When I say Lucky, you say Star. Pt.2

September 18, 2007

So after a very long time of NOT thinking like an educated individual, I decided to return to the fray. Now that classes are back in, I am given a lot of time to think. This means more entries, and I hope to be analyzing a few shows this Fall since a lot of them I find that I may really enjoy talking about. *coughneurocough*

But as the title leads you to think, this is part two of my two part look at Lucky Star. In the first, I talked about how Lucky Star (at the first episode) was being underplayed for what it really was by viewers. Now, I somehow find it necessary to mention how it has become overplayed for what it really is by it’s viewers. Confused yet? I know I am.

Now what after seemed like what appeared to be a very long half a year, Lucky Star finally met what I considered a very necessary end. One could ask me why so many times and I could give you a different answer each time. But it all boils down to what I really come out of this series thinking.

My “issues” with Lucky Star

No, it may not have always been the overwhelming influence and exploitation of KyoAni that really bothered me, but it sure helped. I somehow always knew in the back of my mind that it was going to be a realm of trouble but I tried to ignore it when I first approached this series. Like I had said in my original preview, I dig the Lucky Star manga. Konata’s exploits somehow remind me of the daughter I always hoped to have while I can only help but compare myself to her father. My hopelessness aside, I knew the CV shift was another realm of problems in itself. Which obviously traveled under my radar through the series…for the most part.

Now Lucky Star was never one to avoid it’s references in the manga. It made some of it fun…but…they weren’t SHnY centered. Yes, KyoAni’s overwhelming influence won over that one (see my Conspiracy Theory later in this article for the full story) which bothered me. Sure I loved the series for what it did right but what it did wrong made me grind me face against the nearest wall. Could Lucky Star, the manga, survive without such things? Oh, hell yes it could. Could Lucky Star, the anime, survive without such things? I doubt it. Many fans seemed to hop aboard as soon as the new director started throwing the big time and powerful references in that they wanted to see. But it did serve as a good hook. It drew people to other parts of the show, even to blind them to that they weren’t watching references anymore. A rather effective strategy to say the least but sometimes it appeared people didn’t truly know what they were watching.

And, oh, the fans. Now here’s a subject we can discuss for hours. It’s a fact, that people just don’t like fanbases. It’s natural order if I do say so myself. I don’t like Gurren Lagann fans, Code Geass fans piss me off, Naruto fans piss me off, name an extreme fanbase and I probably won’t get along. The same goes for me. I’m in the hardcore Galaxy Angel fanbase and have pissed off A LOT of people along the line. It’s just natural but there is one thing in particular that seems to bother me about certain Lucky Star fans. This is, of course, the KyoAni factor. It’s not that I hate KyoAni but I have a problem when people claim Lucky Star as yet another “KyoAni” masterpiece.

A) This under credits the source material so much
B) Masterpiece is such a strong word

But let me approach this in a different manner. I could stand the semi-hype KyoAni got with FMP. Frankly, they didn’t get too much there anyway so I was nice and happy. I could stand the hype that KyoAni got for doing SHnY…for awhile. It was good and it probably deserved some of the praise it got. It got a little out of hand, I get pissed, etc. The praise KyoAni got for handling Kanon, I found to be spot on. Obviously they had excellent source material and didn’t blunder too badly with it, so I didn’t get pissed when reading the endless praise following that. Now, we arrive at Lucky Star. What I always shallowly enjoyed as a 4Koma, as did most people. Then people start seeing it as a holy beacon of godly light. Then comes the anime fandom that sweeps around like some fierce storm. Now it did not take me a split second to become angry with the praise. I had boosted it before for being underplayed and it’s been the one series where I instantly flopped as the series saw new grounds. But why would I say such things? I mean Lucky Star is so damn unique isn’t it? Well, let’s move on to the next section of this discussion shall we?

The 4Koma and Why People Like It

When I first argued Lucky Star’s realm of praise, I argued the 4Koma point in about every aspect. We all know the 4Koma, a short snippet of comic relief that someone in the world laughs at. And that’s just exactly it. SOMEONE will enjoy it, somewhere, somehow.

The point is, we can looks at these like the Sunday Comics in the average newspaper. Sure, you don’t like reading “Family Circus” but instead enjoy the comedy in “Dilbert” (to those of you who I’ve lost, I apologize). Sure, you believe that “Family Circus” is a piece of utter crap and want it ripped off the face of the paper but several audiences do indeed get a kick out of it. But they may find “Dilbert” to be equally stupid as you find their favorite. This is the essential idea of 4Koma and why people need not argue how good one is.

