Even if I'm late, I'll never leave early, no no no!
With all my heart, I'll study after school!
When Sakuragaoka High School's Light Music Club (keiongaku-bu) is about to be disbanded with all of its members graduating, Ritsu Tainaka seizes her chance to become a club president without actually being elected and drags her shy friend Mio Akiyama for the ride. They recruit two more students in order to meet the minimum member requirement: Tsumugi Kotobuki, a wealthy blonde who was looking for another club, and Yui Hirasawa, an airheaded girl whom they tempt with numerous sweet things until she agrees to join.With their new band formed, the four come to a sudden realization: none of them can play an instrument that well. The group sets off to improve their musical skills, with plenty of Slice of Life cuteness along the way.The show follows their progress as they get a club adviser (Sawako Yamanaka, an alumna of the light music club), decide on a band name (Houkagonote after-schoolTea Time), write their first original songs and finally perform on stage. Later, they recruit an additional guitarist: Azusa Nakano, a hard-working musician bewildered by the eccentric and relaxed attitudes of the other members.The yonkoma manga by Kakifly, serialized in the same magazine as Hidamari Sketch, was turned into an anime by Kyoto Animation in the spring season of 2009. The show proved to be a runaway success, with the opening and ending themestopping out at #1 and #2 in the Japanese music charts as well. The manga has been licensed for an English release by Yen Press. The second season, K-On!! (note the two exclamation points), aired in the spring of 2010 for 26 more episodes. A film was announced after the second season ended; it was released on December 3, 2011.In 2010, Bandai Entertainmentannounced that they had licensed the first season in the US and Canada. In August of that year, they announced they would dub it. The first volume of the English dub was released on April 26, 2011. In early 2012, Sentai Filmworks licensed the second season, complete with the same dub cast. The first season is licensed to Manga Entertainment in the UK, and both seasons (as well as the movie) are distributed by Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand. In 2012, Sentai Filmworks announced they acquired the movie and will also dub it. They did so, releasing it on May 21, 2013.In 2011 a new Manga was announced. It was later announced that Kakifly is working on two new manga series, covering the events after the end of the first series: K-On! College, which follows the four high school graduate members into their life at college, and K-On! High School, observing Azusa's efforts to keep the light music club alive. The last volumes of K-On! got licensed by Yen Press.All characterization tropes are listed on the character sheet subpage.
This series provides examples of:
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A to D
Abbey Road Crossing: Referenced when Mio fantasizes about a trip to England - the land of Rock Bands! (Apparently Mio really is a Classic Rock fan).
The girls eventually get the opportunity to run across the actual crossing in The Movie.
Subverted. When the third-year members all end up in the same class they think new president Nodoka might have arranged it, but it turned out she couldn't do anything of the sort and Sawako-sensei was actually responsible.
Two sketch gags in manga Volume 3 show Sawako asking Nodoka for a raise, and the Cosplaying Principal asking her for a bigger role in the series.
Adaptation Expansion: Compare any anime plot to the manga segment it was based on. Definitely for the better, though, and produces lots of good music and extra gags. This is even more pronounced in the second season.
Alice Allusion: The ending credits of The Movie has shots of the band members dressed like Alice while playing. Likely a result of mixing tea, cakes, and England.
The cover of the CD box collection repeats their outfits, this time at their school. There's also a white rabbit.
Animal Motifs: There are small sculptures of "The Tortoise and the Hare" attached to the stair railing that leads up to the light music club's music room. Season 2, episode 8 makes it quite clear that the tortoise symbolizes Yui's slow development.
These are actual architectural features of Toyosato Elementary School in Shiga Prefecture, which the high school in the anime was based on.
Artificial Riverbank: Yui lives close to one, and practices there during finals season for a talent show. It's one of the locations mentioned in the lyrics of "Tenshi ni Fureta yo!".
The river bank, like a lot of depicted locations, is based on a real site, and can be found along the Takanogawa river flowing through Kyoto.
Art Shift: A distinctive Chiaroscuro lighting scheme is used whenever a character is being dramatic (or just pretending to be. Others include:
The anime closing/credits "music video" features the girls making mouth movements and facial expressions that deviate from the normal style of the show.
Yui bursts into a slight Art Shift when she is called "Yui-Senpai" for the first time by Azusa.
Ascended Extra: Jun. Started as a miscellaneous friend of Azusa's but in later chapters (and during the second season of the anime) is given her own place among the cast. In the fourth volume she even has a spot on the character introduction page with the other eight characters. And as of the 2011 restart, she joins Azusa and Ui in the Light Music Club.
Baker's Dozen: Episode 14 was included in the first season's final Blu-ray volume. It followed the girls New Year's Eve, but with a new twist not in the manga; they performed at a local live show. After all that was done, the episode shifted back to following the manga at the end.
Battle of the Bands: Yoshii sets up a competition between Houkago Tea Time and OnNaGumi in the manga's university storyline.
The Beatles: What many see the original 4 Hokago Tea Time members as female versions of. See Gender Flipped below for more details.
Between My Legs: Turns up in episode 1; of Yui when she first arrives at the school.
Big Eater: The enormous amounts of sweets, cake and other desserts the girls eat every day during band practice don't seem to affect their waistlines at all. Especially Yui appears to have an extremely high metabolism.
As of volume 5 chapter 14 reveals Mio gains weight of 2 kilos after entering university. When Mio tries to eat a smaller portion of her meal she then is peeved when Ritsu eats the food on her plate. Catch is what Mio eats goes to her boobs which is why she is wearing loose clothing to hide them.
Big Fancy House: Unknown, since you need an appointment to stay over Mugi's house. Her summer villas on the other hand are humongous. In any case, Sawako was really impressed when she drove Mugi home.
Big Ol' Eyebrows : Tsumugi (seems like a family trait, given that one of the music store's clerks realized she was the owner's daughter simply by looking at her eyebrows).
Lampshaded in the last episode of the first season: in Yui's fever-dream, Mugi's eyebrows are actually slices of pickled radish.
In season 2 episode 5, Azusa imagines a more responsible Yui with Big Ol' Eyebrows encouraging her in the clubroom. Moments later Jun imagines the Light Music Club playing "Kick the Can," with the can having a smiley face with pronounced eyebrows.
