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Lucky Star is a curious little gem of an anime series. Curious in a way since it does not adhere to the usual tenants of popular anime series yet managed to achieve its own level of popularity. Its story can be summarized into a single sentence: Four close high school friends, Konata Izumi, Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi, and Miyuki Takara go about their daily lives.
That is it.
No grand adventure, no magical powers, nothing special, nothing complex, just plain and simple. The simplicity of the entire concept behind this production is clearly evident in the animation style. Clean lines, easy-to-draw character designs, basic color fills and plain backgrounds. Even the actual movements of the characters are un-sophisticated and the animation itself is far from what anyone would consider "dynamic". Nothing really stands out, making this series merely "a face in the crowd".
But that is exactly what the series is. It never tries to be more than what it is, never gives in to the whims and fancies of a viewer-ship that extols mainly the action and drama genre. It stays true to its own identity despite running the risk of ending up as an "outcast" of sorts among the more popular kids on the block. In a way, the very attitude that this series adopts toward other mainstream anime and its audience is personified in the main character, Konata Izumi.
Affectionately called "Kona-chan", Konata is the ultimate embodiment of one of Lucky Star's main target audience: otakus. She is everything and otaku is as well as wishes to be. A die hard anime fan, a video game addict and a slacker, Konata is quick to incorporate references to obscure anime culture in her conversation, has a habit of copying homework and doing last minute revision before exams, lines up for hours at manga conventions and works in a comic shop. However, she is also extremely athletic, miraculously aces her every test, and most importantly, she is accepted by her friends despite possessing attributes that would easily render one an unpopular social outcast. A very clever parallel to the nature of the show itself.
That being said, it is the characters, and the fresh new perspectives they give on the otherwise mundane happenings of life, that is the main attraction of the show. Through the eyes of the quirky Konata, the hot headed but innately emotional Kagami, the adorably innocent dim-bulb Tsukasa and the polite and beautiful "walking wikipedia" Miyuki, the audience is treated to different facets of every day Japanese life presented in new lights from varying points of view. For non-Japanese fans, it is a light hearted immersion into aspects of the Japanese culture without the show becoming a sort of "Discovery Travel and living" documentary. Comedy is well placed and well written, extending even into the laugh-out-loud "Lucky channel" segments at the end of each episode.
Believe it or not, it is this simplicity, this sense of "normalcy" and the presentation of the mundane everyday going-ons through new anime-styled eyes, that is the ultimate form of escapism. In a world fret with overly sexualized portrayals of the female figure, Lucky star presents a feeling of carefree innocence barring the occasional allusion to Miyuki's near perfect "curves". In a life of fluctuation, surrounded by tragedy reported in the daily news, Lucky Star's predictability and optimism is more than welcome. Things and people around us, people that we know, constantly change and sometimes for the worse. Lucky Star's characters never change from the first episode right up to the last. Some might say that is just an indication of a lack of character development, but it works to establish the identity of the core characters, in a way making them feel more "real". A closer look into the style of interaction among the characters shows how realistically each conversation plays out, augmented by some top notch voice acting.
As it stands, adapting a 4 panel comic into an anime series is no easy task. The source material itself has more in common with the newspaper comic "Peanuts" than your standard manga. Yet despite the scant amount of story details, the anime series managed to remain faithful to the spirit of the source while expanding on its core aspects. This resulted in the anime even replicating the general lack of coherent story from the manga. Each episode seems to have a running theme yet there is never a sense of focus in the episode's narrative. The second half of the series sees the introduction of more characters but none seem to be as interesting as the core four.
For being just "another face in the crowd" among other more popular anime, Lucky Star has managed to earn a dedicated fandom based on the very fact that it is something different. It embraces the culture and attitude of its main target audience, parodying it yet glamorizing it at the same time. When you watch Lucky Star, you do not just watch a show, you pay a visit to some extremely lovable characters, more human than you might imagine, and just hang out with them.
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