Starring: Aki Toyosaki, Stephanie Sheh, Asami Sanada, Karen Strassman, Ayana Taketatsu, Christine Marie Cabanos, Chika Fujito, Laura Bailey, Madoka Yonezawa, Xanthe Huynh, Minako Kotobuki, Shelby Lindley, Satomi Satou, Cassandra Lee
Running Time: 110 minutes
Of all the anime series begging for a big screen adaptation, I would have put K-ON! close to the bottom of such a list. The happy, joyous, and phenomenally innocent show just doesn’t seem to have enough weight to result in a clear and meaningful adaptation. That’s one of the film’s biggest problems, but fans won’t be distraught in the slightest. This is exactly what the show was, with relocation to London thrown in the mix. It may fail to push the boundaries, but at least it’s a farewell letter to fans of the show.
K-ON!, for those not in the know, followed the exploits of a group of school girls and their after school tea/music club. It’s as innocent as it sounds, and the film version even has some fun with exactly how little conflict there is. The film opens up with an argument, which is a rarity for the series, but it’s soon revealed to be a performance piece of how the girls imagine bands work together. For those new to the world of K-ON!, conflict, tension, drama, and nail biting scenarios have no place here. In one scene a girl’s luggage has failed to arrive at their destination, 4 seconds pass before the characters turn their heads to the right and say “There it is!” Even school life is perfect here, with every student supporting each other and being friendly.
The movie takes the easy film adaptation route by taking its characters on a holiday. The girls set off to London on a graduation trip for a week. Once there they experience some cultural misunderstandings, but nothing of any real consequence. To begin with they are taken to the wrong hotel, but are quickly shown the way to the right hotel. PHEW! I panicked for a second. This finale of the series, as it comes across as an extended episode, will truly be adored by fans. The ending sees the characters expressing their love and friendship for one another, serving a fitting end to such a cute show.
The film may not serve us surprises, but the animation does explode from the screen. The recreation of London is spot on, and this works as a visual scrapbook for anyone who has ever visited England’s capital. The comedy is also more prevalent, often creating a number of laugh out loud moments. Fans of J-Pop, or any pop for that matter, will love the upbeat and catchy tunes that are present throughout and form a cohesive backbone between episodic scenarios. Overall, cynics will be vomiting into their laps at the lack of anything to deem exciting, whereas the innocence of the film is also its biggest plus. No romance, no threat, no pain, just pure happiness that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Unless they’re a bunch of grumps.