Deconstructing K-ON! – The Takotsuboya Doujin Trilogy


Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

-Kurt Vonnegut

The super-saccharine moeblob slice-of-life genre received a lot of attention, both positive and negative, during the run of K-ON!. This show is the archetypal example of that genre, easily outclassing any of KyoAni’s previous works in popularity. However, despite its immense celebrity and polarizing effect on the anime fandom, I have yet to see K-ON! receive a proper deconstruction. With Madoka making literary analysis of old genres cool again, as well as the recent announcement of a “K-ON! in college” manga, I feel like this is the perfect time for moe as a genre to be scorched and refined in the crucible of deconstruction.

Alas, the only media I’ve come across that comes close to accomplishing this is the infamous Takotsuboya K-ON! doujin trilogy. From a storytelling perspective, these doujins could not be considered good. They contain the requisite awkwardly-placed sex scenes and out-of-place pervertedness that is characteristic of doujins, making suspension of disbelief impossible. But they also contain several ingenious, even brilliant insights into how the HTT girls would fit into the real world. Many of these insights are gleaned from the author’s experience as a failed mangaka who repeatedly tried anything and everything to get his work published.

Dusty and Glen believe that these doujins treated the girls too harshly, replacing the fluffy, idealistic world of the show with an equally brutal and vindictive antithesis. I, on the other hand, think any good deconstruction has to put its characters through hell, in order to scour away their veneer and reveal their true quality. But I want your opinion, friend reader. In order to spare you the ordeal of reading this admittedly substandard doujin, I will describe the fate of each character below. You tell me whether you think it represents an accurate character interpretation, or an overly grim attempt by the author to soil these much-beloved moeblobs.

More after the break.

Yui Hirasawa: Towards the end of her high-school career, Sawako realizes that Yui’s perfect pitch and eidetic musical memory means she has a huge amount of natural talent. Using her industry contacts, Sawako gets Yui a lucrative contract, and she quickly becomes Japan’s newest musical sensation “The Japanese Jimi Hendrix.” Sadly, her childish personality gets her into constant trouble, especially when she makes careless remarks on national television that the bloodthirty media eagerly distort into controversies. Her manager is barely able to keep her under control.

Eventually, Yui’s interaction with other musicians leads her to the darker side of the rock lifestyle when she discovers illegal drugs. Still retaining her childish personality, she is unable to exercise better judgement and quickly begins a downward spiral into substance abuse. After being arrested on a marijuana charge at age 24, she flees to England in order to avoid prosecution. She dies of a sleeping pill overdose at age 25, two years earlier than the original Jimi Hendrix.

After her death, Yui’s parents and sister form a copyright company to preserve her legacy, releasing her final album “That Is It” posthumously.

Azusa Nakano: The year after Yui graduates and ascends to stardom, Azusa tries to convince Sawako to hook her up with her industry contacts. Sawako is dismissive, pointing out that membership in a high-school band does not qualify one to be a professional musician. Still determined to follow in the footsteps of her hero Yui, Azusa manages to successfully join the idol group AK-47 through hard work and determination. When one of AK-47’s albums manages to displace Yui’s work on the Oricon charts, it seems like she might be managing to attain some measure of success. Unfortunately, Azusa discovers that the leader of the idol group got her position by sleeping with the casting director. Indignant, she clobbers the leader onstage and starts up a solo career.

However, the only musical work Azusa can find is as a street-performing cosplayer in Akiba. Her second album attempts to capitalize on Yui’s popularity, and contains a blatant ripoff of “Fuwa Fuwa Time” called “Tsuru Tsuru Time.” None of her efforts meet with real success, despite her increasingly risque attempts at cosplay. Upon hearing of Yui’s death, Azusa decides to pursue her dreams in a more realistic fashion, becoming an employee at a music store and giving the customers excellent jazz recommendations. She continues to play guitar as a hobby.

Tsumugi Kotobuki: After marrying a wealthy foreign man named John, Mugi moves to England and, aside from a brief meeting with Yui, is never heard from again. This results in her having roughly the same amount of impact on the doujin trilogy as she had on the original show.

Ritsu Tainaka: When Sawako whisks Yui away to fame and fortune at the expense of the rest of the HTT members, Ritsu takes the hint and gets a blue-collar job at Neko Neko Nagato Couriers. She maintains her cheerful disposition, seeing herself as something of an underachiever champion, and is grateful to Yui for making her realize that she had no real talent. She is still a good friend to Mio, and the two often enjoy karaoke sessions together.

Mio Akiyama: After easily cruising through college with top grades, Mio winds up working for a music company. She begins sleeping with one of the company executives, a 42-year-old married man who promises that he will be leaving his wife soon. With the extra cash flow from this affair, she begins living an affluent lifestyle, and frequently disses her friend Ritsu for her working-class job. When the affair with the executive inevitably comes to a bad end, Mio finds herself jobless and decides to focus on her music. Living as a NEET, she begins to obsess over Yui and stalk her online via various imageboards such as 2ch. Mio is extremely jealous of Yui’s success and natural talent, especially since all her practice and hard work has gotten her nowhere.

Eventually, Mio’s NEET lifestyle begins to take a toll. Her self-made music videos fail to garner any popularity online, and she drowns her sorrows in junk food. Rapidly gaining wait and losing savings, she becomes desperate and sings a cover of one of Yui’s famous songs while filming herself in the nude, then uploads the video to Niya Niya Douga. The resultant deluge of negative comments, calling her a “fat pathetic 27-year-old granny NEET,” drive her to despair as she finally realizes that she doesn’t have any real talent. Destitute and alone, she cries herself to sleep buried under her covers.

A few days later, Ritsu calls Mio up and offers her a part-time position at the courier place. Mio readily accepts, now content to live out her days as an average no-name laborer, with Ritsu by her side.

The doujin ends with this Wikipedia screenshot.

So, what do you think? Does this doujin deconstruct the girls of K-ON! effectively? If you had been writing it, what would you have done differently? Do you think a future anime might deconstruct the moe genre in a more effective fashion? What director and studio would be best suited to such a deconstruction? I’m eager to read your opinions, so please share them in the comments below!