My point is, 4Koma can never leave a mediocre score as an anime. Sure, it’ll make people laugh but it is a very closed humor. Unlike some series, it’s hard for certain people to find anything to like about it since it truly focuses on that one person who’s sides will crack open upon reading it. I’m not against these series from seeing the light of animation but I don’t believe they deserve so much praise that people honestly get riled up about it. Because, I believe they have the right to say, “You’re taking it too far” at some point.

It’s a hard point to admit but just look at a few 4Koma and you’ll see. Some people enjoy Potemayo and other believe the anime needs to be shot dead. I thought Hidamari Sketch was the worse thing to see the light of day and people thought that it was hilarious. The same goes back to series like Azumanga and Ichigo Mashimaro. Some people found both atrocious while some incorrectly recognized them as masterpieces. We all want to get our stupid laughs somewhere but just because you can “relate” so well with something, don’t treat it like it’s holy. I read a perfect fit for me in this morning’s “Non Sequitur” but I’m not going to go request it be animated an recognize it as the best cartoon to hit American television. Other people found this same comic completely against their tastes, which I recognized as fine and I didn’t find it necessary to argue that they couldn’t find anything to relate to in it. Sorry for the bad comparisons but that’s about all I have. By the way, I despise “Family Circus”.

Where does that leave us? Well, not in a place to argue where the 4Koma stands. It is MEANT TO target the inner humans minds. Lucky Star didn’t invent this concept, no it purely took a different approach as all 4Koma tends to do. So, once again, nothing new.

Now we move on. 4Koma is also meant to exploit the basic personalities that people enjoy. Like I always said when I talked about Lucky Star. They have a cast…it goes…

Timid Meganekko

End of story. 4Koma is designed like so. Each character is basically composed of a single trait that people enjoy. The success of 4Koma with certain people relies on the personality types chosen and, more importantly, with how they interact with each other. If you really look at 4Koma you’ll see that all characters can be boiled down to one center personality trait that is often exploited in each panel they appear in. It’s what they do, they serve their purpose in that fashion. Miwiki tells some interesting facts, Tsukasa has no idea what’s going on, etc. This concept will be later discussed in my upcoming book, “Hi-ho! 4Komas a go!” which will be available in every local bookstore in your area.

KyoAni Conspiracy?

You know, when you’re left with your thoughts, a lot of things happen. One, you overthink things and two you overthink things again. This section is a result of what I think may have happened with Lucky Star.

Take KyoAni, not a bad company but, like most, out to exploit and make money. Just like Lantis does by releasing 12 characters albums per anime series they control. True story.

Though, how could KyoAni exponentially make money off of Lucky Star? Obviously, they know the things that people like. WAWAWA and SHnY. Put those two together and you can rake in the fans and sucker them into anything. So what do you do?

“Well, we could put your reference in here but we have some equally good SHnY ones to fill the spot. Though…if you open up your wallet a bit, we might see eye to eye.”

Now I’m not saying that KyoAni did in fact exploit the series, but I felt they only had to meet a certain requirement of Comptique plugs and they were free to do with what they wanted for the rest. So what next? Well, let’s see if people want to keep what references here and where we can plug our own series. Hey, it’s genius. We make money either way. Frankly, if I was in their shoes, I’d do the same thing. Sure you have to spot them a little to borrow said references but if you charge them a little to get their heads in the game you could possibly break even. They’ll partly pay you to advertise a bit and they can get some money back for the appearance fee. Sounds good to me.

I’m not saying KyoAni did in fact, plan this. But it will forever roll in my mind as a conspiracy surrounding Lucky Star. Right up there with Elvis coming up with the “Motteke! Serafuku” dance.

Summing it all Up

So, here’s the real question. Are we going to forever look down at future generation and brag about how we were part of this legendary season of “the greatest 4Koma to see the light of day”? Hardly. I see Lucky Star as forgettable and even though it will get mentioned in it’s genre like Ichigo Mashimaro and Azumanga, it won’t be ingrained forever within a timeline. No, it lived so much in SHnY’s shadow at some point, that I knew it wouldn’t be a stand alone series. And frankly, I don’t think any 4Koma should be truly marked on a timeline. Maybe for being the first to see an anime conversion, and nothing more. What remains of Lucky Star? Well, let’s see.

