Here it is. My first manga review. As the title probably gave away it’s for the first volume release of K-On. If you have no idea who or what K-On! is I highly suggest you use your powers of google. Ah hell, I’ll be convenient and even link you to the wiki article on the series. Before the manga ever showed up (and certainly before Bandai has gotten on the ball in bringing the anime to us in the States) Forbidden Planet has had some really adorable figures come through its shelves. But I’ll leave the figure reviews for the boys on the FP Blog for now.
There is certainly an anime out there for pretty much anyone, and the same can be said about manga. It’s also been quite some time since I’ve really been excited to buy or read anything either. Most times I keep pretty busy. However, I set the time aside to read this lovely new manga about a girl band. That’s right. Girl. Band. And it’s straight up moe. It’s cool if you don’t really like that sort of thing but these girls are just so freakin’ adorable that you can’t help but like them.
Seriously. Look at them.
The Series As A Whole
Although you could argue that this is just like any other high school series with cute girls in it I don’t suppose that it would really be worth arguing with you about it. The appeal of K-On, in my opinion, is not that it is so new and different. Beck, for example, came far before K-On! ever did, and I am of the mind set that there is very little that can be new or different anymore. All the genres for the most part have been invented. All the character types are pretty much out there. What matters now, or should matter now, is the use of all those elements in story creation and how those elements and characters interact with each other.
There are plenty of stories that have all the elements of K-On! and have fallen completely flat for one reason or another. One of the fantastic things I appreciate about this series is not that it simply has cute girls being ridiculous in it (although it’s a plus, I am a fan of ridiculous), but that it centers around this tossed together crew of girls who are trying to do something difficult and can only really succeed as a group. Yui, who I dare call the main character though no others are less important by any means, is practically useless without the others. To toss in an old school reference she’s pretty much Usagi from Sailor Moon…you know without the whole moon make-up powers and ‘meatball’ hair.
That’s not to say the other girls are so ‘together’ all the time either. Mio has her own phobias and fears and Ritsu, super awesome club president, forgets all the important things to do. Really the only one who seems to have her ducks all in a row is Mugi (Tsumugi Kotobuk). Not everyone can be crazy all the time.
K-On! does a good job of balancing the need all the girls have to keep their club together with the adorable shenanigans they get into repeatedly. Overall I have to say that the series gets the job done. Not to mention it’s hard to miss all the kawaii in it.
The Manga On Its Own
I snatched the first volume of the manga the minute I was able. I know that manga can be pricey now a days and this volume is $10.99 at retail (that is without the discounts FP offers). Some might groan at the $11 (plus tax) and that they could just read it online from a scan group but I say FEH to the naysayers. This book is well worth the money! Not only is it a larger format than most American manga, it’s actually pretty true, if not the same, size as the Japanese original. It also has 24 full color pages inside where most manga you are lucky if you get three at the beginning of the book. Yen Press has done a fabulous job compiling this book together. I’ve been pretty pleased with them as a manga publisher all around, but back to K-On!.
We follow the characters through an entire year which means the pacing of the book goes pretty fast. The paneling is very simple and easy to follow. While some might complain about that I feel it suits the tone of the comic. I will admit sometimes it can feel like time passes a little to quickly for my liking. I had to remind myself that larger chunks of time were going by when I started to doubt just how close the girls should be with each other. And really that’s the only real complaint I have with the manga.
The writing is cute and spot on for each character. I never question if something one of the girls does would really happen as whatever it is they are doing seems completely natural to them. All in all K-On! is a fun read with some really fun characters. As a person who has been in plenty of music classes and had friends who were in bands from time to time K-On! hits the humor/nostalgia bone just right for me. As an added bonus there are even some music term and other related fun info in the back of the book. I can’t wait for the next volume to hit stores.
It Was Only A Matter of Time
Lastly I’ll mention that we all identify in some way with the characters we read. And if I’m going to be honest I’m probably most like Ritsu. Not just the simple fact that I have her hair right now. More the fact that our personalities are pretty darn close it’s kinda terrifying. No doubt she’s going on the cosplay list.