Lucky Star draws to a close in a quiet way, so quiet that the girls even make note of it as they look at their lives changing.
What They Say
Hi Lucky Star fans, your friendly assistant Minoru Shiraishi here! Our senior friends and I are about to leave for our class trip, so hurry up or you'll miss the bus! While the purpose of our trip is cultural education, the real fun comes for some people during our free time when we can choose the sites we want to explore. What's even better are the things that happen back at the hotel, like that passionate confession of love that you never saw coming! Isn't that right, Kagami?
The bilingual production for this release gets a pretty good stereo mix for both languages as each track is encoded at 224kbps. The series is really pretty tame when it comes to the audio side once it gets beyond the opening and closing sequences so it’s hard to tell the impact of it at times. It’s basically a full on dialogue piece with lots of moments of punctuated silence so the mix doesn’t really stress itself in the slightest once it gets past the hyperactive opening. In listening to both language tracks, we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the show.
Originally airing throughout 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series has a very strong visual design to it which looks really great here. With its relatively meager origins in a four panel strip, the anime incarnation runs with a similar feel in how the backgrounds have a bit more of a “comic strip” feel to them with the detail and coloring. The character designs are much more vibrant and the combination of the two elements really works well here as it’s a show that stands out strongly. The backgrounds aren’t soft but they don’t have the kind of sharpness you get in other shows but it looks very solid and generally free of heavy noise. The character designs with their large spaces of bold colors works in much the same way as there isn’t any noticeable breakup or heavy noise either. Cross coloration is absent and other than a bit of line noise during some of the panning sequences, this is just another winner in how it looks in portraying Kyoto Animation’s work.
Lucky Star was released in both limited and regular editions throughout its run and one was planned for this volume as well. Though for reasons undisclosed, but likely to be low sales, this volume was done in a regular edition only. And that means the fans who shelled out the most money to support the show get screwed in the end with incomplete cover artwork. Kadokawa and Bandai unfortunately couldn’t even give us a reversible cover here. I can certainly understand nixing the limited editions with the limited appeal of the shirts and CDs, but the cover art issue will stick in the craw for many and is likely a reason many will avoid any such different kinds of releases Bandai may promote in the future.
The keepcase artwork for front cover is quite beautiful as it has Konata walking through the woods with her father at sunset while her mother watches in a ghostly form. The colors are very striking and appealing and there’s a certain tenderness to all of it. The back cover uses a variety of different sized stars to hold everything as it explodes from the center in blue and white which is very soft but quite appealing. Arrayed around the corners are the sections that list different aspects such as the basic features, disc extras, the episode numbers and titles as well as the special edition extras. The bottom of the cover is standard Bandai Entertainment design as it lists the production credits and some meager technical information. The release feels very unusual in that it actually contains a useful insert, a two panel foldout piece that has liner notes for all the oddities across the four episodes on this volume.
The menu design for the show is quite cute as it capitalizes on the character designs and the bouncy music that epitomizes the opening sequence. With all four girls lined along the bottom with just headshots, there are “thought balloons” that have clips from the show playing about as they switch between the characters. The navigation strip is down the middle which is pretty standard in its selections and they all load nice and quick. There is a brief delay though as they do include a small transitional piece of animation every time you go to something from the main menu. The disc unfortunately follows a pretty standard trend with Bandai Entertainment releases in that it doesn’t read our players’ language presets.
