K-ON!, Vol. 1 Paperback – Nov 30 2010
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About the Author
Kakifly is the music-enthusiast/manga creator behind K-ON!, a series that has spawned an anime, concert tours, music CDs, and more!
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The art is great and there are a few colour panels thrown in for good measure, which is always a plus. In the back there are some pages of notes that clarify japanese honourifics and also explains some of the jokes that have been somewhat lost in translation. Interestingly enough the back also includes a list of basic guitar chords and a "crash course" of sorts on how to read musical notation. If you like the anime, slice-of-life stories, or 4 panel comics, give this a try.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story begins when two best friends at an all-girls' school, Mio and Ritsu, are looking at clubs to join. Upon finding that the light music club is empty and in danger of being disbanded due to the members all graduating the year before, Ritsu gets an idea. You see, in Japan, school clubs are very important for socialization and for the student's resume towards college. Anyways, Ritsu sees a chance to become president of a club by joining and taking command of the light music club. Of course, she drags poor Mio into the mix with her. Mio is, of course, *very* reluctant to take part in this club, due to her crippling shyness. This only gets worse as time goes on because of some funny future occurrences.
Soon two new students, Yui and Tsumugi, decide to join the club as well. Tsumugi is a talented musician who wants to play with a group, while Yui... is Yui. She is a funny and slightly air-headed girl who has zero musical training, but obvious talent, as she somehow learns to play the guitar like a pro very quickly. Part of this seems to be that she has the rare ability of "perfect pitch", which does exist in real life.
The above is just the set-up, though, for the main story. *K-On* is not about music, really. The musical goings-on happen, yes. But they are not the main plot. The main plot is the budding friendship of these girls as we follow them through high school. The four girls (with a fifth to come in the second volume) forge a solid and loving friendship that really gets the audience to care about and want to root for them and read about their humorous lives.
The characters each have their own unique traits. Yui is air-headed but really talented and kind-hearted. Mio is beautiful and talented, yet shy, kinda adorably so. Ritsu is kinda lazy but full-of-life, and does have leadership skills when she cares to actually do something. Finally, Tsumugi is talented, kind, and *really* strong (seriously, an ongoing gag in the manga is her strength at near super-power levels almost, especially for her size), though she does engage in hilariously, *wildly* inaccurate mental *yuri* pairings among her friends. Even if you don't like *yuri* as a genre, it's not the main thrust, but mainly some slight ship-tease and a funny gag. Of course, this is also a problem in that it might be unfortunate implications that the mentions of *yuri* are split between ship-tease and gags, with nothing happening. In fairness, it seems to be for the sake of being funny, and giving the audience imagination fuel. There is no endorsing anything or homophobia.
All of these characters, and their friends and family that we meet, grab the audience by the heart-strings so you truly *care* about their mundane, but funny, school lives.
This was the first volume of this humorous, endearing, and sweet manga series. I've read all of them, and I really enjoyed doing so. I can't recommend it Highly enough.
Rating: 5/5 Stars.
Just a quick note: The title *K-On* does not refer to the name of the girls' band. Their band's name is "Afternoon Tea Time". The title *K-On* is short for keiongaku, which is a word that means "light music" in Japanese, which denotes a type of music that is similar to pop music. The manga is named after an abbreviation of the school club the girls are in.
The manga is released by Yen press who, in my opinion, has done an OUTSTANDING job of the release. They have less pages then I'm used to BUT the size of the book and the quality of the paper/color is definitely worth it. It's rare to find manga releases with such white, crisp paper, even rarer to find them with all the color pages intact from the original Japanese release. The only time I've ever seen a release on par with this is the Dark Horse Card Captor Sakura onimbuses.
As many of reviews have said that this a four panel comic, very slice of life and no real overarching storylines. The anime follows it fairly close and still is a wonderful story to read. This is one of those series and books I'd give to a child or someone fairly inexperienced with reading manga. It's much like Azu Manga Daioh in both silliness and sorta plot. It's about a bunch of high school girls going through high school (sounds like azu manga daioh right?) but with the added fact that they all join a club called K-on which is translated as the pop-music club (in the anime bandai/sentai translated it as the LIGHT music club, not much of a change). One of the girls has no real experience with playing instruments or music in general and she's an airhead for the most part but it's a wonderful read to watch said girl go from an airhead that really doesn't know what to do with her life to realizing she enjoys this and actually ends up pretty good.
If you like Azu Manga Daioh or slice of life manga I couldn't recommend this release enough.
ALSO Yen has picked up the rights to the two spin off mangas of K-on so we'll get to see them go to college and what the other members do in high school.
K-On...well, there's this club. In Japan, they call it the "light music club"...here, it's the "pop music club". There's only four members...and one of them doesn't really get how to play music.
So that's the basics of it.
To be more in-depth, K-On is a manga about a group of girls who join a club to prevent its closure. But with only three members, they're unable to maintain their status. To make up for this, they rope in Yui Hirasawa. She's not the brightest bulb and a bit on the clumsy side, but they get her a guitar and off they go. The manga documents their activities together.
Before I read the manga, I had already watched the anime. The whole thing is very light-hearted and not that plot-focused. If you're going to understand K-On!, you have to be aware that this is not the sort of thing you read to see the story go anywhere. Each chapter is self-contained and there is no overarching storyline. K-On!'s main strength is it's strong characterization. Those who enjoy K-On! to its fullest are the ones who get attached to the characters. Once you get in the proper mindset, K-On! is a funny and cute series that really pulls the reader into its world. It exemplifies the concept of "feel good". Unless you're trying to be a grump, by the end you will feel cheery.
K-On! is probably my favorite Japanese franchise in years. The author (kakifly) has a strong talent for characterization. This is not a story about conflict and resolution, it's a slice-of-life. That said, I don't think I've read anything that does the genre better.