It’s certainly been a while since the fabulous five of the Light Music Club has graced the slot of my disc drive and never have the girls looked as good as they do in delicious high definition. For a brief period on a rather miserable Thursday evening I closely resembled the Cheshire cat, except for the lack of cat ears…
K-ON! The Movie is a direct follow on from K-ON! And K-ON!! (which basically translates in non-anime terms as the first two TV series of K-ON). These first two series covered the high school years of the Light Music Club and their tea-drinking shenanigans, and both series are covered in full here at UK Anime. At the end of the second series the girls had finally realised that their remaining time together was limited, and even though they were all going to university together (Azusa aside), things would never be the same again.
The movie starts on a high, with the girls finishing their finals, discussing how they are going to finish their high school careers and, more importantly, what are they going to do to show their appreciation for their beloved kitten Azusa? The plotting to give her a proper goodbye and a legacy begins in earnest. However, in true K-ON fashion, a better idea presents itself - a pre-graduation vacation. The girls did, after all, get their passports sorted in the TV series, and they have cash from their jobs, why not have a trip? After a series of long, heated discussions and games to discover their destination, the hard decision on where the girls will go on holiday falls heavily on the shoulders of Ton-chan. Only in the world of K-ON would a turtle decide such a major financial decision, and his verdict is...
London! With London signs, London sky, London taxis and many inexpensive budget hotels all with the same name! (You only make that mistake once, especially when you arrive at a city where there are two Travelodges with the same name, except one is east, the other west) The girls are unleashed onto a city ill-prepared for their likes. Will it survive?
Well, of course it did. However, has London survived well from the tours of K-On the Movie filming destinations? That is another question entirely. I am sure the Troubadour café in Earl’s Court has done very healthy Japanese tourist business ever since. (As an odd bit of trivia, the café even has a picture from the K-ON movie in the window!) The girls progress to enjoy their time in the city to the fullest, with the ever-resourceful and organised Azusa providing the guidance, mapping and getting the girls out of a couple of sticky situations. That said, what is a trip around our great capital without a visit to the sights of Camden Town, the South Bank, the London Eye and the Tower of London, and how can five musicians turn down invitations to play at an outdoor concert?
While all this is transpiring, the girls are still trying to compose their goodbye to Azusa, all while trying to keep it a secret from her inquisitions. The girls make it back to Tokyo, and it’s finally time to wrap up their high school life and say farewell - and where better to do it than the music room, with a private concert for their special little angel? At this point, I began to blub and cry a bit, while simultaneously a little voice in my head went, “Now kiss”...
In all seriousness, the K-ON movie adds to the franchise what was needed after the end of the second series - a proper ending (or a new beginning depending on what happens in the future with the K-ON College manga). The final concert with Azusa is easily one of more touching moments in the series, beating Yui’s song for her sister Ui in the second season (my other favourite moment). But, more than just an ending, the movie brings with it an additional level of quality which wasn’t available to the TV anime. Although not a Londoner myself, just knowing a lot of the places which the girls visited - the stores, streets and landmark -, the producers for the series clearly spent a very long time researching and taking detailed photographs. Even down to the tile patterns on the wall of Aldgate station, it is all picture perfect. There is only one way to describe this kind of attention to detail: devotion to the art. I am still left with my jaw dropped, as each time I re-watch the movie I see another detail I missed - this time it was the detailing on the shops in Camden which caught my attention.
With all of this detail, it is only fair that K-ON finally sees a Blu-ray release in the UK, as a DVD-only release would have been a travesty. As with the first two series, we are given access to the original Japanese dub with an English subtitle, but also to the English dub. When the television series was released, a good deal of people, myself included, didn’t take well to the English voice cast. I have so far found the work done for K-ON! The Movie to be superior. Even though the same actors have been used, their performances are better and, frankly, more bearable. I have since had a bit of a rethink of my opinion on the television series as a result.
One last thing to mention is the quantity of extra material provided with the Blu-ray release, which includes everything from the US release as far as I can tell. Although the majority of the extra features are only for those who are a lot more hard-core than I and more into the direction of delving into the production of the movie and the film's voice acting cast, the inclusion of high definition clean openings and closing themes, which themselves are new songs and music videos, was welcome. A full catalogue of the additional features are below this review, and all of them come fully subtitled.
So it leaves me to say my final words on K-ON! The Movie. For old and new fans of the series, the movie is an absolute must-have; you simply cannot have the series without the movie. On a second note, if you are a fan and don’t have a Blu-ray player yet despite all of the fantastic Blu-Ray releases which we are being treated to this year, then consider K-ON! The Movie the kick up the behind you needed to finally join the High Definition age. The level of detail and quality of animation makes the investment well worthwhile.
Now, time to watch it again...
English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio with English subtitles. Extras on the Blu-Ray release of the film consist of: Minami Tanaka's Investigative Dubbing Report; London Bus and Press Conference at TBS; Navi Show 1-2-3 is K-ON!; Movie Premiere Event; Director Naoko Yamada in London; Good Luck Music Hall - K-ON! Music Hall; Japanese trailers; clean opening and closing animations.
Price: DVD: £19.99; BD/DVD combo: £24.99
High School, Comedy