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Lucky Star Series Collection – Review

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Lucky Star Series Collection - Review 1Title: Lucky Star
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: The Lucky Star manga series published by Kagami Yoshimizu
Genre: Comedy and Slice-of-life
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Runtime: 600 Minutes
Cost: I cannot actually find a listing on the Madman Website at the moment…
Classification: This title is classified PG for mild themes, mild sexual references and coarse language
Blurb: “A pure parody series that follows a group of girls with varying personalities and varying degrees of otakuism. The storyline is majorly episodic, with each episode dragging in parodies of different otaku series and personalities, alongside those of the characters within the series itself. The design is overall average, however the design techniques frequently used do well at bringing across the point they make. Music is MEH… OP theme is WOO! and the extra content is WOW O_O.”
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.

When this website was in its infancy and I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it going or just let it fall into the deep depths of many other review websites that had tried and failed, I tried doing episodic reviews of Lucky Star, which resulted in a grand total of two episodes being reviewed, and the writing was terrible in them and I can’t say I enjoyed the series at all. That was 2007 whilst I was struggling through my second last year of school, and this is now…. me, with many thanks to Madman having a copy of Lucky Star: Series Collection in my hands and a keyboard ready to write. I don’t want to spoil my thoughts in the introductory blurb, so please read on, to see my thoughts about Lucky Star, a series this site thought it had long forgotten….. 

Lucky Star Series Collection - Review 2

When you think back to your high school das, can you really sum those days in one concise paragraph? Memories of those times were probably made up of a series of hilarious moments with your closest classmates. That’s exactly what Lucky Star is all about.

Meet Konata, a girl who’s too obsessed with anime and video games for her own good; Miyuki, the cute, bespectacled living example of moe with an encyclopedic knowledge of all subjects; Kagami, the always serious but shy straightman to Konata’s constant teasing and pranks; and her younger fraternal twin sister; Tsukasa, a sweet and kind airhead. Follow their not-so-ordinary high school days as they try to answer every day questions like how to eat a chocolate cornet.

Upon reading this blurb, I did think back to my old high school days, and my memories with my closest classmates. I then realized my memories were absolutely nothing like theirs, most of ours seemed to consist of intellectual debates on politics, gaming, anime, life, school, teachers we hated teachers that annoyed us at times…. I digress, this series will have a shorter review then normal, as the storyline is very hard to sum up without reviewing every episode individually, as they all consisted of very unique plotlines, often not relating to anything previously mentioned in other episodes.

Lucky Star Series Collection - Review 3

The series I could most relate to this would be Azumanga Daioh, a tale about a group of cute girls who have a lot of comedic experiences through their last year on High School. If you were to take out the cast of Azumanga Daioh and replace them with an assorted bunch of non-otaku, otaku and hardcore otaku, then you would have Lucky Star. The series comedy is primarily based on the conversations between the characters and less in terms of the graphics, therefore English dubbing for those who are not proficient in Japanese might be a good starting point for enjoying this series. The comedy is mixed, some of it laughable and some of it rather bland, and to me, there were more moments when it was more fun to play “Wheres Anime Reference?”. The conversations range from things such as how eat a chocolate cornet to more long term jokes such as a character drawing manga of her friends, which in turn is found out by them despite her embarrassment.

Instead, if anything, the main appeal to watching this series is around the ever growing cast of characters in the series. Whilst initially it is just the four girls (Konata, Miyuki, Tsukasa and Kagami), thoughout the course of the series, their families get added to the cast, and at the half-way point, Konata’s younger cousin Yutaka joins the main cast, and with that, her high school friends as well, which brings yet more stereotypical otaku characters to our attention. The characters vary personalities with Konata as the Hardcore Otaku, Miyuki: Meganekko, Kagami: Yandere, Tsukasa: Innocent Girl, Yutaka: Loli, Minami: Silent Type and the list goes on and on, with every character fulfilling some sort of interest group. As there are a number of characters in the series, the character development for all but Konata and the twins is rather disappointing, with characters later on only becoming characters for the sake of having new personalities to interact with. Whilst this is a series that is built around a non-storyline plot, further character development of these characters would make the characters more interesting at the very least.

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In the end, what appealed to me more in this series was not the rather random storylines of the episodes, not the characters but instead that of the references to previous titles. You could really play a game with this series, by having four of you who have never watched the series before and play a game of “Where’s Otaku?” and try and pick out all the references you can find, as every episode is filled with them. References came in the form of each music, visual and conversation, with many series such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Pani Poni Dash, Kanon and countless other series having references at some point or another. There were also references to individuals in the anime industry as well, with them running an anime shop together, desiring that one purchase from Konata which was bound to make them famous, only to have her decline them in some oddly humorous fashions (Down 3 yen would be my favorite insult to their hard effort). If there is anything that would make you laugh, even if none of this did, would be the Lucky Channel segments which are held at the end of every episode and spanning a couple of minutes each time. Featuring the two co-hosts Akira and Minoru, they set out to review the days episode, answer fanmail and the like, however Akira has a multiple personality disorder, resulting in some rather humorous outbursts on her part, making them another conversational gag instead of episode summary, but it actually works very well.