The eyebrows on Azunyan's sempai (the rest of the girls) in s2-ep05, were actually strips of nori seaweed.
One of the girls from the Occult Club has them too.
Bittersweet Ending : Natch. A few second season episodes have this, but the kicker is definitely Episode 24, and the second Extra Episode, which ends with Azusa practicing a rough version of "Fuwa Fuwa Time" with the future members of next year's light music club (which, given the voices, are Ui and Jun) for the recruitment concert. The seniors decide not to disturb them and run away, out into the yard in the sunset, where they give their old school one last goodbye.
Bland-Name Product : While Mio uses a "Pony" cassette player and the girls eat at "Max Burger" (complete with golden "M"), the musical instruments and equipment are shown as they are: Fender, Gibson, KORG, Yamaha, Marshall, Peavey, and VOX.
The name "Max" has more to do with the Japanese burger chain Mos Burger, while the shop design is derived from another Japanese chain Freshness Burger.
Played straight whenever the musical instruments are reproduced for merchandise such as figurines and the PSP game: the makers' logos are always removed.
However, at the instrument shop, there's a "Peart" Drums adboard, as well as several bins of "Dunlup" guitar picks.
Mio and Azusa's tuners - Mio's is a Korg AW-2 (backlit), whereas Azusa's is a Korg AW-1, but mislabeled a Yamaha. Ironically, Korg has a license with Yamaha for actually selling a Yamaha AW-1 in Japan only, but the real one has the triple-tuning-fork logo on the clip, not written in block on the face.
Blue with Shock : Happens occasionally, with most of the cast getting it at least once. Played comically in episode 18 season 2, when Azusa tries to encourage Mio about her role in the Romeo And Juliet play.
And Ritsu in episode 22 season 2, when she misplaces her exam pass.
Blood Sisters : The girls of Afterschool Tea Time eventually form a friendship that's closer than most sisters ever will be in Real Life, and nowhere is this more evident than the tearful embrace they share in Season 2 Episode 20 and Episode 22, when they realize that their determination and dedication helped them all pass the entrance exams for the same university, meaning that they won't have to break up the band.
Yui and Azusa make an actual manzai performance on a talent show, in front of an audience. (Yui is the Boke.)
Book Ends : Season 1 episode 10, which begins and ends with Azusa meeting up with Ui to hang out.
Overlapping with Meaningful Echo and Ironic Echo, Yui and Azusa telling the band "It wasn't very good, was it?" bookend the entire series.
To elaborate, when Yui is first drafted by Ritsu and Mio in season 1, they play a song for her and she says it's not very good. She joins the club anyway. At the graduation Grand Finale, Azusa tells the four of them this after they play Tenshi ni Furetayo! for her.
The first season also had Book Ends before the two extra episodes were shown. The first episode of the season started with Yui running to school because she thought she was late. Episode 12, the 'final' episode of the season, ends with Yui running to school because she's actually late for the festival concert.
Azusa's first act as president of the club is grabbing onto Jun and Ui while shouting "Members secured!", exactly how she was inducted.
Breaking the Fourth Wall : A special issue of the Manga was released when K-ON was first announced to become an Anime. Among expected things (like Mio freaking out about being on TV), Yui actually straight out admitted she hadn't actually continued to sing when off panel, since no-one would notice as it's a comic.
This happens a few times in episode 5. The characters talk out loud about how the teacher has "triggered flashback mode!" and how Sawako's art style changes.
At the end of the Christmas Episode from season 1, Mio and Mugi are distressed over how much weight they gained over the holiday. Then in season 2 episode 11, once Azusa mentions that sweating a lot is sure to result in weight loss...
"The strawberry on top is the cake's heart! Its soul!"
Ritsu putting her hand on Yui's shoulder in the class photo in s2 ep 3, for a payoff in ep 26, virtually an entire season later!
In season 2 episode 4, Sawako buys a green match-making good-luck charm in Kyoto. Seven episodes later, Mugi notices a green charm hanging in Sawako's car...
Burger Fool : At one time Mugi - yes, Mugi - gets a part-time job at the local fast food restaurant.
Butt Monkey : That one unnamed music shop clerk. Seriously, that guy does NOT get a break.
Call Back : Yui's rush to school at the beginning of the show is mirrored in the twelth episode. She gives a touching reassurance to her past self and it's all set to Mio's rendition of Brush and Ballpoint Pen
The photos shown for Mio's fan club include Mio and Ritsu's first day of high school (episode 1), the first beach trip (episode 4), everyone except Yui dressed in yukatas (episode 12), and the first sunrise of the new year (episode 14).
Nodoka reminding Yui about her career assessment paper (and Yui responding for not being smart and doesn't know what she'll do in college) in Season 2 Episode 8, traces back on the first season at Episode 1. (with comparison shot◊)
Nodoka: "You really are going to become a NEET like this"
The image of the girls jumping through the air with nothing but the sky in the background in the second season 2 ED looks quite similar to the jump done in the pre-Azusa version of the season 1 OP.
After listening to the rest of the band play a song for her at graduation day, Azusa repeats Yui's "You're not very good at all" from the very first episode. Shortly before that, she was given the photo Ritsu took of the girls in the same episode (with a picture of Azusa added to it).
The opening scene of the movie mirrors the opening scene of Season 1 Episode 1. There's a second callback to the first episode during the band's faux-conflict that follows, when Yui claims that she can play the harmonica. And then immediately admits that she can't when challenged by Ritsu.
Camera Fiend: The basic plot of the Uraon! short "Ricchan's Sudden Shots Series."
Cat Smile: Ritsu displays a prominent one in the opening of Season 1.
Cash Cow Franchise - April, 2010. The pre-orders for the yet-to-be-released DVDs of K-On second season occupied ten of the Top 13 most bought movies in amazon.com Japan. And this is only after the first episode of season 2 has aired, folks. The momentum of success and die-hard fandom set by Season 1 in 2009 does not look like it will slow down any time soon, with twenty six episodes in this season altogether.
There's a movie coming out soon. Guess what the general reaction from the fans was...
It's getting worse and worse. K-On model plane, K-On video game...
