The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Lucky Star

Title: Lucky Star
Genre: Comedy
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 8 Apr 2007 – 17 Sep 2007

Synopsis: Despite having a natural talent for athletics, Izumi Konata is a total otaku. She goes to school with her close friends, Takara Miyuki, Hiiragi Tsukasa, and Tsukasa’s twin sister, Kagami, who is in a different class to the other three girls.

The Highlights
Comedy: Occasionally funny; occasionally grating.
Animation: Fluent, but character art is boring.
Slice of life: Generally dull; lacks endearing characters for compelling slice of life.
References: Rarely funny or clever; there to pander to fanboys.
Recurring gags: If I ever hear Shiraishi Minoru sing again, I think I’ll scream.

On occasion in the past, I’ve described Lucky Star as “hit and miss”. With hindsight, I can make a much more accurate description: lots of misses interspersed with the occasional hit. Although, to set the record straight, I never hated Lucky Star. I just thought that, had it not pandered to worthless fanboy-isms through pointless parodies and references and steered away from formulaic and inane running jokes, it could have been so much better. I also think a better director could have done wonders for its cause; in my opinion, neither Yamamoto Yutaka or Takemoto Yasuhiro have reason to hold their heads high after fumbling with clumsy scene transitions, poorly timed comedy and a dismissive approach to anything even remotely drawing on serious.

Comedy is, though, the most subjective genre in entertainment, which makes it hard for a critic like me to describe what I liked about this show, particularly when it’s far easier to sit in the gallery and cast peanuts. I will say this, though: when this show wanted to, it could be incredibly funny. Several things had me rolling on the floor, such as Tsukasa’s mobile phone habits, Hiyori’s guilt from fantasizing about and drawing her friends and Misao’s… well, just Misao herself is funny.

However, for every funny joke in Lucky Star, there’s a healthy supply of fizzles. Conversations about real life that are supposed to incite empathy from the audience mostly rouse yawns from me; they tend to be about inane topics, such as food, blood types and standing in queues, which are the types of conversations that don’t really interest me in real life, let alone in anime. The complete lack of cohesion also hurts the comedic rhythm of this anime… it is a rarity when one scene has anything to do with the scene before or after it. This hurts the comedic scenes, but it hurts the few serious scenes even more. The Hiiragi family dispute sequence, or the scene with Izumi Kanata may be touching and all, but the sudden cut-away to something completely unrelated was jarring to say the least, and just left me in emotional no-man’s-land, with hardly a clue as to what I was supposed to think or feel.

But this isn’t the worst thing about Lucky Star by any stretch of the imagination. The absolute bane of Lucky Star were the segments and recurring gags like Lucky Channel, Anime Tenchou, Shiraishi Minoru’s subpar singing, and the pointless anime references (particular Haruhi(1,2) references) that were rarely funny and mostly acted as little more than Family Guy-style “references for the sake of references” than as clever parodies or commentaries. These tended to start off as mildly funny, but drastically attenuated in amusement after about their third appearance. I eventually got to the point where I cringed every time there was a hint that one of these gags or segments was about to rear its ugly head… which was painful when at least two of them became episodic features by the second half.

There is good stuff in Lucky Star, but it’s overwhelmed by so much mediocrity. There was a section towards the end of the series where I hadn’t laughed for several consecutive episodes, and was ready to write this off as another “overstayed its welcome” comedy, but the last two episodes were among the most entertaining of the series. Everyone is going to react slightly differently to this series, as evidenced by the wide range of responses to it, but, for myself, I can easily name six other moe slice-of-life comedies I enjoyed much more than this without thinking too hard. The statement, “your mileage may vary” probably doesn’t apply to too much in anime more than it does to this.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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