The extras are pretty similar to the last couple of volumes in that there are some interesting things to be found here but continue to be oddly targeted to an audience. The first things that are listed is a pair of key scenes galleries in which stills from the show float by with Japanese text on them (soft subtitled in English) that explain certain elements of the show while at times playing up the cuteness of the characters. They both run just under two minutes each. The bigger set of extras are really interesting pieces that run about fourteen minutes each called Minoru Shiraishi’s Adventures. These continue to vary in how appealing they are. Some of the moments are cute and fun, others seem to drag on for far too long and leave you with a disinterested feeling. I can see the appeal for fans of the gent, but they generally do very little for me.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Lucky Star draws to a close, it’s sometimes hard to remember that these are graduating students that we’re primarily following here. While Konata is obviously smaller than everyone else, the overall designs often keep us from remembering that they’re just about done with everything in their school and are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives. The disparity of having them so laid back in general and focusing on the minutiae of life when these events are about to happen is somewhat off-putting when you do get to the last episode here where the graduation material is given some due. Of course, avoiding that for the most part does let us just enjoy the characters and their lives, which is what the show is all about.
Though I’ve said it before, it’s worth saying again. A series like this is hard to review because it is in essence a show about nothing. With its origins in the four panel comics and being designed here to carry through that kind of feeling with small somewhat interconnected stories in each episode, it has a very good feeling to it but it’s like talking about your day at the dinner table. There may be one or two things to really talk about on your average day, even though you did a lot of things, little is worth really expounding upon. It’s just things that happened as you went about your business, either at work, school or at play. Lucky Star is almost the epitome of that as we watch the girls enjoying their high school life.
The final four run through some familiar stories. The girls head off to a trip to Kyoto for their senior trip and it has a lot of nice visual moments as they spend time together and we see the world that they inhabit. It’s also one that we have seen in a lot of other shows as well so if you’ve watched any number of high school based shows over the years, nothing here is really new. But Kyoto Animation manages to infuse a little more beauty and realism into it and that lets it connect better, especially with the bonds that we’ve made with these girls over the course of the series. It’s enjoyable to watch the core cast back together without the others really having too much of an impact for a bit and it’s a nice way to start off the volume that closes it all out
A good chunk of this disc revolves around the coming end of the school year for the seniors though and that means all sorts of school activity. A good bit of this deals with the younger girls from the other classes as they have to put on performances and such to send off the seniors and the seniors get involved as well with all of it. It has the whole festival aspect going but with that tinge of sadness since they know it’s going to be the end of things. There are some very good tender moments as they look about the halls and realize that their time is truly short here and you can almost well up with them a bit. Having been looking back at my own high school career lately, this has a bit more impact for me since I’ve been thinking heavily about those times.
To my surprise, most of Lucky Channel was pretty amusing this time around. I’m never quite sure if I’m going to enjoy the segments but these had me laughing. Minoru’s return to the show after getting Akira the very hard to get water that she wanted is met with her usual derision. Minoru doesn’t quite take it however and with the guest commentator on with her, he basically goes over the top and trashes the set and throws the whole thing into disarray. Minoru’s outburst and rage is priceless as is the way Akari deals with it and the way the producers end up dealing with it. Having watched Minoru get stomped upon for his good nature for so long and putting up with so much abuse, his snapping moment is great and was the best way to finish it all out as well as working through the aftermath of it all. It left me smiling from ear to ear.
As much as I seem to cast a downbeat eye on Lucky Star, it is a show that I find quite amusing and have enjoyed overall. It’s simply a show that’s difficult to talk about even with four episodes per disc. It reminds me of years ago with the difficulty you could have in talking about a Seinfeld episode with someone who hadn’t seen it. It’s constructed in a way that lets you talk about certain pieces, but the whole doesn’t really gel together well for discussion of the actual content. Lucky Star is a fairly predictable show in that it follows a group of girls through their school lives as they live it and move through the little moments of the days. There are no big issues here, though there is some really strong back story material for Konata’s parents, and there is never a sense of danger or upheaval. It’s charming, cute, silly and very friendly and engaging. It’s fluff in a way but it’s the good kind of fluff. Will it be memorable? Quite possibly as I can say that my kids saw the first volume only but still quote from it constantly, even doing the little dance. I suspect I’ll be hearing about it for years to come one way or another. Definitely recommended if this is the kind of show that you can get into without any big expectations.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Key Scenes Galleries, The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi, Liner Notes, Voice Actor Interviews
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.