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K-ON! Vol. 2
Distributor Yen Press
After well and truly setting out its four panel store with its opening salvo, K-ON is already back for more with its second manga volume as it continues to follow the trials and tribulations (or rather, the teas and tasty snacks) of a high school pop music club.
The biggest development for this second volume as Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi enter their second school year is the introduction of a new addition to the club - Azusa Nakano, a new student at the school and a rather prodigious guitarist who takes practicing and playing her instrument far more seriously than any of her seniors.
New character aside, it's pretty much a case of "as you were" for the rest of the volume as it continues to plough its furrow of light-hearted and decidedly fluffy comedy that leans heavily on the personalities of all of its major characters as they wing their way through their school days in a blaze of fun and frivolity.
As per its first volume, we again have to reassert the feeling that K-ON isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the comedy manga shed, but in fairness to its second volume the chapters on show here do manage to raise a few more smiles and even a laugh or two where the first volume was largely bereft of both. This is perhaps thanks to the addition of Azusa to the character roster, which genuinely seems to round things out and broaden the scope of this instalment's humour, while the writing overall simply seems to have matured a bit as creator Kakifly gets to grips with the possibilities of the manga's scenario.
Yen Press' take on this volume is, as you might expect from them, a nicely presented and well translated offering with interesting translation notes aplenty - our only real gripe is with the switching of Azusa's original nickname of "Azunyan" to "Azu-meow". Sure, it's technically correct but it simply doesn't scan well or read satisfyingly, so on this occasion we'd probably have been happier with sticking to original Japanese with a translation note equating "nyan" to "meow". This is a release that still makes use of honorifics after all, so it isn't as if the use of Japanese is completely purged from its pages.
While volume two of K-ON is a slight improvement over its predecessor in terms of entertainment value, it still sits solidly in the "good" rather than "great" manga category. This volume is, quite literally, short and sweet - the kind of manga best enjoyed with a cup of tea and a slice of cake while you're kicking back and trying to relax by avoiding anything with too much depth or thought-provoking content. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, and music lover or not K-ON's saccharine outlook on life does the job when you're looking for something undemanding.
This second volume adds some more humour to its arsenal, but remains a largely sedate and relaxing slice of life manga above all else.