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  • Adaptation Displacement: The manga the anime is based on isn't as popular as the anime. Being a Naoko Yamada directed show by Kyoto Animation, a lot of bells and whistles were added to the anime to make it more memorable than its manga counterpart. Digibro does a good job of explaining why the anime overshadows the manga.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: In Japan, the anime is very popular, having generated 15 billion yen worth of merchandising and breaking chart records at the height of its popularity. In the West, while still very much popular, it is also much more divisive for its Moe artstyle, only becoming a beloved classic in the eyes of most western anime fans long after it ended.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: When checking out the other clubs, the girls visit the Occult Club, which consists of a big, blinking UFO sitting in the middle of the club room. They consequently close the door and never talk about it again.
  • Cargo Ship:
    • The first thing Yui did after buying "Giita" was taking it to bed "as if they were married", as her sister put it.
    • Mio is also very concerned about her bass guitar and starts to treat it like Yui (using the name Yui gave it, Elizabeth) does her "Giita" .
  • "Common Knowledge": The show is about girls who slack off and drink tea instead of playing music while KyoAni avoids animating instruments as much as possible. Actually, the first season crammed two years of high school into fourteen episodes, including four separate concerts, with reasonably-detailed animation of the performances, and every episode save the Christmas one revolved in some way around practicing or playing music. "Let's drink tea instead of play" was a single-episode gag to provoke tension with newcomer Azusa. The popular conception of the show came into effect with season 2, after it became a Cash Cow Franchise that had to fill double the runtime of season one with only one year of chronological time passing.
  • Covered Up: This doesn't apply to any Japanese person since it's a classic pop standard and children's song, but face it—the only reason you know about "Tsubasa o Kudasai" is either because of this show, Rebuild of Evangelion, or Danganronpa 3.
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    • The dub replaces it with "Love Me Tender".note 
  • Ear Worm: "Don't Say Lazy", the show's ending theme.
    • The opening theme, "Cagayake! GIRLS", is very catchy as well.
    • Any of the OP/ED songs for that matter
    • Gohan wa Okazu (S2 ep20 07:40)
    • Shiny Gems
    • In-universe, even Akira considers "Fuwa Fuwa Time" to be an ear worm.
    • In fact, many most of Houkago Tea Time's songs have really catchy riffs that qualify as this.
    • "Love", the song Death Devil performs at the wedding, proves that "Heavy" and "Catchy" are not mutually exclusive.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Along the same lines as Figwit, an unnamed background character in season 2 has caught the audience's eyes, and was dubbed Himeko Tachibana.
    • It's not just the aforementioned girl (who has also been dubbed "Girl who sits next to Yui"), many nameless background girls are garnering attention.
    • There's Ichigo in Episode 18 who, despite appearing in only a few shots in the season, is gaining fan art.
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    • K-On! is one of the only, if not the only, anime whose entire 38-student HS homeroom class has been fleshed out, with names and full character designs. Some of the classmates: right of Yui is of course Tachibana Himeko, and in front of Mio is Wakaouji Ichigo, but behind Mio is Nakajima Nobuyo, to the right of Mio is Miyamoto Akiyo, to the left of Mio is Takahashi Fuuko. Behind Ritsu is Endou Michiko, to her right is Wajima Maki, to her left Chikada Haruko. In front of Mugi is Sano Keiko, behind is Kinoshita Shizuka, to the right is Sunahara Yoshimi, to the left is Taki Eri. ALL of them have names, designs, and for several, even several lines of dialogue.
  • Even Better Sequel: The second season of the anime is often considered this due to Character Development, the episodes being more eventful and of course the emotional catharsis of the ending. Having twice as many episodes to cover a shorter timeframe (K-On! covered the first two years of the girls' high school life across 14 episodes while K-On!! only covered the final year in 27 episodes) certainly helps.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Whatever you do, do NOT mention both K-On! and Haruhi Suzumiya in one sentence at websites where fans of those shows are. (Since they're mostly infested with trolls.) The odd thing is: While the creators for the manga/light novels are different, they were both made as animes by the same company, Kyoto Animation. The rivalry stems mainly from the fact that both K-On! and the second season of Haruhi were produced around the same time, and both (supposedly) suffered for it in terms of quality storytelling. Plus, there are moments in Haruhi where the characters resembled K-On!'s characters.
