Lucky Star – Review

My journey into Kyoto Animation’s history hit a rough patch this week, as my high hopes ran aground on the rocky shores of Lucky Star. Lucky Star is a long, tedious synthesis of everything I find unimpressive about anime comedy, so all I can say in the end is I’m glad I survived it, and at least now I can reference it confidently when discussing the studio. It was frankly somewhat strange to see such an unfunny comedy from a studio I generally point to as the one group who actually understand comedic timing; there were occasional successful gags, but the vast majority of Lucky Star is just a long, long, long expanse of absolutely nothing. But I survived. That is enough.

You can check out my megasized review over at ANN, or my increasingly desperate notes below!

Lucky Star

Episode 1

The show kind of stands at the crossroads of early 2000s manic comedy and late 2000s “show about nothing” sitcom-style stuff

But I guess it’s really just one of the initial leading lights of the Seinfeldian slice of life boom

It’s a bold choice to open the show with a long, rambling conversation about nothing – the different ways they eat various desserts

The dub has a bit of trouble matching the slow lip flaps

The miracles of mayonnaise

They actually lose their train of thought, and then the final, barely acknowledged joke is they start back at the beginning

Talking about “moe points” – “clumsy is sexy”

This first episode is a collection of 4koma bits without much guiding direction – it’s just one tiny punchline followed by another

“You’re saying that colds and flus are two different things?”

Yeah, so far this is a pretty lazy adaptation where the seams are very clear

There is some pretty sharp comedic timing, though

The character animation is consistent, but not fluid – but that’s pretty appropriate for this aesthetic

“Would someone get to the punchline already?”

The Lucky Channel

Lucky Star also pretty big on the self-aware otaku humor

Episode 2

This split-screen view of both sisters’ summer days is a great long-form joke. More strong structural comedy would be nice

More good pacing/physical comedy with them trying to win the UFO catcher

The long slowroll anticlimax – all we get is the rest of the cast laughing at Konata’s face, but they never show it

Discussing what part-time job Konata could possibly hold down

Minoru trying to keep up with Akira’s energy is good stuff

“You got a part in the main show. I saw it”

Akira just dropping the script in disgust

Episode 3

Sometimes the show spells out its own punchlines through the reactions, which is pretty crap. Common to 4koma, but still crap – just kills the comedy

Jeez, this looks TERRIBLE for a bluray

These do feel like real conversations, in that they go deep and rambling on a single topic, and the various characters are allowed to expound at length on the topics they actually know about

Konata and Kagami do have solid chemistry

Some of these references are too specific to get. Specific game or anime references

There’s very little sense of place in this show – the backgrounds are so minimal, etc

Like, no backgrounds at all sometimes

Alright, overt references to Cromartie and Pani Poni Dash. Certainly a product of its time

And lots of puns that don’t translate well

Aya Hirano’s kinda drawl for this character is great

Oh my god, Akira moving her chair away just as the other dude moves his closer is amazing

This show is heavy on the overt references to “moe” as a concept – guess it’s the heart of the era

Episode 4

She watches Haruhi. “Is Nagato’s long scene the result of the production staff cutting corners?” lol

Episode 5

Alright, here’s where Yamakan was replaced

Haha wow, oh my god. Immediately more dynamic layouts, actually creating a sense of place and adding at least a little energy to the jokes. Whew. Finally, a watchable show

It’s interesting how Konata is basically defined as an otaku, but can still hold all these normal, rambling conversations on basically any topic. She’s still a pretty normal person, and her hobbies are just used for consistent jokes, not as the basis of her beliefs

Okay, this non-sequitur of Kagami getting really emotional about getting a goldfish is actually really good. Abrupt tonal shift, maudlin piano keys, no punchline. Perfect

Yeah, and more bits here let the comedy breathe and speak for itself

Episode 6

Between the main crew and their relationship with their teacher and Konata’s cousin, this show actually feels kinda like Azumanga Daioh

Cousin Yui even goes crazy when she’s driving a car. And they’re doing the “two cars to the beach” thing. Azumanga exactly

An extremely long and dedicated Initial D parody (that even uses that same “drop your wheel into the gutter” trick he uses to win a race) that is pretty solid until it ends with, of course, “hey, what’s with this Initial D-like driving?!?!?” God I love jokes

Konata is basically like if Sue were a protagonist, with all the issues that causes. So many extremely specific anime references

More solid long-form bits, like Tsukasa getting carried away by the seashell sound, staring down, and watching a bug crawl out

The show is incredibly inconsistent, but it can occasionally understand both when a joke should be snappy and when it needs to breathe

Episode 7

Decent gag with Kagami speaking Ojou to the ojou character

“I don’t know where I’m supposed to laugh.” Agreed

There’s still no coherent structure to the episodes. Just disjointed 4koma gags

“Lately you’ve been getting needlessly popular with those twin tails of yours.” Lucky Channel at least has jokes, which is certainly an improvement

Episode 8

I watched this episode, but can’t remember a single thing that happened. Sports festival? Oh yeah, there was a sports festival. I think I recall there was one okay joke – maybe just Tsukasa falling over hurdles

Oh, and Tsukasa being unable to find her own number on her cellphone was nice. The extended visual gags are generally the better ones

Episode 9

Talking about their blood types. This show is like, impressively tedious

Akira tossing her ashtray at Minori is great

Welp, they did a “not even my own father hit me”

Episode 10

Konata’s dad creeping on high school girls sure is something

Whoa, this sure is an insanely animated segment in G Gundam style. Huh

Shiraishi is getting pretty confident! Kinda funny how much better the Lucky Channel segments are – not only do they have actual jokes, but there’s also character development

