This post is probably a K-ON spoiler, if that’s possible.
I really feel a connection with K-ON, especially with the way how K-ON season 2 ended, with its final (for now, anyways) school festival and that glorious afterglow. It’s like having the right amount of sourness along with something sweet, or perhaps better put, sweet sorrow that is Azusa’s farewell. Or was season two’s ending a goodbye to the rest of us? It’s this stuff that runs through my head when I punch away slowly at random keys, just unlocking yet another character’s entry in yet another soft-boiled image album track. Is Mio a Little Girl or is Hello Little Girl actually trying to be nu-gaze-ish? Did people who worked on the image songs for the series actually tried to inject something into the way the songs are arranged? I’m probably reading too much into it.
K-ON! Houkago Live aside, it’s getting to a point where an oversea fan’s interaction with the K-ON franchise is almost entirely within the commercial context. I think the least I could do to give the whole relationship is to write about it, to define it, to state the meaning it has given me. And when I realized this, it’s all really just sad.
It’s like reading about what Toyosaki blogged after the K-ON S2 live a couple months ago. It’s something pretty special for the tens of thousands who went, but in the end it’s just yet another anime-made-for-hire (albeit in the KyoAni way, which may not be the standard committee style, I don’t know). A piece of plastic or limited edition concert good is not going to love you back, although in this case a continuation of the manga (and inevitably, more anime) is probably as close as it gets to that.
Maybe this is when mining for sequels becomes a celebration rather than the milking of the loyal handful. It’s all in the little things, the details, that you can feel the love, or not.
Feinting sincerity aside, for some reason I feel the creators or some of the core people who had a hand in making K-ON the thing that it is also enjoyed that connection. It’s just that the way we interact with each other and with the franchise material is through the same bloodless machine of capitalism as one would with anything else that required you paying money. To that, the perhaps equally soulless doujin products that the wall booths sell at Comiket at least contain some traces of life despite the shallow, pornographic content (for those who fits the description). I guess we can do better if we look toward truly like-minded expressions in fandom, rather than the usual “let’s just draw what’s popular for a quick buck” kind of thing that prevails much too much these days.
Doujinshi aside (and its implications, worthy of further examination for sure), the only other thing over the years that I’ve settled on as worthy of keeping is to make some great memories. And I guess that meant I should have tried to go to the “Come With Me” live or at least, hope for a home video release. Well, making memories is not always possible, and often infrequent. Perhaps that’s why I value them?
I might have sounded unappreciative about the state of the anime fan overseas when it comes to at least paying for anime locally that I can enjoy, but I do appreciate all the work and passion that went into the stuff now that I own (legit or otherwise). I even appreciate those expensive imports with English subs (and dubs at times) on them nowadays. It’s just that compared to fans in the ’80s and ’90s, the aspects of fandom that went beyond the buying and selling of anime hasn’t really improved by a whole lot. If anything the biggest change is how we’re approaching a saturation point in terms of anime cons (at least in North America) that are big enough to provide another way to connect creators, creations and fans. It’s still one (and more) layer of crud, of drama, and what have you. But that might be more “human” than the well-oiled marketing machine that the Japanese deal with, because at least “they’re here because we love them.”
It’s kind of funny to look at K-ON S2 in this context. I bring my baggage to the show (don’t we all?) and look at it from that angle: what are concerts, right? Aren’t they just yet another venue, another framework in terms of interactions between the band and the audience? It’s been way too long since recorded music has changed the way we experience music, that this human element of simply playing a song adds so much more impact to someone who didn’t grow up with that kind of lo-tech intimacy with music. And I grew up with some experience with music in a live setting (albeit in a typical Asian-American way). But it’s not just me of course. It’s the same reason why Azusa cries when the girls played Tenshi ni Fureta yo! It’s the same reason why some teared up when they watch that. It’s the same reason why it is actually so powerful, that it has already transcended the context of music.
Which is probably why people make novels and movies about friendship and memories in high school, and not (so much) about the nature of music and the evolution of it and the context in which it alters lives, flow of money, and the way people view the world. But that’s just one drop in a large bucket of human relationships and experiences, in the way we relate to each other and the things around us. It’s just that in K-ON’s case, there’s a really gorgeous view from the cliffs of meta, and it’s too bad so few of us get to enjoy this animated adventure from this vantage point.