Review: K-On! The Movie / Cert: PG / Director: Naoko Yamada / Screenplay: Reiko Yoshida / Starring: Stephanie Sheh, Cristina Valenzuela, Cassandra Morris / Release Date: October 28th
K-On! is an anime TV show about the daily lives of four high school girls who form a pop band called After-school Tea Time. A phenomenon in Japan, it has spawned hit singles, sell-out arena concerts, tons of merch and a movie which, God help us, has somehow found its way to Starburst HQ. Better put on some ear protectors. It's going to get mighty noisy around here.
Storylines aren't really the show's thing, so don't expect much of a plot. Shortly to be graduating, the girls decide to take a celebratory 5-day trip to London, where, among other misadventures, they find themselves mistaken for another Japanese all-girl band, Love Crisis, and forced to play a gig at a sushi bar, wowing the clientele with a song about piri-piri rice (not to be confused with another of their ditties, “Rice Is A Side Dish”). And oh yeah, there's also the question of a parting gift for Azusa, a fifth member of the band who's a year younger than the others. Hmm, here's an idea, why don't they write her a farewell song?
We're 45 minutes into the movie before they even reach London, and it takes them another 12 on top of that to get to their hotel – the reason being that they can't accomplish the smallest task without it turning into an excuse for zany comedy routines, ditzy non sequiturs, absurd pratfalls and a flurry of high-pitched chatter. You'd have to have the hearing of a dog and the metabolism of a hummingbird not to be a little disconcerted at times by the shrill, twittering dialogue and the super-sugary vibes, but at the same time there's no denying that it's a film that grows on you – the whole London sequence is a winner, the band's songs are lively and mercifully brief, and there's a pleasant bittersweetness towards the end as the girls finally take their leave of school.
The animation is attractive, the character designs stylishly cute, with big eyes and bouncy, flowing hairdos, and various familiar London locations are lovingly realized. This Blu-ray has a crisp transfer that handles the finer details of the environments very well, and it comes with a whole raft of extras. You might want to reach for a pair of shades before watching an acid trip of a TV segment about the K-On! success story, and another where two female presenters ooh and aah over the characters' costumes. There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette on the dubbing process, and a bunch of interviews and Q&As with the squeaky-voiced ladies who play the band members, including one where they come spilling in plaid miniskirts out of a double-decker bus.
Extras: 5 featurettes / Trailers / Teasers / Clean opening and closing credits