September 16, 2010

K-On! Finale: The Music Lives Forever

Posted in K-On! tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:09 am by meotwister5

I don’t think I can really remember my graduation days, both in college and in high school.  It’s been so many a year since the day that I had to step out of those institutions, propelled to challenge even greater horizons ahead of me as I plan and planned for my future.  For the longest time I had already had my sights set on medical school so, for the most part, I saw most of high school and college as stepping stones towards this goal.  Not to say that I didn’t like those days or that I had chosen to forget them, but in retrospect it makes me remember how perhaps I never cherished those days as I could have.

If there’s anything I remember about graduating though, it’s that I likely cried after the ceremonies.  It’s always been a solemn ceremony no matter how you slice it.  It’s a big event both for those who now are to leave and for those who are to be left behind.

This is a fact that Azusa now has to face, after so long of putting it away.

Reality is as clear as day on Azusa’s face.  While she’s never been the hyperactive type like Ritsu and Yui, her docility in this episode is so apparent when you watch her body language and overall affect on the senior’s graduation day.  Rather sluggish movements and absent-mindedness are probably two of the more obvious manifestations of melancholia from my experience.  Any viewer who paid attention can tell how much Azusa as slowed down over the last few episodes as the fated day slowly arrives.  We can’t claim to know if she’s been preparing for this day when they have to part from the school gates, but we do observe that somehow and someway, reality is slowly sinking in since the first episode of the season ever so slowly.

Is she depressed?

She probably is.  Honestly who wouldn’t be.  They’ve been a tightly knit group for the longest time in ways that extend far beyond music.  This is friendship that spans beyond music, beyond shared hobbies and beyond tea times and cake.  It’s friendship that goes beyond rock festivals, new year visits and Christmas day parties.

It’s a friendship she is afraid to lose even though the four seniors tell her otherwise.  She is scared, that much is certain, and her fears aren’t exactly unfounded.  It’s clear enough that she is the last member of the Light Music Club and she has her work cut out for her to keep the club going after the four seniors graduate.  Perhaps it is a gargantuan task for her alone, but maybe she forgets that she still has friends willing to help.  I’m sure she knows that Jun and Ui, even if they aren’t members of the club, are going to help her keep the club going in her senior year.  That much is certain.

So Asuza in reality, despite her fears and worries, is not, and will never be alone.  Friendship doesn’t end beyond the school gates.

I enjoyed the fact that despite the possibilities of abject drama in a high school graduation, we see that even for these girls there is no need for excessively tearful farewells or all sorts of dramatic flair.  While it’s not another day in school for them because it is their last, they still intended to make the most out of it.  It’s an important day for obvious reasons.  For a studio that excels in pushing the drama into your soul for full effect, the subtle presentation of its gravity without rolling you over with it was a great decision in order to let it gently come into the viewer until the moment they realize that… well…

“Oh.. so they’re graduating today…”

That’s probably slice of life at it’s best.

I did not understand the entirety of Sawako’s goodbyes to her first ever class, but words are often superfluous.  One did not really need to understand what she had to say for her class because we already knew what she wanted to say, and judging from the class’ response, they felt the same way she did.  A remembrance bearing the signatures of students given to teachers is a traditional thing here in eastern nations, as a sign of respect for the teachers who have helped mold you through some of the most important days of your life.  We did not see enough of Sawako’s teaching styles and involvement with her class, but given the amount of trust and familiarity they give her, we can say without a doubt that they have the utmost respect for her.

I think the above blackboard messages says it all.  Like friendship, respect goes beyond classrooms and schools.  They may have often made fun of her, had too many silly times with her and probably got her into trouble with her superiors a few times, but they likely did see her as a older sister figure for the duration of their high school life.  Beyond merely a mentor or an advisor, but also a sister and a friend.

So as Sawako goes through empty classroom as her students leave, she turns and sees the farewells they give her.  She tried hard to be a good teacher and disciplinarian despite her nervousness and her misgivings about her ability.  But upon seeing the blackboard, she finally got the answer she was looking for.

Beyond a mere teacher and a mere disciplinarian, she was an educator.

