Ritsu Tainaka is one of the main characters from the K-On! anime and manga.
Club president and drummer who has has problems following her responsibilities. A rowdy and loud girl, she's been friends with Mio since they were little. Her interest in the club was primarily because, being a vacant club, she could elevate herself to president without having to be elected. While not as disorganized as Yui, she often misses deadlines or important details because she's too distracted by something else, which often leads to her and Yui being the club's troublemakers for one reason or another.
In the AWA fics, Ritsu is a student at the AWA Academy and is part of Class 8.
In the XP4 fics, Ritsu attends the Vanguard Academy as a student.
Ritsu's hair color is between dirty blonde-light brown that slightly touches the edge of her shirt's collar, her bangs pulled back with a yellow hairband. Two longer locks of hair fall at the ends of her hairband and touch her shoulders. She has hazel eyes, similar to her hair.
Without her hairband, Ritsu's bangs could reach her nose, and can be indistinguishable from Yui. Other than yellow, Ritsu wears other colored hairbands once in a while, such as white, black or red (especially when she was a child). At certain points in the anime, Ritsu uses other objects to hold her hair up, like goggles when the girls visited the beach or when she put it up in a ponytail that stuck up when she was about to sleep during a field trip.
Her school uniform is often untucked (only tucked in by force, such as when Sawako forced her to or for official purposes like the graduation ceremony or the graduation photo) and her blazer is unbuttoned. She is the only one from the Light Music Club that does not wear the beige waistcoat that is part of the summer school uniform and is instead only wearing her white blouse. Ritsu is seen wearing the school's blue tracksuits most often among her friends, mostly when she plays the drums. She had once exclaimed that she prefers wearing comfortable clothing than any other outfits as she had difficulty drumming in those clothes. Like in the manga, she is often seen in polo shirts outside of school.
Pants over skirts. She likes to wear polo shirts.
She wears her Sakuragaoka uniform consists of a navy blue blazer (she is always seen wearing it unbuttoned), a solid white buttoned shirt (under the blazer), a colored ribbon (different colors for different student years, Ritsu's year is light blue), a light steel blue skirt, stockings or socks (Ritsu's are white), and maroon shoes.
Ritsu is the source of fun and encouragement in her band, often making jokes, puns or pranks and being sarcastic much of the time. She has an upbeat yet carefree personality, and has often troubles remembering important club activities and announcements. Because of that, she constantly gets whacked by her childhood friend Mio Akiyama. Despite her forgetfulness, she usually brainstorms for ideas to earn more money or for the club's success in general (like blackmailing Sawako Yamanaka to become the club's supervisor). Her attitude of collecting as much money as possible lets her sometimes appear greedy, something she greatly dislikes. Ritsu is always on the go and will stop at nothing for the success of the Light Music Club, even when everyone else gives up.
Ritsu is very barefaced, sometimes audacious or even impudent, yet she never has any ill minds and usually apologizes the moment after she went too far. On the other hand, she can't stop annoying everybody around her whenever the chance appears. Because of that, she has developed a certain endurance against Mio's hits.
From time to time, Ritsu has been a very lazy character as well. When it comes to practicing, she only thinks of having fun with her bandmates (such as having so many tea breaks that they almost drove Azusa Nakano away). During training camps, Ritsu usually votes to play first the moment they arrive and is often supported by Yui Hirasawa. She is usually too lazy to study and often needs Mio's help (though because of that, she actually scores good marks). On very few occasions, when the pressure is too high, she tends to give up and needs the help of her friends to continue. When she becomes determined however, she can get her work done in no time. Such determination can be seen on her goal towards Budōkan or attending her university of choice so she can study together with her friends. She also loves playing her drums despite being hardly willed to practice.
Ritsu has a liking for the band The Who and admires their drummer Keith Moon, although she dislikes his various past rampages. When it comes to music, Ritsu prefers rock. She also likes metal or punk; as long as it has a good beat, it's alright.
Ritsu is very athletic and has by far the best physical condition of all members of the Light Music Club. Physical Education is the only subject she is naturally good at.
