Monday, September 17, 2007

Lucky Star - Parting Thoughts

When I first heard Lucky Star was airing this spring, I had conflicting thoughts--on the one hand, I've liked almost every series Kyoto Animation has done, including oft-forgotten Munto, and that made me look forward to it. On the other hand, the fact Kyoani was working on Lucky Star meant I'd have to wait even longer for more Haruhi, and having read ahead in the novels I can't wait to see some of that material animated. In the end, Lucky Star turned out much better than I expected--it always takes a couple episodes for me to get into 4koma-to-anime series, but I loved the cast and before long I was eagerly looking forward to this every week. Whether it's a novel, manga, TV show, movie, or anime, only the best of the best have characters that you truly grow to know and care about, people who at the very end bring a tear to your eye, when the screen falls dark and you know you've been part of their adventures for the last time. While it doesn't try to be anything profound or dramatic, to me Lucky Star was that kind of series.

The cast is really makes or breaks slice-of-life/comedy anime like this, and fortunately the whole cast is a lot of fun to watch, especially Konata and Kagami and the banter between them. Lucky Star breaks every rule your Literature teacher used to say about storytelling, completely dispensing with a plot, and just following the everyday lives of a group of high school students. Like Azumanga, there's almost zero interaction between the sexes--it's kind of unrealistic none of the cast even has a crush on anyone else throughout the whole series, but this is a comedy, not a romance or harem series. The references to other anime, especially the Haruhi references in practically every episode, always made me laugh--the highlight probably being when Keroro Platoon did the next episode preview in one of the early eps. For me, Lucky Star is the opposite of Hayate no Gotoku--while in Hayate I generally have no clue what they're paying homage to, in Lucky Star I almost always get it. It probably makes it a little less accessible for people who aren't anime fans already, but Lucky Star has that 'made by otaku for otaku' kind of feel to it anyway.

Lucky Star is really two shows in one though, with the Lucky Channel segment at the end of each episode--and Lucky Channel is probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Anywhere. Ever. Sometimes it was better than others, but that episode towards the end with Minoru finally going on a rampage was just Legendary. Akira's bipolar swings from cheery to jaded and sarcastic, while Minoru tries in vain to keep the show on track, were just hilarious. They could do a spinoff starring Akira-sama, and it would be pure awesome.

Bad parts of Lucky Star? All the background characters having the same voice. Plus it's the same dude's falsetto, whether the character on screen is a boy or a girl. I guess it's supposed to be funny, and it doesn't happen often enough to get really annoying, but it's just alarming and feels cheap. The animation quality wasn't anything to write home about either, although it was at least consistent, and the simple style did seem to fit the source well. The first episode also wasn't the best way to introduce the characters--I have to think they could have found better material to open with than five minutes of talking about the right way to eat different kinds of food. And while the OP was just awesome, the ED credits with Minoru singing over and over got a little old after a while.

The last episode was definitely good, not quite up there with the end of Azumanga or Manabi Straight in my book, but it was still a good way to send off the cast, with the curtain rising on their performance at the school festival. I'm surprised they didn't end with everyone graduating, which would have been more dramatic, but who knows, maybe they're leaving the door open just a little for another season. I liked how the dance in the OP credits tied in to the end of the series, much like Manabi Straight where the end of the series was the OP--it was just a good note to go out on. Overall, while to me Seto no Hanayome was funnier, a number of series were better animated, and others had more drama, Lucky Star is probably the first of this season's shows that I'll sit down and re-watch again, and I think that says it all.


Anonymous said...

I rarely post a comment in any blog that I read, but here I just want to say that I almost think that your post is something I wrote myself. I agree with you on every of your point.

I am hoping that the ED means we can hope for another season. Of course not before another season of Haruhi, but I really hope there will be one.

suguru said...

> I am hoping that the ED means we can hope for another season. Of course not before another season of Haruhi, but I really hope there will be one.

I couldn't agree more. I want to see another season of Haruhi first, but Lucky Star's something I'd definitely be happy to see more of too.