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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Lucky Star, Vol. 2
Lucky Star, Vol. 2
Bandai // PG-13 // July 1, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted July 4, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

When it comes to the comedy genre for anime, it's kind of a funny thing (pun intended). There are so many different shows out there with concepts and styles that are completely unalike and yet they invariably are compared with each other. How many times have you seen Excel Saga brought up in a conversation? Or even Azumanga Daioh for that matter? In all honesty there are way too many comedy anime to list when comparing so we always look for the main players and most popular points of reference. It's with that in mind we look at Lucky Star; a show that draws direct comparisons to Azumanga Daioh.

One of the biggest trends in the comedy genre of anime over the past decade or so has been the emergence of four panel manga to anime transitions. So many shows got their start in this fashion and Lucky Star is only the latest example of that practice. Created by Kagami Yoshimizu, Lucky Star got its start in 2004 and garnered an instant fan base. A few years later an animated version was released with 24 episodes and Bandai was quick to pick up the license for an American release.

In case you're wondering what it's all about, Lucky Star follows the exploits of a core group of friends who all attend the same school. For the most part each of these characters fits one stereotypical mold or another within the four-panel genre. First of all you have Konata who is essentially the leader of the group and is good at just about everything she does. She's also a full-fledged otaku, gamer, and all around lover of "geek" material. The fact that Konata is so good at everything infuriates Kagami to the point that there's something of a rivalry between them. She often plays the straight man and winds up setting the stage for the joke to come through.

Kagami's sister, Tsukasa, is the useless character who is lazy and generally blunders through life. It's her cuteness and naiveté that adds to some of the charm in these episodes. And finally you have Miyuki who is the a-typical smart girl with glasses who is excessively polite to everyone including her friends. With this cast of characters in place the rest of the show just kind of falls into place around them. Most of the series simply follows the girls through their daily lives and features their exploits with each other and around town.

One thing worth nothing about this particular series is that it had a lot of hype surrounding it prior to being released. Granted most of this hype was due to being tied loosely together with Haruhi during a preview in that show's run but whatever. After watching the first volume I must say that I was a little disappointed by the meandering style of comedy that simply didn't click. Each of the four episodes was paltry compared to series this show has been likened with but there may have been a good explanation for that.

The first four episodes were directed by Yutaka Yamamoto but as it turned out he didn't quite seem to be up for directing a series such as this. Thankfully I'm not alone in feeling that the episodes he was involved in weren't quite up to snuff. From here on out the show is directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto who has some more experience with this sort of thing and presumably was better received considering he stuck around for the remainder of the series. What does this mean for the show? Well, it thankfully means that the second volume is much better.

For all intents and purposes the content here is roughly on par with what we came to expect in the first volume. The kids go through the motions of their routines and in between there are wonderful opportunities for gags and jokes to come out. With Takemoto at the helm these moments simply feel a little more fluid. There's a different vibe here that the first installment didn't enjoy and thankfully it appears as though the zest for life of Lucky Star has finally started to come through. Oh, and it's pretty darned funny too.

This time around the girls are celebrating summer with festivals, the beach, and online video games. Konata once again kind of takes the reigns for the group and leads the way in a couple of episodes. Despite that each of the main characters is given a chance to shine through events such as racing and other slice of life things such as going to the dentist, getting a new cell phone, and leaving your glasses at home for a day. Once again Lucky Star feels like an animated version of Seinfeld considering it's a show about nothing. With that being said, after this volume I must say that my opinion of the series has turned slightly. I'm cautiously optimistic that Takemoto's involvement is a good thing and the four episodes here had plenty of moments that definitely stood out better than the first installment. Let's see how the third volume goes before we fully sing its praises.

The DVD:

Video:

Lucky Star is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and the video quality is definitely a feather in this disc's cap. This show absolutely shines thanks to its fantastic design and presentation values. There is no grain, compression, aliasing, or cross-coloration anywhere in these episodes and the bright art style allows for a very vivid display. This is definitely a series that stands out on a quality television and though its very minimalist there's plenty to appreciate.

Audio:

Considering this isn't an action packed show with explosions, robots, and ninjas it doesn't need a boisterous audio presentation. With that fact in mind the 2.0 Dolby Digital presentation for both English and Japanese is decidedly appropriate for the material. While the lack of a sense of immersion is disappointing this show's dialogue driven content simply doesn't need it to be effective. The dubbing quality is decent all around as well though I personally felt that the Japanese track matched the content better.

Extras:

Much like the first DVD for Lucky Star the second offers a couple of bonus features on the regular edition to sate fans. Some Bandai trailers and more Key Scene Gallery includes are presented here. The Key Scenes are basically just stills with some bits of information displayed above the images. Two more episodes of "The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi" are placed on the disc here as well. Both run at just around twelve minutes and feature the voice actor dancing around and doing stuff with the production crew. It's not necessarily funny as I suppose you had to be there but it's a nice glimpse at the personalities behind the program.

Final Thoughts:

After the first volume I was tentative to recommend Lucky Star to anyone but fans of four panel comics. Thankfully after the second installment my opinion of the show has improved and the content here is much better all around. The four episodes under the direction of Takemoto simply feel more fluid, the jokes are delivered better, and things just click. If you saw the first few episodes and were on the fence like me you definitely should give this next batch of episodes a try. We'll see if this trend continues in future volumes but for now I'm comfortable recommending it to anyone looking for decent comedy.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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