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“Persistence is rewarded in the end.”

I dunno if that’s really a proverb or not, but at the very least, it sums up my thoughts on Lucky Star, a series that, despite being about nothing, managed to be consistently entertaining after requiring a bit of perseverance in the early episodes. At times it can be dull, but in the long run those moments are very rare. It’s 4-koma gag after 4-koma gag most of the time, with each mini sequence building up to a simple punchline with about one second to consider what was just concluded before going on to the next set-piece.

At least, that’s the general 4-koma slice of life adaptation formula. They’re all pretty much like that. Azumanga Daioh did pretty much everything Lucky Star did in that respect, and it did it several years before. If all Lucky Star did was follow the 4-koma formula, it would have nothing worth seeing in it over Azumanga Daioh.

So what does Lucky Star do to separate it from its spiritual predecessor? It breaks from the formula into insanity on a regular basis. It delves into the otaku culture a bit further, and manages to be a little more accessible to people who are probably scared off by other otaku culture stories, like Genshiken. Kyoto Animation’s habit of advertising their other series through their current works is here in full forces, with homages left and right (though their heaviest pushing of Haruhi makes me think KyoAni really, REALLY wants to make more of that show.) And it manages to stand out in its own cute way, with a cast of delightful characters that at least feel to me like they might exist somewhere out there.

Art Direction

Kyoto Animation, normally known for their excellent lighting and incredibly detailed backgrounds, took a decidedly different approach in making Lucky Star. While their consistency and attention to detail is all still there, the world is done in a lightly done pastel fashion with simple backgrounds. It’s easy on the eyes and every character is distinct (even the Hiiragi Twins, Tsukasa and Kagami.) It allows itself to show facefaults and cartoony shouting, and it all works well.

And then there are the times where the animation goes different, either through KyoAni’s signature Good Lighting making the scenes look more alive when they need to, or when the crazy comic book store guys show up. I love the crazy comic book store guys. They explode through the moe-filled art with burning spirit and, dare I say it, GAR, every time they appear, and suddenly, the show feels somehow intense. Best of all, everything just feels right.

KyoAni never fails to deliver when it comes to a good looking series, and Lucky Star is no exception. Though it doesn’t have the strong “realistic” flair of KyoAni’s usual fare, it still looks amazing in its own unique way.

Sound Direction

Motteke! Seifuku is the most spastic song ever. Dio Bravo once described it as if they walked into a subway and listened to the ramblings of a hobo to get lyrics. And yet, it’s strangely catchy. It’s not like Hare Hare Yukai in catchiness, but that’s because the lyrics are so cryptic you can’t keep them in your head. It’s more catchy in the way What’s up, People!? is: something of a hilarious trainwreck of a song. In fact, would it be too much to just say it’s the moe What’s up, People!?? It makes about as much sense lyrically.

That isn’t to say I dislike the song. It’s just hard to pin down. The rest of the music in the show is mostly random cheery ditties to keep with the tempo of the conversations. It doesn’t ever really stand out in any way, which is a good thing. This isn’t a show where the music needs to stand out.

Of course, that is, until you hit the ending themes. All twenty-four of them. The first half of the series has the main four females singing karaoke of other Japanese songs as endings, and the second half has resident crazy Minoru Shiraishi singing, BADLY, in strange live action sequences.

The scary part of this is that while it doesn’t have the usual “wind down” effect of closing themes, it convinces the viewer to stay through the ending each time, as part of the show rather than just a place to turn things off. In other words, it works amazingly well, and manages to be entertaining.

But the real star of audio is the voice acting. The main four of Aya Hirano as Konata, Emiri Katou as Kagami, Kaori Fukuhara as Tsukasa, and Aya Endo as Miyuki deliver their conversations as though they were actually just conversing. It never feels forced listening to their long conversations; it feels like they’re talking to each other rather than to the audience. And Hirano is an especial delight, with her cutesy drawl slowly spewing out whatever chaos she has to say, her demonic insult voice being the most fun of all. Also, her occasional slips back into her Haruhi voice, when needed, are so natural it can be downright disturbing.

But in terms of vocals, the side characters are the true stars. Tomokazu Seki delivers Meito Anisawa’s GAR-filled insanity with the same love he gives all his other roles. Minoru Shiraishi manages to stand out simply by being himself. The two voices provided by Kujira and Fumihiko Tachiki manage to fill up so many of the NPC cast with their distinct-yet-generic voices that with just two actors the world seems to come alive. The assorted cameos from the rest of the Haruhi cast, especially Daisuke Ono in a Tamaki-style role and Yuko Goto as a strangely adorable yanki stand out as well.

And then there is Hiromi Konno’s Akira Kogami. Her exaggerated yandere swings push one character to the rank of most fun character in the show… at least until Shiraishi finally flips out in episode 21. And even then she’s still wonderfully bipolar and bitchy.

However, there are also some black sheep in the vocal cast. Namely, the six characters that join the cast at the half just… aren’t as interesting, and their voice actors don’t do much to improve that. The fact that they join after most of the side characters display their quality hurts them further. They’re not bad, they’re just… bland.

So in the end, the audio is mostly good. Nothing amazing beyond the side characters and the shining moments of the mains, but good.

Story Direction

That story up there should be in quotes. Lucky Star is mostly simple humorous writing with no real overarching plot beyong their lives. But then, that’s slice of life, and it doesn’t need to be too much more. It is a fine slice of life series as it is, though with some strange little pieces here and there. It manages to hit its 4-koma styling with excellent timing, and occasionally a little friendly “darkness” creeps in as Konata delivers a punchline. It is humorous and fairly non-stop all the way through each little episode.

That said, I have maintained from the beginning, and I still do to the end, that the best part of the series is Lucky Channel. While it is fine and dandy following the main cast through their simple and sometimes zany world… Shiraishi and Akira’s relationship onscreen in this simple Q&A session shines brightly from the start through the end. With each episode, you start wondering just how much of Akira’s crude violence Shiraishi can put up with, and eventually he DOES flip out. And although the little mini-story that is the relationship between the poor fall guy and his psychotic superior is fun and complete at the end… I am left only wanting more. I hope that a spinoff involving Shiraishi as Shikaider, the dentist transforming super robot from one of his ending themes, and Akira as the villain appears. That would be the best spinoff ever.

As I said in sound, the characters added in the second half of the series feel extraneous. They only seem to have been added as a failed stab at adding to a cast that really didn’t need adding to, and their running gags aren’t as fun as the rest of the cast.

But enough about my wishes. The show is still fun for being half random conversations and half insanity (of two varieties, nonsense and reference.) It’s just got the depth of a kiddy pool with a few amazing fun bits. Consistently good throughout, just not what I really want after everything is said and done.


Despite my complaints and wants, from an objective view, while this series isn’t anything truly special, it’s still worth watching if you can get past the first episode, just to watch something that fills a niche that hasn’t been filled in significant fashion since Azumanga Daioh. Cute, fun, and harmless.

Final Impressions:
Art Direction: Colorful, easy on the eyes, and at times quite amazing. A.
Sound Direction: Good music, and a great cast of side characters, though with a set of simply uninteresting voices. Still good. B
Story Direction: Good for what it is, but it could be so much better… even if that would make it not Lucky Star. B-
Overall: A good, fun 4-koma slice of life series that if you ignore what it could be you come out with a decent watch. B