The dance will be ingrained into flashmobs and cultural festivals in Japan forever, that’s for sure. What next though? Frankly, I believe 2ch got more a kick out of individual lines and MADs then Lucky Star itself. And I could honestly say the same. I laughed harder at MADs based off the series rather than the show itself.

The reference section of the show was hardly something for me to boast about. Not because KyoAni took it over but I found it either too ingrained or badly ingrained. In this sense, they referenced something but not in a comedic fashion. A successful reference to me strikes me as something that can make a normal person laugh who has no idea what’s going on or not and also not interrupt the flow of the show. There seemed to be a few awkward moment in Lucky Star where references simply peeked out and anybody who didn’t understand it was left with a giant question mark. No, it shouldn’t have to be like that. This is one of the few reasons I boast about Moetan’s references and Hayate’s more so than Lucky Star. Sure they may overuse them a bit but they’re done well enough that anybody can laugh and if you know what it references, it goes over twice as well. You can argue with me but this is something I can’t completely overlook.

So, what is left? To me, the series blundered in a few places for me. Introducing the secondary characters too late, killing Lucky Channel (which was good anime original content for the most part as it did feel unique) near the end, and other small details. The attempts to be heartfelt at some places did feel remarkably awkward as well. Not that I hated them, but it felt like Lucky Star tried to be something it wasn’t. Manabi Straight! properly reflected the bonds between high school girls, Lucky Star had always been innocent fun to me. Was it terrible to try at heartfelt? Not really. Did it work as a detriment to me? Yeah, it did.

The question that forever will bother me. What would the original director have done? Looking at the first few episodes, was he really THAT bad? All he did was avoid guising the real content within a bulk of references. If you ask me, he didn’t hide the real Lucky Star from people. I did feel the second director taking an artificial approach and I know this is where my KyoAni conspiracy comes in again. If it truly did change things, then I’d gladly do it all over again. All twenty-four with what I thing was the better choice in the first place. If it really did a smaller job of hiding Lucky Star then maybe things would have been different. More important, I’d love to do it with a different studio in all. But I know that’s even less possible.

Final Score: 6 / 10

In all, this show will always strike me as medicore. A decent 4Koma, yes. I don’t mind reading the monthly Comptique for it. So I’ll go ahead and keep doing so. Reflecting on this, this is why I fear when a series is fed to KyoAni. Which is why I pray that Little Busters! is shipped off to someone aside from our moe loving friends. Though I know it won’t see the light of day if it doesn’t go to KyoAni, it still bothers the pants off of me. Is KyoAni the reason for the death of series to me sometimes? Not them directly, but they sure as heck cause conflict within my person.

With it’s obvious flaws evident to me after analysis and the obvious mediocrity of 4Koma, I could only consider Lucky Star worthy of what it gets and don’t see any consideration to a higher score.



  1. better watch your back Likkun. someone’s going to jump you someday just from seeing your final score and i’m not talking about me. if anything, i would probably have put a 5 on there for my score just because half if it i liked and half of it i didn’t.

    my biggest flaw with show was actually not from the show itself but from the people that watched it. as you said Likkun, fanbases pretty much kill anything whether it be with overhype or whatnot. any show that’s well known because of hype factor is either really praised or is downright bashed. sadly, anything labled with kyoani i will be wary of now. i don’t hate them or anything but i don’t love them to death that i will kill myself once a series ends. it’s just that they appeal too much to the fanbase with their fan service which is understandable because well….that’s business. to sell more goods you give as much fanservice as possible. lucky star will no doubt be the ultimate cow to milk with anything imaginable.

  2. In terms of a show, it shouldn’t matter what most people think about it. It really shouldn’t. I don’t try to factor the fanbase into how much I enjoy a show, since they’re two seperate things, and everyone has their own way of looking at things. And besides, do you remember the backlash people had against the anime at the start because it wasn’t what they expected from KyoAni. People are fickle, and large groups of people are very easy to sway. So don’t worry about that too much (or which company works on it for that manner – every studio produces duds and great stuff, only the proportion varies depending on the company); worry about the series on it’s merits itself and how you enjoy it. 😛

    The overcommercialization (if that’s a real word :P) of things and the bad transititons that never really got fixed were really the only things that I didn’t like about Lucky Star. Otherwise, I find it a pretty solid anime. :3

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