Konata’s amusing lifestyle comes to the forefront again as she takes Tsukasa and Kagami to Comiket.
What They Say:
Hey! It’s Minoru Shiraishi! I’m surprised they let me announce this part again, they said I got too far off track last time. What? I’m off topic again? Already off to a bad start…Sorry! Winter’s always full of big events but it’s not Christmas that Konata’s been waiting for. It’s time for that once a year wonderland that every true anime fan prepares all year long for: COMIKET! Walking from hall to hall, standing in lines and spending all that money on those ultra rare figures and special edition doujinshi is what it’s all about, or so I’m told. Luckily for Konata she’s got the Hiiragi sisters to back her up this time around. Hopefully they’re prepared them for that sea of people! Do your best Kagami and Tsukasa!
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.
The keepcase artwork for the regular edition release in the box is rather “old school” as it has some of the gag characters with their older designs lined up in a row as they’re intent on getting Konata to buy their stuff. Konata for her part is at the end of the line looking at them curiously while the background is made up of hazy flames. The back cover is nicely laid out using the stars that the opening sequence utilizes by having a big one in the center which contains the basic summary of some of what the volume contains. Arrayed around the corners are smaller stars 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 solid 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 earlier volumes in that there are some interesting things to be found here but they’re also a bit… odd. 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 runs about twelve minutes called Minoru Shiraishi’s Adventures. I’m still not exactly sure of what the point these live action sequences are, but there are some fun moments to be had even if it does get dull at other times. It’s certainly an acquired taste would be the polite way to put it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Alright, put down the pitchforks. I admit that I’m slowly coming around to the Lucky Channel segments.
Much as I found with the first two volumes of Lucky Star, talking about Lucky Star is somewhat difficult. The shows origins and the way they’ve translated it to animated form doesn’t lend itself to talking heavily about much of anything. So much of the show is focused on minutia that even when you pull back to look at the larger narrative there really isn’t one. It’s all about the small slice of life stuff and how they all interact with each other. Every group dynamic is different, even among archetypes like this, so it’s seeing how it all comes together in a particular setting. The four core girls of the series continue to be appealing and it’s easy to latch onto a favorite to see how they’ll handle various situations. They even manage, partially because of the character designs, to evoke the feelings intended in that you want to care for them and make sure they’re protected.
These episodes take us up through the early winter months and just past the New Years holiday. Thankfully, beyond the New Years holiday itself, they don’t focus all that much on the holidays. Christmas isn’t given all that much measure but they have some amusing conversations about Santa Claus that will keep me from sharing that episode with my kids just yet. The girls have some fun with nicknames as they try to come up with one for Tsukasa and she gets all flustered when Konata comes up with far too many interpretations of it that aren’t exactly things you’d want to have. And as usual, Miyuki seems to get the short end of the stick as she continues to be the cute, smart girl who sort of glides in and out of scenes without making too much of an impact.
Where I found the most fun with this volume was in the latest trip to Comiket. After having taken Kagami before, Konata has decided that this year she needs to bring Tsukasa as well because of the sheer amount of stuff she wants. Her hobby is certainly an amusing one, something we get a good glimpse of when she visits the local Animate and gets caught up in all the shiny things she likes, participating in the sheer geek revelry of it all. The trip to Comiket is fun since you have Kagami now acting very casual about it since she’s experienced it before, an old pro and all that, while Tsukasa is the newbie she can take under her wing. Watching them go through the experience is fun since it ties together a lot of little stories.
What surprised me with this volume was that I’m finally starting to get into the Lucky Channel pieces of each episode. The first couple of volumes left me fairly dry on it as I didn’t see the appeal, but they’re slowly but surely growing on me. Minoru’s attempts to be all positive and happy is amusing enough as is the way Akira cuts into him coldly each time. The repetition of it left me uninterested in it in the earlier episodes, but the way Minoru keeps getting little nods in the main show and the fact that it ticks her off is amusing me more and more. The fact that she’s primed to be in the twelfth episode set things up really nicely as you pay attention to the episode even more to see her appearance. The fallout from it is decidedly priceless and has me actively looking forward to more Lucky Channel.
Lucky Star is the kind of show where I feel kind of awkward in reviewing it. Even a show about nothing, like Seinfeld, has something you can talk about in the larger sense and in how it all usually ties together in the end. Lucky Star doesn’t often have that tie at the end where you smack your knee and laugh at how it ends up. It’s made up of the small silly moments throughout, the slice of life moments that have you smiling. The core cast of characters continue to be generally positive and they have fun together. Watching the fraternal twin sisters change their hairstyle during a sleepover study event isn’t something you’d normally find amusing, but here it works perfectly since it essentially creeps out Konata. The second volume felt a little weaker to me in comparison to the first, but by now they’ve definitely found their groove and it’s amusing in different ways throughout. Here’s to the second half!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language,Key Scenes Galleries, The Adventures of Minorou Shiraishi, Liner Notes, LE: PE Uniform T-shirt, LE: Tsukasa Character CD
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.