Not so long ago, I was asked to recommend some anime to someone and one of the series I mentioned was Lucky Star. When I did, the person who asked me for some new titles asked what it was about and why that made it good. For some people, this is a perfect opening to really give them novels of praise and examples of the brilliance that is the series, but in this case, I was stumped. Not about the first question; that one is easy and difficult at the same time, but I managed to explain it as best I could. It was the other one, "why is that entertaining?", that had me searching for words.
First, what is it about. The main part
of Lucky Star follows four Japanese high school girls (more later, but
this is volume one, so lets stick with that for now). You can probably
guess where it goes from there, right? Giant mecha, tiny skirts and enough
gunplay to give Rambo wet dreams. Nope.
Lucky Star follows these girls as they...talk.
That's pretty much it. They go to
school or hang around at one of their homes and have conversations about things
so trivial and easily overlooked that they could be in the act of a stand-up
comedian who hasn't worked since the 90's. There is no plot, the only
thing that connects the episodes is the flow of time. What happened in one
segment is forgotten forever by the next.
You may have noticed the "The main part" thing above. After each episode's main segment is a kind of omake (post-story segment) called "Lucky Channel", which is about a bi-polar "idol" and her nervous and increasingly-popular assistant. Watching Akira go from childishly adorable to jaded celebrity is funny at first, but it loses it's novelty by vol. 2.
Now for the tricky part. What's so great about what I described above? I really don't know. Usually, I can tell you exactly what I liked about an anime or pretty much anything else. Cowboy Bebop was great because of the many different but non-conflicting atmospheres and Yoko Kanno's brilliant soundtrack. Trigun had great characters, cool action sequences, good acting and comedy that was actually funny. Lucky Star was good because...
I don't know. It is good, don't get me
wrong. Have you ever seen something that you know by all rights you should
hate and never watch again but you find yourself watching it anyway?
That's Lucky Star to me. Logically, there's nothing in it for me
but I love it. It's like having a really
boring girlfriend you don't want to break up with.
If this has somehow persuaded you to give Lucky Star a shot, which you really should, one warning: bone up on other anime first. The main character, Konata (if anyone is the main character, it's her), is a complete otaku and refers to anime that I've not only never seen but cannot find locally. And for the love of the data spike, become familiar with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya! The writers of the anime apparently love it and it becomes something of a major detail. Even the casting of Konata is kind of a reference, as Aya Hirono
and Wendee Lee play both Kona-chan and Haruhi. Yes, the joke extends to the English dub.
The art is bright but not too cartoonish. More of an exaggerated realism, but exaggerated toward colourful instead of dark, which is a nice change of pace for someone who's been watching shows like Hellsing. The simple tunes work for the series, but I couldn't picture myself listening to the soundtrack. The acting is pretty good, with the surprising range of Lee topping it off. If you knew her from most of her other work and heard Konata, you'd probably never guess it was her.
Nothing to write home about. Textless intro, trailers, gallery. Nothing particularly enthralling, except for the live-action Minoru part. The guy who does the voice of Akira's assitant on Lucky Channel, character and actor both named Shiraishi Minoru, does stuff. I guess excluding it from not-enthralling is a bit much, but it is very "Japanese-quirky" and worth looking at.