The show's not over until the band says it's over! Sometimes music and words come together so perfectly that the combination is far more powerful than either would be alone. In much the same way, the five members of the Sakuragaoka Girl's High School's Light Music Club have become far more than just a group of girls with similar interests. More, even, than just a group of friends. Through the medium of music they've found a common course in life, and whatever the future may bring, they know they can get through it if they stand together. Which makes the coming end of the school year and the graduation of the four older members something that's dreaded as much as it's looked forward to. But in the meantime there's so much going on, it's as if life has decided to throw everything it can at them. Going to music festivals won't be hard to swing, but running a marathon? That will be a stretch! Yearbook photos? The horror! And a school play with Mio and Ritsu cast as Romeo and Juliet? Ooo, VERY awkward. And then, of course, there's one big final performance for the band! The tempo is rising and emotions run wild as the final encore approaches in K-ON!! Season 2 Collection 2!!
We grew up with them: Garth, Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes. The comic strip has a long history. Four-panel strips have been around in Japan since at least the early 1900s. Classic comics like Sazae-san and modern hits like Axis Powers Hetalia all started as four-panel strips, and K-On! grew out of the same tradition.
Rayna Denison on K-on! and the rise of the nichijo anime
The best thing about K-on! is undeniably the music, from the (cloyingly?) cute opening credits to the gothic-lolita inspired visuals of the closing sequence, whenever the Sakuragaoka Light Music Club performs, there is fun to be had in this series. Moreover, the show’s burgeoning obsession with dressing its female leads in costumes that shade from schoolgirl uniforms into maid costumes, provides a variety of copy-able cosplay get-ups likely to feature soon at a convention near you (if you haven’t seen them there already). By these various means, K-on! carefully walks the line between exploitation and a rather sweet self-empowerment-through-music storyline.
Clearly the team at Kyoto Animation had a nice long holiday to Britain in preparation for K-On! The Movie. In the film, our heroines take a trip to London to celebrate their graduation, and locations from Camden Town to Denmark Street to Abbey Road are reproduced in impressive detail. The girls even take in Earl's Court, Sherlock Holmes' gaff on Baker Street, Borough food market and dozens of other spots, all instantly recognisable to anyone born and bred in London. After seven years in Tokyo I don't get homesick much, but K-On! The Movie had me pining for proper tea, service with a frown and fights outside pubs. Aaah, London.
Hugh David can’t find his hotel and he’s carrying a guitar…
K-On!, the TV series, adapting the manga about high-school girls forming a rock band at school, has after two seasons on TV spun off into a theatrical feature. A tradition of the TV business internationally, the subject matter is also a typical spin-off tradition: taking the main characters abroad for fish-out-of-water hijinks (see The Inbetweeners for another recent example). Where The InBetweeners has been a raucous success in the U.K. for showing accurately just how vile and stupid teenage boys really are however, K-On! has broken new ground in Japan by being a female-fronted series with considerable behind-the-scenes female talent, who are making a show that eschews fan-service in favour of greater realism, and this has continued with the movie.
Jasper Sharp reviews Helen McCarthy’s intro to Japanese comics
For curious dabblers and those wishing a glimpse of the bigger picture of how Japanese comics began and their key development points, the sheer size and diversity of the field can seem pretty daunting.
Andrew Osmond talks to the director of Shin-chan and Colorful
As the eleventh Japan Touring Film Programme heads through Britain (see here for venues and here for our write-up), we took the opportunity to speak to the director of the anime entry, the feature film Colorful. Keiichi Hara has been working in anime for thirty-odd years, gaining experience through working with two of Japan’s most popular kids’ characters, Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan. He then graduated to his own projects, and is now a freelancer who pushes at the boundaries of what anime can be.
Jonathan Clements reviews a new account of Fu Manchu
The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu & The Rise of Chinaphobia (sic) is an enjoyably traditional work of gentlemanly erudition, with research in dusty archives accompanied by a slew of lunches with bigwigs and interviews with associates, as our polymath hero Sir Christopher Frayling examines the origins of the infamous mastermind from Sax Rohmer’s once-popular novels.
Andrew Osmond on Japan's chances at this year's Academy Awards
There are two anime among this year’s Oscar nominees: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, competing for Best Animated Feature, and Shuhei Morita’s Possessions, vying for Best Animated Short. To date, there has been only one Japanese winner in each category. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the winning feature in 2002; Kunio Kato’s La Maison en Petits Cubes won Best Animated Short Film in 2008. What are the new films’ chances?
Monkey Majik first shot to fame in Japan in 2006 when their second major-label single Around The World became the opening theme to TV drama Saiyuuki, an updated version of the famous Chinese tale Journey to the West. A fitting introduction for the band, considering the story is widely known as Monkey in English. Magic.
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!