Probably no anime series was more anticipated in the Spring of 2007 than Lucky Star. The studio had previously released two big hits in a row: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Kanon (2006). Naturally the fans were expecting something special.
So it’s understandable that there was a certain amount of grumbling on the ‘net when Lucky Star turned out to have neither the off-beat brilliance of Haruhi nor the emotional resonance of Kanon. Nevertheless the show soon found an audience for its peculiar charms and became very popular in its own right. Certainly the fan-art websites are bursting with drawings inspired by the cute character designs (I’m using one as my desktop wallpaper at the moment.)
Lucky Star (RAKI SUTA)
Comedy, Slice of Life
Japanese with subtitles, English.
24 Episodes on 6 DVDs
Yutaka Yamamoto (Eps. 1-4), Yasuhiro Takemoto (Eps. 5–24)
Chief Animation Director
Chiba TV 2007
Region 1 Publisher
It’s natural to compare this to Azumanga Daioh since both are slice-of-life comedies about high school girls based on 4-koma manga. So let me get this out of the way: if you have to choose between watching Lucky Star and watching Azumanga, you should watch Azumanga. It’s funnier and it has an actual story to tell.
After the first episode of Lucky Star devoted 5 minutes to a discussion of the proper way to eat a chocolate cornet  a different meme spread though the blogosphere: this is like Seinfeld, “a show about nothing”. Actually that’s not quite right. Seinfeld‘s claim to be “a show about nothing” was a joke! For Lucky Star it seems to be actually true. Though it became a little less true when the original director was fired after Episode 4. After that, the individual episodes tend to have more of an actual storyline.
The series is full of in-joke references to other anime series and to otaku culture in general, which contributes to its popularity with hard-core anime fans. If you haven’t watched much anime you are going to miss a lot of the jokes.
But I don’t want to be too hard on the show. It’s cute and funny and very pretty to look at. As light entertainment it works very well. And, to its credit, the series is willing to tell some harsh truths, exposing the horrors of Comiket and the imminent threat posed by the Nara deer.
There is nothing in this show likely to frighten or upset a child. Young children will not understand much of the humor, but will probably enjoy it anyway.
However parents of young children may wish to preview this before letting them watch. The teenage characters are all basically good kids and there is none of the misbehavior that makes Haruhi Suzumiya problematic. However the main adult characters are not particularly good role models. Konata’s father is rather creepy and gives a somewhat unwholesome feeling to the scenes he appears in.
The series focuses on 4 girls who are all second-year students at a fictional high school in Tokyo. Konata Izumi
, the most popular character, is a short girl with extra-long hair and a childlike appearance. She is clever and witty, but lazy about schoolwork, preferring to devote her time to anime, manga and video games. She is carefree and self-centered, and enjoys practical jokes.
Konata worships Aya Hirano, the seiyuu
for Haruhi Suzumaya, and she can do a wicked imitation of Haruhi 
. She makes use of this talent in her after-school job in a cosplay
is Konata’s friend and classmate. A gentle, polite girl from a wealthy family, Miyuki is a voracious reader with an encyclopedic knowledge of many subjects. Naturally she gets excellent grades. However she is clumsy, absentminded, and terrified of dentists. Konata describes her as a bundle of moe
traits, and that’s just about right. She is actually the least developed of the main characters and gets the least screen time.
Another friend and classmate, Tsukasa Hiiragi
is cute, innocent and clueless. She wanders around in a perpetual state of wide-eyed comic confusion.
Because of the school’s policy of separating siblings,
Tsukasa’s twin sister Kagami Hiiragi
is not in the same class as the others, but she tries to spend as much time as possible with them, going to their classroom for lunch and meeting them after school on a daily basis. Kagami is very different from Konata and Tsukasa. She is sensible and responsible, a serious girl with conservative values (the daughter of a priest.) She studies hard and gets good grades, and she is sometimes annoyed to see Konata get by with so little work. Secretly she envies Konata’s carefree existence.
Kagami is quick-tempered: quick to anger and quick to forgive. She is often infuriated by Tsukasa’s silliness or Konata’s irresponsibility, but she loves them both too much to stay mad at them for more than a moment. Mainly she feels protective. She worries about them and tries to look out for them.