It may not have been a torch, but as a literal passing of the torch from one generation to the next, the cherry blossom would be more than enough of a symbolism than any other torch could ever be.  It is the basis for their school’s name after all.  Yui giving Azusa the blossom isn’t simply a mere gesture of succession but an assurance of trust.  Trust that for all of Azusa’s worry about the future of the group, they know she will do her best to keep the Light Music Club alive and kicking to continue making music that will rock the house down.  As I have said, she will not be alone in this endeavor as long as she remembers that she has friends willing to help her.

Above all however, I think it is foremost a sign of appreciation as the only new member of the group for the last three years.  The seniors are quite aware of the fact that they are laid back slackers who drink too much tea and eat too much cake, yet Azusa was willing to put up with it because of a shared bond.  She gets angry and frustrated a lot for the laziness and the slacking off, but she put up with it all because in the end of the day, they always did their best.  Whether it be running a marathon, taking exams or whatnot, they gave it their all when the need arose.

Just like in their music.

If pictures are worth a thousand words then… okay I got nothing.  Call it a rush job if you want, with Yui just taping on a picture of Azusa with a picture of the four other girls because they don’t have a real group pic.  Yes it’s crude, spur of the moment and probably not well thought out, but it serves to cement the irrefutable proof that HTT is and always will be a group of 5 girls. Nothing is ever going to change that, even on graduation day.

It all just overwhelms Azusa in the end, having to say goodbye to their tea time days like this, but the four seniors have one final gesture to show just how much their friendship meant to each other.

Music has always been one of those things that helped define humanity.  As far back as history could record, every civilization, every race, every people had music.  Music is one of those things that went beyond the barriers of language, culture and societies.  Music is as much an individual experience as it is a group one.  It is as much a logical exercise as it is an abstract art.  You may not understand the words but you felt the intention.  You may not have known the notes but you heard the melody.  You may not have grasped the symbols but you have understood the meaning.

One may know nothing of music, yet grasp the fullness of it.

I may not have understood all the lyrics of the song, but I didn’t need to because the music itself delivered everything in between.  I can guarantee you that even if you knew nothing of the Japanese language that you’d still understand what the song was all about.  This is the beauty of music.

This was the beauty of this moment.

The proof of music can only be heard when one actually listens, and for Azusa she finally understood that music was part of the entire experience.  For a person so hell bent on practice and making music, the past year has helped her ease into the groove of her seniors and to slowly understand why they are the way they are, and not some workaholic band that practiced day and night on their instruments.  She knows that part of the musical experience isn’t entirely on the music itself, but in the way you make them.  Music brought them all together.

Music made them friends.

And like the music that you passionately play, friendship does not end with graduations or tearful goodbyes and whatnot.  They will always be there if you look for them because there are things that, when made pure and whole, you will not lose or break.  You cherish those experiences even if they slowly pass and fade into memory.  They will always be there when you want them to be there.  Budokan will always be there.  Friendship will always be there.  The music will always be there.  The dream will always be there.

HTT in high school may end on this day, graduation day, but beyond the school gates once even Azusa passes through them, more opportunities will await them if they truly wish to fulfill the dream of Budokan.  I believe with all my heart that they do.  College isn’t the end.  Real life isn’t the end.  There will always be a time, an opportunity, for Houkago Tea Time to return to the stage and finally prove once and for all that they deserve to rock the shit out of our minds with the best of the best.

As long as the dream and the music live.

As long as the dream lives, then the music lives forever.

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5 Comments »

  1. JimJim said,

    *tear-eye* BRAVO! *Standing Ovation*

  2. medstudjudee said,

    waaaaaaaaaaaaa… well done!! i really, really, really, really like ur blogg!!!!!! im a med student myself!!! K-on has fueled my studying!!! good luck!

  3. Jess said,

    Very nicely done 🙂

    Haven’t had the chance to read this until now. And it’s great!

  4. fall3nbs said,

    Brilliant read. Been a while since I watched the last episode, but I honestly never thought cherry blossom could have had a hidden meaning like that.

    Just like what they say in ARIA: don’t be thinking ‘that time was fun’, but you should be thinking ‘that time was also fun.’

  5. i love this series, it is so cute character and beautiful story.
    also love your last quote “As long as the dream lives, then the music lives forever” 🙂


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