K-ON! Manga, Volume 2 (English)

April 13th, 2011

K-ON!, Vol. 2Slices-of-life, like reactions, and opinions, are subjective.

Slice of whose life? If it’s not yours, then there has to be a hook for you, otherwise you will stare at the antics of a bunch of high school girls and think, puh-leeze….no one does that. Or you will turn page after page as a humanoid android watches tall grasses blow in the wind in a post-apocalyptic world and think, god, this is boring. Or you will watch as a bunch of girls are amazed as a new incarnation of Venice continues to be wonderful day after day and….

I read a review this week by someone I like personally, but have never once agreed with a review they wrote. Our reading tastes are just that different. Their review of K-ON!, Volume 2 was something to the effect of “who is this for?!?” Well…it appears to be “for” me. ^_^

Last night friends and I were discussing our linchpin books and how awful it is when you lend someone you consider to be a close friend a book you consider to be one of the best you’ve ever read – and they hate it. Or can’t read it at all. This is basically what happens 99.9% of the time when people ask me to read book that they love. I’m not them, and I don’t love it. Often I hate it. And, as a result I don’t ask people too often to read a book. Whether it’s GUNJO or Sailor Moon, I presume my connection to it was personal and, as they are not me, they will not have that connection.

As an example, I loathe with every fiber of my being, Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding. It is largely considered to be a work of genius.  It offends my every sensibility. There is quite literally nothing about that painting I like. If I were not sane, I would gladly render it to shreds with a boxcutter.  My wife loves it. We’re both “right.” My tremendous dislike for Maria+Holic is the same – I understand it perfectly fine…I just hated it. That’s okay in the real world of grown-ups, where we can disagree without having to prove the other person wrong. Opinions and reactions are, like slices-of-life, in the eye of the beholder.

So I sympathize with this reviewer. I would not, under any circumstances, try to educate them or tell them that they didn’t “understand” it (which is the most common unbalanced fan comment we bloggers get.) Of course this person understood the book – they just didn’t LIKE it! They are allowed. If we’re not insane, we shrug and pick a different topic to discuss.

When a fellow blogger pans K-ON! my reaction is, “oh, gee, I guess I’d better blog about it, because I liked it.” And here we are. See – no reeducation or ‘splaining needed. We all “understand” it just fine, whatever our reactions to it. ^_^

In K-ON!, Volume 2, Yui and her friends slack around instead of practicing. Yui is an idiot savant about music, which in many other manga is enough to make me stabby, but the songs were so much fun in the K-ON! anime that I forgive it in the manga. Yui hugs and pokes and cuddles the new first-year Azusa because she’s cute and the kind of people who interpret that as Yuri interpret that as Yuri. I like Mugi best, even though she has about 6 lines in the whole book. Mio is more interesting to me as a lyricist than as a creature of fanservice and Ritsu…is Ritsu.

For whatever reason, this manga is close enough to a slice of *my* life that I find it appealing. Yes, I’d gladly lose the fanservice because not only is it unrealistic, it’s just boring, but apparently there is a swatch of the audience who cannot tolerate fun slice-of-life stories without getting glimpses of girl’s underwear. Don’t you feel bad for them? I do. I don’t think they “understand” girls much…maybe they need it all explained to them better.

In any case, nothing happens and most of that nothing is stupid beyond belief, but I like it and there’s basically nothing that will change that. Even when Yen, who had ample room in the notes inexplicably does not include a note that “Japanese cats say ‘nya’ so Azusa’s nickname Azu-nyan comes from that,” and instead creates the awkward “Azu-meow.” Even that doesn’t make me like K-ON! any less. Because I’ve decided I like it. It’s my kind of slice-of-life.


Art – 6
Story – There is none, but I’m still giving it an 8
Characters – 10, this is a completely character driven series
Yuri – 0
Service – 5

Overall – 8

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6 Responses

  1. GregC says:

    “Story – There is none, but I’m still giving it an 8”

    This sentence is the tipping point where I am now going to have to read K-ON!. And yes, I have been warned. ;)

  2. @GregC – As long as you’re going in with low expectations. :-)

  3. kyonkun says:

    I love the K-ON! manga more than the anime itself
    I’m really happy that it got published in North America

  4. C. Banana says:

    I’m always surprised that you like this series at all. Four teenage girls goofing off with a strong emphasis on them acting moé in a series intended for otaku men would by its premise seem more like your anathema.

  5. @C.BananaThere is nothing anathema about it. I like the idea of four girls goofing around. The fact that so few artists can manage to make four girls goofing around appealing to a girl who goofs around a lot say more about their paucity of imagination than mine. ^_^

  6. Val says:

    Actually, what really hooked me into this series was the brilliant collection of songs. It might just be a case of producers attempting to wring every last cent out of this series, but I get a whole lot of wonderful songs to enjoy, so I’m happy. =)
    Who knew songs with good beat, strong bass, great guitar riffs and overall pop rock feel, could be about things like curry and rice! The lyrics are as interesting as everything else about the series.

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