April 8, 2007 is a date which will live in infamy. It’s the date that good anime started to die. Until this point in time, anime creators were toying with moe, weak plots, lazy humor, crappy animation, slice-of-life stories, and pandering to the pedophile set. Despite tinkering, they had yet to fully commit. It wasn’t until that fateful day in early spring that they said, “FUCK IT” and went all-out with taking a giant shit on anime as we know it. This is the date that Lucky Star premiered. What was seemingly an unassuming, generic “comedy” series turned into a monstrosity that would be copied and mimicked ad nauseum until the entire anime industry was churning out nothing but moe pieces of shit.
Lucky Star was heaped with praise as being one of the funniest and most original anime series in ages. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. Of course I wanted to watched something funny and original. Who wouldn’t? But it was a trap. It was a trap against my better sensibilities. What I found upon watching this abomination was the most vile, wretched amalgamation of every moe and slice-of-life cliche imaginable. It was the culmination of years of shitty tropes finally combined to create the ultimate marketing beast designed to sell merchandise, with the anime as an extended commercial for otaku fanboys to jerk off to.
The horrors begin immediately, in the first episode, in the opening credits. The four main characters sing and dance at a rapid-fire pace. They sing so fast that there is no melody. It’s the auditory equivalent of a seizure-inducing strobe light. It’s off-key and annoying. They are “singing” so fast it’s like they are on crack. I feel like I’m having a heart attack while listening to it. This song is an audio holocaust.
The four main characters of Lucky Star are the type of design-by-committee moeblobs that one would expect when watching a show geared at selling merchandise. The target demographic for this anime are moe-loving pedophiles. There is only one thing pedophiles love as much as underage children, and that is buying posters, body pillows, and figurines of underage children. So, naturally, the core cast of Lucky Star is designed to look like children. Never mind the fact that the characters are all age 16-17 and in the 11th grade. They have flat chests, short stature, and speak with child-like voices. They are designed to look prepubscent to appeal to that target demographic of pedophiles.
Expanding (or perhaps not) on that, there are no real male characters in the show. Any male characters make brief guest appearances, or simply fall into the background. In fact, anyone who is not a central character is drawn as a silhouetted background ornament, just like in Pani Poni Dash, which is nothing more than a weak ass shortcut. As for the main characters, they all have identical, prepubscent personalities, with very little to distinguish them from one another except for their hair color. You have the blue-haired girl, the pink-haired girl, and the two purple-haired girls. Other than the blue-haired girl being a self-proclaimed “otaku” the others are identical to one another. Nobody else has any stand-out characteristics. You could easily swap out one for another and not know the difference.
I suppose they decided to make the blue-haired girl an otaku in order to allow the target demographic of otaku to identify with another human being. As an otaku she does all the typical otaku things such as: play video games, watch anime, read manga, collect anime/video game/manga related merchandise (a subliminal message to get viewers to buy Lucky Star merchandise), and has a general inability to pick up social cues and interact properly with other people. She neatly fits into almost every otaku stereotype. The only thing she doesn’t do is salivate over flat-chested anime girls. While I can understand making your main character an otaku in order to have her be identifiable to the target audience of otaku, she doesn’t have a personality independent of otaku stereotypes. A few of her quotes give us insight into this, “When something comes up that’s related to anime or manga don’t you have to have it as a collector and a fan?” and “I’m an otaku, I’m totally weird. I’m a weirdo.” It seems the writers have very little respect for their target audience, but that didn’t negatively impact Lucky Star’s popularity at all. At least in Welcome to the NHK, the main character had thoughts and feelings independent of his interest in dating-simulation games. In Lucky Star, however, the blue-haired girl is nothing more than an empty shell, devoid of any intelligent character development or writing. She is simply a vessel for the creators to tell the audience she is an otaku just like you; now go buy posters, body pillows, and figurines of her.
Truly heralding the shittiness is the animation and production design quality. The characters are rendered in a very flat, pastel, simplistic art style. The art style alone is not what makes it shitty. Someone could give their anime a simplistic, flat design if it has a significant reason behind it. Lucky Star does no such thing. It isn’t meant to be a commentary on anime, it doesn’t say, “Our series looks flat in order to exemplify how bland traditional anime has become.” All it does is show the animators’ laziness and inattention (or perhaps lack of ambition) to create something with depth or intricacy. Why bother animating down to the grittiest detail (a la Samurai Champloo) when you can just gloss over everything, and paint all the backgrounds pink? When the animation itself looks lazy, it’s difficult to get excited about something in the medium of animation. I suppose it’s not worth their time to animate something well when the purpose of the series isn’t to tell a story or convey a message, but rather to sell merchandise.
