Explaining the appeal of Lucky Star to the uninitiated is enough to drive lesser men to drink. Suckers like me, writing reviews of this sort of thing, have to assume people will natively understand terms like moe and otaku (odds are they do, thank goodness) and get on with the explaining about the explaining. After four volumes, the best parallel I can come up with is either to Azumanga Daioh or, god help us, Seinfeld. It’s not about anything except its quirky roster of characters and the fluffy pop-culture vortex they all fly around in — but that’s exactly its appeal.
It does make any attempt at a plot synopsis nearly worthless, though. “This is the episode where the four girls sit around and talk about a bunch of stuff” could describe every episode in the whole series, and after watching a whole disc’s worth of Lucky Star the samey-ness of the whole thing does get to you. It’s best in small doses, leavened with something as unlike it as possible — say, Detroit Metal City — and appreciated for exactly what it is, not what it might turn into. It doesn’t aim to be about anything more than, say, the way Konata becomes the obsessive object of high-pressure sales tactics at the local comics-and-anime-goods store (all depicted in this hilariously wigged-out animation style).
If there is a plot this time around, it’s in the details.
Very, very tiny details that come gradually to the surface in ones and
twos, as they have through the whole of Lucky Star. Consider
Yutaka, Konata’s younger cousin, who arrives at Konata’s house and
instantly becomes a source of terrible pressure for everyone’s favorite
pop-culture addict / slacker / do-nothing. Suddenly Konata has to
actually be a (gasp) role model for the cute young thing to look up to. Doesn’t help that Yutaka’s entirely unconscious
moé tendencies make this exponentially more difficult. Or consider the
demure and polite Miyuki; at one point we get a sideways peek into her
homelife and discover that she does indeed get it all from her mother …
just not remotely in the way we would expect.
It’s the peripheral stuff that makes up the meat of a show like this, and that includes the strange-and-getting-stranger “Lucky Channel” bonus segment that caps each episode. Not content with giving us the only-cute-on-the-outside Akira Kogami gradually devolving into antics only a hair removed from Christian Bale’s on-set explosion, as of this volume the show rips that whole segment loose from its moorings and sends it into a karaoke booth. And as for the karaoke-booth segment closing credits … well, they’re now an enka music video. Some things have to be seen to be disbelieved
There are times when I’ve been tempted to call Lucky Star boring, and I know I would have plenty of people agreeing with me. Sure, chockablock it up against some other current winners — Darker Than Black, or maybe that other crazy animu with the name with all the Xs in it — and you might get squirmy waiting for, you know, something to actually happen. Or you might get unexpectedly caught up in the pastel-haired extraordinary ordinariness of it all. Weirder things have happened.