    • Ironically, the cover for the seventh DVD has been critized among K-On fandom for looking similar to the art style of Nichijou, KyoAni's next project...
    • Also, fans of Mecha absolutely loathe K-On!. They blame it for spurring on endless Otaku-pandering imitators in a Moe boom that saturated the market and has made quality mecha far rarer than it used to be.
    • A small one between it and fans of Beck. Both are music anime that follow the exploits of bands formed by teenagers but fans of Beck tend to dislike K-On! for not focusing on the music. Fans of K-On! don't necessarily dislike Beck but do point out that the detractors miss the point of the show when complaining about the lack of music.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Ritsu/Mio, for certain. Yui/Azusa also count to a lesser extent, even though recent chapters of the manga seem to be Ship Teasing Yui/Akira and Ui/Azusa. And then there's Sawako/Mugi. The Fan Preferred Couple among the background characters is Akane/Eri.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In episode 1x06, inside Ritsu's funhouse, there's a statue that looks bizarrely like Bill Cipher, despite Gravity Falls still being three years in the future.
    • Yui musing "Europe? But I thought we're going to London?" in The Movie (released in 2011) becomes accurate ever since the successful vote for Brexit in 2016, which severed England's ties to Europe.
    • In the original series, particularly in Episode 3 of Season 2, Ritsu wanting to steal the spotlight and become the face of the band. Eight years later, K-On Shuffle was released featuring the drummer Yukari as the main protagonist!
    • Ayana Taketatsu voices Azusa, who often wears cat ears. Two years after the series aired, Taketatsu voiced Koneko Toujou in High School DXD, a nekomata who also has cat ears.
  • I Am Not Shazam: "K-On" is a contraction of the Japanese for "light music". So while the girls are introduced as part of the "K-On" club, it's not the name of their band. That's "Afterschool Tea Time", though that's only introduced in episode 12.
  • Les Yay: Has its own page.
  • Memetic Badass: Mugi-chan. Since she has shown to be very strong for a teenage girl, it brought upon the idea of Mugi being someone who could smack anyone up (which she actually did with Akira).
  • Memetic Molester: The store clerk at the beginning of season 2 episode 19, due to his strange behavior, which many people seemed to misunderstand.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Un-tan! Un-tan! Un-tan! (S1 01 12:12)
    • Moe Moe~ Kyun! (S1 04 14:55)
    • "Sup, Mugi."
    • GITAH?
    • Mugi's eyebrows and Ritsu's forehead are practically characters of their own right now.
    • Joint meme with Lucky Star: "Asobitai!"
    • "Fun things are fun!"
      • "Will I become an adult when I grow up?"
    • Ritsu showing large sum of money to Azusa (S2 02)
    • X is canonExplanation 
    • MY MIND IS FULL OF FUCK Explanation 
  • Moe: All five girls. Yui's sister Ui qualifies too. Mio, however, deserves special mention, her Moe-ness being over-the-top even by the standards of this show, spawning a Running Gag. And when Azusa arrives, the show causes a huge moe explosion that obliterates everything within a 100-mile radius.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Nobody will ever let Mio forget the time she tripped on the stage during the light music club's first festival performance and exposed her panties to the whole audience, even spawning a fanclub.
    • To regulars on r/anime, Mugi will always be remembered for that one time she stole Mio's strawberry.
  • Nightmare Fuel: During the sequence in the first episode of the anime, when Yui is walking down a hall with the "paranormal" clubs, a very dark and sinister-looking girl (looking similar to Enma Ai from Hell Girl) pokes her head out of a door on the left.
  • The Producer Thinks of Everything: In episode 12 season 1, when Ui dressed as Yui enters the club room, there is a brief moment where you can see that her Inside Shoes are red, not blue.
    • And in episode 21 season 2, Ui can be briefly seen wearing her sister's hairpins when greeting Azusa, paving the way for the very next scene.
