In college, a teacher gave me some good advice on animation. He was a 3-D animation teacher, and he knew full well how time-consuming it could be, and how rewarding it was to make something really impressive. His advice, however, was a message of artistic prudence. I don’t remember the exact words, but the message was basically, “Don’t get so attached to a bit of strong animation that you reuse it to excess.” I was reminded of his words while watching K-On!! (the second season of K-On!).
In the new opening, there’s a very distinct part where the camera pans around the five girls of Houkago Tea Time, and it’s really some impressive animation, especially because while the background of the clubroom is 2-D, the girls themselves are still animated in 2-D, and overall it looks pretty natural.
So it looks really nice. But then they use the effect again. And then a third time. At that point, I think it’s just excess.
The opening for the first season also had something similar, a shot where all the girls are playing together that gets reused about three times total. However, in my opinion the recycling isn’t as jarring for a number of reasons. First, it doesn’t have that three-dimensional rotation effect going on like the new opening, where that piece is so different from the rest of the opening that you notice it immediately. The shot in K-On!! sticks out like a really nice-looking sore thumb, and it becomes all the more obvious when they use it another two times. Second, the first opening changes the background between usages of the stock animation, and while this can be seen as simply being lazy, the change in scenery makes the reuse more comfortable to the viewer.
If they really, really wanted to use the revolving camera effect that much, I think a good solution would have been to put more camera movement in the scenes right before that animation to ease the transition into it.
Not that Kyoto Animation is reading this blog, of course.