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K-ON! College by kakifly (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 31, 2015 by  



k-on-college

“K-ON! College” is a lighthearted, enjoyable manga series about seven female students who are members of the college music club and their interaction as club members, musicians but most of all as new friends. Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2012 Kakifly. All Rights Reserved.


 

MANGA TITLE: K-ON! College

STORY AND ART BY: kakifly

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Houbunsha Co., Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Yen Press

RATED: Older Teen

Available on July 23, 2013


 

Yui, Mio, Ritsu, and Tsumugi embark on their college adventures! It will take some time for the girls to get used to life away from their families and adjust to the pace of college life, but there’s one aspect of their new situation that there’s no uncertainty about: joining the pop music club! But they aren’t the only high school band making their debut on the college scene. Is Afterschool Tea Time ready to perform alongside the hard-rocking rhythms of The Girlz?!


Yui Hirasawa, Mio Akiyama, Ritsu Tainaka and Tsumugi Kotobuki are starting their first year in college and still wanting to play music.  Not knowing where to start, the four meet another female band called Only Girlz which consists of bassist Sachi Hayshi, guitarist Akira Wada and drummer Ayame Yoshida and it begins a new friendship between the band members.

But will Akira get used to the cling Yui?  And how will college life be for each of them?  Find out in “K-ON! College” by kakifly!

What is “K-ON!” about?

“K-ON!”, it happens to be one of the hottest series in Japan.

The series has been a phenomenon as it has attracted fans all over the world, those who want to cosplay as the characters, those who want to sing like the characters and those who want to play the music of the characters. Just one look on YouTube and you can see how passionate people are for this series!

“K-ON!” began as a four-panel comic strip written and illustrated by kakifly and the manga would then be serialized in Houbunsha’s seinen manga magazine “Manga Time Kirara” between May 2007-October 2010. In April 2011, the manga was relaunched on both “Manga Time Kirara” and Houbunsha’s magazine “Manga Time Kirara Carat” with two separate storylines.  And two special manga releases from Kakifly were release to focus on the young ladies in college titled “K-On! College” and Azusa and new members in “K-On! High School”.

The popularity of the manga series led to a 13-episode anime TV series which aired in Japan on April-June 2009, an OVA episode in Jan. 2010 and a 26-episode second season titled “K-ON!!” which aired in Japan from April through Sept. 2010 and a new OVA released in March 2011.

“K-ON!” is a play on the Japanese word “keiongaku” (light music) and the series follows four high school students of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School who are members of the “keiongaku” club. The four characters featured thus far in the series are Yui Hirasawa, a naive and clumsy student entering high school who is not entirely sure what she wants to do in terms of extracurricular activities. While she tries to figure out what she wants to do, two other students, Ritsu Tainaka and Mio Akiyama join the keiongaku club to find out that most of the members have graduated and the only way they can keep the club open is if they have four members.

Because Ritsu plays the drums and Mio plays the bass guitar, they hope they can find other musicians and form a band.

Fortunately, a new member joins the group, Tsumugi Kobobuki, a student from a wealthy family who plays a Korg Triton Extreme 76-key keyboard. Now all they need is one member.

While Yui is trying to think of activities to do, she sees a flyer for the keiongaku club and in her mind, she remembers light music as something she did when she was young student in elementary school and so she joins. Meanwhile, the other three members are happy because with a fourth member, the club will stay alive but also the fact that maybe Yui is a guitarist and now, they can start their own band.

But Yui is not a musician and if anything, what she loves about the club is the ability to eat desserts and drink tea with the other members but when the three members perform in front of her, she becomes inspired and wants to be a member of the club and be part of the band.

And the group bringing in a fifth member to their club and band, Azusa.

Azusa is a long-playing guitarist who was inspired to join the club after watching the band perform live but when she joins the club, all she sees is them fooling around, eating desserts and drinking tea. For Azusa, she wants to be part of a band but with the members of the club having fun instead of practicing, she worries that maybe she made the wrong choice of joining the club.

With the Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi graduating high school and now going to college, Azusa will now be in charge of finding new members for Keiongaku.

