Here’s How To Watch K-On! In Order

Kyoto Animation’s adaptation of mangaka Kakifly’s four-panel manga series of the same name was a runaway hit when it first aired over a decade ago. The story of a high school “light-music” club defined the slice of life genre while each of the show’s main characters remain recognizable to anime fans today. 

The series is also notable as the directorial debut of Naoko Yamada, who would go on to direct A Silent Voice, Liz and the Bluebird, and The Heike Story with K-On! screenwriter Reiko Yoshida.

As a slice of life anime, it’s hard to say what K-On! is about exactly. Playing music with friends, yes, but also growing up. It closely follows the lives of Yui, Mio, Ritsuko, Tsumugi, and Azusa throughout high school and shows each girl growing and changing into someone more sure of herself and her future than where she began. It’s incredibly saccharine, and not just because of all the cake.

With over 40 episodes across two seasons and a feature film, what’s the best way to watch K-On?

The K-On watch order

yui

The first season of K-On! aired in 2009. The show originally aired as 12 main episodes and a 13th extra episode that doesn’t really end the show with the same weight of episode 12’s conclusion. When K-On! released on Blu-ray, an OVA was added to the end of the season, too. That episode will become important later. 

On streaming, it might look like season one is 14 episodes long. While episode twelve is technically the finale, you can follow along chronologically in their release order. The band’s third year is depicted in season two, K-On!! with two exclamation points. The season aired in 2010 and drastically changes pace with a total of 27 episodes covering just one school year.

As before, there are extra episodes and an OVA. While it may look like episodes 25 and 26 aired after the season concluded in episode 24, each is set in the near past chronologically. The episodes shift the focus to side characters, so you can wait to watch them in numbered order. Or, you could watch episode 25, “Planning Discussion,” after episode 21 and watch episode 26, “Visit,” after episode 22. The season’s OVA, released with the prior 26 episodes on Blu-Ray, is similarly out of place. While it’s set before episode 14, you won’t miss anything if you wait to watch it in release order. 

That brings us to K-On! The Movie (2011). The film takes viewers back to episode 22 and depicts the band’s graduation trip to London, but don’t try to fit this one into your first watch-through. K-On! The Movie revisits K-On!!’s ending in an emotional uppercut that relies on audience members having seen the season finale already.

While KyoAni’s anime adaptation ends with the girls’ graduation, Kakifly’s original manga continues into the girls’ college years while the ongoing spinoff manga K-On! Shuffle follows the light music club of a different high school.