There're also character cookies (quite horrifying when you realize you're basically eating the girls in cookie form), as well as Giitah cookies (yes, you CAN eat Yui's guitar), and other assorted snack foods. Now with pictures.◊
Cerebus Syndrome : A mild version. The second season is still a cute Slice of Life comedy, but there's an undercurrent of sadness to it. There are frequent mentions of the fact that four of the five club members are graduating at the end of the year, and of the open question of what will happen to the band afterward.
Made obvious in Season 2 Episode 20.
And then we have episode 21, where we learn that the exact length of Yui's bangs is Serious Business.
Chekhov's Gun : When Yui nearly trips over before the concert in Episode 6. Mio ends up tripping over a cord after the concert.
Chekhov's Gunman : During the marathon in episode 15 season two, two girls are seen passing by Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio as they search for Yui, talking about UFO sightings in the area, and making it a research project for the school festival, leading the trio to hypothesize that Yui was abducted by aliens. Cue episode 19, where those two girls turn out to be in the Occult Club, and lend their Rosetta Stone for use as Juliet's gravestone. And then during the all-nighter after the play, the Light Music Club decides to bring some of Ui's food to thank them, and enter their clubroom... to see the Occult Club arranging a diorama of a cow being picked up by a UFO.
Cherry Blossoms: Ever present in the first episode of Season 2. Yui collects them and even has a petal on her head while the students sing the school song.
Childish Pillow Fight: Apparently, Mugi loves them. Most likely this is part of her fascination with the details of normal middle-class life, due to being an Ojou. Similar to her fascination with fast food, part-time jobs, and hardware stores.
Class Trip : The girls of the band, minus Azusa, travel for one to Kyoto.
Which is a tad odd, since most locations depicted in the show are actually situated in Kyoto already.
Club President : Subverted by Ritsu being no more or less important than any of the other girls. She is not particularly driven and often needs "positive reinforcement" from Mio, whom she is more interested in dressing up in amaid outfit.
The beginning of both the anime and manga versions have this post as one of Ritsu's goals for restarting the club. Since it's nearing dissolution she doesn't need to run for the post and can obtain it by default.
Azusa imagines herself as the Light Music Club's president, as she will be the only one left after the upperclassmen graduate. It's understood that she will become the new president next year.
The correct term for this in Japanese, is a 'tankobu' (たんこぶ - literally 'bump' or 'swelling' on the head). It's a standard comic device for when the 'tsukkomi' (straight man, or Moe) hits the 'boke' (fool, or Larry/Curly/Shemp) for doing/saying something idiotic. If you look in S1-EP03, Ritsu even earns a stacked set of tankobu, which hilariously resemble stacked New Year mochi rice cakes.
Cultural Cross-Reference : Most of the famous musicians the band members talk about are Western rock stars. Ritsu names her biggest inspiration as a drummer as Keith Moon, of all people, although she's quick to point out that she doesn't want to imitate his offstage behavior.
Cultural Translation : The dub says how much Yui's guitar is worth in dollars instead of yen. "Moe-moe kyun~" is also swapped out for "The power of cute compels you~".
Cuteness Proximity : Azusa provokes this reaction regularly from the older club-members, but mostly Yui.
Dark Is Not Evil : The girls from the Occult Club, despite looking like they're in some sort of cult, are actually nice people and even help the girls with their Romeo and Juliet play.
Date Peepers : In episode 11 of the first season, Ritsu, Mugi, and Azusa spy on Mio, Yui, and Nodoka in a cake shop. Ritsu gets a little jealous that Mio seems to be very friendly with them, and decides to crash into the latter group.
Azusa: I heard the recording of the live performance at last year's school festival. The guitarist was so awesome! I really admire her!! The level of this school's Light Music Club must be really high, right?
Yui: How do I play a C chord again?
Description Porn : Episode 2x02 did nearly a full minute's background and detail on Sawako's surprisingly valuable Gibson SG guitar, explaining why the girls were basically getting 500,000 yen for free.
Possibly lampshaded during her outing with Ritsu. The latter brings the former to an arcade and tries out an arm wrestling game. Ritsu lost despite using both arms and putting her entire weight on it while Mugi effortlessly beats it literally singlehandedly.
In the first festival episode (S1 Ep.06) Mugi is shown carrying numerous heavy things past Yui, who is struggling to carry only one (an amp).
Brought up again as a kind of Continuity Nod in the restarted manga. Akira, a university freshman and member of the university's own light music club ends up making Mugi cry due to something she said. In an effort to make it up to her, she lets Mugi slap her, thinking that a pampered Ojou like Mugi would probably be pretty weak. Boy was she wrong; the slap quite literally sends Akira flyingacross the room.
Doppelgänger : In "Listen!!"'s credit sequence, there's a second, fairy/Ant Queen-like Mio inside the giant cake, with no indication of who and/or what she's supposed to be, complete with antennae and butterfly wings.
There's another Mio clone◊ in the school; her name is Fuuko Takahashi, and she wears glasses and her jacket open
Another side character example: Fumie Kimura◊ and her namayake friend here◊ seem to look alike. Another background girl, shown in this picture◊ shown in the same scene resembles both girls as well.
Dragged by the Collar : Mio to Ritsu in episode 1 season 1, for being too aggressive in trying to recruit people
Tiny-little Azunyan dragging Yui crying off to study in season 2 episode 9.
Mio flies along behind Sawako like so much fluttery clothing when Sawako drags her out of the music room at mach speed to get changed.
Ui: What was that?
And Ritsu to Mio in episode 18 season 2, when the latter refuses to practice for their school play, Romeo and Juliet.
Early-Bird Cameo : Yui passes Mugi, Ritsu, and Mio on the way to school in the first episode.
The Student Council President makes an unvoiced cameo appearance in episode 6, which takes place halfway through the first year. In the manga storyline, she's not introduced until the very end of the second year.
Expy : Some fans have argued that Kakifly hasn't been very imaginative when creating new characters for the restarted manga: Sumire is Mugi+Mio, and Nao is Nodoka+Yui. The new University characters are existing characters with their most distinctive attribute removed: Akira is Azusa without being a Token Mini-Moe, Ayame is Ritsu without being a Tomboy, Sachi is Mio without being a Shrinking Violet, and Kana and Chiyo are Sawako and Norimi as grad students.
