Around two years ago or so, emmapoe
and I were watching an episode of K-ON! on her tiny blue netbook and fangirling all over it while her husband sat across the room looking at the strangeness of the two of us enjoying this show about a girls' high school music club. The songs were bad, but they are supposed to be bad. After all, these songs are supposed to be written and performed by 16-17 year old girls in high school, one of whom just learned to play guitar a month or so before their first performance. We enjoyed the relationships between the girls, we enjoyed the bad music, which at least reminded me of the crappy kinds of poetry and music I wrote in high school that will never see the light of day, and there was no creepy crap about it. It was and it is always nice to watch a show or a movie that focuses on female characters who are not constantly obsessed with getting boys or getting married, and none of that crap creeps it way into K-ON!.
Now, when I say that the music is bad, it's relatively bad. If I were to compare it to anything I actually listen to, it would rank pretty low, and when taken out of context, like this...
... it's really annoying and doesn't make a lot of sense (by the way, the video is flipped because that's what happens to openings on YouTube). So, you have to take it all with a grain of salt.
So why does this need a defense? Well, emmapoe
and I might not have been aware, and we might not care to be aware, but we are not the target audience of K-ON! which is published in a Seinen magazine, which means, creepily, the manga and the anime is targeted at adult men, typically 16-30. We watched the show enjoying the interplay between the girls, the idealized girls' high school where everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves (which I never had), and the fact that this was a show devoid of boys who seem to take over any scene they find themselves in because that's just how it goes.
Now, the target audience isn't necessarily a problem, until you start looking into why men 16-30 are watching this show: to buy/make porn of it, dolls and figurines dressed in creepy fetish outfits, and fill out polls about which one of the girls in the show they would marry if it were legal to marry 2D characters. K-ON! and other shows like it, inspires and is meant to inspire this kind of crap in really creepy people. These men line up to buy the singles and made them the fastest selling singles in Japan pop music history, even though you cannot listen to these songs and think that they are objectively good. They buy tickets to huge idol events where the voice actresses lip sync to the songs in outfits, as seen here:
Now, admittedly, these people are still far better than hipsters in that they actually like something as opposed to liking something "ironically" (by the way, next time you run into a hipster, properly define irony for the douche bag), but come on! ... What, you expected me to not take a pot-shot at hipsters?
I am also not arguing that K-ON! is some how this pure show with pure intentions, because it isn't, and purity is part of the creepy aspects of moe anyway. I will also not deny that I see Mio/Ritsu, but to be fair, Mugi is shipping her friends in the show, and it's hard to deny Ritsu's crush on Mio, though it is not mutual at all, but whatever. The show is not porny or creepy, and not everything about a fandom has to be sexual. The extent to which male fans bring sex to a show (and to be fair, the extent to which female fans bring sex to a show) can end up changing the perception of the show in ways that are not necessary. For example, if I showed an episode of K-ON! to most non-anime fans, told them that it was a show for girls, and just let it play, they would probably never even guess that there was a throng of creepy moe fanboys out there with hug pillows perverting something that doesn't actually need any perversion. Sawako brings just enough perversion to the show in a way that is funny, not creepy.
The point of this is two-fold: 1) Just because a show is intended to inspire creepy fanboys to spend their time and money on their creepy pursuits, it should not taint the show as inherently bad. 2) The existence of such fans should not be allowed to hinder the enjoyment of the show that is felt by people who identify with the characters and chuckle bemused by the light-hearted comedy that occurs.
Is K-ON! some amazing ground breaking revolution in animation? No, of course not. But I would like to be able to have my memories of enjoying the show with a friend without having to defend a show, not for what is in the show, but for the creeps who like the show for completely different reasons than what inspired emmapoe
and I to waste half an hour watching an episode on a tiny 10 inch screen.
If you cannot enjoy a show because other fans of the show suck, then there isn't something wrong with the show, there is something wrong with you.
And yes, my desktop wallpaper is K-ON! It has been for two years now, and every morning, it just makes me smile.