Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!

Yes ..... they talk ..... a LOT! Oh, look! They're talking now!
Tsukasa, Konata, Miyki, & Kagami. Photo: Kyoto Animation

                                          Lucky Star, Yak! Yakkity! Yak!


                                                                    Jay Agan

      At first, that's what I thought it was. At second, it still is. But now I get it.

      My first attempt at viewing Lucky Star ended the same as my efforts at watching Gone With the Wind. Disaster! I couldn't make it past the cream horn eating debate in episode one so I went on to other things. 24 episodes of four girls CONSTANTLY discussing such weighty matters as girl talk, dodging homework, dieting, girl talk, the weather, boys, girl talk, pop culture, hair care, girl talk ..... No way was I going to be able to take this one in! And after that zippy opening credits number, what a let down! (The "Konata drop" at the end of the cheer line never fails to get a chuckle out of me.)

      Call it senility, stupidity, temporary dementia, what have you ..... a few weeks later I gave it another try. Got past the cream horn "speed bump" & after going through the first four eps I started to actually enjoy it. (No. It didn't get me in touch with my "feminine side". And no, you DON'T want to meet her!)

      The show centers around obsessed otaku Konata Izumi & her level headed (Kagami Hiiragi) & not so level headed (Tsukasa Hiiragi, Miyuki Takara) foils. In their typical & sometimes atypical everyday activities we get an observation or ten on media culture & to what degree it affects (Infects?) the world. As Kagami exasperatingly observes more than once to Konata: "It all comes down to THAT with you, doesn't it?"

      Others in the cast are a slightly off center homeroom teacher (Nanako Kuroi), an authority figure  who drives like a maniac (Yui Narumi, Konatas' policewoman cousin.), & Konatas' lolita complex "afflicted" dad (He doesn't try to act on it overtly. Surprisingly, his flakey daughter is a stabilising force. eg. the "..... too close, you're freaking me out!" scene in episode 18.) Shades of Azumanga Daioh! Second season eps put some attention on Konatas' even more diminutive freshman cousin (Yutaka Kobayakawa) & her friends.

Fear & loathing on the (un)Lucky Channel.
Akira & Minoru. Photo: Kyoto Animation

      The cast is rounded out by the two members (Akira Kogame, Minoru Shiraishi) of the "show within a show", Lucky Channel. Ostensibly to comment & inform about Lucky Star it's mostly about Akiras' (Slipping in & out of "character".) jealousy, grumbling bitterly over her flagging acting career & bullying Minoru as a result (He later explodes in ep 21.).

      The constant, obvious, visual/verbal references (No subtext here!) are more than a clue that this show is a running commentary/satire on anime/manga/gaming in particular, & pop culture (Japanese & otherwise.) in general. It's also a continuous ad for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, another Kyoto Animation property.

      Being that the show is about otaku "culture" (Before dabbling in anime, I used to think otakus was a Frito-Lay product. I like the Cool Ranch & Barbecue flavors.) we see most everything through the eyes of the "showcased" Konata. Through her we are given a first person accounting of the trials, tribulations, & FINANCIAL dificulties rabid fans go through, & how manipulative some can be in their desperation to indulge . (I like it that she could con two friends into canvassing the huge Comiket convention for her {ep 12}, & have her buddies accompany her to the Kyoto Animation studios during a field trip {ep 21}.) In ep 16 we see Konata in action at her job in a "cosplay" cafe (It was a kick to hear Wendee Lee switch horses in midstream & reprise her Haruhi role.).

      Though we are taken through about 2+ years of classes, the high school scene is only a backdrop for the above mentioned references (Too numerous to count.). One has to be a true fan to "get" even half of them (I got about a quarter.). I was more interested in Konatas' "relationship" with them. The character is really wrapped up in it (Aren't you glad YOU're not like that?).

      Lucky Star has everything: Nonstop talk, comedy, nonstop talk, anime/pop cult. references, nonstop talk, product placements, nonstop talk ..... Not my kind of anime but enjoyed watching just the same. You just have to get past the discourse. Fade to white .....

                                        Article copyright © 2-17-2011 Jay Agan

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