The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

K-On! Movie Review

They have been waiting all this time. Time has stood still for them, but it will begin to flow again.

This review will complement the one on my website: it has a different set of pictures here and will be more or less a commentary of various, random thoughts I’ve had of the movie.  Thus, in order to see other screenshots, a visit to my website will be necessary. That said, I’ve posted a carbon copy of my review here for ease-of-access.

Personal Opinion

The K-On! Movie remains one of the most anticipated movies of 2011, although for logistical reasons, also holds the distinction of being one of the more anticipated movies of 2012. This is for a good reason: the movie essentially amplifies everything that made the TV series so successful and is, for the lack of a more suitable term, awesome. The entire plot (and its execution) in the K-On! is straightforward: Hokago Tea Time go to London and write a song for Azusa. The character dynamics, coupled with everyday events like going to an airport, exploring a foreign nation and playing things by ear, lend a considerable amount of comedy to the movie. Character dynamics have formed the bulk of the plot in the conventional TV series and continues to do so; indeed, the movie feels a lot like an extended TV episode. However, movies have a greater degree of freedom in setup with respect to context. In this case, the girls set out on a trip to London, England (not London, Ontario). While this is initially done as a pretext to conceal the fact that they are trying to get a gift for Azusa, the trip becomes reality. The majority of the movie is focussed on the girls exploring various aspects of London, and returns to Japan in the final act of the movie as they finalize their graduation gift for Azusa. Thus, the movie can be seen as being broken into three distinct acts: the prelude going to London, exploration of London and finally, the preparations to give Azusa her gift. Finally, the animation deserves special mention; while viewers have come to expect high quality work from KyoAni, the K-On! Movie is animated a step above its TV counterparts, featuring more innovative camera effects in addition to the subtleties and contributes to the sense that this really is a movie and not merely a 2-hour special; with sweeping angles, viewers are treated to a sense of immersiveness that even the TV series did not evoke.

The opening act is executed in the familiar manner viewers have come to expect from K-On! and is centred around the carefree atmosphere surrounding the girls as they both struggle to decide on a suitable gift for Azusa and prepare for their trip to London. Once the logistics are setup, they arrive at the airport and immediately set about doing ordinary things with the Hokago Tea Time flair. Thus, viewers will note their own amusement at watching Yui and Ritsu mess around with the moving walkways, and Mio’s overwhelming sense of awe at the sight of commercial aircraft. The flight to London is equally as enjoyable to watch, especially with respect to Yui and Azusa’s attempts at wielding English. However, things really pick up once the girls arrive in London. Their limited English does not prevent them from enjoying the scenery in London to the fullest extent possible. Their travels set to a montage, some may find this scene a little rushed, reflecting on the sense of time during a vacation in a foreign nation, capturing not only the excitement and unfamiliarity surrounding travel in an overseas nation, but also how much of a blur things seem to go when one is having a good time in general. With this pacing in mind, no attention is spared to the details of the landmarks and settings the girls visit. It is clear that the K-On! movie goes to great lengths to capture these emotions and ultimately succeeds; one of the more subtle elements involves the choice to request native British English speakers to take on the role of the British citizens. In the original theatrical film, their dialogue lacked subtitles. These scenes prove easy enough to understand for native English speakers, but those unfamiliar with the language will probably be just as lost as the girls (except Mio, who demonstrates a reasonable level of skill in comprehension) as they try to talk with hotel staff and restaurant management. The language barrier sets up for an unusual turn of events: performances in London venues. Despite the context shifting so dramatically (and being somewhat unrealistic), the girls rise to the occasions magnificently and put on spectacular performances. These lapses in reality remind the audience that the movie is indeed fiction and that out-of-this-world stuff is possible. In the movie’s context, it gives the girls an opportunity to perform in a foreign locale, while simultaneously reflecting how “Hokago Tea Time will always be Hokago Tea Time”.

The final act returns the girls to Japan and with it, an overlap between the movie and the TV series, presenting the same events from a different angle. From the TV series, we note that Yui is running late on the day of graduation, but the reason is not explicitly stated. The movie then tells us that Yui is, in fact, trying to finalise Tenshi ni Fureta yo. From a personal standpoint, the final act is reminiscient of software development in that it shows the viewers how song development progresses, as well as how sometimes, inspiration can stem from the most unusual of places. The analogy is that people end up seeing the final product in all its glory (as well as its flaws) without seeing how the product reached its final state. In seeing Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi build this song, the extent of their feelings for Azusa become immediately clear and serves as the most natural, logical conclusion to the entire series. The K-On! Movie is ultimately successful for the same reasons that the TV series was so successful: it depicts a school trip in a polished, clean manner and accentuates the idea that the memories that an event has the potential to be arises not from the event itself, but rather, the people one participates in said event with. At this point in time, I can safely say that all the K-On! fans have already watched and enjoyed the movie, so no recommendations for them need to be made. However, the movie’s plot is sufficiently standalone and focussed such that first-time anime fans might find this to be a suitable gateway into anime.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The movie opens with Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi emulating the Death Devils, and then proceeding to the closest thing we’ve seen to a fight. The act is lost moments later, and the girls resume their fluffy personalities shortly thereafter.

