Moments of 2009: This is Our Budokan! Yes I’m talking about Yui

It’s silly, and probably never meant to touch, move, or inspire anyone. Maybe get a few laughs, get a few people to HNGGGH, to fap, or more specifically buy merchandise, K-ON! isn’t a show where people expect something powerful. I certainly did not. I watched it for reasons I imagine many people watched it: cute girls being cute.

I didn’t watch it for the rock n’ roll, I didn’t watch it for high drama (or even good comedy). The tea times, and the pastries, and the cosplay, and the ridiculous viewer avatar in the form of the teacher gave me chuckles here and there, a light and fluffy time. But the finale gave me a lot more, a WHOLE lot more.

A little more on Sawako-sensei: I identify her as the audience avatar in that she’s the one who plays her fetishes on the main cast; specifically through cosplay. She’s not an audience avatar in the strictest sense that she has a blank personality, is male, and is directly involved romantically with her harem. She’s a sexual fetish in herself: the wild, hot, teacher. She has a past played up for laughs too, and is mildly interesting in her own right the way everyone else is mildly interesting.

But yes, the final. Hirasawa Yui committing her would be most consequential act of clumsiness had to get her guitar from her house to join the final performance of the band. Her run back to the auditorium is played up to be both epic and cute, and succeeds at the latter. The thing to note here is a display of character growth.

In the beginning you had a complete airhead with no desire or purpose or willpower entering high school. Here in the end you have the same airhead acting on a newfound sense of purpose; willing herself through illness, dim-wittedness, and lack of talent to make something out of her high school experience… with her friends.

She got more assistance and help than she probably deserves, and for the desperation and lack of good sense of her band mates her next-to-zero talent goofiness became the heart and soul of their band; for good measure. We can say they deserve each other. But when she arrived panting and sweaty at the auditorium, Sawako-sensei making space for her as the guitar player. I saw something touching, moving, and inspiring.

She gave her speech. It was cute — the one thing she had going for her. But when she shouted, THIS IS OUR BUDOKAN! It grabbed hold of me. I’m a big fan of Beck:MCS and it’s easy for me to be inspired by that anime and manga to play air guitar and rock out to its soundtrack and related music. In K-ON! it was different. Sure it caught this need in me to perform, but somehow it’s divorced from the necessity of being in a rock band.

It told me that any kind of performance can be awesome too — that it only takes agreement from an appreciative audience. Something special can happen. The audience they had is partisan, and hardly ‘respectable’ music fans. But I don’t think that mattered to them, or to Yui and the rest. It was a moment, and the fact that I get it makes me feel good about being me; a light and fluffy kind of good.

So what kind of performance did I see myself doing? Why, the massively consequential and important act of anime blogging of course ~_^ This blog is MY Budokan!

Further Reading

I too, had a high school band but the kind of guitars a run around with are now on my kicks [->]

I first claimed WRL as my Budokan as part of fleshing out my methodology of anime and manga appreciation [->]

It’s way ahead of the parameters of the project, but this post is in support of CCY-senpai’s 12 Moments in Anime 2009 he does for the 12 days of Christmas.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in K-ON!!!, moments of 2009 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Moments of 2009: This is Our Budokan! Yes I’m talking about Yui

  1. animewriter says:

    I totally agree with you about Yui and K-On!, and I think that the critics of this series tried to read more into it than was really there, light and fluffy sums it up right.

    • I left what would seem as a chemically-induced comment on the post you linked. I am quite serious though ~_^

    • LostMarbles says:

      From what I’ve seen, most of the criticism of the series content has been about it having no merit because it’s nothing but light and fluffy. In fact, I tend to find that the people trying convince me it’s a worthwhile show are more prone to reading stuff into it, but that might be confirmation bias. It could of course also be that you’re talking about those of us that have problems with it not on it’s own merit but with it being part of the moe pandering to otaku.

      • I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone, for the reasons they are light and fluffy — unless the person is indeed stating a need or preference for such a show. By the tone I took talking about this show I didn’t quite mean to say that it overachieved (even on a personal level), but I really think it did.

        The negative attention on this show is indeed born out of the dissatisfaction re moe pandering. I think there are worse shows out there that are popular too, but don’t get the same vitriol from the same people.

        Maybe the same people will get upset with me for dropping shows like The Big O, Last Exile, and Terra e… or my failing to see the ‘genius’ in FLCL (I don’t dislike it, I just never had the same OMGWTFBBQ experience as most did).

