K-ON!

K-ON!Story: kakifly
Art:
kakifly

Genre: Comedy
Volume Count: 4
Vintage: 2008

Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 22 Dec 2010

Grade: A

At this writing, only the first volume of the manga has been released in English. This review is based on that first volume.

This time, a high school music club gets the 4-koma treatment.

Plot Summary
Just as the Pop Music Club  is about to be dissolved due to all of its members having graduated, classmates Ritsu and Mio save it by joining at the last minute. Well, almost. They need four members to keep the club alive, so they begin the desperate search for new recruits. First they get Tsumugi, who had wanted to join Choir Club. One last spot needs to be filled, and a girl named Yui reluctantly joins. Yui quickly has second thoughts, but Ritsu is determined not to let Yui get away. K-ON! follows the girls as they try to make the club and their new band successful.

The Review
As I’ve stated in previous reviews for 4-koma titles, manga in this format always pose a challenge when it comes to evaluating them. They are more about character interaction and execution of short-form jokes than overall story. K-ON! is no exception. Once again, the use of a subject which I enjoy – music – brings together another fun read.

Just as several other 4-koma series have a certain degree of implicit geekiness to them (Sunshine Sketch and GA being about art students, and Doujin Work being about the independent manga scene, for example), K-ON! will be great fun for anyone who has ever been involved in the world of music. Fortunately, the humor does not rely on extensive knowledge of what it takes to play an instrument or be in a band, so anybody can enjoy the series easily.

Once more, characters are integral to manga of this type, so here is a brief introduction. Clockwise from top-left in the picture above, they are:

  • Mio Akiyama (bass) – unexpectedly sensitive and shy.
  • Yui Hirasawa (guitar) – not so sure about the whole “being in a band” thing, especially since she doesn’t know how to play guitar.
  • Tsumugi Kotobuki (keyboards) – refined and upper-class, but very friendly and polite.
  • Ritsu Tainaka (drums) – bold, brash, and ready to charge ahead.

These main four are joined by a secondary cast which includes Yui’s best friend and younger sister, as well as the teacher who comes to serve as advisor for the Pop Music Club. The jokes span a variety of subjects, from music to school exams to everyday activities, but the central theme remains the bond of the Pop Music Club members and their efforts to make their band better.

In all, K-ON! is a fun combination which works quite well. Those who enjoy the Japanese film Linda Linda Linda would do well to check out this series, as the two share some common traits. If you enjoy music and comedy, K-ON! is a must-read.

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