It’s been just under a year since the K-On! manga was released. The new manga was broken up into two independent stories: Manga Time Kirara would depict the university lives of the original Hokago Teatime members, while Manga Time Carat would focus on the lives of Azusa and Ui. It’s been a year, and having had the opportunity to read the chapters in the latest stories, it is clear that the manga is successfully delving into storylines that might be superfluous if adapted into another animated series.
- “It is hard to convince a high-school student that he will encounter a lot of problems more difficult than those of algebra and geometry.” -Edward W. Howe. Then you get to university and realise that trying to understand the TCA cycle and optimising a Red-Black tree (without causing a memory error) will kick your ass several times over.
On the Hokago Teatime side of the story, Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi begin their lives as university students at J. Women’s University and gradually become accustomed to lectures and daily interactions with several people in their dorms, among them Akira Wada, Sachi Hayashi, Ayame Yoshida, Kana Yohii, Chiyo Hirose and Megumi Sokabe. While personal experience says that University is a time of writing papers, performing various wet-lab techniques (like Western Blots, PCR and SDS-PAGE) and studying for various exams, the manga depicts the lives of the girls as far more laid-back. This is, of course, a relative measure, as the girls nonetheless handle the stresses of university, as well as the radically different social environment; they quickly become friends with those in their dormatory, as they share similar interests. At the time of writing, we’ve mostly seen the girls’ daily lives during the academic semester, and have yet to see any major concerts or performances.
- From left to right: Jun Suzuki, Ui Hirasawa, Nao Okuda, Sumire Saitō and Azusa Nakano.
Back in high school, Azusa has now assumed the role of the club president for the Light Music club. Together with Ui and Jun, she heads the club’s activities, and are soon joined by Sumire Saitō and Nao Okuda. While Azusa initially feels unqualified to handle the position, the support of her friends and Yamanaka-sensei spur her onwards, eventually convincing her to take on the role as the band’s new vocalist. She renames the band to “Wakaba Girls” (“Fresh Leaf Girls”) and begins forging new memories with the new band. Similar to the Hokage Girls, they have yet to actually perform in any concerts, and for the time being, much of the story has centered around practise sessions, the girls’ lives at school and more recently, a trip to a Kotobuki summer home, courtesey of Sumire, who revealed her family to be assistants for the Kotobuki family. This is how she got to know Mugi, and source material attributes their friendship to be as close as the relationship that Yui and Ui share.
- The latest chapter of the manga set events at a Light Music Club Training Camp. In the anime, it is depicted as one part actual practise to several parts of goofing off in general.
The manga releases relatively infrequently, and I only read it on occasion (thanks to the awesome powers of CloudReader for iOS). Nonetheless, the new manga represents a logical extension to the events of the older manga and anime, and of course, it gives K-On! fans something to occupy their time with (assuming they aren’t swamped with exams, papers and grant proposals right now!) while they await the K-On! Movie; estimates put the release date of the Blu-Rays and DVDs in June at the earliest, although a more realistic expectation might be August 2012 or later.