Worse than the lazy animation is the lazy storytelling. This anime has no storytelling at all. Throughout the years, slice-of-life has become shorthand for “no plot.” Unfortunately, that’s not what slice-of-life should really be. It should be a snapshot, a brief glimpse into the overall lives of the characters, who can still be involved in something interesting. For example, Gunslinger Girl would qualify as a slice-of-life series as it does not have an overarching plot, but it does feature the main characters in mini-story arcs as they assassinate people in cold blood. This is what they do on a daily basis. For them it’s normal. It’s what these characters do every day, so it’s what is featured in the series. That’s what makes it “slice-of-life.”
As the years have gone on, slice-of-life has degraded to the most simplistic of storytelling. It typically focuses on middle/high school students going about their mundane everyday lives. They go to school, hang out with their friends, go on dates, do their homework, rinse and repeat. Boring, but still a glimpse into their daily activities. However, most slice-of-life series will manage to squeeze in a little bit of a story. In Ai Yori Aoshi, which is pretty standard slice-of-life fare, they told a story about how the two main characters, Aoi and Kaoru, had to struggle to keep their relationship strong, and to allow her upper-class family to approve of their marriage. While the main struggle takes the backburner to the typical cooking, laundry, hot-springs, and pet-wrangling episodes, it is still there and pops up from time to time. While there is no plot, there is still a little bit of a story.
Lucky Star, however, takes the “no plot” concept to a new level. We aren’t talking a Seinfeld-ian type of “show about nothing.” Even though Seinfeld featured characters that had no growth, they still got involved in interesting things. The four multi-hair-colored girls of this anime do absolutely nothing. Interesting things never happen to them. Here’s a few examples of some series “highlights”:
- They talk about a pastry (a chocolate coronet), and if you are supposed to eat it from the “head” or “tail” end. Who gives a shit? Just eat the fucker.
- How do you eat a cream puff? Let’s hear the whole system, down to the mechanics of chewing. So fascinating. Let’s hear more talk about eating, but not show it. Popsicle. Zzzzzz… Ice cream. Zzzzzz… Curry and rice. Zzzzzz… So fast paced. Such great plotting.
- They discuss the difference between the flu and the common cold.
- Should you go to the dentist or not? Let’s have an in-depth discussion about the pros and cons of both.
- They talk about ponytails.
- There is a four-minute-long conversation about the differences between fraternal and maternal twins. Why don’t they just use a dictionary or Wikipedia to fucking find out? Don’t waste my goddamn time with this bullshit.
- Go on a trip to see cherry blossoms. Talk about average temperatures. Prepare for the school festival. If real life was like anime, then all Japanese students do is either prepare for festivals or study for entrance exams.
- A whole plot point about accidentally turning off a light switch.
- How do they split up classes? Who gives a fuck?
- Talking about the little white lies for April Fool’s Day, like “I erased your save game data.” Why not something interesting like “I artificially inseminated you while you were asleep.”?
- Watching them watch a game show is NOT slice of life. It’s just fucking boring.
- The characters walk around and partake in daily activities like visiting a sick friend, chatting while eating lunch, doing homework, and playing video games. FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!
I’m sorry, but this is not slice-of-life. This is slice-of-boring-dogshit. At least most slice-of-life series will have some semblance of story structure and character development. It may be miniscule, but it will be there. Lucky Star, just says “FUCK THAT SHIT” and goes for absolute realism. Instead of boring us with drab plot and trite character development, they inundate us with true slice-of-life. This is stuff you do in real life. You usually don’t watch TV to watch the characters actually do the boring shit we do just to get through life. You don’t watch your favorite program to see the characters as they are doing laundry or watch them watch a fucking game show. Why would you waste your time with that menial shit when you do it all the time? You watch TV as an escape from reality. As such, the characters should do something to remind you that you are being entertained.
In a way it seems that Lucky Star is an instructional video on how to live life. I remember one scene in particular in which the blue-haired girl was trying to explain to someone else (I forget which one, as all the characters are identical), how to submit an entry into mail-in contest. She went as far as to explain all the steps: Step 1 – Get an envelope and draw a red border around it, Step 2 – Draw a cat, Step 3 – Send 100 entries/postcards to win the contest. I was waiting for Step 4 – ???, and Step 5 – Profit, but sadly those never happened. There was no joke, no punchline. Just step by step instructions on how to enter a contest. It seems like this is a how-to guide for people who have no concept how to function in society. I guess they have their target audience nailed down then, don’t they? Why else would they be telling us exactly how to do something? How to turn light switches on and off, how to mail envelopes, how to play video games, how to watch a game show? It must be that they are instructing otaku (the kind who are shut-in recluses), how to live in the outside world. Maybe in some way Lucky Star was created to help those poor shut-ins learn to function in society again? Perhaps Lucky Star was hoping to provide the catalyst for psychosocial change in these people? Nah, it wasn’t. I was right the first time. It is just all about moeblob-merchandising.
