Anime Review 16: Lucky Star, Shin-Chan, and Cardcaptor Sakura
Lucky Star is about 4 small girls who were all born with a horrible genetic defect causing them to have enlarged heads and a lack of pupils in their eyes ---- I mean, 4 girls who have a lot of cute and funny conversations, mostly revolving around anime and food.
The main viewpoint character is a huge otaku, who reads manga, watches anime, and plays video games, all while carelessly blowing off school responsibilities. She has two friends who are sisters, and one smart friend (as evidenced by her glasses and knowledge of the right ways to eat every food) with pink hair. The show just revolves around boring, everyday stuff, making it a sit-com or slice of life format. (I remarked to a friend of mine that anime sitcoms seem to involve cute schoolgirls doing cute/funny things, which is a good improvement on American live-action and animated sitcoms, which are usually about fat, abusive jerks and the ridiculously attractive wives they constantly ridicule and belittle.)
Lucky Star will catch the attention of a devoted anime fan, I caught references in the first 5 episodes to Shin Chan, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Cromrartie High School, and the main character reads countless manga and plays a lot of video games. Her tastes are mostly Shounen, or things where boys are the target demographic. She reveals that this is because of her dad, who has this taste in anime, manga and video games and even played dating sims in front of her. This isn't really a good "gateway" anime, not for beginners who might not get a lot of the otaku in-jokes, but this is good for an anime fan. This aspect of the show, to me, is the definition of the often-missed non-sexual variety of "fanservice", in other words, putting something in the show that does not matter to the plot in order to please the fans. In this case, lots of references to anime.
Lucky Star was cute, didn't have enough action and adventure or mystery for me to be enchanted by it, but I'd give it a solid C. Probably great for the serious otaku, like I mentioned, and for the fan of the "slice of life" style anime.
Shin-Chan (also know as Crayon Shin-Chan)
It's called Crayon Shin-Chan in the Japanese version, but I'm not interested in that version because the American version is mostly a gag dub designed to be funny for Americans. I love all the American pop culture and politics references. Basically, this vulgar show is South Park but with Japanese kindergarteners, a lot of swearing, black comedy, and whacky stuff.
I didn't have to watch this for this review the way I normally do because I'm already a strong fan of this show, I already have the first DVD. I'd recommend the 1st DVD of Season 1, it features some interesting (ok maybe only if you're interested in the animation process) commentary and one of the episodes in the original Japanese.
Compared to the Japanese version, the English use of language in the show was a lot more shocking and rude, although I still found it funny in the toned-down Japanese version. The original version seemed more about Shin's various adventures, so there was more focus on the story, whereas the dialog in the dub focused almost entirely on catty one-liners.
Occasional breaks of the Fourth Wall and in-universe questioning of things happening in the show were things I found enjoyable about it. Greatest anime ever? Not really. But it's probably the funniest gag dub I've seen anywhere and I really think they did a good job creating the altered American script.
I believe a lot of the show's humor appeals to me because of it's feminist nature, I believe it attacks the idea of male power with comedy and coming from a place that speaks to female experiences. I think that in making jokes about things like how tough it is to be a teacher or domestic abuse or abortion are not bad, not making light of things, but rather I think it's important that these writers were highlighting these important women's issues, not sweeping them under the rug because of pressure from the censors. I think this show's vulgar humor is bold and I'd like to see more shows like it, because American TV in general SUCKS, especially prime time, because it seems so afraid to think outside the box or do anything outrageous or even a tiny bit unexpected. Anime and the internet allow me to experience new things that aren't always talked about in American shows, which tend to play it safe and work like hell to avoid offending anyone. The one show I like a lot is House, M.D., because it does not do that to such an extent.
Ok, so enough of a rant about AMERICAN TV and how I just want to bash it's STUPID LITTLE face in. More reasons to watch Shin-Chan: - good ending sequence - lots of hilarious running gags - if you liked YYH or Dragon Ball Z, look out for voices who were also in those shows! What the hell are you waiting for, you ignorant little bitches? Buy it on DVD now, I say!
Cardcaptor Sakura is a show I watched a lot of in the 90's when I was a kid. The show enchanted me with it's magic and the cute costumes of the protagonist. Since the plot of this show focuses on monsters who come out of magical cards, it reminded me a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. I liked that it had a girl protagonist. In other monster shows, which are more geared toward boys, girls take on supporting "best friend" roles to a boy protagonist. This is definitely a sweet show for little girls, especially ones who dream of having magical powers and fighting bad guys.
Does it have appeal for adults? I'd rather not discuss the lolicon pervert demographic who might be interested in this girl. It's an unfortunate element within anime fandom that I would prefer to distance myself from. (I don't want people thinking all anime fans are like that! Blech!) I do think that adult girls can enjoy this series for it's cuteness, the variety of adorable outfits, for those interested in fashion or cosplaying, and for the heartwarming themes of love and friendship that permeate the show.
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