Friday, December 30, 2011

CD review: “K-On! Character Image Song Series” part 1: Yui & Mio

Is it bad if I say I’ve never really cared much for character image songs in general? Granted, they’re obviously going to be a little bit harder to get into than the songs that are actually in the anime, which you get to hear on a regular basis and get stuck in your head before they’re even released on CD… but aside from that, character singles often appear to me to be blatant cash grabs with little to no artistic merit, half-assed productions of uninspired songs relegated to image song status because they just aren’t good enough to be featured in the actual show.
Okay, let’s be honest – they’re pretty much always blatant cash grabs. There’s little reason to create a buttload of extra music not meant for inclusion in the anime itself, and releasing it as a series of CD singles, other than wanting to wring some more money out of the hardcore fans who are still willing to buy more after the many opening/ending/insert song and OST albums and singles.
These things are generally merchandise first, and entertainment (or “art”, if you want to pretend we’re being important here) second. However – that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t ever be good. At best, character songs can provide an insight into their respective characters that goes beyond what the anime itself is able to relate through the actual storytelling. At worst, they can be fluff pieces so generic and clichéd that it doesn’t matter who’s singing or what anime they’re tied to.
In the specific case of K-On!, the character song series is a mixed bag. There certainly are a lot of them – seven for the first season alone – but one good thing they all have in common is that they certainly don’t skimp on the production or musicianship. Whatever one might think of the songs, they’re all slickly and professionally produced and sound terrific. Many of the songs are composed by Tom-H@ck, composer of “Cagayake!GIRLS” and the other anime opening themes, so you know right away there’s going to be a lot of perky, frantic, fast paced tracks that walk the thin line between catchy and obnoxious, with songs landing on both sides of the fence.
I’ll be looking at all the singles in good time, but for now I’m going to concentrate on the first two: The Yui and Mio ones, which were released all the way back in June 2009.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

It’s Nodoka’s birthday!

That’s right! Today, everyone’s favorite bespectacled student council member turns some-kind-of-number years old. So here’s to that ever reliable, (usually) incredibly patient, almost motherly best friend I’m sure a lot of people would wish they had growing up!
Wow… first Jesus, now Nodoka. What a month for birthdays, eh? Next up is Mio on January 15th… So you Mio fans out there better start planning your parties!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Well, it’s Christmas, and season’s greetings are in order. And perhaps an apology for a rather severe lack of activity on this blog for the last two weeks or so. In any case, my Christmas resolution this year is to get that CD review I’ve been putting off done before New Year’s (and yes, I know it’s supposed to be “New Year’s resolution” and not “Christmas resolution” but since the point is to do it before New Year’s, that doesn’t really work in this case, does it).
Until then, please have a happy holiday (or not, if you don’t celebrate such things) and for those that can, enjoy the K-On! movie (if you’ve already seen it, go see it again for those of us who can’t, okay?). And I’ll be back with some more updates here soon!

Monday, December 12, 2011

“Ho-kago Tea Time in MOVIE” album track list revealed

The official K-On! website has revealed the content of the upcoming movie insert song album. Note that this list, obviously, gives away which Ho-kago Tea Time songs are heard in the movie – so consider this your SPOILER warning!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

K-On! manga US vs. JP review and comparison (vol. 4)

The fourth and final (for now, at least) volume of Yen Press’ English version of the original K-On! manga has arrived! So is it good, or does it suck shimapan? And how does it compare to the Japanese edition? Let’s have a look and find out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

(Non-)News: TBS has “no plans” for a third season

Honestly, this is of so little consequence that I didn’t know if I should bother posting it or not, but what the hey. According to AnimeNewsNetwork, a TBS website staffer responded to a question about a potential third season of K-On! by saying there are “no current plans” for it.
Well, shit – I could have told you that much. Come on… the movie has been out all of two days, and Kakifly’s continuation of the K-On! manga still hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet, story wise, so the material isn’t even there at this point to make a satisfactory TV anime season out of it. It’s still much too early for another K-On! TV anime. Honestly, I’d be worried if they did announce one at this point – worried that it would be a rushed cash grab with little regard to the integrity of the franchise.
I’m sure there will be those who interpret this piece of non-news as meaning there will never be more K-On! anime, but “no plans” doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything beyond “it’s not in production at the moment”, which is a good thing, because right now frankly is not the time for it.
There may be another K-On! TV series at one point, or there may not be, but really… We don’t know anything now that we didn’t know yesterday. And certainly nothing that’s worth panicking over.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

K-On! a flop in America?

