My review of Volume 1 of Lucky Star, is it has bad, or has good of an anime that some think it is.
Lucky Star DVD Box
Lucky Star an anime I have kind of wanted to watch for a while now. A lot of anime critics (especially the older and male ones) have deem this the downfall of anime. Meanwhile it is hard not to see Konata at least somewhere on every Otaku web page or avatar (especially if they are female) well I finally found the first volume DVD pictured above and watch it. What I am here to tell you Lucky Star is not the downfall of anime, nor is it the greatest anime ever. It is an anime that can actually be boring and tedious to watch, and then be charming and really funny. And it can switch between those in less than a minute. Yeah Lucky Star should have been called Bipolar Disorder.
Alright before I watch the show though I did notice the manga was available digitally through the viz app and bought a copy of it, then I found the DVD volume 1 from the now defunct Bandai Entertainment. After reading the manga and viewing a few episodes my problem with Lucky Star and why it bores so many people is that it follows the manga to the tee.
So you’re going wait filler material is bad, after all Naruto and Bleach fans are always complaining about it being in our anime. Why complain about it being to close. Ok the differences here is that Bleach, Naruto, and other such animes are based on mangas with a serialized story line. Think Batman and Marvel Comics they have complicated narratives that last several issues and some even years. Lucky Star is more the type of comic you find in the funny pages like Pearls before Swine and Garfield. Needless to say whenever we adapt those types of comics into animated cartoons usually a new story is told to connect jokes we have seen in the comics. For example in the Garfield comic strip it is a well-known gag for Garfield to kick Odie off the table. Writer for the Garfield show took those gags and would weave story about how Garfield gets into some sort of trouble because of his bad habit. We follow the narrative and they can retell the jokes from the comics without it seeing so disjointed.
Lucky Star however just follows it’s manga page per page, even if the jokes are disjointed. Sometimes there is a theme to the gags (like the summer heat effecting it’s female cast) that connect them but often times nothing that would be a story. For example in the manga I read two 4 panel gags with Konata being late for school because she stays up to late gaming and had to make an excuse. This could have been a great 6 minute cartoon with a theme wrapped around Konata’s and her lack of responsibility when it comes to her gaming habits. Instead we just get that joke, and then 30 seconds later it jumps right into the next joke that happens the following day. Yeah confusion and tedium does lead into this.
Also not helping the series is that we are introduce to the character’s and no I am not joking here, by them having a discussion on the correct way to eat Japanese pastry. This conversation takes up the entire first act of the first episode so about 10 minutes of your time. The only funny joke is that the characters get bored of their pointless conversation only to have Konata repeat the question that started the whole discussion to begin with. Worst is that we don’t have an important character Kagami around for this act and discussion either so we don’t really get an official introduction to her, she just appears for a quick 15 second joke before the end of the first act, that has nothing to do with the whole pastry conversation we just seen.
Which is unfortunate because I do like the characters in this manga. While I have never been a Japanese school girl (not Japanese or a girl) there are something’s that are universal. We may not quite get what the heck Konata is geeking out on, but the idea that what were geeking out on doesn’t excite our friends, and they question our sanity just because they don’t understand why we’re getting so excited. (in one joke after seeing Kagami’s confusion she just admits that she is an otaku and is weird). These moments really make Lucky Star something to watch and it’s a shame that there aren’t more of them.
Anyway for those who don't know the characters
There is Konata who is the main star short and blue hair she is basically a gamer and an anime otaku. Her whole life just seems to be based on geeking out over Japanese pop culture and there are moments that question just how strong a grasp on reality this girl has.
Then there are Konata’s two friends and twins Kagami and Tsukasa. Kagami is a sarcastic and serious person while Tsukasa is laid back and more of an air head.
And finally we get a character that just seems to pop in every now in then for a few minutes and then leave in Miyuki the nice tall girl that everyone has a crush on. She is basically a moe archetype, and while the anime is certainly not implying Konata is homosexual, but her constantly harassing Miyuki for having those archetypes is pretty much the reason why the character appears half the time.
And if I have to talk about the artwork which also gives many people problems, I think it’s ok. Yeah it’s over the top cute, and that is what the artist was trying to do. The look itself is unique and the animation is incredibly limited, still there are certainly worse looking anime out there.
There are also times where the series shows does some Japanese pop culture and video game satire (Konata beating up Street Fighter 2 Guile is funny). And when it does these things if you get the joke it’s funny. Again though you have to be a pretty series anime fan though to get them, and even if you are your still going to be looking at the linear notes to understand what they’re talking about.
Finally I should mention that each episode ends with something called “Lucky Channel” this is kind of an original part not found in the manga, and I actually liked these segments. The two hosts pop up at the end of each episodes Akira and Minrou and they are pretty funny. They basically are supposed to do the fan letters and response section however it’s basically a good satire on how Japanese culture can be cruel to their pop idols. Akira there is definitely suffering from a severe case of bipolar disorder. She starts off every episode in a high pitch and cheerful greeting that is over the top cute. But a few moments in Minrou brings up a topic or does something to annoy her. Her voice drops down to a burnt out smoker and she becomes very abusive for most of the segment, then gets happy to sign off, only to be abusing Minrou after the curtain is closed. I thought it was kind of funny because there are a lot of people who can be kind of two faced like that in the world, happy on the outside, but can none the less be abusive in private. And it also shows just how shallow the Japanese pop culture industry can be.
I’ll give the now closed Bandai entertainment some credit they put more special features than usual. We do get the standard Dub and Sub treatment on the DVD (no anime DVD should be without that option) but we also get some trailers, some textless intros, and even an interview with the creator. Overall more than the typical Japanese anime DVD.
I can’t really recommend buying any of the Lucky Star DVD’s. It’s not a terrible series but it’s bipolar disorder of being good one minute and then just being just boring the next makes it a mess too watch. With Funimation having picked up the series hopefully they will dump it on to a streaming site like Hulu or Netflix so people can watch without having to purchase it. I would probably watch some more of it if I didn’t have to pay for it.