  2. Nice post, but I don’t think you are quite giving the show enough credit. If the moment touched you, I think it was the aim of the show. K-On! is a show that is made with great care and heart and meaning, I think. It is a very concentrated for of cute slice-of-life – it never once tries to lie and play itself off as something it is not. It is a show that fully understands itself and it’s audience, and it plays itself to be what it wants to be, nothing more, nothing less, so I think when it plays an emotional moment, it intends for it to be emotional, it intends for it to be meaningful, and it intends for that moment, being as it is such a perfect moment for the show, to make you react as you did. I think the very fact that she yelled THIS IS OUR BUDOUKAN! and just that exact phrase is what makes it evident that they knew what they were doing.

    But then again, I never finished K-On, so maybe I’m talking out of my asshole :p

    • There’s always a good chance. 😛

    • Never finished the show and yet put out such a particularly defined opinion on it? You’re definitely talking out of your ass.

      I don’t think I questioned that the creators knew what they were doing. It’s never been a habit of mine. Go finish the show dude, I really enjoyed it — as I hoped it showed.

      • I only wonder if you are questioning the creators because the post seems to be assuring me that it was some kind of chance that the show affected you in spite of it’s nature of not being affecting or something – just what I got out of it.

        As for finishing K-on… ugh. I’ve known I should, but I just am not in the mode for these things lately. For the past month or so all I’ve cared about were shounen and mahou shoujo anime and manga.

        • I try not to involve creators and such, because I find it difficult to divine their intention — as there are so many things involved in the production and development of an anime work. I’d rather keep it to the tangible, as it were.

          Yeah I feel you. There are moods for things. Right now I’m completing a show that I drew from the lots we picked during our local anime bloggers’ Xmas party. I fucking drew Binchou-tan and I am on raegquit mode for the first 3 eps. Considering they’re only 10 minutes long, I can tell I’m being quite harsh. I hate the fucking thing.

  3. To me K-On is the very essence of mediocrity and yet also speaks for the era it came out during more than any other series I can think of. It’s also the pinnacle of the moeblob trend which has been enjoying it’s peak during 2006-2009 at the same time as it really has nothing going for it’s premise at all in the end game. It is the Gordon Gekko of anime productions, always seemingly thought out in the short term and just as seemingly only there to make fast and easy money in an era of greed and hasty investors ready to cash in on a “sure thing” with the “moe boom” but ready to bolt the second there might need to be a committment to something grander.

    Now it has to be mentioned that K-On was also an anime from the mega hyper popular trumped up marketing machine that is/was Kyoto Animation, which should have guaranteed it’s universal acceptance as “TEH GREATNESS!” given previous trends on the internet for the past 3 years. However something seems to have changed in the fandom around that time and I think it was the start of what we are seeing now in the backlash against straight up moeblob anime with no ambitions other than to be cute. Personally I am still more shocked than anything that it has been criticized at all and that this article even ended up being written the way it was. K-On and the phrase “expectations not met” as voiced by much of the internet anime fandom had to be the biggest shocker for me of 2009 by far because up to the point when it started getting flak I couldn’t have even begun to imagine that something by Kyoto Animation would not have almost everyone in the internet anime fandom down on their knees declaring it the next most ingenious and brilliant thing by the end of it’s run.

    Perhaps what this also means is that K-On might not only have marked the peak of the “moe boom”, but also a turning point (at least here in the western hemisphere) where it started to lose it’s popularity and demand. In this sense it may have a legacy after all that is entirely seperate from what it sought to accomplish with it’s actual content.

    Now I suppose and hope we get to play the game “expectations in line with reality” in 2010 and people can just relax the super-fandom on all ultra positive and negative accounts for at least a few years on this front. As I’ve said before, like Yang Wen-Li I am a realist and not an idealist and to borrow a quote from that man “I do not believe in anything such as eternal peace, but I do believe we can have peace in our time”. Let’s make it happen….that will be my Budokan.

    • Ugh. I don’t really sympathize with this kind of thinking anymore; that it’s a capital offense to not think of anything but make epics. As if every single show should. Ugh. Such prescriptive thinking spoken from a pulpit of some kind of know-it-better is odious and tiring.

      I never said it was great, only that I found a moment wherein I experienced significant value.

      Now, look at the following lists:

      You can easily find favorites from those years but I doubt that you can say that you’ve seen most of the shows from that year AND say that it wasn’t marked with mediocrity.

      My point is, it could well be as easy at any of those years to cry out against the popular mediocrities and complain how anime is headed for bad times. But think about it, golden ages are golden due to VERY SHARP contrast against dull years. From someone of different persuasions, those years contained wastelands of lack of/or underdeveloped harem/moe genre offerings.

      After all, all this onii-chan! nonsense was pushed hard into the science fiction loving mainstream by Zeta and ZZ Gundam.