Eye Catch : The cassette and reversing cassette animation in each episode.
Eyelid Pull Taunt : In the second season opening titles, Ritsu does a half-hearted version, with the finger being more on her cheek than close to the eyelid. It's adapted directly from a title page in the manga◊.
Face Fault : The whole audience does this in Episode 6's music-video-sort-of-thing.
Ritsu does an absolute beauty in Season 2, Episode 4. While running.
Fake Band : Only Houkago Tea Time ("Afterschool Tea Time", a.k.a. HTT) and Death Devil have released songs on CD. The voice actresses do their own singing, but music is performed by studio musicians except in the Radion CD (see above under Crowning Music of Awesome). Other fake bands which have been mentioned in the show include Love Crysis, Kamakiri, Death Bang Bang Ji (punk), Black Frill (goth loli) and Namaha Ge.
Fangirl : Mio has a fair share, but most notable are Jun and Megumi, the latter being the student council president and the president of her fan club.
Fashionable Asymmetry : In the second season ED, both Mio and Ritsu wear one glove each, Mio on the left hand and Ritsu on the right.
Faux Horrific : In episode 2 of Season 2, after cleaning out the closet of the music room, Mio and Azusa find out that Yui left a lot of things still and get mad at her. Yui pouts and claims that Ui would get mad and make a scary face if the latter brought more stuff home. Cue cutscene showing a "scary" Ui giving a thumbs up to Yui, after the latter had dropped other stuff she took home earlier and apologized profusely. Both Mio and Azusa wonder if Ui isn't the older, more responsible sister after all.
Filming For Easy Dub : Mio has a tendency of hiding her mouth behind her microphone during the end credits.
First Name Basis : Pretty much applies to almost everyone, even Sawa-chan-sensei...except for Okuda-san.
Four Temperament Ensemble : Yui and Ritsu are sanguine, Mio is either melancholic or choleric, Azusa is somewhat choleric, and Mugi is phlegmatic.
Foreshadowing : Sawako's driving through the marathon's course, and Ui notices "We're almost home" (S2 E15, 07:05). Later in the episode, when Yui's lost, Ui guesses where she is because they're close to her home.
Freeze-Frame Bonus : Episode 2x13, take a closer look at Azusa's yakisoba when she goes down the slide.
Freudian Slip : Mio, about Nodoka. Either Mio thinks that Nodoka acts too much like Yui's mom or she has mommy issues.
Generation Xerox: Hokagou Tea Time mimics the closely-knit nature of its predecessor, Death Devil, which Sawako was a member of.
Gilligan Cut : Episode 4 of the 2nd season has plenty of these, courtesy of poor Sawako-sensei.
Ritsu: Take a picture with us, Sawa-chan! Sawako: No I won't...! <cut> Sawako: v(^_^)
Mio: So, did you figure out how to get there? Ritsu: You bet I did! It's this way! Follow me! <cut> Ritsu: We're lost...
Later in that same episode, Yui asks Sawa-chan to talk with them for a few minutes. Mugi offers to sweeten the deal with some snacks, but Sawa-chan politely refuses... then in the very next scene she's eating with them and complaining that the girls are ruining her reputation as a teacher and why the other girls are referring to her as Sawa-chan as well.
A smaller example (S2 16 16:13):
Azusa: We really need to practice today, really need... <cut to Ton-chan in a bucket, and the girls starting to wash her tank.>
The Glomp : Azusa is a regular recipient of this from Yui. And this◊ is what happened seconds after she said that she wanted to join the club.
Azusa herself picks up the habit in the 2011 restart.
Everybody gets into the glomping in the second season's OP2.
Yui glomps the new character, Akira, after meeting her in the college K-on club.
A Good Name for a Rock Band : The band-naming session goes nowhere fast, but it does include Yui suggesting "Yui Hirasawa and Her Happy Friends" (Ritsu immediately comments on this: "Hey, are we supposed to be part of the background?"). Sawa-sensei is annoyed that the debate is delaying her tea-time and forces the band to adopt the name "Afterschool Tea Time".
Sawako: You don't need to put that much thought into a name.
When Afterschool Tea Time meet Love Crysis (the band whose drummer went to junior high with Ritsu), Yui is envious of how much cooler their name is.
Sawako's metal band, Death Devil, has a good name and an even better logo.
Black Frill is an excellent name for a Gothic Lolita duo.
One of Mio's rejected suggestions for a band name, Pure Pure, ended up getting recycled into a song, "Pure Pure Heart".
On the other hand, one of Ritsu's rejected suggestions for a band name was OnNaGumi (Gang of Girls), and by a truly Contrived Coincidence, this turns out to be the name of Akira's band when they meet her in college. The other band in the college Light Music Club is called Guitar Allergy.
Sawako seems to have established Wakaba Girls as the name of the band formed by Azusa, Ui, Jun, Sumire and Nao.
Gonk : A mild example of this trope, but the beady-eyed first-years in the Jazz Club and Mio's fan club are intentionally plain and generic-looking.
The girls' classmates are depicted as rather pretty, though. Is this a school for fashion models?
Gossip Evolution : Mainly played for laughs in season 2 episode 24, where during the graduation ceremony, while Yui is holding onto the thank you card for Sawa-chan, the message, started by Mio, changes from "Miss Sawako is worried about you, Yui" to "Miss Sawako failed" by the time it reaches the end. Afterwards, it turns out that it was Ritsu who screwed up.
Jun's Image Song begins with the lines "I wanna be a cool bassist girl. Yes, I wish, I wish, love! Oh rainy day!"
After-School Tea Time's songs are full of Engrish; Mio seems to be responsible, as they're usually her songs. Sometimes the same line will occur in both languages as if for emphasis. ("We'll sing utauyo!")
The Death Devil members' stage names, presumably to sound cooler: Catherine, Christina, Jane and Della. Kawakami : the manager of the live house : wasn't in Death Devil, but is referred to by Sawako as "Janice".
"Don't say lazy" has two. "Please don't say you are lazy, datte honto wa crazy"
While The Movie has a lot of justified English : since they're in London : it does include Yui shouting "Sky High!", with her explanation being that she thought it would sound cool.
