I’m going to be bluntly honest with people here, despite being a huge fan of anime I have yet to properly get into the whole ‘moe’ thing. I managed Love Live and enjoyed it enough but the genre is still something that has largely eluded me. That was until Lucky Star came along. It was always mentioned in passing as a thing to check out but with the recent re-release I was willing to try it out with an open mind, and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve seen in a long time. Initially starting out as a 4 koma gag strip in 2003, the series was picked up in 2007 by Kyoto Animation (Full Metal Panic!? Amagi Brilliant Park, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Free!) and turned into a 24 episode series with an additional OVA.
The series follows the almost irrelevant lives of four Japanese schoolgirls attending high school. Initially over their first year before later their second and third, after the midway point in the series the series expands and adds an extra six girls to the line-up (although they were seen early on). Each episode is essentially stand-alone and as you can expect from a series adapted from a 4-panel comic the gags come quickly and consistently. Each episode follows the girls focusing on something in life, be it from ‘the proper way to eat snacks’ to ‘what kind of guys are into moe girls?’. The series has plenty for anyone who wants to enjoy themselves and laugh their socks off.
Each of the girls is enjoyable in their own way, from the main character Konata Izumi: a girl who cares more about playing Video Games and watching Anime than she does her school (don’t we all) to twin sisters Kagami Hiiragi and Tsukasa Hiiragi to the wealthy Miyuki Takara. While most of these characters are now considered generic Anime tropes they still manage to stand out in their own way. Later characters who show up are also incredibly fun whilst also keeping to what is now a trope, even so, the setting of a gag manga allows them to be memorable.
Being a light-hearted series produced by Kyoto Animation gives Lucky Star a lot of leverage. There are references all the way throughout via Konota’s world. Fans of Full Metal Panic, Haruhi, and Fate // Stay Night will be overjoyed to see their series almost constantly brought up, including numerous opening and endings from the series itself which is something I personally enjoyed and felt added to the series. But for those who are unfortunate enough to have not seen some of these shows, the references may confuse. Ultimately with Lucky Star you aren’t going to get a deep series with epic battle scenes or a story that is going to make you think (although some of those girls do make a valid point regarding the work to gaming ratio), however, what you are going to get a simple, fun series that you’ll be able to laugh at time and time again. To some, this is a blessing but for those who want only a serious series they aren’t going to get much here.
On an animation point, the series is strong, while each of the girls has a somewhat basic design they manage to stand out amongst the crowd of same faced/hairstyle characters. The simplicity makes the series stand out and adapts the 4 panel jokes to the screen beautifully. This was refreshing to see as opposed to series that over blow a lot of their scenes and lose either the joke or simply drag things out, Lucky Star has none of this and its simple adaption allows for almost perfect comedic timing with the animation.
Rejoice! For Lucky Star is not a boob anime. You won’t be subject to constant ass shots and the girls won’t be making out for no reason at all (because I really felt that this would be one of those). Although in later episodes a running gag is another character’s almost obsession with pairing two others together; mirroring the real world where people will look for ships in the most simple of things.
While discussing music on the series along with a bunch of anime and gaming music, the series boasts an incredible and catchy opening (one that will actually become relevant later on in the series) and later on a lot of fun endings by Minoru Shiraishi as he kind of does his own random thing. Each of them is entertaining in their own way and add something new and unique each episode that will keep you laughing until the end. Speaking of Minoru Shiraishi, we can’t ignore his animated cameo in Lucky Channel. One of the very few plot threads running throughout the series is the frequent segments in which, in sharp contrast to the rest of the show, deals with the mean-spirited and even abusive relationship between Shiraishi and co-host Akira Kogami. It’s cruel, vicious and cynical, but you’ll still laugh at it.
Ultimately Lucky Star is an incredibly fun series that anyone who wants an easy to watch gag comedy will enjoy. Unfortunately, none of the characters particularly develop well and are restricted by the initial four-panel format. Additionally, while the series is awash of gags and references to older series its the pre-2006 stuff which ultimately passes over the head of those not acquainted with these series, a lot of other gags can come down to Otaku culture and to the casual viewer, this is going to simply confuse. Added to all of this the lack of overall connecting story (aside from Lucky Channel segments) is enough to put off people looking for a deep story or meaningful fight scenes.
Lack of a deep story doesn’t stop Lucky Star being an excellent series, however, anyone who wants to watch a funny episode here and there will be more than welcome with its self-contained stories. All of the characters are fun enough and you’ll find yourself identifying with at least one of them. Lucky Star is a perfect series for those who just want to laugh at a bunch of girls commenting on the little things in life. Its self-contained shorts mean that you can simply pick up an episode whilst with another series and still enjoy it, reset your brain before watching something else and for this I wish to recommend as many people try it as possible.
Lucky Star was recently re-released on Blu-Ray by Anime Limited. Included on the Blu-Ray is all 24 episodes of the series plus a OVA, a small 28-page booklet, a collectors case, a live action Lucky Channel, Cast Interviews and trailers and promo clips.
LUCKY STARS IS OUT NOW ON ANIME LIMITED BLU-RAY