The Light Pathos Club

The second season of K-On! begins with the girls of the light music club heading to their clubroom. Already there, Yui plays a quiet tune on her guitar evoking  a feeling of renewal and change tinged with nostalgia. The subdued nature of this first scene then carries over into the rest of the episode and beyond. As K-On!! has progressed, there has been a distinct overarching focus on the the idea that high school is almost over for the founders of Houkago Tea Time and that things will never be the same.

While present to a certain extent in the manga, Kyoto Animation’s adaptation seems to be focused on showing the subtle magic of the senior year of high school, before the girls become adults and get that much closer to the real world. A semi-running gag in the manga about the ex-student council president turning out to be Mio Fan #1 now features that same character as a mature college student looking fondly on her high school memories. An entire episode is devoted to Sawako, the club supervisor and closet former metalhead guitarist, and her recapturing some of the passion of her youth. In general, the lighting in K-On!! is very soft, again hinting at a strong feeling towards the ephemeral. The message from Kyoto Animation is loud and clear.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, as I think it’s an attempt to add a bit of depth to K-On!, but I’m not sure how much K-On! needs or even wants it. I understand that high school is a big deal and all. My memories of high school are among my most cherished, and it’s because I had very close friends with whom I could be myself, which is also the case in K-On!! However, because it was only somewhat there in the source material, some of it works, some of it doesn’t, and the end result is that it kind of feels forced in.

What are your thoughts on the direction K-On!! has taken?

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7 thoughts on “The Light Pathos Club

  1. I think not being very familiar with the source material helps. Also, K-ON has become quite popular with the student demographic, so I happen to think (from my completely unbiased teacherly position) that speaking to them and the way they see the world can only be a good thing.

    And you know, to some extent it’s the way we fans see things, too. Unless K-ON magically gets some kind of college extension, this is the last hurrah. I was rewatching the opening scene just the other day. I’ve lost count by now how many times I’ve done that.

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    • So do you think the change for K-On!! comes somewhat from trying to appeal to a more general audience outside of the immediate otaku crowd, or is it mainly directed towards otaku who are in high school/longing for high school/longing for the imaginary high school they see in fiction but never experienced themselves?

      Also that reminds me of how much I like Yui’s portrayal in the opening. She’s constantly in motion and it gets her personality across well.

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      • I think the nostalgia factor for older otaku isn’t something to disregard as well.

        I for one like what they’ve done by having a lot of anime-original material, as it fleshes out the characters much more than what their origin gives them the ability to do. And time is running out for the crew, so showing what this final time means to them as well as those who’ve already been through it seems good. I don’t think the material is really shoehorned in this case, but how it’s executed (writing, timing and such) can have some problems beforehand.

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  2. I haven’t noticed too many differences between the first and second seasons. But I have noticed more of these subdued, “deep” scenes you’re talking about. At the same time, I also find this season funnier than the first – at least, I’m laughing more than I remember =)

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  3. I like K-On, and it’s good to look at.
    This 2nd season and its mood of ‘anticipated nostalgia’ reminds me very much of Azumanga Daioh, as does the series in general. I’m expecting Mugi to bow to the school as they leave it in the last scene, Chiyo-style.

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  4. I love this new direction. I just finished my senior year, and having K-On taking this direction, and covering the complex emotions of being a senior has been very comforting to me.

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