K-On! College

By Kakifly. Released in Japan by Houbunsha, serialized in the magazine Manga Time Kirara. Released in North America by Yen Press.

It’s hard to be drawn in sometimes when a series is just so corporately driven. There was nothing wrong with the ending of the original K-On! It ended quite well, with the girls graduating and moving on to college. And yet suddenly, a few months later, we return with not one but TWO new series, each running in a separate magazine. It’s hard not to look at this and think that the publisher asked the writer to drag things on a little bit longer. What’s more, it is only a little bit – each sequel only lasted one volume, and the ending for this college volume just isn’t as satisfying as the original ending. Not to mention that many of the new characters fill similar functions to the old group. So, why read this cash-in?


Well, because the author still knows how to write cute girls doing cute things and having cute situations. I mentioned in a comment on a previous review that I use ‘moe’ in two distinct and separate ways, and this is the first one. Everything about this is designed to make the reader happy to read about girls doing everyday things and trying to keep their high school rock band going. There is zero romance, and next to zero fanservice (there’s a suggestive color page of Mugi at one point). And there are absolutely no little sisters being this cute. Well, there’s Ui, but she acts the part of the responsible oneesama in any case. In any case, what we have here is more of the same, but at college. But if you enjoyed the first four volumes, there’s a high percentage you’ll enjoy this.

There is even, dare I say it, a bit of character development, showing that the girls might be growing up. Yui is trying to think about why she wants to keep playing music, even if she tends to think so hard it gives her a fever. Ritsu is the same, only she’s not a prodigy like Yui or a hard-worker like Mio and Mugi, so her fears tend to come to the fore. Mio still has her little foibles, but is cringing and freaking out a lot less, and is able to give just as good as she gets (her friendship with Ritsu remains a highlight). As for Mugi, she’s on her own for the first time in her life, so has her own insecurities that the others have never worried about. Seeing her joy in the little things we take for granted is really sweet.

As for the new girls, they get fleshed out more than I expected. Akira in particular I wasn’t fond of when we first met her, as it was fairly clear that the author needed someone for Yui to glomp and Azusa wasn’t around anymore, so here was a nearby replacement. Gradually, as the manga wears on, though, we see that she’s isn’t just another tsundere. She’s also allowed to have an old male crush, since she’s not one of the original cast and fanboys won’t burn merchandise in protest. But fear not, it doesn’t go anywhere. Sachi and Ayame round out the rest of that trio, and each have their own little quirks (particularly Sachi), but sadly don’t get as much time as Akira to develop in the minimal pages we see here.

Again, there’s nothing here that doesn’t support the idea that the author was asked to draw a little bit more to make some more money. But the core of what made K-On! enjoyable is also still here, and there’s nothing actively wrong with this. If you enjoyed reading about the four girls before, you’ll enjoy it here. If not, well, get it so that you can watch Ritsu’s hair evolve over the course of the volume.

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  1. I liked the orginal series this really did’nt do anything for me some fun moements here and there but mostly felt like a wasted opertunity, of course the “crazy fan” backlash at the start probably did’nt help.

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