compose that song for Azusa and seeing that last in class concert… I’ll admit I almost shed a tear there. And that just emphasizes how the movie leaves such a lasting impression, so much so that it’s not only easily better than both seasons of the series, but also marks its territory as one of the more notable works of animation in 2012—especially so when only considering other works of the Movie/OVA/Special variety. And well, let’s just say that if you liked the original series, you’ll definitely love this movie.
Author’s Note: Just a quickie, the movie takes place after the K-ON! Special and goes from a bit before the final episode of K-ON!! to a little bit after it. Also, if you got some free time, take a peek at my blog! Thanks.
Animated GIF: 01 (Courtesy of Croos’ link)
ED: 「Singing!」 by 豊崎愛生, 日笠陽子, 佐藤聡美, 寿美菜子, 竹達彩奈 (Toyosaki Aki, Hikasa Youko, Satou Satomi, Kotobuki Minako, Taketatsu Ayana)