With their high school graduation coming up, Yui Hirasawa and the other members of their music club (Afternoon Tea Time), including junior Azusa Nakano, want to go somewhere for their graduation trip. They decide to go to London, England, where Yui struggles with what to get for Azusa as a parting gift before she and her friends move on to college.
I wasn't a big fan of the original K-On! TV series. I thought it was okay at best, not deserving of its superfluous popularity. The K-On! Movie, on the other hand, tries to be something more than the happy-go-lucky filler series the original K-On! was. And much to my surprise, it does manage to be quite a bit better than the original series.
Despite advertising the girls' going to London on practically every trailer and poster, such an event doesn't happen until nearly 40 minutes into the K-On! Movie. When they do finally get there, the new change of location allows the K-On! cast to play around a bit. Regular series screenplay writer Reiko Yoshida does manage to wring out a few funny jokes from the girls' trip abroad, and a lot of it really has to do with the language barrier. This works because Kyoto Animation actually bothered to get English-speaking people for the girls to interact with in London, allowing the viewers to really do feel like Yui and the girls are outsiders in an (to them) unfamiliar world. The London scenery looks quite nice; it's pretty obvious the movie's budget went into all the gorgeous detail of the vast city. And the girls do explore quite a bit of it, too. For some reason I was hoping that the girls' London sightseeing would include a couple of licenses / licensed covers of songs from British music artists. Instead we got a couple of music tracks that kind of sound like U-2 and Supertramp, but not enough for Kyoto Animation to get sued for copyright for. The rest is just the typical background cues and pop songs. There are a couple of new songs in the K-On! Movie, but except for one song in the finale, they don't add much to the film.
Before and after the London trip, there's the usual school comedy antics with Yui and her friends, which are a little bit funnier than in K-On!, since we don't have the same five jokes over and over again like the original show did (i.e. Ritsu forgetting something, Mio crying in embarrassment, Sawako's costume fetishes, etc.). There's also a surprisingly touching sub-plot through the movie with Azusa struggling with the leaving of the other members of her club, who are moving on to college in a manner of weeks. You do feel for Azusa throughout the film, and I give extra kudos to her actress Ayane Taketatsu. At the same time Yui is trying to think of a gift for Azusa. This is also a sweet sub-plot, though unfortunately it also leads to some pretty stupid humor even for the K-On franchise. (Did we really need a scene where Azusa thinks too deep on a song sheet from Yui and thinks that she has a crush on her, which causes her to later hit poor Yui in the stomach when she reaches out for her guitar when she thinks she's reaching for her, leaving her confused?)
Aside from the London scenery and higher resolution, the animation isn't much better than the TV series. Kyoto Animation at least show the girls actually playing their instruments, though they still cut away often, or show them playing from a distance. This was kind of excusable in the TV series, since you only have so much budget to work with. It's downright laughable for the movie to do the same. The ending isn't all that great, either. It just ends with Yui and her friends performing a song (gasp!). That's it. No post-credits scene. No "thanks for all the support" message. Just the end credits and some brief shots of the girls performing their instruments. For a franchise that became as big as it did through the sheer love and support of its fans, you'd think the anime staff of the K-On! Movie would put a bit more effort or imagination into the series' swan song.
For all that I've said, I bet you think I hate the K-On! Movie. Actually, I don't. I still don't love this series by any stretch of the imagination, but the movie did cut out most of the stuff that annoyed me about the original 2009 K-On!, leaving me with a few good scenes, a sweet Azusa sub-plot, a fair amount of good jokes, and a change of pace in scenery. If you have a couple of hours to spare to watch some girls hang out and have fun for the sake of having fun, you could do a lot worse than the K-On! Movie.
The K-On! Movie takes a middling TV series, removes the excess fat, and leaves you with a movie that surpasses most of its predecessor's high marks. Add a star if you're already a fan of the K-On! franchise. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Teenagers and up, due to some jokes inappropriate for kids, and some minor fan service.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
K-On! Movie © 2011 kakifly * Hobunsha / Sakura High Band
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