Saturday, 14 December 2013

けいおん!! / Keion!! / K-On!! (season 2)

I know that it's actually going to be quite difficult to write about the second season of K-On!, differentiated from the original by the extra exclamation mark. Where the first season managed to stay afloat of being boring by having just 13 episodes (and an OVA), the second is a full 26 episode (and an OVA), with the promise of a movie yet to come. 

And if the first season could be criticised for being nothing more than cute girls doing cute things, the second season takes great pains not to challenge the status quo. 

It established its cast with Azusa's joining the club in the latter half of the first season, and it doesn't change that - not a single new member gets recruited and we stick with the cast of airheaded Yui, shy and feminine Mio, energetic and free-spirited Ritsu and rich, slightly spacey Mugi. Azusa tends to regard her sempai as slightly bizarre, while they cheerily use her as their cute prop. 

And...they do cute things. Nothing more. Their band doesn't play much, and appositely, they have after-school tea a lot. Sometimes their teacher is sick and they decide to visit her, or their pet turtle needs a new tank, or the cultural festival is on and Ritsu and Mio get the fanservicey roles of Romeo and Juliet, though possibly not cast the way you initially expect. It's the same old school plot cliches, only with this particular cast, and a gentle, slow kind of humour. 

It's also the centre of the late-2010s backlash against moé that now sees, thankfully, more shows like Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan. There comes a point watching this sort of thing that you think, 'Yes, they're cute, and this is pleasant to watch, but is this really all there is to it?' As Yui does something ditzy for the millionth time and Ritsu makes Mio blush yet again, it starts to feel totally expendable and, indeed, like rather a waste of time. 

And that's as far as K-On!! can go - it pushed the concept too far and went on for too long, or at least, oversaturated the market. 

There's too much of this to support nothing happening and schoolgirls being cute for this long. Azumanga Daioh at least had its frenetic pacing, brilliantly-built-up comic setpieces and emotional conclusion to sustain it, but K-On!! does much less in considerably more time. The possibility of an emotional graduation comes, but is kind of neutered by the fact the girls are all going to the same university and there's more to see yet with the graduation trip to London

There's the movie still to come. I'll watch it because I'm curious about the girls' adventures in my homeland, with the outsiders' perspective they'll bring. 

But I'm rather glad to see the back of them. And for girls who are designed to be likeable, and indeed, who are likeable, that's probably the worst thing to have happened - for me to get bored of them and no longer want to know what they're up to. But that's the problem with too much of a sweet thing - eventually it gets sickly and unpleasant. 


  1. It was definitely a show I found to be fairly enjoyable during the first Season however I completely agree that it dragged on in Season 2. I found it really hard to continue watching about halfway through and ending up dropping the Season.

    It's quite sad because of it's popularity it had a lot going for it... if only there were some new ideas in the second Season to keep me hooked.

    1. Mmm, I think that was the problem - the desire to keep things the same just made the whole thing stagnant.