The movie continues to do what K-ON does best – have fun. Not the most amazing movie ever, but very enjoyable. And one of the few releases that actually works better in the UK due to the setting, making it perhaps even more enjoyable over here than almost anywhere else…
What They Say :
A London Adventure Awaits! Graduation time is finally here, but the girls of the Sakuragaoka Girl’s High Light Music Club aren’t going to let the end of high school be the end of all they’ve built together. First though, they have to keep a promise to take a trip together, and like everything else they do, they’re not doing it halfway. So it’s time to hop on the bus – the double-decker bus that is – and go around the world as the band heads for the birthplace of the British Invasion: the United Kingdom! On the way they’re going to have to solve that one last big puzzle that’s been vexing them: what to get for their underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa, who will be taking over the club once they don their caps and gowns and leave Sakuragaoka for the last time. Get ready for a Magical Musical Tour as the whole gang takes in the sights and sounds of London and prepares for one last amazing encore!
The resolution on the video quality is very suitable for high definition and fine on standard as well after trying it both on my main system and on my PC. I set it in widescreen format, no problems with the video as no freezing, no delays within subtitles and no problems when pausing with rendered animation looking bad. The audio was set in 5.1 English and Japanese, which is a very welcome change considering the K-ON series releases were only 2.0 in English as well as Japanese. In terms of 5.1 releases it’s a marked improvement over the series but I still had to turn it up a notch from my standard settings. No problems though in either language in terms of audio quality or synching with subtitles, and there isn’t a noticeable difference in quality between either language (usually with the 5.1 releases I find the English one to be a little louder). One minor concern though is that the dub has to contend with a lot of problems as the girls try to speak English in London (and on the flight) and it doesn’t translate well in the English dub when they have problems recognizing English so whilst I like the English dub, it works much better in Japanese because of this.
Both discs have straight forward menus, on the first disc we have a shot of the girls on a London bench whilst the extras menu has all the girl in a V for victory style pose – the selections are easy to see on the bottom with Play and Set Up, whilst the second disc has a straight forward menu of all the extras you can select. Easy to access from both main screen and the movie/extras, but fairly standard and not that inventive or interesting.
On the other hand, the movie has a ton of extras to get through – all of it focused on the Japanese side, with one particular extra which is extra fun for UK fans.
We start off with a section called Minami Tanaka’s Dubbing Investigative Report – Tanaka is a report for a Japanese station known as TBS and after going through the extras, she’s quite the K-ON fan. So she springs a surprise interview with the five main actresses of K-ON (Aki Toyosaki(Yui), Yoko Hikasa(Mio), Satomi Sato(Ritsu), Minako Kotobuki(Mugi), Ayana Taketatsu(Azusa)). Whilst they briefly discuss about dubbing the movie and how it compares to the main series, it’s more of a casual chat as the main topic seems to be trying to get the girls (in and out of character) to try Japanese tongue twisters. Needless to say, hilarity ensues with Toyosaki being the MVP for the girls (both in character and being able to say the tongue twisters the best) which is funny and cute at the same time. We do also get to see what they say about some of their favourite scenes and ad-lib a tea scene for the fans.
The next extra is called ‘London Bus & Press Conference at TBS’ which shows us the girls arriving to a conference in a giant London Bus customized for the movie, which for anyone who has been to London, you have to smile at how spot on the bus was. Set in November 2011, they say they just performed at Universal Studios in Osaka, discuss their reaction to the character pictures/advertisements/posters around and things even like chocolates, discussion of the songs for the movie and talking about the movie going to London, what Yui would think of going to London, and what people should watch for, ending with a celebration as it occurred on Yui’s birthday so we get of course, a giant K-On cake with Gitah on it formed from strawberries. I’m sure Yui would approve…
Next extra is Navi Show 1-2-3 is K-ON! This is a bit of everything as we go into the history of K-On, briefly explaining the anime, manga, music, performances set up almost like a newscast. Some of the extras included on the release are briefly in this as well so whilst the history part was welcome the other parts may not have been needed, but then again this was most likely released before any other extras had been fully show and not in one block on a DVD Extras release – it is a good introduction to the characters though if you haven’t actually seen the series.
We get a movie premiere event for the fans, with the seiyuu and director Naoko Yamada as they discuss how the characters changed from TV to movie and general thoughts on the characters (Ritsu’s VA surprisingly is quite in-depth on how much the character has changed her) – similar to the first extra though we get Yamada’s point of view as well so it is still interesting.
My favourite extra has to be Yamada’s time in London to research the setting for the movie. This reminded me of a similar extra on the US releases of Aria, where Junichi Sato travelled to Venice to fully study it, because in a similar way, it shows work was done. It is fun seeing Yamada and her crew being one part research and one part tourist. Whether it is seeing a Wagamama’s restaurant in the UK, chasing squirrels, exploring Ibis hotels and comparing sushi in the UK, it is also great to see how much work they did to explore London in 4 days and visit as many music areas for research and check out and take photos of as many major things they could. Whether it is to see if Mio gets scared in the Sherlock Holmes museum, if Yui would enjoy seeing London from the London Eye, travelling from the Houses of Parliament to Westminster Abbey, seeing the Rosetta Stone as a callback to a joke done in the series, visiting Stonehenge, Abbey Road, Piccadilly Circus, Windsor Castle, etc – they manage to do it by mixing work with pleasure…and still not getting as much as they wanted to do. Trust me, you need more than 4 days to fully explore London…
The last main extra is of a performance of the girls at the Good Luck Music Hall, though it is more of a miming performance, it does give the idea of how anime songs perform alongside J-pop (and how well the K-ON op/end songs in both seasons performed in the Oricon) with cameos from the voice actresses of Ui, Nodoka and Jun as well to round up all the main school girls for fun. We get some trailers, and the clean movie opening and ending as well to round off.
