Important Importables: K-ON!

October 16, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: K-ON!

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When Japanese manga and anime series become popular, they become a phenomenon. Companies decide to cash in when people are most infatuated, resulting in music, movies and video games inspired by series. One of the latest sensations is K-ON! a manga series focused on the day to day activities of a high school light music club and its members. It’s become so popular that Sega decided to create a PSP game based on it, a game which is among the most popular new releases in Japan.

So here’s an up close look at K-ON! for all those PSP owners looking forward to picking up the import-friendly music game K-ON! After School Live!!.

K-ON KON Original Soundtrack CD anime

Tea time with K-ON!

First, K-ON! is a four koma (panel) manga by Kakifly. Which means it’s standard format is a lot like comics you’d see in a newspaper. Each four panel “strip” deals with one situation or interaction, and all of them bundled together help tell a cohesive story. The manga series actually just ended this month, and can be compiled into four volumes.

The stars of the series are initially the high school freshmen Yui Hirasawa, Mio Akiyama, Ritsu Tanaka and Tsumugi Kotobuki. Ritsu decides that she wants to join the school’s keiongaku (light music) club. (Think rock/pop/top 40’s style music.) When she goes to join though, she learns that the club is going to be shut down because it has no members. So she makes her friend Mio join, then recruits/forces Yui and Tsumugi to join as well. The club saved from destruction, the four decide to actually work together to make the club and newly formed Hokago Tea Time band successful. During their second year, a freshman named Azusa Nakano joins the club and group. The series then focuses on the daily life of the five heroines during practices, performance and other school experiences, with Yui as the main character.

K-ON After School Live PSP

The K-ON! media blitz

As with all successful manga series, K-ON! first inspired an anime. Kyoto animation has created a two season anime, with 13 episodes and one OVA comprising the first season and 26 in the second. There have also been seven “Ura-On!” animated shorts and three “Ura-On!!” animated shorts. The second season of the anime actually just ended in Japan, in September 2010. The animated series as a whole has been picked up by Bandai Entertainment for a North American release in 2011.

Since K-ON! is about a high school band, the anime includes lots of original music “by” Hokago Tea Time. The voice actresses for Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi (Aki Toyosaki, Satomi Sato, Yoko Hikasa and Minako Kotobuki) most often sing the songs that appear in the series, and character song singles have also been released for Azusa, Ui and Nodoka, featuring their voice actresses singing original songs, as well. Along with a full K-ON! anime soundtrack, featuring the music appearing in the first season, there have also been mini-albums like Hokago Tea Time and singles released as songs appeared on the show.

In case you’re curious how they sound, here’s one of the opening introductions from the second season of the K-ON! anime.

The most recent addition to the K-ON! media and fanservice deluge is K-ON! After School Live!!. Don’t brush it off as just some shovelware attempt to cash in on the series success though. This PSP music game is created by Sega, who’ve pleased music game fans around the world with the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva games. K-ON! After School Live!! is a Rock Band style game where players can play as any of the five main characters, alone or with friends over ad-hoc wireless. As you play through songs that appeared in the anime, you unlock extra costumes and events, where you can watch chibi version of the characters interact with one another and revisit scenes from the manga and anime.

And, though the K-ON! manga and anime have ended, there’s still one more story to tell. A K-ON animated movie is currently being created by Kyoto Animation. The movie has only just been announced though, so it’s unsure what the plot will be or when it will be released.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports looks at some Japanese charms that may bring you good luck.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports reviewed Pokemon Black.

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Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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