Monday, 12 April 2010 18:21

Lucky Star (Anime,2007)

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Overview

Lucky Star is a manga and anime series which focuses on the lives of several girls who live in Kasukabe in Saitama Prefecture of Japan and attend a High School called Ryoo. The story typically focuses on its main character Konata Izumi as she interacts with her friends, making observations and conversation about their various interests, each other, and the world around them. Given that Kontata is what can only be classified as an Otaku Surrogate and a not so closet a pervert, these activities, conversations, and observations can get really fun indeed.

Review

The OVA got a little...weird, which is saying something for this series.

The focus of this particular review will be on the Lucky Star anime, a twenty four episode series with a six 'episode' OVA series at the time of this writing, though I will occasionally bring up something from the manga as I find it pertinent. Typically this is what I do anyway, so this should come as no shock to anyone. I actually decided to do this review when I found out that Bandai had canceled the special edition box for the sixth DVD due to poor sales. Having bought every single one of those special edition boxes, I found myself extremely disappointed. Still, they have released the sixth DVD, and releasing it dubbed which they did not do for the OVA, and that's about the best I think we're going to get. I'm actually somewhat surprised, but not as shocked as some probably are. Lucky Star, upon further reflection, is not something that would catch on over here despite the legions of fans it has in Japan. This probably explains why they're only releasing a sub only set of Hayate the Combat Butler, since it has many of the same themes and situations as Lucky Star despite being technically in a completely different genre.

Here's...almost the full cast of girls. Yes, there are guys in this show too.

The biggest reason I would say is that Lucky Star has been said to be the Seinfeld of anime. I find this ironic, because I can't fuckin' stand Seinfeld. To further amplify, this series is about absolutely nothing at all. It has no overarching them. It has no plot. It really has no point. In that, it's even worse than Azumanga Daioh, which at least had the point of following a group of girls as they change and grow through their High School careers. At best it can be described a character study of several girls and a few guys, specifically Konata Izumi, who is probably the closest thing this show has to a main character. The first half of episode one, for example, is Konata having a discussion with two of the three most prominent characters, Miyuki Takara and Tsukasa Hiragi (Kagami Hiragi, Tsukasa's elder twin sister, is introduced in the next chapter) on how to eat a chocolate cornet, which segues into how to eat other types food. That's it…that's all the first part is about. Here, you can watch it for yourself. When I first saw it, I found it better than comedy and extremely compelling for some reason. You can get hypnotized just watching these girls and listening to them just discuss the mundane filtered through their individual personalities.

On the subject of personalities, Konata, as stated before is a pure Otaku Surrogate. She plays MMORPGs, Ero games, watches anime, reads manga from the innocently bishoujo to the extreme hentai, has a collection of it all that stacks up in her room, and her only real ambition is to get more and enjoy it all. This despite the fact she's naturally athletic and a helluva lot smarter than her (lack of) interest in academics affords her. She's also a bit of a pervert and tends to sexually harass her friends ever so often, especially Kagami, which leads to extremely amusing moments especially when her otaku tendencies get mixed in with it. Kagami, unlike the other two, is not in the same class as Konata, but tends to wind up hanging out with her due to the fact her fraternal twin sister, Tsukasa, is in Konata's class. She's a bit of a tsundere, so Konata has a lot of material to work with when she gets it into her head to start ribbing Kagami, but is a pretty decent sort and would likely give up every organ in her body to her friends if the need to do so ever arose. On the subject of Tsukasa…this girl is a bit of a flake bordering on Cloud Cuckoo Lander. You can't really bring yourself to be too annoyed with her tendencies as she's perfectly aware of her faults and is somewhat ashamed and apologetic about them…not that it's enough to force her to change if that's even possible. Finally we get to Miyuki, the last of the main characters, or what equates to them, on this show. Miyuki is a quintessential Dojikko, something that Konata remarks and makes fun of as often as she can. Miyuki is not really all that annoyed with it, continuing to trudge along like the archetype she represents. She's extremely intelligent, and passes her courses with relative ease, leading Konata and Tsukasa to copy her homework if they're not already copying it from Kagami.

The girls at Christmas. The moe is over 9000!!!

There are actually quite a number of other characters in this anime, and it would take a long time to describe each and every one. Suffice it to say, one will find a great deal of joy as they are discovered and Konata messes with them. However, there is one set in particular I will describe, as they aren't part of the show proper…exactly. These are the characters Akira Kogami and her assistant Minoru Shiraishi who host Lucky Channel. Lucky Channel is a segment at the end of each episode of Lucky Star set up in a sort of infomercial type of situation that comments on the show of Lucky Star itself. It typically starts out with Akira being happy, but then turning into some sort of abuse trip on Minoru; this has the effect of making it into a bit of dark humor which eventually results in the singularly most awesome thing I've ever seen in an anime…ever. And no, I'm not going to describe that, you should see that on your own.

Here's the point in which I would normally describe individual aspects of the show, like the animation quality, music, and other aspects in an individual breakdown of those categories. However, it sort of all blends into itself with this anime, so the next section will be representative of that aspect that is probably best described as the show's overall construction. So I will proceed with that theme in mind.