"Minna ga daisuki enen zokkou rurara Miracle Sing Time"
Green-Eyed Monster : Jun becomes quite jealous of Azusa when she starts to hear about all the fun the latter is having with the light music club, such as going to the beach to practice music (or rather goofing off), hanging out together at a music festival, and the close bonds they all have with each other.
Honest Axe : Yui and Ritsu play this out in front of Nodoka, when they're trying to get an air conditioner.
Ritsu: Is it the gold AC you'd like? Or is it the silver AC? Yui: My Lord, I just want a regular AC. Ritsu: How honest you are! Then I shall bestow upon you a brand new AC. Yui: Thank you, My Lord! Nodoka: What was that supposed to be?
The Honest Axe Story is retold in its entirety in the 4th DVD special in Season 2. We also learn that the story convinced little Yui to become a woodcutter when she grows up. She would drop cakes instead of axes...
In the second season, Yui has taken to calling Mio's bass "Elizabeth/Erizabesu" (which Mio inadvertently does as well, to the amusement of Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui) while Azusa subconsciously considered naming her Fender Mustang "Muttan."
Elizabeth's name comes from the fact that it's a bass guitar (bass sounds like "beth"). This is emphasized the clearest in the dub, where they just have Mio call it "Elizabass". Muttan is from the sound of "Mustang" without the "g" sound (the "s" sound is rather faint when she pronounced it). Gitah's origin should be rather obvious.
In the new manga, Akira calls her black Les Paul "Rosalie".
Informed Disability: We are repeatedly told that Houkago Tea Time is "not very good" even as late as S2 Ep24. You'd never know it from listening to them though. Or from the number of fans they seem to have picked up from amongst their schoolmates for that matter.
In S2 E24, she was talking about a specific song, which the girls may not have had enough time to rehearse.
I Was Told There Would Be Cake : Frequently used as motivation. For example, when Yui falls asleep in the classroom [S2 E02], the girls try to wake her by saying "We've got cake for you." She looks up, doesn't see any cake, and goes right back to sleep.
Back when Mio was in 4th grade and had to read her award-winning essay in front of the school, Ritsu tells her to imagine the audience was made up of pineapples (Ristu's father originally gave her this advice, although Ritsu couldn't change her hairstyle to look like a potato so she used a pineapple instead).
Instant Fanclub : Mio gets hers right after the performance at the culture festival.
Invisible Parents: Played straight during the regular seasons, except for one brief shot of Yui and Ui's parents celebrating Christmas in a foreign country. Averted in the movie, where Yui and Ui's parents are seen at home briefly right before Yui goes to London with her club.
The music store employees all use -sama and -ojousama when they talk to Mugi, while her correct and proper butler refers to her with the formal mouthful "Tsumugi-ojousama".
Ui gets found out when she uses -san instead of -chan for Yui's friends. It also doesn't help that she calls them by their proper names instead of their nicknames.
Azusa always uses -sempai for the other girls in the club.
While everyone uses -sensei for Yamanaka, they use different emphases for when she's being admirable, perverted, or just friggin' awesome. Yui calls her Sawa-chan-sensei, which later even gets copied by her other students, much to her dismay. Or not.
Yui introduces Azusa to her neighbour as "Azunyan", so she goes on to call her "Azunyan-san", one of the few times she gets an honorific on top of the nickname.
When in class, Sawako refers to her students as Last Name-san, but is on First Name Basis with the girls when they're having tea in the club room.
Kansai Regional Accent : During a school trip to Kyoto, Ritsu suggests that they should all talk like this while they're there. Mugi actually pulls it off. It helps that Minako Kotobuki is from Hyougo, and grew up speaking this dialect.
Gohan wa Okazu includes a bit Kansai when Yui sings about okonomiyaki.
Kimodameshi : Mio and Azusa participates in one during the second Beach Episode. They stop playing when Sawako turns up out of nowhere to scare Mio half to death, leaving Ritsu alone in the woods with a wet sponge, waiting for them to show up.
Kotatsu : Yui almost has to be surgically separated from hers.
Limp and Livid - Whenever Mio is about to go Krakatoa on Ritsu for screwing things up with her apathy/stupidity again.
Also, whenever Sawa-chan-sensei's ladylike mask cracks and turns her into "Katherine." Most notable examples include when the girls huddled together in terror as she got a jack-in-the-box-in-the-face for her Christmas present, and when she CRACKS and shows just how "Death's Devils is NOT CUTE" at her friend's wedding.
Living Prop : Most of the class in the second season, most notably Tachibana Himeko, formerly "The Girl Who Sits Next To Yui"
One Steve Limit : Exception: there are two girls in Class 3-2 named Toshimi.
Look What I Can Do Now : Subverted. Yamanaka-sensei takes Yui away for vocal training... except that they trained too hard and Yui loses her voice.
Lost Food Grievance: Becomes a bit of a Running Gag throughout the series, usually with characters becoming disenchanted when there aren't any sweets to eat.
Love Letter Lunacy : Ritsu gets a love letter at one point, which distresses her highly:until it turns out to be song-lyrics written by Mio.
Lower Deck Episode : Episode five of season two, which focuses on the second year student trio (Ui, Azu-nyan and Jun) while the Class Trip episode (the previous one) is happening concurrently.
In one strip, Sawako comments that without her glasses, Mio and Azusa look the same. "A Criticism of the Manga Artist?" is Mio’s response.
Likewise a Bonus Comic celebrating the anime adaptation has the characters aware that they’re in a comic. Because an anime actually has sound, Yui realizes she couldn’t skip singing like she can in the comic. And to look better for broadcast tv, Sawako puts on makeup.
Minion Maracas: Ritsu shows Mio some pictures at the end of the first Beach Episode (S1 04). One of which happens to be rather embarrassing to Mio. Cue this trope, with Mio demanding that Ritsu delete the photos.
Mistaken for Gay: In the movie, after glimpsing Yui's attempts at writing lyrics that include a very prominent "AZUNYAN LOVE <3", Azusa begins to think there might be more to Yui's constant glomping.
Moe: Saying K-ON! has moe is like saying Neptunia has references to video game culture: IT'S EVERYWHERE!