Episode 11

The art style discrepancies are kinda interesting – other characters are often rendered in much more detailed, realistic style than the leads

Ah good, Christmas Cake jokes

Episode 12

Winter comiket

Okay, I actually love the fiercely drawn comic shop guys

Episode 13

Once again, the hot-blooded comic staff are the only sequences worth a damn

Aw shit, Akira finally got her twin drills

Episode 14

Yutaka, Konata’s cousin, arrives

The show’s direction is generally so flat that every single interesting shot sticks out. There is no world here – it’s the anime equivalent of a talking head newspaper comic strip

So now the ED is… Shiraishi singing songs himself on the beach? This is fine

Episode 15

They go to a Haruhi music festival

Some nice backgrounds for the cherry blossoms

Konata’s VN fantasy of a new school year is a fine visual gag

Episode 16

They visit Konata’s cosplay cafe, where she actually plays Haruhi, and does the voice. And they even do the dance. Huh

They sure are proud of themselves for making Haruhi

Akira pouring her heart into karaoke. Do your best, Akira

So now all the EDs are new live-action songs. This is pretty weirdly great

Episode 17

This show keeps bringing up criminal otaku, lol

A strangely foreboding sequence as Konata’s family sets up her birthday party

So many Haruhi references, jeez

What the heck, a legitimate dramatic sequence between Kagami and her older sister? Be still my heart

And at last, hot-blooded shopkeep is a guest on Lucky Channel. Good stuff

Episode 18

So, so, so many of the gags are just “Konata mentions an otaku thing as a punchline, Kagami says ‘oh, it’s an otaku thing’”

The music is also incredibly repetitive. Just the same simple xylophone, recorder, and synth melodies for setups and punchlines

Episode 19

There are more distinctive visual interludes over these last few episodes

The cousin’s friend otaku is actually far more entertaining than Konata

Tamura, that’s her name

Episode 20

Kagami’s fang friend is pretty endearing. She’s like Konata, except not an otaku asshole

It’s a fireworks sequence, but this show’s execution is so lackluster that there’s still not any sense of place

The EDs really hammer in how this show is basically just a parade of indulgence and back-patting

Episode 21

The show does have some nice spots of character acting here and there

Explaining a joke with dialogue AND on-screen cues at the same time. A high-level maneuver

Tamura forgetting an idea she thought of in the bath, and then in bed. Her material is so much better

Tsubasa getting mugged by deer is great

Konata actually notices Kagami being distracted

Oh my god, they actually visit KyoAni studio

Shiraishi finally breaks

This sequence is so good

Episode 22

“Why are even generous people stingy about the price of gas?” One of the many problems with Lucky Star’s “observational humor” is that they aren’t meaningful observations – much of this stuff is just specific to the exact characters they’re observing it in, and thus doesn’t even provoke a slight laugh of “huh, yeah, that is true”

Okay, Kagami randomly saying “it’s pretty smelly” is actually a recurring gag at this point, lol

A nice sequence starring Konata’s mom at the end. I wish we got more of this show

Episode 23

All three of the otaku in one room actually leads to some pretty solid jokes

Interesting how this show sort of comes at the transition from VN-based shows to LN-based ones. Konata is old-school, of course

Some decent Minami jokes

Episode 24

Patricia suggests doing a cheerleading performance for the arts festival

They’re basically setting up the OP

Patricia bribes Konata into participating

The last quarter or so of the series has had a fair amount more narrative material

The very adult voices for the incidental classmates kinda emphasizes how these characters exist in a vacuum

Akira and Shiraishi finally meet in-show!

A full performance of the OP


An episode from the perspective of Minami’s dog Cherry

And then a segment in a videogame, complete with crappy game footage

Kagami and Konata… go to the Ball?

Dear lord, this thing’s forty minutes long

7 thoughts on “Lucky Star – Review

  1. You are the worst reviewer on ANN. You have consistently shown you have shit taste and don’t know how to actually review an anime. You are one of those people that either completely loves a show and doesn’t admit that there is anything wrong with it, or completely hates a show without even trying to look for any of it’s merits. You are worse than pretty much all amateur anime reviewers on Youtube. I’ve seen many of them do a better job reviewing anime than you do. But then again you thought that Unlimited Blade Works had bad animation, Terror in Resonance is the anime here to save anime, and The Lost Village wasn’t just a complete trash show with horrible writing. You are a terrible reviewer. Absolutely awful. I have no respect for your opinion and are most likely believe the opposite of what you say is actually true.

    • It’s good to see that this comment is phrased in a non-confrontational and mature way. It really lends the argument merit, since it’s not just a hateful wall of emotional bashing, instead taking the time to reason out its arguments and acknowledge that people are inherently going to have different opinions. It makes me really respect the author’s views and want to hear more of what they have to say.

  2. Heh, it’s funny to see how you got progressively fed up with the show. I went through something similar.

    By the way, the over-the-top clerk guy is Anime Tenchou, a mascot character Kazuhiko Shimamoto (who helped design G Gundam’s characters) created for the Animate store. He first showed up in this commercial directed by none other than Hideaki Anno:

  3. Dunno, I feel like Lucky Star is more of a “sense of humor” kind of show. It’s been a few years since I watched it, but I recall it working so well because its total disregard for consistent pacing and standard rules of humor suits my taste. As for everyone else, you’ve observed that yourself.

  4. So glad to hear I’m not the only one who was bored to tears by this show. In fact, I’ve never even been able to finish it…

  5. You really haven’t read any of his reviews if you think he doesn’t criticize shows he loves, lol.

    Just accept the fact that you have different taste and move on, brah.

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