Ritsu has a strong sense of confidence from an unknown source, although her confidence has often lead to the club's despair, such as when losing their way in the middle of Kyōto. One of her trademarks and habits is putting both arms at the back of her head. She is also very curious and therefore knowledgeable of many places to have fun at, a fact her friend Tsumugi Kotobuki admires. Tsumugi also described her as the type of person who walks the extra mile for her friends and who would be really popular among girls if she would be a boy (leading Ritsu to hit her out of embarrassment).
Ritsu has a tough front and would not cry easily. Her weak spot is seeing her friends cry and she would do anything to cheer them up, like denying the fact that she is crying too, despite it being obvious.
Ritsu is a surprisingly good cook and is also very creative, using a hexagonal pen in exams to use it to determine the answer she should choose, regarding the number she diced. In stressful situations however, she quickly loses her head and tries desperate attempts to save the situation.
Although she usually acts boyish and childish, she sometimes shows a girly and shy side, for example when she thought about Mio's lyrics to be a love letter for her or when she had to play the role of Juliet in her class' school act. She can also be very thoughtful, as seen when she recalled her past.
When Ritsu gets in a bad mood, the atmosphere gets really intense since it is completely against her character. An example would be her jealous side, which she shows when Mio ignores her and spends instead more time with others like Nodoka Manabe. Her closeness, and sometimes codependency with Mio, is showcased when her body reacts and she becomes ill in an attempt to win back Mio's attention. Despite her mostly immature behavior, she has in fact common sense, especially when her unreliable teacher Sawako is around.
- Her drum kit is a Yamaha Rick Marotta Signature Hipgig in Mellow Yellow, which is now discontinued, the yellow model being even rarer than the other colors. The Hipgig is an interesting compact drum kit, all of the smaller drums fit inside the kick drum, while the rest of the gear fits inside the container used as a throne, though Ritsu uses a standard throne. This was shown in Ritsu's flashback to the day she got the kit, Mio and her are actually carrying the entire thing in those two cases! Yamaha's page for the Hipgig.
- The kanji of Ritsu's given name, when read as "ritsu" as in her name, can refer to musical pitch or to the Japanese seven-tone gagaku musical scale.
- Ritsu was the only one out of the original four members that actually intended to join the Light Music Club, and was also primarily responsible for each of the other three original members joining; she insisted that Mio join, created the skit that amused Mugi (who originally intended to join the choir club) and caused her to want to join, as well as suggested to Yui that the others play a song for her, which was what finally caused Yui to actually join the club. If Ritsu had never existed, the Light Music Club would have received no applications and would have been disbanded.
- Ritsu eats a lot of rice. When the girls visited a shop that sold travel equipment in preparation for their trip overseas, Mio pointed out the rice section to Ritsu and said that Ritsu would need it more than anyone else.
- Although Ritsu had once mentioned that, being a drummer, it was impossible for her to sing, Ritsu still sang Tenshi ni Fureta yo! for Azusa while playing the drums.
- She is a fan of The Who and her favorite drummer is Keith Moon, though she is not fond of his tendency to destroy his drum set and similar violent behavior.
- Although Mio had mentioned Ritsu's room to be "so messy it is impossible to walk", scenes of Ritsu's room seem generally neat. Interestingly, Ritsu's own accounts of Mio's room (e.g. covered in panties) are similarly inaccurate.
- Ritsu has the widest social life among her friends because she has the friendliest nature among all the members, as well as the natural talent of being able to entertain everyone and make friends. For instance, she was able to click well with Ui in their first meeting, become close friends with Sokabe-senpai and Ayame Yoshida, and still kept in contact with Maki despite already having graduating from elementary 2 years prior.
- She plays the drums because she hates having to perform complicated movements with her fingers.
- She lets out an ear-piercing screech just thinking about it.
- Ritsu can be regarded as the female counterpart to Ringo Starr of The Beatles. Both are anti-authoritarian yet fun and spontaneous drummers defined by their unrestrained enthusiasm and devil may care attitude towards forethought and life in general. Also like Starr, Ritsu shares a close friendship with McCartney's counterpart, Mio, both of whom are the level-headed voice of maturity of their respective bands, who also lifted the spirits of their respective immature friends through the famous use of a post-card (in Mio's case, this occurred in the college story arcs).
- In the AWA fics, Ritsu became Brawley Beat's girlfriend.