Hey, so how about some bad news for a change? No one likes being happy all the time, right? Well, here goes… Ever since Bandai Entertainment first announced in the summer of 2010 the license to the K-On! TV anime, American (and other English speaking) K-On! fans everywhere have been hoping that this would lead to an eventual release of not only the first season, but eventually also the second season as well.
Of course, Bandai did not license the second season at the time when they licensed the first – which makes sense, it would have been foolish to invest in it that much without knowing how well even the first season would perform in the American market. It is safe to assume, then, that a potential license of season 2 would depend entirely on the sales numbers of the first season.
Now – I have no idea how well the first season has done, be it in the US or any other market where the English language version of K-On! has been released. But in the last couple of days, there has been some internet chatter about this very topic, originating from a couple of tweets from Manga UK which more than suggested that K-On!‘s sales numbers have been pretty bad. If this is the case, then the prospects of a season 2 license are looking pretty grim.
I don’t want to play Chicken Little here, as there has been no official comment from Bandai or anything. But if sales are really as bad as they’re being made out to be, then K-On! fans in the US and other English speaking markets may very well need to be prepared for the possibility that the second season (not to mention the movie) may never see the light of day in our part of the world.

Watching K-On! Episode 6 – “School Festival!”

When Yui loses her voice, a nervous Mio has to fill in as the band's vocalist for their performance at the school festival.

Fan stuff! Come With Me AMV

Okay, I’ve long since given up on weekly posts about fan videos from YouTube, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still do it from time to time. And some times, there might be a fan creation so mind blowingly awesome that I can’t not post it. This weekend, YouTube user kiteburg uploaded an AMV of “Come With Me!!” – the song, not the live event (duh) – though to simply refer to this as an “AMV” doesn’t quite do it justice. With all original artwork and animation, I can only imagine how time consuming the creation of this video must have been, and I have to congratulate kiteburg on a job well done.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

News: K-On! movie opens, new Ho-kago Tea Time album announced

The day is finally here, and the K-On! movie is now showing in Japanese movie theatres. For all of us K-On! fans not living in Japan, however,  the wait continues for an as-of-yet-unknown amount of time… In all likelihood, the earliest we get to see it for ourselves will be when it is eventually released on DVD and Blu-Ray, whenever that will be.
But there’s more! With the release of the movie, a new album with insert songs from the film has been announced. Coming out on January 18th is “Ho-kago Tea Time in MOVIE”, in the form of both a regular and a Limited Edition with two CDs. Price tag is set at 2,500 yen plus tax.
I’ll say this right now; I’m not going to review this album when it comes out. Eventually, yes, but not for a while yet. In fact, I will not even listen to it. Not until I have seen the movie. For one thing, because hearing any new songs performed in the movie beforehand would be a huge spoiler. But it would also spoil the experience of listening to the album. Thinking back to the release of the insert song album of the second season of the TV anime, it was such a fantastic experience to hear it for the first time, and it would have been significantly less so had I not watched the anime first. Because of the anime and how the album tied into it, it had emotional resonance it wouldn’t have been able to achieve as a stand-alone musical experience. Now – I don’t expect quite the same thing from the movie album, but still… I feel that you’re not really supposed to listen to these things outside of the context (hence why it’s being released a month and a half after the movie and wasn’t announced prior to its release).
So, yeah. That’s why the album (and probably the other movie related CD releases as well) will have to wait, as far as I am concerned.
That’s my rant for today. Now, those who can, enjoy the movie. While for me, and the majority of the people reading this, the wait is still on…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Upcoming releases

It’s that time of the month! So, here’s the updated list of upcoming K-On! media. Again, only Japanese and English language versions listed.
December 3rd“K-On!” movie theatrical release (JP)
December 5th“K-On! Vol. 3” anime DVD (UK)
December 7th“UnmeiwaEndless!” (K-On! Movie theme song & OP single) CD/Limited Edition CD (JP)
December 7th“Singing!” (K-On! Movie ED single) CD/Limited Edition CD (JP)
December 13th“K-On! Vol. 4” manga (US)
December 21st – “K-On! Movie Original Soundtrack” CD (JP)
January 9th“K-On! Vol. 4” anime DVD (UK)
January 11th“K-On! Vol. 4” anime DVD/Blu-Ray (AUS)