The Fantasy of Light & Fluffy: K-On! In Contrast With Gundam (& Cowboy Bebop) [No Spoilers]

[CoalGuys] K-ON! Movie (1080p) [6839C336].mkv_snapshot_01.18.56_[2012.07.22_22.29.42]

I usually go for the kind of fantasy where the problems that afflict the world are inauthentically complex, like war. I say the complexity isn’t authentic because the resolution is often clean: peace, love, and song are the magic stuff; but in the form of giant robots acting out great struggles.

There is another fantasy that I’ve learned to enjoy: that of the denial of complexity. Suffering does not exist in the world! Sure there are problems, pain, and even tears… But there is no suffering, the way only humans can choose to suffer. This is the world of little girls in high school, the emphasis on little… as this kind of setting eschews the anguish only adolescents can truly inflict on themselves and the people who pay attention to them.

This too, is an interesting fantasy. It is the triumph of good vs. nothing.

The K-On! movie is an extended episode of the magnificent second season of the manga adaptation. It’s actually quite comparable to Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door in that regard, especially with how that movie attempts to thematically set-up the culmination of Spike’s story using Vincent Volaju. Interestingly enough, both films are unnecessary additions to the perfection of their respective tv series, but K-On! does more in this regard.  Both shows are episodic with standalone stories, that threaded a narrative tightly in the end, but K-On!! did it with more episodes and this film made for a tighter fit within that narrative.

[CoalGuys] K-ON! Movie (1080p) [6839C336].mkv_snapshot_01.42.20_[2012.07.22_22.24.24]

It’s precisely because it told the origin story of Tenshi no Furetta Yo, the graduating members’ parting gift to Azusa. Much like the totality of the second season, it was a whole lot of nothing especially in the first half, but its second act was filled with the same emotive power of what will amount to be an inconsequential parting (which is uncannily very strong). I won’t lie, this moment in the second season struck me with perhaps more emotive power than Spike’s closing act, and before you roll your eyes in incredulity, I give Cowboy Bebop as much credit as anyone can, in a series of blog posts.

How is this possible for me? Taking into consideration the majority of my preferences skewing towards violent robot shows, and absurd displays of archaic manliness… It’s because I contextualize it quite well in serving my own purposes: The world of K-On! is what my robot anime heroes strive to fight for. This is what Basara sings for, with all the might of his strong-sounding but ultimately wholesome and happy lyrics.

This is how the world is after it gets saved. This is the world where mobile suits are no longer necessary. Banagher, Kio, you should be happy. People did not die in vain, the tears of time have stopped flowing. The mistakes of one’s youth are no longer consequential. Kids can make all sorts of silly mistakes, because after lasting peace is won by grand acts, the world that comes after is all light and fluff.

[For further insight on what I inevitably think about when I watch moe anime]

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.
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16 Responses to The Fantasy of Light & Fluffy: K-On! In Contrast With Gundam (& Cowboy Bebop) [No Spoilers]

  1. kadian1364 says:

    That they used the exact same sentimental play for the end felt cheap. It was effective at the end of season 2 because it was surprising with a lot of touching details. But playing out the exact same scene we’ve seen before? This isn’t Diebuster where it created new meaning out of the big moment through the efforts of its narrative; this was recycled footage and everything. I feel it would’ve been better not to have the final scene altogether and leave it to the second season to provide that sense of finality.

    • Myssa says:

      I think that the point has to be made that, while the scene itself was the same, NOTHING in the final song for Azusa was re-used. Everything was redrawn (if it wasn’t already obvious with the different angles used), and we didn’t even get to hear Azusa’s rebuttal at the end (“It sucks!”) because this time the camera was situated outside the room’s window.

      It’s the little things, really.

      • kadian1364 says:

        Redrawn like Endless Eight was redrawn? Using the exact same material with inconsequential changes is very rarely creatively inspired.

        I’m not going to argue at length with K-ON fans about minute differences in presentation here. I just wanted to say that I liked a lot of what season 2 did in terms of giving these characters some iota of emotional sincerity about the end of their juvenile school years, a stark contrast to the first season which was so emotionally shallow and cynically commercial. I was disappointed with the movie in that, in addition to being much too long (like the Haruhi movie), it didn’t have anything more substantial to add.

        • I did mention in the post that as far as unnecessary films go, this one did more than Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door in terms of adding context to the finale (Volaju and Electra : Spike and Julia). That movie tried an ambitious, thematic thing while characteristically, this movie went for a mundane, “behind the music” kind of thing.

