My copy of K-ON! The Movie arrived yesterday, but – surprise surprise – it took me a good 24 hours or so to finally scrape together just enough energy to pop the disc into my PS3.
I might put together a more comprehensive review (including the physical product) in the next few days (EDIT: make that a few weeks – sorry chaps but that’s what work-related stress does to you), but for the moment, here’s what I thought of the film.
Just a few minutes in, it was clear to me that this wouldn’t work as a stand-alone movie. Others might disagree, but I’m quite convinced that more than a sketchy knowledge of the characters (and of the original series as a whole) is essential for one to fully appreciate the film. Not that I’d necessarily consider this a drawback; after all, the target demographic is almost certainly composed exclusively of existing fans of the series. To properly set things up for newcomers, the movie would’ve had to tack on another half hour or so of detailed exposition that would bore the primary audience out of their wits (and possibly out of the theatre).
Production values were good, but nothing to write home about. The best way to describe it is “consistent” – that is, consistent with the quality and aesthetic of the original series. Granted, there are more than a few noticeable improvements that set this apart from the made-for-TV episodes: greater attention to depth and detail, a slightly richer palette, a sprinkling of fancy camera work (fly-bys, vibrations, a splash of bokeh here and there, etc.). Having said that, it’s similar enough to the series that if someone had chopped it up into three or four segments and added OP/ED sequences to each one, it might pass for the start of a new season.
The same goes for the story. A trip to London may have held out the potential for something quite significant, but in the end, this entire film turned out to be one long back-story for something that happened towards the end of the second season. New developments are limited to little revelations that flesh things out a wee bit, such as what might be the first physical look at two people who’ve been no more than faceless backgrounders in the series. No earth-shattering bombshells, just more of the same fluffy goodness that we’ve come to know and love (or loathe, as the case may be).
But is that really such a bad thing? Perhaps not, or at least not for everyone. I’ve noted earlier that the target audience for this movie is almost certainly the existing fanbase, and many of them will be quite satisfied with seeing their favourite amateur musicians act in, well, pretty much the same way they’ve always done. The enhanced production values, exotic setting (unless one happens to be a Brit), and new songs are fresh icing on the same old cake: tried and tested comfort food served up in a slightly different way.
For my part, whilst new flavours and new textures would have been appreciated, I’m not unhappy about having another slice of the usual. K-ON! The Movie might not win a lot of new customers over to the franchise, but us regulars will probably find little cause for complaint.
Except, of course, having our appetites whetted for even more of the usual. (Speaking of which, I’m about ready for that new season with the band in university any day now . . .)