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What's K-ON!...?(1/3)

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- "What is this "K-ON!" I keep hearing about?"

- "I know it's a TV anime but what's so great about it?"

- "Meh, it looks interesting enough, I've just never gotten around to watching it..."

- "This kind of anime is not really my thing..."

If any of these sound familiar to you then keep reading! In this special report we delve into the plot details and character backgrounds, and try to get to the bottom of how this "K-ON!" became such a social phenomenon.

K-ON!'s Manga Origins

K-ON! first began as a four-panel comic strip manga, serialized in "Manga Time Kirara" from May 2007. When the serializations were eventually compiled into a stand-alone series, the first four volumes sold an incredible 2.5 million copies.


The Popular TV Series

Riding on the tailwinds of the manga a TV anime series soon followed, with Kyoto Animation (commonly known as "Kyo-Ani), the company behind such "moe" hits as "Raki☆Suta" (Lucky☆Star) and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya," taking the reins over its production. The series was a huge hit amongst male fans of "moe" style anime, largely due to its "no boys allowed" policy. Sure the story is set in an all girl's high school, but not a single male character makes an appearance throughout the entire series. Naturally there is no talk about love or romance either. You could say that it's that pureness of girls just being girls that makes this anime so fun to watch.
Having said that though, K-ON! isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill "moe" anime. First of all, most of the staff that work on the series, including the director, are all female. Unlike a lot of the "by men, for men moe anime," K-ON! is about girls being girls, told from girls' perspectives. Another unique aspect of K-ON! is that while it has achieved a large male following, it also has an incredible female fan base as well.
"K-ON!" series 1
Girls and women feel they can relate to the fashion-loving-cake-eating-tea-drinking-accessory-filled lifestyles of being a girl. And then there's the music! When the theme song and series soundtrack took out the top spot on the Oricon music chart it became official - "K-ON!" is huge!

The "K-ON!" anime series, which first went to air in March 2009, starts with Yui Hirasawa and the three other main characters' entrance into high school and their attempts to re-establish the "K-ON Club" ※ which is in danger of being shutdown due to a lack of members. (※ "K-ON," short for "kei ongaku", literally means "light music" but is more along the lines of "pop music.")

In the 8th episode of the series the four girls go up a grade in school and upon recruiting a new member, freshman Azusa Nakano, they decide to call their band "Hokago Teat Time" ("After-school Tea Time"). When the five girls are at their most liveliest when they're all assembled together.

There was no way fans would be satisfied with just one series of the anime, thus came series 2 - "K-ON!!" (with two exclamation marks this time!!)
"K-ON!!" series 2
Yui and the gang have progressed onto their third year of high school, Azusa in second year, and the central themes of the story turn to entrance exams and graduation. The same fun vibe from the first series flows on to the second but also depicts that particular sadness of graduation and the fleetingness of school life. Two of the episodes in series 2, episode 20 "Yet Another School Festival," and episode 24 "Graduation Ceremony" are particularly brilliant - real tearjerkers!
Both the anime and the manga seemed completed momentarily, but in spring 2011 the manga began re-serialization. The next installment follows Yui and the girls into their university phase in one publication and in another follows Yu and the others through high school. And with the release of the K-ON! movie on December 3rd, a new movement for the K-ON phenomenon has begun!
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