Once again, I am pleased to present a guest review by Sean Gaffney, who bravely undertakes to watch and review stuff I simply can’t hack. The subject of today’s review is one of those series. The art put me so far off this, that even though I am as much the target audience as any other otaku, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it for more than mere seconds. So thank you again, Sean, for saving my brain. ^_^
This sort of anime has been a long time coming. There have been various anime over the years that tried to glory in being a fan. Otaku no Video comes to mind. Yet with otaku getting a bad name in Japan for years, it became harder to be a fan without needing to hide it or cover it up.
Thanks to the culture widening, as well as the success of Densha Otoko, it’s OK to be a completely obsessed geek in Japan again.
I mention this because it is the reason for Lucky Star‘s existence. The entire show, as well as its lead character Konata, is made up of references to other media. The show is so tied up in its own self-referencing that it can have Yuko Goto appear, as herself, in Episode 23 and not even call attention to it. (The characters call her ‘Goto-zo-sama’, which is the closest it gets to even identifying the gag of Mikuru’s seiyuu as a yanki.)
Lucky Star also became popular among the fansub culture over here, mostly because we now have the ability to look online and find that obscure 1970s song the girls karaoke in the end credits, and we all know by now what Comiket is like. (The show is aware of us as well, of course, via the character of Patty, herself a parody of Western fans).
Genshiken did this as well, of course, but I think Genshiken was trying to hold up a mirror to the more unpleasant aspects of the culture, while still supporting it. Lucky Star doesn’t bother. Geeks rule.
As for the show itself, it’s a schoolgirl anime with few male characters, a teacher with almost as many bad habits as her kids, a diminutive lead character, the characters tend to get into discussions of tiny minutiae, and it’s based on a 4-koma. You really can’t get away with not mentioning Azumanga Daioh at least a LITTLE bit. The humor has a different feel, though, with the aforementioned anime and game references pervading not just the details but the character’s personalities. Konata will actually treat much of her life as if she is gaming.
The pacing is variable, and probably the show’s weak point. I gave up on it after the first episode, which was frankly awful, and only starting watching again after much nagging. They replaced the director after 4 episodes, so I was apparently not the only one that thought this. The new director sped things up and re-paced it, so that it kept the odd cadences but didn’t make you want to switch it off. Even so, there are times where you desperately wish something would happen.
Oh yes, I should mention the Yuri. Konata’s cousin, Yutaka, is tiny, cute, and adorable. Their friend Minami is tall, ‘cool’, and emotionally stunted. They give off a big Takarazuka vibe (something not lost on the show, which puts them in costumes a la ‘Zuka for the Culture Festival). And they have a good friend, Hiyori, who draws ecchi doujinshi and cannot help but see them in Yuri situations. She’s ashamed of herself, but draws it anyway. It’s sort of Yuri-lite, played for laughs, but is cute, and given the lack of men on the show it wouldn’t be hard to extrapolate something between them when they get older.
Anyway, that’s all the Yuri we get in the show.
Hm? Konata and Kagami? 90% of all Lucky Star fanfics in English are about them? All the Japanese fanart pairs them together? Kagami is tsundere and therefore clearly hiding her love-love feelings?
That’s nice. But there’s none of that in the anime at all. Sometimes a friendship is just a friendship.
Art: 6. It’s loli-moe-Dengeki style, with Konata deliberately looking like an 11-year-old despite being 18. If that’s your thing, bump it up a couple of
Story: 6. There really isn’t a story in half these episodes, but the half that do
have one have very amusing ones.
Characters: 8. If you aren’t watching this to play spot-the-reference, you’re watching for the characters. The four lead girls are balanced perfectly, and everyone has a nicely defined role. Plus Konata’s a heroine whose type we’ve rarely seen before (at least not as a lead).
Yuri: 5. It’s there if you want it. Except where it isn’t.
Service: 10. Actually, no, this needs a Spinal Tap dial twist. 11. Without otaku obsession, this show would not exist.
Overall: 7. I do enjoy the show a great deal, to be fair. I just know that I happen to like a lot of stuff that’s not particularly good or original, shamelessly. :) It got bumped up from a 6 because of Lucky Channel, the hysterical parody of voice actors and pressurized Japanese recording industries that ends each episode, with Akira and Minoru stealing every single scene they’re in. Effortlessly.
Erica here again. Sean, seriously, when you review things, they sound so much better than they actually are….