    • In one of the final episodes the band decides to record a cassette of their songs for posterity. The mix is included with the second album, and it includes everything that was shown to be recorded in the episode, including Ritsu talking about "rock spirit", Azusa yelling, and Tsumugi sneezing.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Depending on the person, the Animax dub is this.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song - The tracks "Virtual Love" and "Pinch Daisuki!" sound suspiciously similar to "Das Model" by Kraftwerk and "Popcorn" by Hot Butter respectively. Not that that's a bad thing, mind.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes:
    • Mio's lyrics. Assuming she continues to write them after the School Festival we are treated to more of her saccharine creations in Episode 8 with "My Love is a Stapler". (Mio probably wrote them since Yui's lyrics are carbohydrate-based, not sugar-based.) Viewers are treated to the first reaction to her lyrics by Ritsu and Sawa-chan in episode 5 season 1:
    Ritsu: It's so itchy... I want to scratch it till it breaks!
    • Seemingly the entire Hirasawa family. The parents are Sickeningly Sweethearts, the older sister is a lovable oaf and the younger sister is a doting Yamato Nadeshiko who is obsessed with her Onee-chan (not in that kind of way, at least not in canon).
    • The episode "Christmas!" is noticeably higher in sugary Moe content and lower in salty humor than any other first season episode, to the point where it's almost heart-attack inducing.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Nodoka Manabe. She's Yui's childhood friend, and...um... While she would likely have not moved past supporting character even if her role was expanded, there were quite a few possibilities to use her to show how the club gets along with the student body and the other clubs (in a throwaway line in season 2, she mentions that she had become the Student Council President, which would normally be a big freakin' deal). Instead, she doesn't get much relevance apart from always being there when the girls need an extra body for many of the Slice of Life elements. It's even more noticeable when she's compared to Ui, who has quite a bit more to her character than just being Azusa's Designated Outside-the-Club Friend.
    • And then there's Jun, who somehow gets even less character development than Nodoka, even though she's promoted to a main character in one of the two reboot manga!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A common criticism of the show is that it does not focus enough on progress of the band and their music, as opposed to the more common slice of life elements. Only 4 songs are introduced in the body of the show, and the band doesn't get popular beyond their own school.
    • Which ultimately is an effect of being based off the comic, which only introduced these same 4 songs, of which only Fuwa Fuwa Time and U&I had lyrics in the original comic.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Mio in episode 11 of season one. She's called out by her friends and Sawako for causing Ritsu to catch a fever right before the school festival, never mind the fact that Ritsu's treatment of Mio was probably at its worst earlier in the episode and that Mio was just trying to hang out with Nodoka.
  • Vindicated by History: When it first came out it was a very divisive show among the anime community with a lot of detractors using it as an example of everything wrong with Moe anime. Eight years later, it's a beloved favorite among fans of heartwarming and therapeutic stories of friendship, not to mention an inspiration for many to follow the footsteps of its heroines down the road of (rock) music.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Little Girls?: A very light, comedic slice-of-life doesn't mean the series will have any possible Yuri subtext. There's also Mio's infamous Panty Shot, which is brought up more than once long after it happened (even though the anime makes it less raunchy).
  • The Woobie:
    • You really can't help but feel bad for Mio, what with her extreme shyness, her painfully adorable Cry Cute moments, and the fact that Sawako and Ritsu often make her do embarrassing things. The poor girl really needs a hug sometimes.
    • Azusa, espcially in season 2. She's at first weirded out by the members of the Light Music Club, which causes her to have doubts about pursuing music during high school. After becoming friends with them, she's confronted with the fact that they're all leaving for college a year before she does, which causes a lot of Tear Jerker moments when their graduation finally arrives.
  • Woolseyism: How the French dubbed "Un-tan! Un-tan!" (Hint: Instead of going for cute noises like the other dubs, they took a glance at the animation and ran with it.)
    • For the "moe moe kyun" mantra, the English dub avoids Japanese sounds and instead goes for a spoof from The Exorcist, of all things: "The adorable power of Cute compels you!"

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