          I personally was more interested in watching the story behind the song, rather than the story of a thematic analogy of Spike.

          But of course, this is not saying the Cowboy Bebop film is inferior. I would prefer splendid animation of fight scenes over splendid animation of girls hugging each other any day.

  2. Eucliwood says:

    I still prefer the lyrics, “demo ne aeta yo suteki na ko neko ni”

  3. Cratex says:

    This is how the world is after it gets saved.

    Much as I want to add something, there is nothing that can be added to that.

  4. what the hell says:

    lmao, yes, only problem: this is the japanese version.

    MEANWHILE IN AMERICA: *sound of carpet bombing echoes in the background*

    turn A turn~

  5. alsozara says:

    Seems like a pretty juvenile interpretation of the world after it is saved. Cute girls doing not much in high school.

    I like the post, I just don’t quite agree.

    • Both fantasies are incredibly juvenile, the result is rather consistent. You may have a different fantasy, but it is not quite this… and that’s okay.

      I myself am prone to fantasizing, quite guiltily, of being able to jump through time and space just going to different wars where I just plow through the battlefield like some Dynasty Warrriors character (with or without mecha). This is guilty because I need constant human strife through war for this to be possible. Is this less juvenile? I don’t think it is.

      • alsozara says:

        I don’t deny that it’s no more juvenile. As you said in the post, both are fantasies through the denial of complexity. I just reject K-On! as an image of the happy, post-war world. After all, there’s no implication that there isn’t still plenty of suffering elsewhere in the world, and it’s not like that invalidates focusing on a relatively privileged group of high-schoolers, I just think there’s plenty more interesting things to be focusing on in a post-war world (or at least post-war part of world). A Uni student suffering directionless in part due to his/her sheltered, privileged life. A doctor, struggling to balance his responsibilites with him family life. A labourer, trying to escape the poverty cycle. There’s no end to interesting people and things to look at in a relatively well-off, peaceful society, yet we keep coming back to high school students.

        In response to Cratex, I don’t disagree. I like ghostlightning’s interpretation of the trivialities as a blessing of fortunate times, as a reward for the grand acts of those in less fortunate times. I still don’t think we should endlessly base our fiction around it, though. Anime in particular spends more than enough time on that particular topic.

    • Cratex says:

      As a parent, it seems to me that is the only real thing worth fighting for – that the only things my son has to worry about is the trivialities associated with going to school.

  6. Martin says:

    OH GOD THOSE DETAILS. Yeah. I’ve visited London numerous times and the attention paid to those little things is fantastic. That alone was enough to put a smile on my face.

    It’s a cool angle you’re viewing this from too, by the way. This sort of experience is a perfect break from the usual Big Events and angst that permeate the epic SF shows that you and I are into…I must admit I didn’t make that connection, but it works for me on a similar level now I think about it. There’s something life-affirming and comforting in watching something that’s so harmless and rose-tinted. Juvenile? Maybe. But then, what’s wrong with letting your inner child out every now and then?

    It’s a refreshing change to see everything work out all right. Wrong hotel? No biggie. Because it’s K-On, you *know* they’ll be just fine and you don’t worry about it. Instead you enjoy a bunch of happy tourists finding their way there. No struggle, no uncertainty; just a safe, secure, glass-half-full view of the world.

  7. bluemist says:

    So… K-ON is the spiritual after story to every anime battle ever won?

    I am okay with this interpretation. I always thought that Neo Venezia or some other post-apocalyptic slice-of-life world would have been possible after ages of interplanetary robot wars or whatnot.

    Now if you take that idea forward thousands of years “after” achieving peace, soon enough you’ll get AKB0048’s world where they got so tired of mundane lives, they actually banned it.

  8. Xard says:

    K-ON is the best thing since sliced moe and this film was Azu-cattily awesome

  9. Sky says:

    Hm… Good article, but I’m going to have to disagree with you here. Compared to say… The ending montage of Code Geass everything in K-On!! just seems shallow and superficial because the wars and conflicts are what gave that ending montage emotive power. The heroes fought for this, so it feels good to see them succeed and live simple lives. In K-On!!, while you can make as many connections to other anime as you want, on its own there’s nothing particularly special about what’s going on. I found myself bored more than anything.

    That said, if you want to make that connection and view K-On!! in that way, if that makes the experience more enjoyable for you, I’m glad. It’s just I view it a little differently. ^^;;

  10. Pingback: We Remember Love Says Goodbye, and Thank You For All The Memories | We Remember Love

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