      So lighten up and let’s enjoy the upcoming robot shows man.

      • LostMarbles says:

        I feel that there is some merit to the argument that a lot of the anime we watch today (at least where I am in North America) is mediocre compared to the anime I used to watch, but I also realize that it has less to do with differences in what is being produced than the way we’re able to consume anime now. When I was getting into anime in 2000 there was this huge backlog of classics that I had to watch, which meant I didn’t have to go for mediocre shows to satisfy my addiction. Additionally, the newer shows weren’t all being subbed. This meant that some of the crap that we get today would never have made it out of Japan or would have been delayed.

        This isn’t to say that the quantity of and the speed at which we get anime now is destroying anime or whatever ridiculous shit people like to rant about is happening.

        P.S. Why did I click the link for 1999?!?!?! I did not need to be reminded of the existence of Di Gi Charat.

        • Yes, I agree very much. The shows I did watch in/from ’99 are shows I liked a lot save for a few. That has more to do with luck and filtering from recommendations than it has to do with dominant quality I suspect.

      • You’ll note that I never once stated that mediocrity is necessarily bad and impossible to enjoy, but simply (if at length) that that is how I saw the show in it’s essence. To say otherwise would be a lie and to give an actual full length opinion on it would also take far to long.

        Personally I run strongly against the idea that some people hold (coughsankakucough)that the end of anime is nigh and the future is all moeblob shows. There’s just far to much evidence to the contrary. Also I’m not sure I believe in any golden era myth let alone that of a pure golden era of anime. At no time in history has there ever been a moment of universal contentment and concensus among humanity and/or special interest groups otherwise I think we might have stuck with a status quo then and there and reached an end of history.

  4. animekritik says:

    I don’t think I learned anything from K-On!, good or bad, but it’s nice to know you all did 🙂

  5. 2DT says:

    “She… is mildly interesting in her own right the way everyone else is mildly interesting.”

    This line of your post struck a chord with me. They tried so hard, they clearly did: The rock-n-roll sensei with the heart of a pervert! The airheaded guitar prodigy! The girl who’s really shy and afraid of barnacles but loves writing love songs about inane minutiae! Interesting characters! But it doesn’t work.

    And yet, judging from the reactions of the blogosphere, someone like Senjouhara (a mixture of traits that could not exist in real life) totally does? Somehow? Maybe it’s because right now I’m reflecting on what it means to be an “interesting person” in real life, but I find that fascinating. So what’s missing?

    • 2DT says:

      **Senjougahara. Shame on me.

    • Whoa I didn’t see things that way at all. Interesting.

      I related to these characters as blobs for the most part until Yui emerged in this episode, and then BAM, we’re given a post-finale ep that gave us more to work with than an entire season’s worth — most of which you’ve written better about than I could possibly do here.

      But that said, no great loss that I won’t see Mugi as anything more than a dated yuri/eyebrows/airhead/richkid blob joke years from now; or that Mio won’t be anything but a ricebowl panty joke. With this post, however, I can tell myself that I did get something out of it, and was quite happy with what I got.

    • kadian1364 says:

      I think I can answer this quandary with with some confidence.

      “Interesting characters” are all about novelty and surprises. The K-On! girls are exactly as you described them, and that actually was all there was. They did the things you expected them to, they said the things you expected them to, and you could predict how every scene would play out with so little effort, it was like you wrote the damn show yourself, and you weren’t particularly proud of it.

      To me, and I’m sure is true for a lot of others, Senjougahara is interesting not because of a mish-mashed list of contrived character traits, but because she, much like the anime she hailed from, was wildly unpredictable with how she presented herself. At times teasing and playful, other times direct and confrontational, I never knew what she was going to say or what direction the dialogue was going to go.

      Even by the 12th episode we hadn’t pinned her down yet, so as the date acted out as a succession of revealing surprises and poignant intimacy, the chorus fans crying “Win!” was heard all over the internets.

      That’s how I see it anyway. Someone feel free to correct me.

      • I have to agree that unpredictable anime characters are usually some of the funnest, but I also think characters that are different at the end of a show than they were at the beginning and who have been shown to have learned something from their experiences are perhaps the funnest. I see how K-On tried to do this with Yui in the final episode, but to me I think it fell short and ended up being simply an empty monologue. If we had been shown a gradual change in Yui’s personality over the course of the episodes then perhaps that final monologue would hold a little more weight, but unfortunately we weren’t awarded that chance as Yui lazed around somehow managed to learn guitar by magic and that was about it. In that sense her monologue kind of bothered me as a viewer and might have insulted my intelligence and made me feel patronized just a little (It felt like going from the initial character of point a to the final character of point c without passing through the actual visible and gradual character growth of point b first), but then again they kind of had to try to give the show some sense of finality I suppose.

