One of the most popular late night anime shows in the past decade was K-On! Bandai Entertainment licensed the series and announced it one year ago at Anime Expo 2010 and released the second volume during this year’s Anime Expo.
Bandai’s volume 2 of the first season contains episodes 5-8 of the TV series. The cover art used is from the second JP volume and was featured in an episode of the second season. This volume shows how the Light Music Club preforms for the first time as well as how they get a new member to join from the incoming freshmen class.
Episode 5: Advisor!
This episode truly introduces us to the advisor of the Light Music Club: Sawako Yamanaka. We see how she wishes to change from her past, yet never is able to get over who she once was. This is blackmailed into having her become the advisor and begin to teach Yui how to play guitar and sing. It’s a vast improvement from episode 3 where Yui was barely able to remember one set of information at a time. We’re also given some focus on Mugi and how she likes to view female relationships. A great introduction on this set.
Episode 6: School Festival!
The first performance of the Light Music Club. The buildup to their performance is masterfully done with Mio worrying again and again over singing for the first time in front of a big crowd. The performance is well done, but due to a artistic image we are given a music video-type performance instead. The infamous “striped panties” incident occurs as well. It’s a good episode but future performances are animated better.
Episode 7: Christmas!
The typical “cute girls doing cute things” episode that features little musical involvement. The girls as well as Nodoka, Ui, and Sawako bond over a meal and gift exchanges. We see again just how important Yui is to Ui’s life and how past Christmases have gone. A nice break between events with a very striking design of Mio in the final scene.
Episode 8: Freshman Reception!
The final episode on the set is the first to feature the character who will become the final member of the Light Music Club during the original four’s three years. We are introduced to our second set of main characters (Azusa, Ui, and Jun) and how they began to know each other. It’s a great introduction without giving too much information for Azusa. The anticipation for the next episode is tremendous and Bandai is evil for ending on this episode.
As with the first volume, the visuals are great at times while lacking in other stylistic chances. As I mentioned before, the artwork isn’t as polished as the second season, but the framework is still in place. The music video is well animated and the performances are set up to avoid a lot of animation work. Bandai’s transfer appears fine to me.
Also like the first volume, Bandai chose to use two Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks instead of a lossless format on the BD. I couldn’t notice any problems, but again it’s the principle that matters. The dub sounds very well with the main four and Ui. Azusa doesn’t have many lines, so I’ll reserve judgement on her and Jun for future episodes. Karen Strassman’s Sawako isn’t too bad, but doesn’t stand out either. Her tone shifts are well done though.
For extras, we have trailers for the same three properties as last time (Haruhi, Tales, and The Girl who Leapt Through Space) as well as another interview and the English music video for Fuwa Fuwa Time. The interview with Chrstina Vee was good. It’s somewhat weird to hear that she played drums yet was cast as the bass player Mio. She’s also the singer of the music video. It’s set to scenes from the first 8 episodes that don’t quite mesh together with the lyrics. It’s a bit disjointing.
The subtitles were well done for the most part. I have some stylistic complaints, but other than that they appeared to be fine.
Overall I again recommend this series. It’s one of the few series that can be watched at any time with any mood. The dub will help broaden appeal to fans who don’t care for subtitles yet maintains the same feel as the Japanese. While I wish TBS allowed for more extras, the ones included aren’t too bad. I’m interested to see what Cassandra Lee will talk about in the next volume. More screencaptures can be viewed at this Photobucket Album