Konata and her mother, Kanata...I get a Tenchi Muyo in Love feel from this one.

The animation can only be described in terms of it being sort of a quasi state between the more realistic proportions of more serious anime and the super deformed ultra cute mess of anime designed to be cute for cute's sake. This in turn makes it look like these girls are about ten or eleven, when in reality we're talking sixteen or seventeen. This takes a turn for the surreal when the artwork for some characters and backgrounds becomes both more realistic in proportions, but in some situations, becomes ultra hard action anime (think Fist of the North Star) realistic for whatever reason. The disconnect becomes insanely hilarious when you have one of the cutesy drawn girls and one of the super action hero drawn characters sit down right next to each other and start talking. Picture, if you can, Duke from GI Joe sitting down next to a Care Bear and having a conversation, and you'd be about in the same level of mindscrew we're talking about here. Scattered through the anime are shoutouts to all sorts of real anime, manga, and video games which were not present in the manga itself. The anime style of story telling lends itself well to these sorts of injokes. This becomes especially apparent when Lucky Star starts practically advertising another Kyo/Ani anime, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. In Lucky Star you'll find references to that show all over the place. This becomes even more amusing when you consider that the voice cast for Haruhi was practically transplanted into Lucky Star; the VA of Haruhi also being the VA for Konata. To further the injoke, they did the same thing with the dub. There was actually a scene where…no…no, I won't spoil that, but let's just say you get a fine example of real voice acting from the VA's there. The shoutouts actually translated over into the real world, where in a scene where Konata, Kagami, and Tsukasa went to Commiket, Konata gave the other two a list of doujin to buy for her there…which were actually on sale at that year's Commiket at the booths she sent her friends to. It's a lot of fun to play spot the reference, not just in the animation itself, but also in the music. The background music is really nothing worth mentioning, but for about the first half of the series, we're actually treated to the VA's singing show tunes for all sorts of anime in a Karaoke bar. Again, nothing I'm willing to spoil, but I will say you're going to be laughing hard when you realize what songs they wind up singing. And I cannot believe that Konata and co. did the dance. That was so right and so wrong in so many ways.

Bye, bye, Luckies!

Overall, this is really just a lot of fun with absolutely no point other than possibly that. It's a very good distraction, which was sort of the point of the initial creation of the series. Basically it was created to be filler for Kadokawa Shounen's anime magazine line-up, but the problem became that it too wound up being very popular amongst the fans of those books; eventually receiving its own serialization. In other words, this is a text book example of doing something simple a little too well, and it paying off for the manga-ka in a big way. I'd like to say there's something in here for everyone, but there's really not. There are references TO something for everyone in here, but considering nothing outside of the ongoing discussion of the mundane and otaku culture with a healthy dose of, "How's Konata going to fuck with them today?" there's not much else here. I really enjoyed this series, but then I tend to enjoy weirdness on this scale. I would encourage everyone to give the series a once over, because there is really no telling if you'd like it or not, even from reading something like my review. If you do like it, click up there on the "Buy from Amazon" button or pick up a copy someplace; put some money back into Bandai's coffers. They did a fantastic job on what wound up being a thankless bit of effort for a show like this, and I honestly hope they recoup some of their losses from it. At least enough so that they'll start dubbing again, since it seems like everyone besides Funimation is regressing to being little more than how it all started: Fansubbers.

Oh, before I forget...have some mental scaring! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Character Japanese Actor/Actress US Actor/Actress
Konata Izumi
Aya Hirano Wendee Lee
Kagami Hiiragi
Emiri Kato Kari Wahlgren
Tsukasa Hiiragi Kaori Fukuhara Michelle Ruff
Miyuki Takara Aya Endo Karen Strassman
Yutaka Kobayakawa Shizuka Hasegawa Hynden Walch
Minami Iwasaki Minori Chihara Michelle Ruff
Patricia Martin Nozomi Sasaki Patricia Ja Lee
Hiyori Tamura Kaori Shimizu Philece Sampler
Ayano Minegishi Kaoru Mizuhara Peggy O'Neal
Misao Kusakabe Megumi Toyoguchi Lara Jill Miller
Akira Kogami Hiromi Konno Stephanie Sheh
Minoru Shiraishi Minoru Shiraishi Sam Riegel

Additional Info

  • Title: Lucky Star, らき☆すた
  • Genre: Comedy, Slice of life
  • Director: Yutaka Yamamoto (1–4), Yasuhiro Takemoto (5–24)
  • Studio: Kyoto Animation
  • Licensed: Kadokawa Pictures, Bandai Entertainment
  • Network: Chiba TV, KBS Kyoto, SUN-TV, Tokyo MX
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 24 + 1 OVA
  • Animation: Good (+2)
  • Writing: Very Good (+3)
  • Pacing: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Voice Acting: Very Good (+3)
  • Soundtrack: Very Good (+3)
Last modified on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 15:46

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