Heck, Ritsu got another one at the 8th episode of season 2.
My Eyes Are Up Here : Ui says something to this effect to Sawako. Though she WAS pretending to be Yui, and Sawako DID prove that she could tell the two apart by bust size.
My God, You Are Serious: Ritsu initially thought Mio suggesting "Pure Pure" as a name for their band was a joke. When she found out it wasn't...
My Skull Runneth Over : Yui forgets all the chords she learned after cramming for an exam. To be fair, she had just learned those chords.
Yui: Don't talk to me. Everything I memorized will fall out.
Newspaper Thin Disguise : When Ritsu - along with Mugi and Azusa, who she dragged along - spies on Mio and Nodoka at the cafe, they hide their faces behind menus.
No Antagonist : The only real source of conflict in K-ON! is the possibility of the band getting broken up, whether it's because they don't fulfill the requirements to exist as a club, or in the second season, if the girls were to go to different universities. However, they always end up doing the right things to keep themselves together, and nothing bad ever happens in this show.
The restarted university and high school manga show that the real conflict present throughout all of K-ON! is laziness vs. diligence. Laziness usually wins.
No Name Given : We never find out the real names of Death Devil's drummer and bassist (who don't get any lines); the liner notes of their CD single only give their stage names, Jane and Della.
In-universe example with Okuda-san, at least for the first few months they've been together.
The two girls in the Occult Club. Officially, they've only been listed as "Occult Club member A" and "Occult Club member B".
Noblewoman's Laugh : Ritsu, oddly enough, when she puts on airs over her test-taking skills.
Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted. Everybody loves Mio, both within the band and outside. Mio even is the only band member with her own fan club! The HTT songs also tend to have noteworthy bass lines, mixed way up front.
Nobody Poops : Partially averted: In the penultimate episode of Season 2, the four senior members of the Light Music Club tells Azusa they all have to use the restroom because "they've been drinking lots of tea" while waiting for her. The rest, thankfully, takes place offscreen.
Non-Indicative Name : In Sawako's school days, the light music club played really insane metal.
The school's annual "marathon" is really only a 5K run.
Obstructive Bureaucrat : Beautifully averted in episode 11 of the second season. The girls want to have an air conditioner for their clubroom, but they have to go through the student council to get it. Ritsu prepares herself to explain why they should be given one, expecting a lot of opposition, and is surprised when the student council's answer is "Yes, sure, you can have one."
Heck, the only reason they have the problems they do with the student council is because they keep forgetting to file the paperwork for them.
...and Nodoka ends up doing most of the paperwork for them anyway.
Odd Couple : The shy and fearful Mio and the energetic (and slightly Jerkass) Ritsu. They've been friends since at least elementary school, but one wonders how Mio put up with her all that time since Ritsu constantly plays on Mio's phobias and shyness.
Mostly because Ritsu's not always a jerk... there are many examples in season 2 when Ritsu encourages Mio gently, as though she's known her weaknesses for a long time. Mio reigns in and makes Ritsu fess up to her blunders and provides grounding. They're pretty well-matched as friends, actually.
Oh Crap: When all the girls huddled together in adorably Super-Deformed terror as Sawa-chan cops a jack-in-the-box in the face on Christmas Eve.
Only Six Faces: Strangely mixed with Cast of Snowflakes, since everyone in the class look different despite having almost the same facial features (including the two girls with the '60s-manga-styled eyes).
Orbital Shot : The opening of the second season has several around the whole band.
Overtook the Manga: Averted : the second season showed episode 24 (concluding the main story) after the manga had finished about a week earlier.
Painting the Medium : The exposition about the girls' music teacher/club sponsor is revealed to be Ritsu talking the whole time.
Later, Mio has an Inner Monologue, which Ritsu adds narration to. Mio tells her to stop doing that.
In the manga chapter where Ayame and Sachi flash back to their high school days when Akira used to be much more feminine, Ritsu repeatedly points up to the previous panel to ask "Who is this person you're talking about?"
In the PSP game, Mio's notes are dominated by directional buttons instead of shape buttons, since she's a left-hander.
Contrarily to most panty shots in anime, it's actually not gratuitous, since it's heavily commented upon (even in the second season), and was one more obstacle for Mio to overcome her shyness.
Pastimes Prove Personality: Aside from the obvious interest in music and song-writing shared by the club, the anime decided to make Mio a sports-fan for a throwaway line in addition to her reading hobby.
Parental Abandonment : None of the girls seem to deal with their parents a lot, even though they are only 15 years old at the start of the series.
While Yui specifically says her parents like to travel a lot, she seems to be the only one with actual abandonment going on. Mugi mentions spending time with her parents all the time, Mio and Azusa talk to their respective off-screen or off-panel mother a few times, and so on. Like Peanuts, most adults in K-On! are apparently He Who Must Not Be Seen.
They combine a couple of notable genres, most notably math rock.
Power Walk : In each of the three endings, the girls do this, although a bit differently each time. In 'Don't Say Lazy', the four original members do it together in their (much loved, according to fan art) Goth-Lolita outfits. In 'Listen!!', the five members of Afterschool Tea Time after the addition of Azusa do this inside the cake. In 'No, Thank You!', the five girls are all present doing this amidst a field of H's and T's, although this is the only time they are not together as a group, and also the only time they are wearing school uniforms (although they've all changed by the time the chorus comes; also note that the school uniforms worn are not the uniforms of Sakuragaoka). It is possibly worth noting that in each of these cases, the girls are walking right to left.
Puni Plush : Very noticeable, in some scenes more than others. Listen to Yui exclaiming "Puni! Puni!" as she squeezes Mio's callused fingers. The art style as a whole is a lot more 'squishy' with less consistency of form than most anime and while it tends to make most movements look more fluid than they really are it also leads to noticeable distortion during in-between frames. This is most noticeable with characters' fingers which are also more extensively animated than in an average anime.
California Doubling : However, the fact that they have to pass Mt. Fuji on the bullet train to get to Kyoto indicates that the setting is supposed to be in the Kantou region (or even Touhoku, judging by the weather map in one episode).