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The overall design quality of this series is average for both environment and character designs, but instead, it is their use of these which gained my interest. First of all however, the character designs are nothing special, and given the number of other Kyoto Animation series that win on the sheer fact of their high design quality, I must say is rather disappointing. You could say they are trying to keep things simplistic to ensure that this is kept in a purely otaku world without the interference of it even slightly looking like real-life, however at the very least, it does do a good job at keeping the characters in their assigned demographic-appealing roles. Environments often have some features such as bookcases, beds, televisions and the like, but at the same time, lack anything that would make it a great background, except in the instances where it tries to make a point, such as Konata’s room is bound to have figures and posters of anime series. Instead, the usage of the design is more applaudable, so being able to chibify a character or to put a comical appearing emotion on them would look more suitable this way then if not. There is however, no real fanservice in the series, with the exception of some PG-Rated cosplay, which is good so as to target a wider age demographic.

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Opening Sequence
Motteke! Sailor Fuku by Aya Hirano, Emiri Katou, Kaori Fukuhara and Aya Endo

This song is sung by the four primary cast members for the Japanese dub of the series, and if you haven’t heard this song at some point, then you would be one of the few. Motteke! Sailor Fuku is a song where you are not supposed to make sense of the lyrics and instead just enjoy the tune and randomness of the song. The animation is good and it is evident they made it to last for the entire 24 episode series.

Ending Sequences
Are you sure you want to see all of them? Well guess what, there are so many of them I will just redirect you to the AnimeNewsNetwork page for it all~ [CLICK HERE]

Lucky Star Series Collection - Review 9

The soundtrack was rather bland for me. There were some songs that were really well suited for the time they were used, but I couldn’t help but feel there were a couple of tracks, where it was rare not to see them used in the episode. The songs were, ignoring their overuse, bland but also some that were enjoyable, but with the potential there could have been, it felt underwhelming. As it was with everything else, the references to other anime series in the music was also fun to spot.

In terms of voice acting, there was a solid voice acting cast that did a good job, considering the source material they were given would have been a challenge for any anime company to properly dub. In terms of remaining faithful to the Japanese script, from what I was more or less faithful the entire way through. As for the actual cast, I have no complaints. As Aya Hirano did for both Haruhi and Lucky Star, Wendee Lee voices Konata as she did Haruhi, and does the job very well at capturing the otaku nature of her character. Whilst Michelle Ruff still remains my favorite female voice actress, she did a suitable job at Tsukasa, but I wouldn’t say it was her best work. As the third, and in my opinion final main character in this series, Kagami voiced by Kari Wahlgren was even better then the previous two, and met the criteria for all of Kagami’s personalities. There were overall, no real complaints to me about the voice acting cast, and they all did a suitable job at keeping the same conversational nature of the series going, as without good dubbers, this series might have failed entirely in the market to those who wanted an English dub.

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In terms of packaging, the current set of Lucky Star available on the market consists of the Collection 1 and Collection 2 DVDs in a slipcase. The slipcase has a unique artwork piece consisting of the four main girls in the series on it, with a close up of Konata and Kagami. The back of this slipcase is essentially the same theme as the two DVD’s and consists of the screenshots from the Collection 1 DVD, and a unique blurb on the entire series. Looking at the DVD cases, they are both of normal size and contain 3 and 2 discs in each respectively. The DVD’s are not challenging to remove from the casing. The design of the DVD’s do not consist of characters as you would expect, but instead having a star motif with each disc consisting of a different colour. Sadly, the inner cover art is the same as the outside cover, but instead of having the DVD information on it, the inner consists of episode listings for both series, which is always handy to have. The cover art between the two collections differ greatly, with the first having a more hand-drawn appeal to it, whilst the second consists of two very minor characters to the series and a more animated style.

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With there being 5 DVD’s in this collection, you would expect lots and lots of bonus content within it right? Thankfully, this set is filled with them. “So what is there on offer?” you may ask?:

  • Key Scenes Galleries – There are a total of 12 of these which consist of images and comments from the series. There is not much benefit watching these, but it is often fun seeing the comments made on the images themselves. Each of these go for about 2 minutes each and have a couple on each DVD.
  • Textless opening with lyrics – There is no Clean opening of this song, but instead a rather enthusiastically done version of the song with lyrics…. perfect for Karaoke!…. if there were no vocal lyrics in the song….
  • Original Japanese Promo Clips
  • The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi – I shall leave you to make up your mind about this…. half feels like a real life Lucky Channel – English subtitles included.
  • English Voice Actor Interviews – Very interesting. One for each voice actors of Konata, Kagami and Tsukasa.
  • Trailers

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Finally, the all important Personal Opinion. This is more of a light-hearted series that whilst occasionally having stale humor, also has some rather funny ones at the same time, primarily through the use of the diverse character personalities. This wouldn’t be a series however, for those starting out their quest in watching anime, as the true charm is picking out the references which this series is full of. I will say I did enjoy it, althrough I did have to watch it in batches of a couple of episodes every day, often between watching other series, as it is a series best appreciated over a long time.

Final Score

Storyline: C
Character Development: C-
Design: C+
OP/ED Themes: A
Music: C
Voice Acting: A
Packaging: B-
Extras: A
Personal Opinion: B

Overall Score: C+

 

 

Afterthought

and yes…. despite stating at the start this would be a short review…. it remained around the same length as my previous review of Kanon….

Sam
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fifteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.
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