While the light music club's start of year drive to recruit new members could hardly be described as a resounding success, their live performance did at least have enough of a positive effect to generate a solitary newcomer to the club - Azusa Nakano. Despite her shy and slight demeanour, there can be little doubt that Azusa is serious about her music, quickly proving herself to be a far more proficient guitarist than Yui - But how will she fit in with the lethargic and laid-back pace of the light music club?
The answer is; not all that well, with poor Azusa taking up the role of Mio-lite for much of the episode as the other girls fuss over her and decorate her with cat ears and the like, paying little heed to her desire to simply pick up a guitar and play. Just what was it that attracted her to this bunch of layabouts anyway? Even Azusa can't figure it out, and it's only Mio who seems to understand her concerns as she tries her best to point out the problem to her band-mates with little success. With Azusa becoming increasingly disillusioned with the lack of work ethic amongst the light music club, are they going to lose her membership entirely?
It feels like I've said this a few times before already during the duration of this series, but the first half of this ninth episode of K-ON! was easily the funniest of the bunch so far, from Yui's attempts to play "Senpai" to young Azusa from her cake deficiency-related collapse after just seconds of playing the guitar. The playful nature of this half of the episode fits in beautifully with the entire feel of this series, and even my worries about turning Azusa into "just another Mio" didn't stop me enjoying it thoroughly.
From there, this instalment's second half took on perhaps the most melancholy tone the series has seen so far (albeit in its own slightly fluffy way), doing a surprisingly good job of pulling together some real feeling towards Azusa and her predicament, before reaffirming what is really this show's core "message" (although you can hardly pinpoint K-ON! as the kind of series to proletyse anything) - That it doesn't matter how talented you are, if you enjoy what you do and do it with people who enjoy it (and each other's company) just as much, then that dynamic will pay off and make you successful. It's a nice sentiment and one I can't argue with (if what you do is fun, you're all but guaranteed to do better at it), although being lazy but enjoying it isn't really the best career advice I can think of whether you're in a band or... I dunno, some kind of wannabe web journalist. Ahem.
Anyway, all that aside, this was another fun episode and thoroughly enjoyable to watch (that hilarious first half particularly), although why oh why are KyoAni so afraid of showing the girls actually playing their instruments? Once again we find ourselves cutting away from the "action" almost every single time an instrument was put to proper use - Come on guys, take a deep breath and get animating those band sequences! You've done it perfectly well when you've really had to, so don't be shy...