Riddle for the Ages: The manga ended without revealing what subject Ritsu is majoring in at the university, saying only that Ayame is in the same department. The only major to be confirmed is Yui's, in education; it's safe to assume Mio is studying literature and we can guess Mugi is in business and/or music. Because of Ritsu's cooking skills, some fanfic authors assume she's studying to be a chef.
Right Behind Me : In season 1 episode 10, when Azusa is telling Ui what she thinks of her new friends in the light music club, she proceeds to call Ritsu irresponsible and sketchy... at which point Ritsu replies from the seat immediately behind Azusa.
It's actually Ritsu who asks what Azusa thinks about Ritsu, as she had been listening in on the conversation. Ritsu's ability to imitate other people and intrude into their inner monologues is a running gag in both the manga and anime.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship : By the latter half of the series, it's hard to find any friendship among the main cast and supporting characters that hasn't been romantic (or at least loaded with a planet's worth of Les Yay) in some way.
Rubber Face : Sawa-chan does this to Ritsu during episode 4 of Season 2 after the latter mentions that the former is much scarier without make up on.
Running Gag : In the manga, Yui's wish to be able to snap her fingers turn up at various times.
The statue of the school founder keeps getting new accessories.
(Azusa shows up with a tan) "Who are you?"
Mugi carrying heavy objects without any strain. Not exactly a gag, as it isn't commented on much.
She did beat that arm-wrestling machine in S2-EP14 literally single-handedly.
Ui's resemblance to her sister is quickly becoming this.
Someone is hiding behind the club room's door, secretly watching what happens on the other side, and falls down (or is hit by the door) when the door is opened. (Examples: S2 07 04:29; S2 16 08:08; S2 22 16:39)
Carried over into one chapter of the restarted manga; at the start of said chapter, Yui opens her door, slamming it into the face of Akira, who was left with the rather unsavory task of waking her up. At the end of the chapter, Yui opens her door the next day and slams it into Akira and Ritsu's faces. "Some doors are more dangerous to stand in front of than others'" indeed.
When the band is hanging out in either the club room or Yui's house, Sawako-sensei has a tendency to appear without anyone else noticing, usually with Ritsu shouting, "Wait, when did you get here!?"
Save Our Club : At the start of the series, the club has no members whatsoever and needs to basically be rebuilt from the ground up.
Say My Name : A cute, roundabout version occurs in Cagayake GIRLS!:
Ritsu: "MU! GI!!!"
Scenery Porn : What you get when you hire KyoAni to do a school trip episode taking place in Kyoto high school show taking place anywhere.
Series Continuity Error : In the second season, Azusa is told about Megumi Sokabe, the former Student Council President. According to the flashback, she's two years older than the main four girls, and therefore graduated when they finished their first year. However, she made a quick cameo appearance in episode 11, where she talked to the Light Music Club, which at that point in time also included Azusa...
Retcon : When we first see Megumi in the first season, she's wearing a green ribbon, indicating that she's one year ahead of Nodoka. However, in the flashbacks from the second season, she has a red ribbon, which means she was two years ahead. (After her class graduated, the incoming first-year class, which included Azusa, was next to use red ribbons.)
In season 2 episode 13 (15:05), Azusa complains that Yui still hasn't learned to read music, which is consistent with the manga, but in a scene created for the anime in season 1 episode 10, Yui was reading a score while practicing guitar in the middle of the night.
She might have been reading guitar tabs.
Series Fauxnale : At the end of the first season, Yui reflects on how much she's grown from the person she was at the beginning of the show, and the band performs at the school festival, exclaiming "This is our Budokan!". A change from the manga, where Yui's cold results in the performance being quite bad, so as to make the last episode more satisfying. Then the second season gets announced, and the episode is pretty much handwaved.
In the case of Light Music itself, despite this being a series about playing in a band, this trope is a bit subverted in that most of the time, the club doesn't really take its band practice all that seriously.
Sexy Santa Dress : Sawako first puts Yui in one, but changes her focus to Mio when Yui turns out to like it. In the anime, the design is changed from a two-piece to being a big, shoulder-revealing sweater.
Yui hugging Azusa to calm her down has a high resemblance to Kyou's glomp on Kotomi in CLANNAD (another show by the same studio), especially with the the "good girl" part◊. It also occurs in the manga, which might be mere coincidence, but Kyoto Animation sure picked up on it.
Less obvious, but in the third ending theme ("No, Thank You"), there's a shot where Mio puts her thumbs and index fingers together and in the gap between her hands, there's a shot of the sky. A similar hand-portal effect was used heavily in the video to "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings.
The same person uploaded a sequel that includes songs from the second season.
When Yui fills in for Sawako in Episode 10 of season 2, her Gitah is decorated with Spikes of Villainy on the headstock and target-shaped lines across its body, ala Kerry King and Zakk Wylde.
Shown Their Work : The instruments played by the girls are all existing models in the real world:
Yui plays a Heritage Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard Classic:not bad at all for a first guitar.
She apparently strings it with D'Addario XL Nickel Round Wounds. And those really don't rust.
Mio provides the low frequencies on a left-handed 3-Color Sunburst Fender Jazz Bass (likely Japanese) in the anime, and a Fender Precision in the manga, both four-string. The bass she swoons over in the anime is a five-string left-handed Music Man Stingray:good taste there!
Mugi's keyboard is a Korg Triton Extreme (likely the 76-key version since she mentions it in her Image Song). Its built-in valve circuit features prominently in the opening credits. In "No thank You" the second ending of the second season, she plays a Hammond organ.
Ritsu bangs around on what looks like a Yamaha Hipgig Rick Marotta drum kit with Zildjian cymbals.
Azusa made a fine choice with her Cherry-red Fender Mustang, since its short scale is a nice fit for her small hands.
Several of the random items (such as the tea sets or Mio's headphones) are also recognizable (and very expensive) real world products. Mio's headphones are the AKG K 701, for example.
Sleeper Hit : The original Yonkoma was virtually unknown before being turned into an anime.
Slice of Life : Music-playing aside, this show is basically about cute girls doing cute stuff.
Which even gets throttled to almost Piano-like levels in the second season. Episode 13 is mostly about Azusa and her friends being bored, for instance.