Lucky Star isn’t entertainment. It’s sadomasochism. It’s like the creators were debating whether or not they could create a popular television series based solely on otaku needs for moe characters. So, they gave us the blandest characters imaginable, with the worst animation possible, and gave us a “story” that consists exclusively of everyday activities. What they proved was: otaku will watch anything. Otaku love to watch shit. All it needs to be loved by otaku is for it to: 1) be animated, 2) be from Japan, 3) have super cute, bashful, prepubescent female characters. These are all things otaku pedophiles love. The more, the better. And Lucky Star has more of this crap than any other anime. That’s the only way to explain this boring piece of shit’s massive popularity.
They blatantly say this in the series. In one scene the characters are talking about “moe points.” They say that clumsy is sexy, shy is hot, and “glasses appeal to the fan base.” While it seems they do have some awareness of the pedophile otaku fanbase, does this really count as breaking the fourth wall? I’m going to say no. Why? Well, as I noted before, this entire series smells of creation-by-committee. So, when designing each character, they went through a checklist of desirable traits. Traits that sell merchandise.
- Glasses? – Check.
- Crazy hair color? – Check.
- Flat chest? – Check.
- Annoying whiney/high-pitched voice? – Check.
- Giant candy-apple head? – Check.
- School-girl sailor-outfit uniform? – Check.
Once they checked off every box, each character was created. So mentioning glasses as giving “moe points” is just the creators’ way of telling us that they made these characters for the sole purpose of merchandising.
Perhaps most frustrating of all is that for a “comedy” series, Lucky Star doesn’t have any jokes. During the aforementioned envelope-mailing scene, it could have led to a joke but did not. Telling little white lies could have ballooned hilariously out of proportion but it did not. Going to the cherry blossom festival could have involved a zany, funny adventure but it did not. The “New Love” visual novel could have been a parody of visual novels, but they just regurgitated all the typical visual novel stereotypes without embellishing them or making them funny. Nothing happens in Lucky Star. Nothing. FUCK! How the fuck does anyone stand to watch this piece of shit?! Nothing ever fucking happens on this show!
They try to make it good by referencing the far superior anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by having them go to a Haruhi-themed concert, dress up as Haruhi character Yuki Nagato, clutter the backgrounds with Haruhi posters, and sing the “Mikuru Beam” theme song. Considering that Lucky Star was animated by the same studio as Haruhi Suzumiya, and the blue-haired girl is voiced by the same actress as Haruhi, you’d think cross-over jokes and fourth-wall breaking jokes would be rampant. But they aren’t. They missed, or distinctly avoided, every opportunity. So what was the point of all that referencing? To remind otaku about Haruhi Suzumiya so they can go out and buy merchandise for that series, too. Unfortunately, all this did was serve as a reminder of how much better Haruhi Suzumiya was than this piece of shit. Just like in Pani Poni Dash, referencing better shows doesn’t make your show cool, it just reminds you how much worse it is. It does not make your crappy anime more watchable.
With all of these short-comings, I was amazed to read that there was dissatisfaction with the director, and he was changed out mid-way through for someone else. The shock I had was that the tone and style of the series remained exactly the same. If I had not read that, I never would have known. The show remained identical. It was still just as shitty. It continued to pander to the lowest common denominator of pedolphile otaku, it continued to have no jokes, it continued to have absolutely no plot, and it continued to have shitty animation.
In some ways, Lucky Star is the most realistic anime ever. I can’t think of any other series in which you fully experience the joys and excitement of doing laundry, chatting with your friends about mundane bullshit, and watching game shows on TV. Every episode is exactly like that. If you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen them all. Every 23 minute-long episode feels like a lifetime. There’s no point in watching the entire series. It never gets good. Nothing ever happens. If you’re curious about seeing this anime, stop. Don’t watch it. Don’t waste your time. Even satisfying your curiosity with one episode isn’t worth it. That 23 minute stretch of time is one you’ll never get back. Spend it doing something worthwhile like watching a good anime or masturbating.
If Lucky Star existed in a vacuum, it would only get a “bad” verdict from me. However, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists in reality and, as such, it was explosively successful. Everyone clamored for more and more, and we quickly started seeing horrifyingly bad slice-of-life clones popping out from every direction. Otaku salivated over the shitty music, carbon-copy characters, and no plot so much, that the entire genre was redefined. Now it seems that shit anime like this has completely overtaken good anime of the past. Of course, every year is filled with crappy anime titles. But it seems that now more so than ever, the crappy titles are vapid, super-moe, plotless pieces of shit beyond any recognition of plot, character development, or even good taste. Lucky Star should be forever condemned for what it has unleashed upon the anime viewing public. This is trash anime, the pinnacle of horribleness, the anime version of Satan and Hitler’s child. All I can think is that this is god’s punishment upon mankind for its sins. Either that, or the fact Lucky Star exists proves that there is no god. No matter the case, humanity is completely fucked. It deserves its place as the worst anime of the decade.