In “K-On! College”, Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi get ready for high school life and wanting to get involved in a music club like in high school, the girls join the Pop Music Club and become friends with the members of the female band Only Girlz.

Because the girls live in the same dorm, they become friends and experience college life and music life together. And while their friends, they are also music rivals and try to inspire each other to become better musicians.


 

“K-ON! College” features the following characters:

  • Yui Hirasawa– Yui is a naive and clumsy student who likes to sleep, eat and go shopping. She learned how to play a Heritage Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar.
  • Ritsu Tainaka – The most vocal person of the Keiongaku club. She is a drummer that plays a yellow Rick Marotta Signature Yamaha hipgig drum kit and always upbeat, energetic, sarcastic and often always playing jokes on her good friend Mio. Sometimes she can get in the nerves of the other members.
  • Mio Akiyama – The levelheaded person of the group and the smartest student among the four. She plays a Fender Jazz Bass. Although a person who knows quite a bit about music, she is also quite shy and is easy to scare. She can’t take anything that deals with anything scary, ghosts, blood, injuries or anything macabre.
  • Tsumugi Kotobuki – The daughter of a very wealthy family. Known as “Mugi”, she plays a Korg Triton Extreme keyboard and is a piano prodigy. She is known for her blonde hair and thick eyebrows. Because her father owns a variety of businesses including a maid cafe, she often brings desserts to the club meetings.
  • Akira Wada – Guitarist of Only Girlz. Meets Yui and her bandmates after Yui slept on her should and drooled all over her.  Looked at a rebel because of her short hair but in truth, she only chose to look that very way to attract a guy that got her into music.
  • Sachi Hayshi – Sachi is the bassist of Only Girlz and has a complex due to her tall height.
  • Akame Yoshida – The drummer of Only Girlz who is often the outspoken person of the group and the one to tease others and get others to dress up.
  • Ui Hirasawa – Yui’s younger sister who tends to get Yui out of a jam. Unlike Yui, Ui is more responsible and mature and takes care of her older sister.  She is also very studious.
  • Nodoka Manabe – Yui’s childhood friend and confidant. Smart and intelligent, despite how Yui is at times, Nodoka always supports her.

I love “K-ON!”!

I love the progression of the Hokago Tea Time band and how each of these young ladies grew up together to become a band that can actually perform quite well and start playing their first major gig.

I love the fact that it focuses on normal high school life but also the formation of a band and the dynamics with each of the members as they go through their ups and downs but also the little cute quirks that come with each character.

What I loved about “K-On!” extends to “K-On! College”.  Now that the girls are older and are college students, they prepare for their new lives as college students, meet more people including another all-female band called Only Girlz and both bands become really good friends but also music rivals.

And through their friendship, they discover new experiences and learn new things from each other.

But the music is still a big part of the manga, as it was during their high school years.

In Japan, you can watch variety TV shows such as “Gakkou e Ikou” (Let’s go to School) or films such as “Linda Linda Linda” and there are many young people who want to play music. And its evident from the various young bands that have come from Japan straight out of high school that have become signed to a major label.

While here in the West, there are shows and events that spotlight this, in Japan, its a bit more magnified because these storylines are brought to television, film and manga. There are constant music auditions throughout Japan featuring many young teenagers who want to make it and these auditions are featured on television. Especially female students who create a rock band.

“K-ON! College” captures that essence of those female students wanting to create a rock band and the series gives life to those characters and while keeping the stories fun and light-hearted and the series is so much fun thanks to the characters and just how the group maintains their friendship.

But with the new characters, it’s very interesting because Akira is very stoic and distant and she has become the object of Yui’s affection (as she did with Azusa).  But you also get to see the personalities of the other members interacting and also seeing them grow up now that they are older.

Character designs by kakifly are well done! A good focus on character designs and closeups, while some panels will showcase art backgrounds, the designs are cute and fun!

Overall, “K-ON! College” is a lighthearted, enjoyable manga series about seven female students who are members of the college music club and their interaction as club members, musicians but most of all as new friends.

Recommended!

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