Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lucky Star: An animated kind of stand-up

Lucky Star episode 21: One pretty street
Kyoto Animation takes the season off, although if one only had the above screenshot to go on, they might be inclined to disagree. Why must they tease us so? They're KyoAni: It's because they can.

Likewise, they were (rightfully) confident that their random Shiraishi endings would be mostly tolerated, being no worse than the terrible singing or fireworks kicking found on YouTube, and people watch that stuff in droves.

Lucky Star is easy: easy-going given its slice of life nature, probably easy to produce given KyoAni's magic, and easy like taking a picture given today's digital cameras. The series as a whole is a well-executed snapshot, of the lives of the characters over the course of a year (or two?), of (Japanese) fandom, even the state of technology, although Blogger and other publishing systems now have caching mechanisms so timeouts don't toast a post.

Lucky Star episode 21: Click!
It seems incredibly convenient, art imitating reality in a more extreme sense, but I welcome it as it speaks of and points out things that I'm aware of but wouldn't usually speak to others about, much less form a conversation around. It need not be about geeky things, although a lot of them are. For example, I personally wouldn't feel comfortable talking about how much of a slacker I am (and hearing about how much of a slacker the other person is) with just anyone. I also can't get away with a thirty second rant about how difficult it is to crawl out of bed in the morning. Even though many would nod their heads in agreement, what follows from such a declaration?

Where one can get away with this, though, is stand-up comedy. Punchlines are expected to be copious and frequent, and there are many instances where situational jokes are short, to the point, and have little to no correlation with the one that came before and the one that will follow.

Lucky Star only has some structural and pacing similarities to stand-up, so the comparison is somewhat superficial. For me it's not even funny most of the time, although what many find at least chuckle-inducing I just find clever or amusing. At the end of the day, Lucky Star dares to codify many observations into scenes and dialog that are not totally absurd, and for that it was an interesting watch.

So will Lucky Star stand the test of time? If nothing changes in a decade or more, perhaps. More likely is that years from now, it will be watched like one would watch archival footage: with merely academic interest. What was it like to be an otaku, Japanese or otherwise, circa 2007? More to the point, what were we like? Lucky Star would shed some light on those questions, covering such topics as the popular character tropes, series, gaming habits, food, and the immense response to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Lucky Star episode 24: The IRONYThe IRONY

The last item on the list may suffer from bias via conflict of interest. Just a tad.


suguru said...

Good post...it's true that in the future re-watching Lucky Star would probably trigger a flood of memories--all the references to Da Capo, Keroro Gunso, Haruhi, and other anime from the recent past will probably invoke more of a feeling of nostalgia. It had a slow start in the first episode, but I've loved watching Lucky Star this season...just sad it's over now...

introspect said...

It didn't really end on a sad or poignant note, although it did have one with the scene set during the night before. It feels that it hasn't ended at all, actually, but the sentiment will probably sink in shortly.

But I don't think I'll be sad to see it go. That's reserved for more serious stuff, and Lucky Star was mostly about not taking things seriously.