It’s That Time Again…
It’s time for us to go back to school….not! We still have a few weeks left to enjoy our respective summers, but in the world of K-ON!, school has been in session for a long time now, and has slowly been approaching one of the best times of the year; the Culture Festival!
In many high school series there are always the staple dates that are covered; Valentines Day, Christmas, White Day, and from time to time New Years and Halloween and various other notable dates, but in the past decade or so, Culture Festivals have really gripped the spotlight for some of the greatest moments in these high school series. So, in preparation for the K-ON!! Culture Festival which will be airing next week, allow me to briefly return us to High School to go over my personal favorite Top 5 Culture Festivals!
Of course it should be mentioned that there will be spoilers in this post for several series. I’m not going to go into supreme detail but regardless, SPOILER ALERT!!
#5: Azumanga Daioh
Episode 16 of Azumanga Daioh was and still is the only moment in anime to make me say “hauu~” out loud from sheer….cuteness. Chiyo in her penguin costume, as shown below easily stole the entire episode and just provided laughs upon laughs upon hauus. She strutted around the school stealing the gaze of every single passerby and emanating cuteness the entire time. This of course led to hilarious antics such as Yukari-sensei pushing Chiyo on her back and watching her struggle to stand back up, which was simply hilarious, yet so ridiculously cute at the same time.
The unparalleled cuteness and comedy from this episode lands it perfectly at the number five spot on my list of Culture Festivals. We now move on to… [cue Splitter's Rage in 3...2...1...]
#4: Manabi Straight!
What?! Manabi Straight is only #4?! (which is probably what Splitter is thinking right now). The Culture Festival from Manabi Straight was what the entire show was about; getting the students to work together and put on an amazing Culture Festival, mostly to prove to the students how great and fun school life is. However, their greater motive was to establish how rich Seioh High School was in culture and history, so it wouldn’t be assimilated into the other, larger high school. Manabi and the rest of the Student Council spent episodes coordinating all of the clubs and staying overnight with the other students to set up a Culture Festival that proved their point to the Superintendent and then some.
With an ‘All In’ bet on the table, combined with the heartwarming performance of the Seioh High Anthem and a fun, energetic performance from Chihara Minori, Manabi Straight’s Culture Festival takes a strong fourth place seat, though it’s just a sliver away from the third place throne held by…
#3: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The second you knew what this article was about, you knew this was going to show up. Haruhi Episode 12 is still to this day considered to be one of the greatest episodes of any anime, ever. Despite a rather slow start, the second half of the episode cemented Aya Hirano as the most beloved seiyuu idol for years to come (though her fandom just shrunk considerably thanks to her revealing her lovelife, but I digress). The performances of God Knows… and Lost My Music opened the eyes and ears of every single viewer and skyrocketed the series to nearly insurmountable heights in otaku and mainstream culture.
The performance is easily the most defining moment of the franchise, but aside from it, there is one major reason why I liked the episode so much. It was the first time Haruhi did something unselfish and didn’t act like a total bitch. Dare I say she was even…cute. I still hope to this day we’ll get another performance with Mikuru on tambourine like Haruhi suggested to Kyon while under the tree in the school courtyard. Until then, I’ll keep on hoping that one day that wish will be realized. Until then, Aya’s musical greatness combined with Haruhi Suzumiya’s character development place The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’s Culture Festival at third. We now move to second place which has performances, this time with more vibrations and gunshots in…
#2 School Rumble Ni Gakki
I’m sure now a few people are thinking “wtf?” but I should clarify now that I include preparations for the Culture Festival as part of my consideration for this list. By that criteria, School Rumble Ni Gakki’s festival lasts several episodes, but its beginning is nothing short of explosive. Why have a class choose what kind of event to do by voting? That’s so dull and democratic. And we all know, democracy sucks. So instead, let’s divide the class into opposing factions, give them firearms and let them have a battle royale! Now that’s entertainment!
Thus School Rumble awarded viewers with two episodes of gun-filled violence in a high school with every war drama cliche thrown in. The result was an action-packed, hilarious duo of episodes that was only the start of this amazing Culture Festival. The next few episodes, while not as nearly as violent, threw in the drama and the comedy and ended up with two rivals in love finally reconciling, while poor Harima continued to be thrown into misunderstood situations.
In the end, we got an awesome gunfight, quite possibly the most random school play ever (only second to the Inuyasha Culture Festival, but that was filler, so meh. Still funny though), two songs performed by Lia (though they don’t hold a candle to Aya’s songs), yuri undertones, wave after wave of pure comedic greatness, and the MIKO-CHAN! heard ’round the world, which safely lands School Rumble Ni Gakki’s Culture Festival at second place.
And thus we arrive at my Number One pick for the best Culture Festival…
#1: Negima! [manga]
In a sense Negima! somewhat cheats to take this first place spot. Negi-sensei, the main character, makes use of a time traveling device so he can literally do everything at MahoraFest (the Culture Festival for Mahora Academy) by repeating certain days several times. While it may not be animated, the nine volumes that this celebration lasts easily place MahoraFest as number one as my favorite Culture Festival of all time. There is an entire Budokai Tournament consisting of several amazing fights, such as Negi v. Takamichi and there are twists and turns at every corner including one very unexpected surprise in the final round. After the Budokai Tournament there are all of the booths that the girls of 2-A have set up, and two of my personal favorite anime romances featuring Nodoka and Ako. This cake is then iced with plots of world domination, martians, and everything else imaginable, and there you have MahoraFest, the best damn Culture Festival around.
…Now if it would only get animated, everything would be perfect.
That said, next week a new challenger steps up to the plate with K-ON!!’s second Culture Festival, so perhaps I may have to revise my list soon? If Yui’s new song is any indication, that may well be the case. Until then, I’m just going to keep jamming to God Knows.