        It’s hard to say whether I would have gone for the same thing or tried to just stick to the “light and fluffy” theme at the end if I had been given the job of scripting the last episode.

      • I think this unpredictability idea of yours is pretty good. The thing about her is that people were already convinced she was win after episode 02, but she kept on delivering revelations — as if the well really ran that deep. The one in the finale wasn’t really groundbreaking, but more like a sensible refrain of the would-be rape back story that gave rather good context overall.

        Yui’s growth is NOT groundbreaking, it’s miniscule — but the value here is the reframing of the goal: the scaling down of Budokan to the level of the high school auditorium. And that, is pretty okay too.

  6. Canne says:

    I wasn’t touched by K-ON the way you did but your experience in musical performance was something I completely lacked. That might explain part of it. Nevertheless, after reading your post, I was kind of convinced that I might have missed something from K-ON. Sensational post 🙂

    • Thank you very much!

      I read your own moments of 2009 post but I’m afraid I didn’t watch many of the shows you wrote about. Those I did, I’ll be posting about them throughout the month ^_^

      Maybe it’s my own set of experiences that allowed me to appreciate K-ON! this way. I’m not that young anymore (I’ll be 33 sooner than I care to think about) and I’ve had many starts and stops in doing creative things — like writing, and perhaps more relevant: playing in a band back in high school and college.

      I don’t think of myself as a truly exemplary writer, but having appreciative readers gives me Yui’s moment over and over, every post, every comment. It’s silly, but I’ll take it!

  7. Yumeka says:

    I liked K-ON! for the same reasons I like similar shows like Azumanga Daioh and Ichigo Mashimaro – they’re cute, warm, and funny. I don’t think about whether the story/characters have anything much going for them, as long as I enjoy them for whatever reason (I also liked the music and I’m a sucker for Kyoto Animation).

    I thought the K-ON! ending was touching as well. Sudden drama doesn’t always work well in a light comedy series, but it did good in that episode. Wonder if we’ll see anymore K-ON! anime.

    • I liked Gundam 00 for the same reasons I like similar shows like Code Geass and Macross Frontier (my Macross fanboyism notwithstanding) — they’re dramatic, filled with science fiction (robot action), and big. I do think about whether the story/characters have much going for them, but when they don’t I’m fine as long as I enjoy them for the roles they play in the context of robot action (I also liked some of the mechanical designs and I have a soft spot for Sunrise).

      I don’t think we’ll see anymore K-ON!, as Kaioshin speculated above it’s the peak of the moe boom I think and really has nowhere to go in terms of creating new likeability. If anything, I think it has overachieved. Gundam 00 however, soldiers on and we’ll be getting more toys and perhaps more shows.

      But would I mind more K-ON!, oh not at all!

  8. Sorrow-kun says:

    There was a show that came out very soon after K-On! that was somewhat similar (same genre at the very least, moe slice-of-life comedy about a bunch a cute school girls that form a club and do cute things) that was just simply better. Better executed, cuter and more charming characters, a wider and more meaningful sense of thematics and better storytelling. K-On! just constantly made me suspicious that, at the heart of it all, it was cynical and exploitative. I never once got that feeling with Taishou Yakyuu Musume, which instead exuded optimism and earnestness. No guesses for why I think one is a much better example of what the genre is capable of than the other.

  9. DonKangolJones says:

    “… a light fluffy time.” Hell yeah! The whole experience of K-ON was an easily digested, entertaining one. And they threw in enough interesting moments to make me pull for the characters. Really though, I loved the “break” the show gave me from other series I was probably watching at the time. The show was a good anytime watch. I didn’t have any anxiety about what would happen to my favorite character this week, or how the logic didn’t stack up in some huge production with people battling over the world. In K-ON, the big things were the little things. Getting up in the morning, making school deadlines, helping your friends out day by day. K-ON made those little things really matter not just to the characters, but the viewers, too.

    • Yes, this is indeed a good example of a need that a show like this can fulfill. I too have shows that I come back to time and again for a quick pick-me-up: Lucky Star primary among them, plus Fumoffu and a few others.

      There’s no real hierarchy to my collection, it’s all up to my mood.

  10. gloval says:

    Ah, K-On! It’s no groundbreaking masterpiece to get worked up about, but I could appreciate some light and fluffy stuff once in a while. We still got some new characters to care about, a few gags and memes to deliver lulz, and a bunch of songs to jam with (I get to hone my translation skills with them).

    I was slightly put off when they reused the scene of Yui rushing to school, but, yeah the sequence was awwww.

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