  • Yui states that she wants to do something big for Azusa, and wishes to keep it secret from her so it is a surprise. In this scene, Yui’s use of candies to mark a trail is surprisingly reminiscent to the Family Guy gag “ooh a piece of candy!”. The funny thing is,  Yui is one of the few people who might realistically fall for such a trick.

  • Yui questions Ui for any suggestions; the latter jokingly responds that staying an extra year will do the trick for Azusa.

  • In order to keep things concealed, the excuse is that their plan was really about a graduation trip somewhere. At this point in time, they have not set the location itself.

  • Classic K-On! style antics are the norm, as are facial expressions. In particular, Azusa appears to wear the Haruhi-chan-esque expression the most frequently in the movie, typically in displeasure at Yui’s actions.

  • This methodology proves to be a valid means of choosing a place to visit. When the trailer first aired on YouTube, the only way to find it was by typing out the hiragana. I decided that we couldn’t have that and posted an English titled trailer.

  • Despite being the most mature of all the girls, Mio nonetheless lapses into the occasional moment of emotion.

  • My website focussed on why the movie is awesome as a whole: this post serves to show off and discuss more subtle details that viewers might miss.

  • In reality, packing for a vacation is a pain in the lower backside. K-On! demonstrates its capacity to make something so mundane seem more interesting in this scene.

  • Air regulations dictate that instruments must be carried by a case with a rigid body in order to be checked in: guitars are too large to be carried as carry ons and must be checked in.

  • I’ve had complaints from at least one blogger about my promotion techniques: I contend that my methods are not illegal or immoral. For those interested in what happened, I posted a link to this particular article to ensure that readers of another blog could access screenshots. The original article lacked images whatsoever, so it would be beneficial to the viewers (who would be interested in screenshots) and for myself (increased traffic). From this outlook, since the original article would have views anyway, I hardly think my methods are immoral.

  • For amusement, here’s a scene from the movie that was pretty much the first thing shown in the trailer. It has led to an inordinate amount of art depicting Mugi with the classic pouty-face expression.

  • I realised that my discussions hardly concern the soundtracks for the movie. The truth is that the background music neatly supplements the scenes and events, but isn’t distinct enough to merit any recommendations. That said, I did pick up the soundtrack back in January: listening to a movie soundtrack often gives insights into the events in a movie.

  • Whenever I reserve plane tickets, I try to book tickets for the front of the aircraft. A quick search reveals that economy class seats to London by Japan Airlines will cost 2518 Canadian dollars per passenger per economy class seat. These figures are straight from TripAdvisor: the calculations on AnimeSuki are totally inaccurate, with one individual claiming that will cost 11470.77 USD per person. Another individual has claimed that it will cost 1300 USD per person. That is also inaccurate, being slightly under the prics posted at TripAdvisor.

  • I believe there is only one other scene in the movie where a character is depicted with wingdings overlapping with their eyes. On a 17 hour flight, two meals are covered in the cost of the plane tickets, along with various refreshments.

  • The Black cabs depicted in the movie are typically used by wealthier individuals and businessmen travelling between destinations. Again, I’m picking out details on AnimeSuki because they often report erroneous findings. One poster has claimed that it costs £8 (roughly 12.65 CAD) to travel a mile by taxi. This roughly converts to £12.8 (roughly 20.25 CAD) per kilometre. Such a rate is not unreasonable, since taxis usually have a flat rate, with additional kilometres costing an additional fee. Thus, if one travels a shorter distance, the fee will seemingly be more expensive.

  • There’s nothing like the rush of listening to English in the K-On! Movie; in the original theatrical screening, I noticed the audience react in bewilderment at the unsubtitled English dialogue. Then Mio translates on their behalf and the audience relaxed a little.

  • Mugi’s comprehension of English is surprisingly disappointing, considering that she travels frequently. On the other hand, Mio fares better but is too shy to use the language in its full power.

  • The K-On! Girls join Harry Potter in having travelled on the London Underground. Parts of the London Underground are built at a depth of 61m, far deeper than most subways in the world.

  • A comfortable pair of walking shoes is essential for vacations. When Azusa’s feet start hurting, the others kindly insist on getting her a new pair of shoes.

  • The girls put on a reasonable performance in a sushi bar despite being tired from a day’s worth of travels. Yui’s expectation that the performance would result in sushi is a fairly amusing one.

  • Ritsu greets a friend warmly: they are the Love Crisis and were originally slated to perform at the sushi bar’s opening.