Kagami isn’t a prig. She likes video games and anime too. She just wants balance in her life. And that’s what she gets from the others; without them her life would probably be pretty dull.
is Konata’s homeroom teacher. She tries to play the role of a tough, no-nonsense instructor, but she’s actually more like Konata than she would like to admit. She plays the same online role-playing games that Konata does and often reprimands her when she catches her playing late at night.
Konata’s cousin Yui Narumi
works as a policewoman. She is a very scary driver and an inexhaustible source of questionable advice.
Konata’s father Soujirou Izumi
must bear a large part of the blame for her personality defects.
A writer who usually works at home in his pajamas, he is also devoted to anime and video games. He lets Konata play h-games
and even asks her for tips on how to get to the good parts. (Of course she’s 17 years old now, but he let her do it even when she was much younger.) Konata loves her father, but even she is sometimes creeped out by his behavior. He would do better not to leer so obviously at her schoolmates.
About half way through the series a new school year begins, and a bunch of new characters are introduced. Yutaka Kobayakawa
is Konata’s cousin and Yui’s younger sister. She has been admitted to Konata’s high school as a first-year student, and moves in with Konata to be closer to the school. Konata thinks she should act more responsibly now that she has a little sister, but she isn’t very successful.
Yutaka, like Konata, is small and looks young for her age. She is frail but cheerful; friendly but rather shy and naive.
Kagami is feeing depressed about once again being put in a different class from Konata, Tsubasa and Miyuki. Her classmates Ayano Minegishi
and Misao Kusakabe
decide to make a special effort to make friends with her. Kagami asks herself whether she really needs two more slacker friends.
Yutaka’s classmate Minami Iwasaki
is very tall and quiet. She appears to be cold and unfriendly, but actually she is just very shy. Yutaka thinks she is awesome and the two soon become good friends.
is another of Yutaka’s classmates. An exchange student from America, she speaks excellent Japanese and is obsessed with otaku culture. She gets a job at the cosplay cafe where Konata works, and the two hit it off right away.
is yet another classmate of Yutaka and Minami. Her hobby is drawing doujinshi
manga, and she includes her classmates in her stories. Her tastes run to yaoi
, and she can’t help imagining that her classmates are engaged in scandalous activities.
is the host of a special segment called Lucky Channel
which appears at the end of each show. She is supposed to discuss the storylines and answer viewer’s questions. A child star who has been performing since she was 3 years old, she looks very cute and adorable, but she is actually bitter and cynical, given to fearsome temper tantrums and fits of paranoid rage.
Akira’s assistant Minoru Shiraishi
is a real seiyuu who plays a number of walk-on parts in the main program.
He is terrified of Akira, who subjects him to an endless stream of abuse.
Anime News Network Encyclopedia entry.
Avatar did the subtitling. His blog discusses the difficulty of putting subtitles on a show with so much rapid-fire overlapping dialog. (His blog doesn’t give his real name, but you can find it in the credits.)
 There is some dispute over whether the mangaka is a man or a woman. “Kagami Yoshimizu” is almost certainly a pseudonym. He or she never makes public appearances but reportedly uses the masculine pronoun “boku”. He or she also writes “Kagami” in hiragana. Men almost never write their names that way since hiragana characters are considered feminine. (The name itself means “mirror” and might be used by either sex.) However all of the characters in Lucky Star write their names in hiragana in a joking reference to the author’s name. And of course, one of the main characters is a girl named Kagami. Presumably the author and the fictional Kagami “mirror” each other.
 Obsessive pedantic note: Hey everybody, that’s “cornet” (little horn), not “coronet” (little crown)! Please keep the distinction straight. Thank you.
 The in-joke here is that Aya Hirano is also the seiyuu for Konata, so of course she can do Haruhi’s voice! This means that Aya Hirano is playing a character who worships Aya Hirano, which is sort of mind-boggling. The English dub tries for a similar effect by casting Wendee Lee, who did the English voice for Haruhi, as Konata, but this doesn’t achieve the same level of self-reference. Konata isn’t desperate to attend a Wendee Lee concert.