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K-on! the Movie

Sunday 27th October 2013

Hugh David can’t find his hotel and he’s carrying a guitar…

K-on! the MovieK-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.

Usefully, these qualities help make the film sufficiently accessible for newbies unfamiliar with the TV series itself. Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Tsumugi and Azusa may be realistic, but they still start out from recognisable anime stereotypes, although in the TV series they are fleshed out very quickly. Those types are clear from the beginning of the film to the audience, but so is the depth, and there is no back-pedalling of any sort that forces them to act simplistically to engage the newbies. Even female teacher Miss Yamanaka is more realistic than the usual sexualised stereotype there to service a certain fanboy element in the audience. None of this is to say male viewers aren’t welcome, just that few concessions are made towards them. It certainly hasn’t stopped them being fans!

K-on! the MovieKyoto Animation have become one of the most reliable animation houses out there, always delivering style, beauty and humour within television restrictions. K-On! The Movie allows TV series director Naoko Yamada and her team to play on a broader canvas in every sense, creating detailed images accurately reflecting both Tokyo and London. Yes, as a “leaving high-school tradition” the girls decide to go on holiday to London, where there’s also the chance for them to play a gig. Londoners will be hard-pressed to find fault with the depiction of the city and its inhabitants, in particular the cabbie at Heathrow and the details of the Earls Court Ibis Hotel, Aldgate East and Camden Town tube stations, Hyde Park, the British Museum and the South Bank next to County Hall.

K-On! TV was a high-school comedy not overly worried about the usual plots and gags of sitcoms, allowing for more organic comedy growing out of characterisation. The film has a clearer construction given that four of the five girls will be graduating once they return home, and their usual carefree joie de vivre is here tempered by a sense of time running out for them as friends and as a band, provoking the B plotline in which the original four members try to write a song for Azusa. The countdown clock, here represented by their flight departure time from Heathrow, is no longer for just an upcoming festival or gig; instead, the race to complete the song and perform it live (London’s Big Ben clock tower looms large over the finale) symbolises the time they have left together as a group, and the time we have left with them. Do they make it? You’ll have to see the movie to find out, but it wouldn’t be K-On! if it ended in tragedy.

K-On! The Movie is out on now on UK DVD and Blu-ray.

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K-on! The Movie

was £19.99
A London Adventure Awaits!
Graduation time is finally here, but the girls of the Sakuragaoka Girl's High Light Music Club aren't going to let the end of high school be the end of all they've built together. First though, they have to keep a promise to take a trip together, and like everything else they do, they're not doing it halfway. So it's time to hop on the bus - the double-decker bus that is - and go around the world as the band heads for the birthplace of the British Invasion: the United Kingdom!
On the way they're going to have to solve that one last big puzzle that's been vexing them: what to get for their underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa, who will be taking over the club once they don their caps and gowns and leave Sakuragaoka for the last time. Get ready for a Magical Musical Tour as the whole gang takes in the sights and sounds of London and prepares for one last amazing encore!
Deluxe 2-disc edition includes bonus Oyster Card Holder exclusive to the UK and a bonus features disc that contains:
Interviews, K-On's Anniversary, 1-2-3 K-ON! Live Event, K-On in London, Trailer and Teaser collection



K-On! Forever Young

Helen McCarthy grabs the mic for K-On!
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.

Nichijo anime and K-on!

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.

K-On! The Movie holidays abroad

Daniel Robson travels the Japanese way
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.


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Andrew Osmond on a rap musical, in Japanese. Yes. Thank you. You’re welcome.
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Soccer heroes in anime

Helen McCarthy on anime's football crazies
Sports have been around in anime from very early in its history, but the first identifiable sports anime, Yasuji Murata's Animal Olympics in 1928, didn't feature soccer. In fact, the beautiful game was a latecomer to the anime sports world. Compared with baseball, soccer had few fans.

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Hugh, phew, barneys and boobs, cutthroats, demons and blood...
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The Decline of the Japanese X Museum

Stephen Turnbull plays whack-a-mole with willies
The word hihokan is usually translated as ‘sex museum’, although most are best described as indoor sexual theme parks. Imagine that an anthropological collection has been bought by the London Dungeon and put on show there by the owner of a strip club with a degree in engineering and a penchant for voyeurism. The result would be the hihokan: a garish combination of serious museum and soft pornography in a bizarre and often haphazard blend.
Last week we gave you the opportunity to vote for your favourite male character from Attack on Titan. This week is your chance to vote for your favourite female character and while there may be fewer choices, we feel it’s definitely anyone’s game this week.
In Kodansha’s March issue of Nakayoshi, it was revealed that CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura is getting a brand new project to celebrate the manga's 20th anniversary.

Ghost in the Shell: Live-action?

Will it be Robbie the robot...?
Hollywood blog Deadline reports that DreamWorks is in "early talks" with actress Margot Robbie to play the leading role in a live-action version of Ghost in the Shell.

Who's Who in Dragon Ball #3

Wonder no more, as we reveal the origins of Akira Toriyama’s creations!
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