  • Ui’s foresight is impressive as per usual. Les Stoud’s survival techniques may seem out of place in a foreign nation, but the mentality nonetheless holds true in that one should remain level-headed in light of unexpected twists.

  • Similar signs exist in Hong Kong; I’m used to looking left for oncoming traffic before crossing the road, and that habit carries over.

  • I’m fairly certain that these places exist in London. KyoAni is famous for replicating every detail of their anime’s settings: subtle things such as lights flickering on the London Underground C-stock and a well-rendered Southeastern Class 465 leaving Charing Cross give an impression of just how much effort went into the settings awesome.

  • Mio’s excitement towards all things London bring to light a side of her that is rarely seen in the TV series.

  • English speakers may laugh derisively at this scene; the sign on that container says “Dog Waste”. The moral here is not to stick your hand in any containers regardless of where you go.

  • At one point, Yui mentions that she wishes to write a song that captures the spirits of the Streets of London, a clever and subtle call-out to the song written by Ralph McTell and released as a single in 1974. Sam Hui does his own version of the song; I am a huge fan of Cantonese pop (it helps that it is my mother tongue) and have always been impressed with his songs.

  • Another subtle aspect of Mio’s personality makes a return in the movie from season one and is seen here being dragged to the London Eye.

  • The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames in London, England. The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft). It was built in 1999 and is visited by over 3.5 million people annually.

  • I believe this is Borough Market, a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, London, England. It is one of the largest food markets in London, and sells a large variety of foods from all over the world.

  • I’ll let viewers watch this scene for themselves to enjoy yet another endearing moment.

  • I read somewhere that anime blogs that do ‘episodic reviews’ are less favoured than those who do so-called ‘editorial reviews’. Granted, my posts are very much inspired by the former, when the internet was still young and only a handful of people had access to anime. That said, most people hesitate to download 1080p anime unless they have the hard disk storage for it. Therefore, the purpose of this blog still stands: to provide a place for people to see what the anime appears like at 1080p.

  • Detractors of my style will immediately argue that most anyone can download anime at 1080p. The key here is download: that assumes one has a reasonably powerful connection to actually do so, and then the hard disk space to store it. A blu-ray drive, paired with a tool like VLC allows one to extract screenshots efficiently without consuming hard disk space for the movie itself.

  • I can’t verify the accuracy of this claim, but it appears that sending Mugi’s keyboard from the Kyoto region to London, UK is almost $1800 USD, assuming Mugi uses UPS.

  • It is almost a little too convenient that there is a Japanese culture festival in London right as they visit, but highly beneficial for the story.

  • Yui’s hesitancy to plug Gitah into the amp results from an appliance exploding in her face earlier at the hotel, marking the most amount of explosions we’ll see in the movie. Yamanaka sensei makes a dramatic appearance here, having just arrived from Japan.

  • The London act concludes here. Personally, I found the length of the London act to be well-suited for the anime: the movie is not about what the girls do, but their present company as they experience adventure.

  • The remainder of the movie is dedicated to organising a performance for their graduating class and putting together the song for Azusa.

  • Uninformed critics have cited that music is too insignificant in K-On!, and that the songs are insincere, poorly produced and so on. Their opinions are merely thus, and should not dissuade anyone from seeing this film.

  • The return to Japan gives the remainder of the events an old, familiar feeling, much as how one typically feels when they return from vacation to another nation. I’m surprised that no one got jet lag: from a personal standpoint, the best solution to beating jet lag is to enforce a strict sleep schedule on return, then lift weights and eat normally.

  • This scene really resonated with me, as I watched Yui, Mio, Mugi and Ritsu shout on their school’s rooftops, reflecting on both their innermost feelings and carefree natures.

  • “Tenshi ni fureta yo” is the single most moving song sung by HTT, and for good reason: it was developed around the girls’ expression of their feelings and gratitude for all Azusa had done for their band.

  • I’ve pretty much exhausted everything I’ve wished to say about the movie at this point, and will be content to show you just one more screenshot.

  • All in all, the K-On! Movie is worth watching for every reason the TV Series is worth watching; the show is ultimately about how everything is special if the group of individuals one is with is special, regardless of what one is doing.

4 responses to “K-On! Movie Review

  1. vimitsu November 18, 2013 at 18:16

    “Everything is special if the group of individuals one is with is special, regardless of what one is doing.” Very nice and thoughtful review.


  2. Edward November 24, 2013 at 14:54

    I love how London is portrayed in K-On! The Movie – great review!


  3. Pingback: Girls und Panzer Der Film Sequel OVA: Alice War! | The Infinite Zenith

  4. Pingback: Staying Behind!- Appreciating Quieter Moments, and How A Rainy Afternoon Foreshadowed K-On!’s Future Directions | The Infinite Zenith

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