In short, one big disc of extras (totaling around 2 hours altogether) and some had similar information, it was overall both informative and fun, and in the case of the London extra, both.
I’m a fan of the K-ON series, it’s never the most action packed, intelligent or awe-inspiring show out there, and I am well aware of why people may not like it. For me, it’s a comfort series – a perfect series to smile at when you’ve had a bad or long day at work, with genuine and likeable characters, some good comedy and even some tender moments here and there. The movie is set between graduation as the series concludes, and knowledge of the series is needed in terms of the characters, but you can easily get into the movie as just an hour and a half off, because it is just a smile fest.
It starts off with some After School Tea Time hijinx, where after a few choice questions from Azusa the girls wonder if they aren’t seen as respectable upper classmen. They decide to get a present for Azusa whilst also deciding whether they should do a graduation trip. Through a very funny sequence of events (Yui trying to go to Europe and cheating on the first attempt, the girls even it out when they let their pet turtle Ton-chan decide) it ends up being Mio’s choice of London, for her, a true home of music. They also manage to get Azusa onboard so all 5 members of the group are going to London for a graduation/holiday/prepare to do something special for Azusa trip.
We get some fun moments at the airport (Yui and Ritsu trying to interview Mugi on the airport conveyor belt always makes me laugh) as Azusa seems to realize the girls are hiding something from her. Yui is of course, Yui as she is a terrible liar who makes Azusa even more suspicious when sitting together on the plane, but when they arrive in London, it’s time for the girls to be partly tourists and partly confused.
This is where the movie works better as a UK release because anyone who has been to London can appreciate just how much work was put into it in terms of the animation of the London Underground(which I joke is never as quiet as it is when the girls visited), the Ibis Hotels and of course the various sights and sounds of London. The girls do act like typical tourists though as they get lost trying to find the hotel (not realizing the many Ibis Hotels in London and getting the one in London City instead of Earls Court), before meeting some old friends in Love Crisis outside a conveyor belt sushi place when they get confused as the girls performing for the place (Love Crisis were supposed to be the performers). Thanks to Ui as well, they manage to not starve after a long day trying to figure out London…
There is plenty of fun with the girls at the hotels as well – as a lot of fans were disappointed that Azusa is apparently not into girls when she thinks Yui is about to kiss her and a Benny Hill like sequence of Yui and Azusa thinking the other one is missing as they link with the other girls room, whilst Yui is still thinking of a song for Azusa. In the mean time, Love Crisis contacts them and say there is a Japanese event in London to highlight their culture (which from the indoor looks could easily be Hyper Japan, a UK event I’ve been too in Earls Court which is highly recommended). A surprise appearance from Sawako and some costumes makes the girls confident to perform and we do get to hear them play in the movie with both old and new songs.
To be honest, there is very little to say about the movie as a whole in terms of a plot. The majority is Yui and the girls trying to plan this song for Azusa, whilst Azusa wonders what they are plotting. The majority is the girls being cute and funny whilst exploring London – not that this is a bad thing of course, the movie is very fun and you’ll have a smile on your face throughout, it’s just not something ground breaking. We do get the conclusion as the girls perform one more performance before they leave in their classroom (with a fun sequence with Sawako trying to make sure the other teachers don’t kick them out like when she did it as a child…and they accept After School Tea Time because unlike Sawako’s group ‘they’re cute’) before we get to see Azusa’s point of view when the girls play their finale song. It showcases just how much they adore their under classman and seeing Azusa appreciate the girls despite their antics is just a sweet moment.
The girls all have their fun moments throughout the movie – surprised that Mio didn’t get set up for being scared especially after watching the extras, and in actual fact none of the girls got huge focus, it was mostly equal time though Yui and Azusa probably got a bit more. The general characters didn’t really change much in it, Yui and Ritsu are still the fun troublemakers, Mio is the one trying to be responsible but fails, Azusa is the one who actually is responsible despite being the youngest, and Mugi is the adorable little princess who just wants to have fun with the down to earth girls. The real showcase of the movie was how well it was animated in terms of showcasing London, which was incredibly well detailed and is a treat to watch.
With K-ON, it’s simple – if you liked the series, you’ll like the movie. If you don’t like the series, you won’t like the movie. There isn’t really anything new here, but what there is will put a smile on your face.
The movie version of K-ON won’t shock anybody, it is intended just for fans of the series. The fun of the series is still there, added to some people who did their homework when in London to bring us an excellent animated London – combined with some music, cameos and a minor plot which reminds us of the sweet ending to the series, K-ON the movie isn’t anything special, but it doesn’t have to be. Just shut your brain off for a bit, and have that smile plastered on your face as you enjoy the girls being tourists. It doesn’t have to be thought-provoking, it’s just fun. And at an end of a hard day, there are far worse shows you could watch.
Content Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: October 28th, 2013
Running Time: 106 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.