Smashing Watermelons : Mio does this in the manga◊. In the anime adaption, she brings the watermelon with the same intention, but realizes that they can't spend all of their practice time goofing around on the beach.
Sound Off : An attempt to use their own songs during a marathon fails when the songs turn out to be too fast.
A Spot Of Tea: Thanks to Mugi's splendid tea set (a present from the Royal Family of Finland) and her family's near endless surplus of cakes from friends and well wishers, the Afternoon Teatime school-band of K-On! binds their friendship through a spot of afernoon tea before and after practice.
Squee : Ritsu does this twice in the first episode, learning Mugi has joined her club, and first meeting "expert guitarist" Yui for the first time.
The whole audience watching Class 3-2's production of Romeo and Juliet squees at Ritsu and Mio performing the balcony scene.
Standing in the Hall : Mugi insists on being punished this way, since she considers it an essential part of a regular high school experience.
Stealth Hi/Bye : Sawa-chan does this occasionally, either in the club room, or Yui's house. The girls, particularly Ritsu, are usually surprised at her sudden appearance.
Stealth Pun : Yui wears a giant chicken suit when trying to gain new members for the club, and underclassmen flee before her in terror. While "chicken" in Japanese is niwatori, the word for molester is... chikan.
Azu-nyan also is treated as such by everyone but Mio when she first joins the club.
Technician Versus Performer : A veeeeery mild example between Azusa (technician) and Yui (performer). Azusa knows much more about guitars and playing technique, with years of experience, but Yui has a natural talent for most instruments and perfect pitch.
Technology Marches On : A cassette recorder is used to record the band's complete song list, of all things.
Teru Teru Bozu : Yui makes a bunch of them and hangs them upside down in hopes of getting rain the next day. It doesn't work.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything : Almost none of their time (be it Yui's class or Ui's class) is spent practicing as a band. There's been one concert during the entire run and it was off screen.
Azusa even acknowledges and doesn't comprehend the fact that they don't practice when she first joins. She even attempts to start on her own only to be yelled at by Sawako for attempting to play! The rest of the episode is a clash between them attempting to do actual band things and just goofing off like they always have.
Theme Naming: Except for Sawako, every character has a name written with just one kanji.
Theme Twin Naming : Yui and Ui. While they are not twins since Ui is a year younger than Yui and have different hairstyles, they look very alike. In fact, Ui poses as Yui during band practice in Episode 12 of the first season when Yui has a cold. See Twin Switch below.
In the original, Mio simply notes the absurdity of Ritsu acknowledging that she's jokingly using a manga trope (Easy Amnesia) while in the midst of seriously looking for another manga trope (Cranial Eruption).
Trailers Always Lie : The next episode previews intentionally feature snippets of dialogue that never convey what the episode is actually about. For instance, Season 2 Episode 18's preview made it look like Mio was serious about moving to Irkutsk, when it was just one of her increasingly lame excuses to get out of starring in the class play.
Twelve Episode Anime : The first season's main Story Arc spans twelve episodes. Episode 12 was labeled as the "finale," causing some people to think it would actually be the last one (It was, until the announcement of Season 2, which is why it was very finale-esque). There is an Episode 13 and 14, but they lie outside the story arc.
Twin Switch : When Yui gets sick before the concert, Ui lets her hair down and goes in her place. She fools everyone for a while, but Sawako-sensei eventually sees through her disguise as she is better "endowed" than her OLDER sister. Curiously, nobody wonders why Yui would suddenly don the red inside shoes worn by first years.
A similar event occurs again: Yui is shown packing things for her Kyoto trip and declaring that everything is all set... and then ties up her hair. Ui was packing for her sister, and then proceeds to wake up Yui, who is sacked in her bed. And in S2 E23, we see Ui ironing... but it's actually Yui.
Yui uses Ui's picture for her summer school ID card.
Milked for all it's worth in episode 21, where Yui is trying to decide which hairstyle to use for her yearbook picture. That includes having Ui model for her, and this being Yui, she forgets to take her hairpin back, and Ui ends up wearing it for the morning. Everyone comments how identical the sisters are once Ui lets her hair down. Bonus points when Azusa sees it, and Ui hugs her from behind saying Azu-nyan! in the cutest voice ever heard.
Used once again in the second chapter of the new manga, when Ui tries to convince Azusa that she was really Yui come back to check up on the club. Azusa and Jun actually start to buy it until Ui is "outed" again by Sawako-sensei in the same way as the first time (i.e. Sawa-chan noting the difference in chest sizes).
Two Lines, No Waiting : The structure of the restarted manga, serialized across two magazines. Chapters covering Yui, Mugi, Mio and Ritsu's first year at university alternate with those about Azusa, Ui and Jun's last year at high school, and it is expected that they will be published in this order in the tankoubon.
Unlimited Wardrobe : When not in school uniforms, the girls pretty much never wear the same clothes twice.
With only a single exception at the end of the second Beach Episode, where Azusa is wearing the same outfit when she met Ui at the beginning of the episode, only with a tan.
Unmoving Plaid : In the manga, both Mio's and Yui's pajamas are drawn like this.
The Unreveal : In episode 3 of the second season, Sawako's attempts to look younger "goes too far", which results in her wearing a face mask and sunglasses to school. She shows her face to Yui and Ritsu, but viewer only sees the back of her head.
Weight Woe : Mio and Mugi always have issues about their weight gain at the end of the year. Ritsu shows shades of this in the first training camp episode.
What Were They Selling Again? : Mentioned; when the band wants to make a recruitment video for the Light Music Club, Mio is concerned that the video will have nothing to do with the club if they go with the "narrated by Ton-chan" angle.
Azusa, counting: A, B, C, D, E, F... Do they really need that many trees?
Oddly enough, Yui seems to get as much stage time as the lead players.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair : Averted in the main cast and a large part of their classmates, who have black, brown or blonde hair. However, among the many unnamed first and second year students, green and blue hair colors show up more often.
Your Door Was Open : Played for laughs. Occasionally, Sawako-sensei suddenly drops in unnoticed when it should be logically impossible for someone not to realize she came in, usually when she was neither invited or informed of the get-together beforehand. Ritsu is usually the one to make a note of this, saying "Wait, when did you get here?" or "You were sitting here the entire time?!"